Obama’s Plunging Approval Rating Still Outpaces Congress

Public approval for a scandal-embattled President Barack Obama, as well as a gridlocked, ineffectual Congress, has reached near-historic lows, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

The President is facing his worst slide in popularity among a cross section of Americans since his all-time low of 39 percent in September 2011. The recent poll, which finds his approval down to 41 percent, shows Obama on track to descend at least that far once more, if the trend established during the first six months of his second term continues.

In April (back when the Benghazi, Libya, debacle was the only major Obama Administration scandal the public knew about), Obama’s polling numbers were commensurate with the 51 percent of the popular vote he received in the 2012 election, with an even 50 percent of Americans still showing their approval.

But two months later, in the wake of scandals involving Obama’s ties with the Internal Revenue Service, National Security Agency and Department of Justice — along with an unfocused cavalcade of second-term agenda talking points covering Obamacare, energy regulations, ambivalent foreign policy and even civil liberties — the President’s popularity, even among his liberal base, has taken a dramatic hit.

A separate Field poll found that only 52 percent of voters in California, where Democrats have carried every Presidential election since 1992, now approve of Obama’s post-scandal performance. In February, by contrast, he had enjoyed a 62 percent popularity rating.

As the McClatchy poll summary notes, the numerous scandals have chipped away at Obama’s credibility on many fronts, with Americans from highly divergent walks of life finding their own different reasons for turning on the President. Despite that, Obama still is faring far better than the stagnant 113th Congress, especially the Republican majority in the House of Representatives:

“Clearly six months into his second term there’s been falloff across the board. It’s not like one group bailed on him,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in New York, which conducted the poll.

About his only solace is that the approval rating of congressional Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, sank to 22 percent. One-third of registered voters approved of congressional Democrats’ performance.

The dismal Washington numbers reflect “the ongoing, cumulative effect of those issues which have not been resolved” and no solution is in sight, Miringoff said. Lawmakers remain at odds over how to trim federal deficits or write a federal budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, and Congress plans to leave Aug. 2 for a five-week recess.

Hobby Lobby Gains Ground In Suit Opposing Obamacare Contraception Mandate

Hobby Lobby, the 550-store, 13,000-employee Christian-owned arts and crafts retail chain at the center of a legal fight over a contraception mandate within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, won a temporary victory over the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week after a court issued a preliminary injunction permitting the company to omit birth control from its employee  health plan.

U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton read his decision from the bench, saying there exists “a substantial public interest in ensuring that no individual or corporation has their legs cut out from under them while these difficult issues are resolved.”

Without a court order in place to keep Federal penalties at bay while the company’s lawsuit against HHS moves forward, Hobby Lobby’s owners faced a possible $1.3 million in daily fines.

The ruling doesn’t address the merits of the case, but it does move the suit one step closer to a definitive and potentially far-reaching resolution, as the Obama Administration considers an early petition before the U.S. Supreme Court in the hope of obtaining a ruling that forces company owners to extend “preventive” coverage for contraception in violation of their religious beliefs.

The injunction, which also applies to the affiliated chain of Mardel Christian bookstores, has the additional effect of demonstrating that a Court can regard a privately held company as a “person” in affirming the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Nationwide, there are more than 60 other companies challenging the HHS contraception mandate.

Because the injunction doesn’t set a definitive precedent and serves only to relieve an undue burden during ongoing litigation in this case alone, it doesn’t excuse those companies from applying the mandate or from facing fines; rather, each would have to win a similar court-ordered injunction separately or simply wait for the mandate to be declared unConstitutional.

Heaton delayed the case until October, which allows the Obama Administration time to weigh whether to mount an appeal.

Hobby Lobby’s owners have stated publicly that providing coverage for contraception that includes morning-after pregnancy-ending pills conflicts with their religion-based moral convictions.

Mayors Abandoning Bloomberg’s ‘Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ Group

Mayors who signed on to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pet gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), are beginning to ditch the organization after learning they attached themselves to an organization with an ambitious gun control agenda that far overreaches its innocent-sounding name.

BuzzFeed Politics reports that more than 50 mayors have dropped their memberships since February – either because they realized they were endorsing gun control or because they were simply voted out of office.

In the case of those who left office, many of their successors have shown reluctance to pick up membership in the controversial group, formed in 2006 with $3 million in funding out of Bloomberg’s personal fortune.

“The original focus, I thought, was going to be on focusing on better on enforcement of our existing laws, and if anything, we have talked about not getting involved with things like banning assault weapons and banning magazine clips,” said Rockford, Ill. Mayor Lawrence Morrissey, who was cheered by residents when he announced he was dropping his membership.

Other mayors who’ve dropped said they’ve done so on similar principles, or because they didn’t fully understand the political baggage associated with a group that, rather than standing “against illegal guns,” turned out to be more interested in making guns illegal.

Lawsuit: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Too Powerful; Unrestrained; UnConstitutional

A legal support services company has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), alleging the emerging Federal agency is too unrestricted in its powers and threatens to aggrandize powers that are already properly delegated to established government agencies.

The suit, filed Monday by bankruptcy software company Morgan Drexen, states the CFPB owes no direct accountability to the American people, and represents a giant step toward costly redundancy, heavier regulation and unchecked government bloat.

The CFPB was from an omnibus piece of reactionary legislation – the Dodd-Frank Act – that ostensibly aimed to rein in Wall Street investment banks deemed “too big to fail” following the economic bailout of 2008.

According to a report Monday by The Hill:

Morgan Drexen claims the agency tried to obtain information that should be protected by attorney-client privileges. The information the CFPB wanted included names, addresses and income information about the clients of lawyers who used the company’s services, it said.

“…You provide that kind of sensitive information to your lawyer and now suddenly an agency of the federal government wants to collect it, and it’s little strange, particularly in light of some of the other things that have been going on with data collecting. We’re worried about the overreach a little bit,” said a lawyer attached to the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs essentially are arguing that the CFPB is threatening to get into the business of extending its regulatory oversight to lawyers representing financial institutions – effectively adding an extra layer of illegal regulations to government scrutiny of law, a profession that, both legally and ethically, enjoys broad protections of practice and procedure.

The suit seeks to have a court declare the present administrative structure of the CFPB unconstitutional, and to strike down language in the Dodd-Frank Act that founded the agency.

States’ Rights In Post-DOMA America; Pelosi ‘Defends’ 2nd Amendment; Al-Qaida Grows; DoD Contractors Miss Out On Sequester; Janet On A Different Planet – Tuesday Morning News Roundup 7-23-2013

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

  • If the Internal Revenue Service keeps in place a State residency policy that effectively prevents legally married same-sex couples from receiving benefits once they’ve moved to States where gay marriage isn’t legal, then people in the 37 States where gay marriage isn’t expressly endorsed “have gained virtually nothing by last month’s [Supreme Court Defense Of Marriage Act] decision,” says a lawyer representing gay couples. Source: Reuters… 
  • Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cited her oath to “protect and defend” the U.S. Constitution as the reason Congress should enact harsher gun control measures. In a press release marking the one-year anniversary of the Aurora, Colo., shootings, the former House Speaker said: “In Congress, there can be no more fitting memorial to the lives lost in Aurora, in Newtown, and across the country than a concerted effort to enact commonsense gun safety legislation.” Source: CNS News…
  • Al-Qaida not only remains a threat to the United States, but its capabilities and scope are expanding, a new analysis from a respected think tank has concluded. Source: The Christian Science Monitor…
  • What Sequester?! Lockheed Martin’s earnings rose 10 percent in the second quarter, and the company projected increased profits this year — despite the threat of automatic budget cuts at the Pentagon. Source: The Hill…
  • Last week, Janet Napolitano just about tripled her old salary as Homeland Security Secretary now that she’s confirmed to be the next president of the University of California. The university’s Board of Regents thought it made good business sense to pay her $575,000 a year and to give her a free house, an $8,000 car allowance and $142,000 for relocation expenses. Source: CBS San Francisco…

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Boehner’s Moment Of Clarity

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) slipped up and said something uncharacteristically conservative in an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday: He said that the American regulatory and legislative environment is bloated and that Congress should be in the business of repealing laws — not making them.

That’s the kind of Tea Party talk Americans have come to expect from a tiny minority of conservative Senators like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz or from Representative Justin Amash, but to hear the small sermon on small government from the mouth of the Weeping RINO is confusing. After excoriating Obamacare and hemming and hawing about his true stance on immigration legislation, Boehner offered this:

…[T]he American people are looking up at a government that’s out of control. It’s too big to govern. And so the mission I came here with as a small businessman 23 years ago is still my mission — to fight for a smaller, less-costly, a more accountable federal government, to empower the private sector to be all that it can be, to create jobs for our kids and grandkids. That’s what drives me every day. And I know people from the outside look in and go, “how can he put up with all this nonsense?” But I don’t look at it that way. I stay focused on the mission I came here with, and it’s still the mission I have.

…[W]e should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal. We’ve got more laws than the administration could ever enforce. And so we don’t do commemorative bills on the floor. We don’t do all that nonsense. We deal with what the American people want us to deal with. Unpopular? Yes. Why? We’re in a divided government. We’re fighting for what we believe in. Sometimes, you know, the American people don’t like this mess.

In throwing true conservatives a bone, is Boehner motivated by some internal party pressure? Is the vocal minority of conservatism in Congress — and among back-home constituents — becoming more vocal and less of a minority?

Lest people worry that Boehner is experiencing a sea change in his philosophy of government, a look at his discussion of immigration reform should set their minds at ease. CBS host Bob Schieffer tried everything but waterboarding to coax out of Boehner a definitive explanation of his views, but the best he could manage was this response:

If I come out and say I’m for this and I’m for that, all I’m doing is making my job harder. My job is to — as the leader of the House — is to facilitate this conversation, this process, that involves members on both sides of the aisle, involves the American people, and when they can see us moving in a deliberative, step-by-step, commonsense way.

…Yes, I’ve got certain things that I’d like to see accomplished. But this is not going to be about me. I said it the opening day. And it’s never going to be about me. It’s what’s in the best interest of the country. If we’re listening to the American people and we’re following their will, our House will work just fine.”

So… are you for amnesty or not? Didn’t quite catch that.

Perhaps the biggest reassurance that the Speaker hasn’t truly bought in to the whole “get government out of the way” ethic came in Boehner’s breezy conflation of government entitlement with government deregulation:

Republicans have a plan for job creation. We’ve been at this now for the last two and a half years. And whether it’s making student loans more affordable, stopping unnecessary regulations, trying to get our budget deficit under control — all of these things would help get our economy moving again.

So cheap government-subsidized loans and disentangling government treats from people and institutions somehow go hand in hand?

For now, it looks as though Boehner’s transitory moment of clarity was just that: a moment.

House Seeks To Slash Appropriation For Ambitious EPA

The House of Representatives is considering a bill that would cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by more than one-third in 2014, only a year after attempting to pass a more modest 17 percent budget cut.

According to The Hill, a House Appropriations subcommittee is slated to make sure the EPA pruning survives within a larger, GOP-led omnibus Interior and Environment spending bill, which will be taken up on Tuesday.

The EPA’s proposed budget cut — $2.8 billion — is the largest single pruning House Republicans have embedded in the bill, which would cut 19 percent (a total of $5.5 billion) from the budgets of a number of Federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Gallery of Art.

What’s significant about the EPA hatchet job is its timing. The proposed cuts come only a month after President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to prioritize environmental regulations, reflecting the White House’s official stance that man-made climate change is destroying the planet and must be dealt with ahead of a host of other domestic problems.

The House bill would stave off forthcoming EPA regulations that require petroleum refiners to reduce the presence of sulfur in gasoline, which oil companies expect would add dramatically to the cost of production. It also would negate EPA regulations that, per Obama’s anti-coal agenda, would set new carbon emissions standards on electric power plants.

Subcommittee leader Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said the GOP-backed budget cuts and policy strictures are a direct effort at confronting Obama on climate change, in the hope of averting new rules that would unnecessarily increase industry costs (and end-user costs) through the implementation of more difficult and sophisticated production processes, as well as punitive fines.

New EPA boss (and Obama nominee) Gina McCarthy embraced the President’s grand vision on climate change, telling employees in an internal video Monday that the agency “has a clear responsibility to act now on climate change” and that this era “is a defining time” for the EPA.

Former HHS Undersecretary: President’s Obamacare Delay A ‘Line-Item Veto’ Abuse Of Power

A lot of conservatives have seized upon President Barack Obama’s recent decision to delay a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to revisit the flaws inherent in the legislation, as well as to castigate the law as a monument to the encroachment of the Executive Branch well beyond its Constitutionally-designated role.

But Ben Sasse, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health And Human Services, points out one aspect of the President’s postponement of Obamacare’s employer mandate provision that’s so far gone largely unnoticed, even by Obama’s fiercest critics: the President is essentially editing the law – a 2,300-page monster which Congress passed intact despite having read most of it – to suit his own political purposes, post facto.

That’s a manifestly egregious Constitutional no-no.

“Obamacare is a ticking time bomb for Democrats in the 2014 elections. Nobody knows this better than President Barack Obama, which is why over the Fourth of July holiday weekend he unilaterally decided to delay its controversial employer mandate provision until after the midterm elections,” Sasse wrote in Sunday’s Omaha World Herald.

[T]the moment the Obama administration declared the employer mandate would be delayed until after a tough election, this debate transcended a fight over health care and became a fight about transforming our constitutional system of separate but equal branches of government.

This is now about ceding power to a runaway executive branch that the Constitution simply does not allow.

…By enforcing only the provisions he finds politically expedient or tolerable, the president decided he could make the law what he desires it to be rather than what the words on the page actually say. He essentially granted himself the line item veto.

That’s unConstitutional, as Sasse goes on to demonstrate. It’s one thing for the President to carry out the law as Congress enacted it (Article II, Section 3), but it’s another thing entirely to decide which aspects of the law to enforce, and which to neglect. To do so is to monarchically amend the law that the legislative branch passed.

For that reason, House Republicans’ effort last week to approve a commensurate delay in the implementation of Obamacare mandates for individuals may have appeared well intentioned, but it effectively signaled Congressional conservatives’ tacit acceptance of Obama’s legislative cherry-picking.

That means that Congress needs either to enforce Obamacare, or repeal it. Any middle ground means more concessions to an abuse of executive power that’s already way out of control.

‘Weeds’ Actor Calls On Fellow Blacks To Reject MSM, Race Pundits Over Zimmerman Meltdown

Sometimes it’s best to step back and let someone with something good to say have as wide an audience as possible.

That’s why we’re pointing you to a guest column at the Huffington Post, in which “Weeds” actor Romany Malco, who is black, breaks rank with race-baiting black “leaders” who’ve co-opted the Martin/Zimmerman case and, in so doing, perverted the spirit of the (largely successful) Civil Rights movement. He even uses Rahm Emanuel’s own words to illustrate that very point.

Malco slams the mainstream media, questions the motives of black figureheads and news agencies, and points the finger of blame for misplaced racial outraged directly where it belongs: on the self-destruction of the black community, starting with the individual and the family.

Here’s a snippet:

To be brutally honest, the only reason people are even aware of Trayvon Martin is because it became a topic within mainstream news and pop culture. Meaning: News directors saw it as a profitable, sensational story. Hundreds of blacks die annually in South Side Chicago without even a blurb. Trayvon isn’t in the mainstream news for any reason other than ratings and profit.

…Don’t you find it peculiar that the same media outlets who have worked so diligently to galvanize the negative stigmas of black men in America are now airing open debates on improving the image of black males in American media? Do you honestly think CNN is using their competitive time slots for philanthropy?

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” – Rahm Emanuel

If we really wanted to ensure Trayvon Martin’s killing was not in vain, we’d stop perpetuating negative images that are now synonymous with black men in America.

…We’d spend less time subconsciously repeating lyrics about death and murder and more time understanding why we are so willing to twerk to songs that demean women and boast of having things we cannot afford…We’d seek information outside the corporate owned-media that manipulates us.

There’s much more. The piece holds up a mirror to anyone, from any walk of life in America, who’s willing to take an honest look. Read the rest at HuffPo, and share.

Google On The Brain; Black Boxes In Cars; Senate Pushes Email Privacy; Detroit Has Company; Obama Loves The Drone – Monday Morning News Roundup 7-22-2013

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

 

  • According to Google’s founders, the company’s ultimate goal is to insert a chip inside your head for the most effortless search engine imaginable. “We have impatience for that to happen but the pieces of technology have to develop,” said one developer. Source: The Independent…

 

  • About 96 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States have “black box” data recorders, but the NHTSA is pushing for 100 percent coverage. Data stored in the devices is increasingly being used to identify safety problems in cars and as evidence in traffic accidents and criminal cases, raising privacy concerns about who owns the information, and what it can be used for. Source: ACLU…

 

  • Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is pushing to fast-track legislation that would require police to obtain a warrant before accessing emails and other private online messages. Source: The Hill…

 

  • Detroit may be alone among the nation’s biggest cities in terms of filing for bankruptcy, but it is far from the only city being crushed by a roiling mountain of long-term debt. From Baltimore to Los Angeles, and many points in between, municipalities are increasingly confronted with how to pay for massive promises. Source: Detroit Free Press…

 

  • The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, representing a family member, have sued former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other former officials over the two separate drone strikes that killed three U.S. citizens in Yemen. The Obama administration wants the lawsuit dismissed. Source: McClatchy… 

 

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House Dems Join GOP In Meaningless, But Revealing, Obamacare Vote

You know Obamacare’s a mess when the same supporters who voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and its components, back in 2009 and 2010, are now voting to put off actually enacting the thing.

Last week’s vote to delay until next year a mandate requiring employers of 50 or more to offer insurance coverage, as well as a vote to delay the mandate that compels individuals to purchase insurance, marked one of the most bipartisan things the Republican-led House of Representatives has done in a while.

The employer mandate passed on a 264-161 vote; the individual mandate by a 251-174 margin.

That means Democrats are voting against Obamacare.

An analysis in The Hill last week contrasted House Democrats’ recent, stridently partisan voting pattern with that of last Wednesday’s Obamacare “mandate” votes.

Vulnerable House Democrats laid low Thursday after voting to delay two key ObamaCare mandates over a White House veto threat.

The hush from centrist Dems came after a considerable number cast ballots alongside Republicans on Wednesday for bills designed to embarrass the Obama administration.

The next day, many of the defectors failed to respond to requests for comment on the votes. Some avoided reporters, while several others declined to speak through spokesmen.

The divisions over healthcare strongly contrasted with a recent pattern of unified votes by House Democrats.

Not a single Democrat voted last week for a stripped down Republican farm bill, and only four voted in May to tie student loan rates to the financial markets.

But ObamaCare’s employer and individual mandates proved a different story, highlighting anxiety over the divisive law as lawmakers from swing districts await 2014.

In the long run, the House vote on Obamacare won’t matter. President Barack Obama has said he’ll veto the bills, and the Senate isn’t going to let them make it that far anyway. And we’ve all seen this movie before. Taken together, last week’s votes marked the GOP majority’s 38th attempt at repealing, defunding or stripping the PPACA since January 2011.

But with Obama off to an abysmal start in his second Presidential term and his signature accomplishment growing more unpopular as the ACA’s October deadline nears, it’s telling that 35 House Democrats voted to delay the employer mandate, while 22 did the same concerning the start date for mandatory individual coverage.

Fourteen of the Democrats who voted to delay both were Congressional freshmen. But the rest were longtime Obamacare supporters who’ve heard an earful from their constituents back home and need to save a little face before next year’s midterm elections.

Decorated Scientist Tells Senate Climate Change Not To Blame For Recent Disasters

Well, this must not have gone according to script.

A scientist testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week that global warming isn’t all it’s been cracked up to be.

Speaking at a Senate hearing on Thursday, atmospheric scientist Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado left a royal big one in liberal alarmists’ communal punch bowl by telling Senators it’s folly to believe that an increase in weather-related catastrophes is connected to global warming caused by humans.

The biggest problem with believing that all the thoroughly reported tornadoes, fires and floods owe their surging frequency to global warming is that… well, their frequency isn’t surging.

In fact, said Pielke, catastrophic weather events are actually on the decline — especially over the period of time liberal policymakers often point to as demonstrative of how global warming is accelerating the Earth toward a man-made climatic Armageddon.

Note from the Editor: Round two of the financial meltdown is predicted to reach global proportions, already adversely affecting Greece, Spain and most of Europe. It appears less severe in the states because our banks are printing useless fiat currency. I’ve arranged for readers to get two free books—Surviving a Global financial Crisis and Currency Collapse, plus How to Survive the Collapse of Civilization—to help you prepare for the worst. Click here for your free copies.

“It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally,” Pielke said. “It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases. Hurricanes have not increased in the U.S. in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900. The same holds for tropical cyclones globally since at least 1970.”

Pielke added that weather-related disasters are likely to exact an increasing economic burden on the United States, but not because they’re becoming more common. Rather, he said, it’s because urban populations are increasing and the level of development around population centers will continue to reflect more spending and, thus, more damage done whenever a populated area experiences a natural disaster.

“The absolute costs of disasters will increase significantly in coming years due to greater wealth and populations in locations exposed to extremes,” he said. “Consequent, disasters will continue to be an important focus of policy, irrespective of the exact future course of climate change.”

Republicans at the hearing made note of the fact that the Administration of President Barack Obama offered no testimony at the hearing, less than a month after the President announced an ambitious plan to combat man-made climate change in a speech in which he dismissed skeptics as “Flat Earth Society” cretins.

Count Pielke, an accomplished researcher who holds three college degrees and Germany’s Eduard Bruckner Prize for outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary climate research, among the flat earthers.

Michigan Judge Halts Detroit Bankruptcy; Sends Order To Barack Obama Because He ‘Bailed Out Detroit’

The Michigan Circuit Judge who blocked Detroit’s filing for bankruptcy protection put an exclamation point on her rulings, stipulating in her judgment Friday that President Barack Obama be sent a copy of her order, saying he “bailed out Detroit” and should be involved in figuring out how public employees’ pension funds won’t be raided to pay off creditors.

Aquilina was doubtless referencing the Obama Administration’s extension of $80 billion in loans, begun under George W. Bush, to automotive companies that hemorrhaged money in 2008 and 2009.

Under the judge’s order, Republican Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr can’t start talking with creditors about how to write off debt until the pensions of public employees can be guaranteed, as required by the Michigan State Constitution.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday the President has no plans to become involved in a bailout of what could be the biggest American city to file for bankruptcy in U.S. history. Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, was telling reporters in Washington “We don’t know at this point” if the government will step in.

Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) message was a bit less muddled Friday, as he said the President would bail out Detroit “over my dead body.”

 

Obama’s 2010 ‘Guarantee’ That Patients Get To Keep Their Doctors Now Downgraded To ‘Maybe’

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has added a questions and answers section about the rollout of Obamacare to its new Healthcare.gov website. Intended to serve as a sort of customer service triage to handle common concerns about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will work, the page functions as a sort of Obamacare FAQ.

Under the section headed by the question “Can I Keep my own doctor?” is this response:

Depending on the plan you choose in the Marketplace, you may be able to keep your current doctor.

Different plans have different networks and providers

Most health insurance plans offered in the Marketplace have networks of hospitals, doctors, specialists, pharmacies, and other health care providers. Networks include health care providers that the plan contracts with to take care of the plan’s members. Depending on the type of policy you buy, care may be covered only when you get it from a network provider.

Pretty straightforward. You need to see an in-network doctor to be covered, and maybe the doctor you already have will be in that network. Maybe he or she won’t.

The key part is the “maybe.”

Back in 2010, President Barack Obama answered early criticisms about how the ACA would adversely affect patient choice by promising – nay, by guaranteeing:

Here is a guarantee that I’ve made. If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you’ve got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor. Nobody is trying to change what works in the system. We are trying to change what doesn’t work in the system.

That promise was further buttressed by the Administration’s online effort to “debunk… the myth” that the ACA would compel patients to switch insurers or doctors in order to be eligible for coverage.

In three years’ time, Obama’s guarantee has wilted into a “maybe.” The President has three more years to deflate his health care promises even further.

H/T Weekly Standard

Colorado Town Declares Open Season On Federal Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is going after people who shoot domestic surveillance and reconnaissance drones out of the sky, reacting to word that people are organizing bounties that reward anyone who turns up with the dismantled scraps of any unmanned aircraft they’ve successfully taken down.

The move is likely a pre-emptive show of power to curb a precedent set by the small Colorado town of Deer Trail, where privacy advocates are preparing an ordinance that, if approved by town leaders, would establish a municipally paid bounty of up to $100 to residents and nonresidents alike for every Federal drone they take out of commission. All that would be required is a $25 annual “drone-hunting license,” issued by the town, permitting bounty hunters to declare open season on drones anywhere within Deer Trail airspace.

It’s highly illegal, and the ordinance’s main proponent, Phillip Steel, knows it.

“Is it illegal? Of course it is,” Steel told CNN. “But it’s also illegal to spy on American citizens. If they fly in town, we will shoot them down.”

Steel wrote the ordinance himself, which sets rules on what kinds of firearms can and can’t be used, as well as a number of other parameters that seem to combine humor (such as forcing people who shoot down’ a child’s RC helicopter by mistake to reimburse the cost — unless it was flying above their own property) with a serious-minded statement about what it means to be a free American.

The town clerk told The Daily Caller that a petition to bring the ordinance to a vote had collected “way more” signatures than required under the law. The Deer Trail town board of trustees will take up the ordinance at its Aug. 6 regular meeting. The clerk said the board is actually considering passing the ordinance outright.

Congress Is Getting Closer To Obama’s Smoking Gun On IRS Political Discrimination Scandal

The Internal Revenue Service chief counsel’s office in Washington, D.C., which is led by a political appointee of President Barack Obama, was directly involved in orchestrating the byzantine, discriminatory application process that targeted conservative groups seeking nonprofit, tax-exempt status, according to an IRS attorney.

The new information, provided by IRS attorney Carter Hull in interviews with Congressional investigators, represents the closest link (so far) between Obama and the starting point for the IRS’ discriminatory manipulation of political influence during the 2012 election season.

Hull said he had been told by his superiors that the chief counsel’s office wanted to review conservative groups’ applications in order to scrutinize the extent of their political activities. The agency’s chief counsel’s office is led by William J. Wilkins, a 2009 Obama political appointee.

Earlier reports already showed that Wilkins knew about the Tea Party discrimination in August of 2011, even though the IRS continued to target conservative groups well beyond that date. Wilkins also apparently didn’t think to notify the White House about the brewing scandal.

Hull’s information seems to indicate that Wilkins may have played a larger role in perpetrating the scandal than first reported. The IRS had said Wilkins wasn’t aware of the discrimination until the scandal broke this year, directly contradicting Hull’s revelation to members of Congress.

As chief counselor, Wilkins is one of the two Presidential appointees who hold positions within the IRS. The commissioner is the other. Douglas Shulman, who was appointed by George W. Bush, held that post from March 2008 until November 2012 — shortly before the start of Obama’s second term and only months before the scandal broke. His successor, Steven Miller, served as acting commissioner only until May of this year before resigning.

It’s fair to say that current acting commissioner Danny Werfel has inherited a mess.

Officer Charged For Assaulting Random Female Pedestrian, Knocking Her Teeth Out

A Texas police officer has been jailed after a police affidavit revealed he allegedly battered, without provocation, an innocent female pedestrian who happened to be walking near the scene of an unrelated late-night traffic stop.

The affidavit, written by another police officer who reviewed documentation of the May 29 incident, alleges Cpl. James Palermo of the San Marcos Police Department had stopped a car at about 1 a.m. for driving the wrong way on a one-way street. As he questioned the driver, he noticed the pedestrian — whom the affidavit alleges didn’t look at or talk to either Palermo or the stopped motorist and didn’t exhibit any “suspicious” behavior — and called her over to the scene, where he began questioning her about walking near the scene.

The woman, 22-year-old Texas State University student Alexis Alpha, told Palermo she didn’t believe she had done anything wrong. Their interaction became more acrimonious when she couldn’t immediately produce the identification Palermo allegedly had demanded.

As the officer dialed up the verbal heat, the victim allegedly advised him to conduct traffic stops elsewhere if he didn’t like where she was walking, called him a “dick” and observed that he appeared to simply be exorcising his pre-existing bad mood on her.

She had no idea.

Palermo allegedly responded by grabbing her, pushing her against the stopped motorist’s Toyota Prius, and then slamming her to the concrete, where he sat on her back. He allegedly cuffed her and placed her in his patrol vehicle, telling her she was being arrested for obstruction.

The assault knocked out two of Alpha’s teeth. Palermo took her to Central Texas Medical Center, where medical staff advised her she also had sustained a concussion and would need follow-up care, which could involve multiple surgeries. So Palermo took Alpha to the jail and slapped on two more charges: resisting arrest and public intoxication.

Alpha never filed a complaint over her assault. In fact, the police themselves discovered Palermo’s attack after reviewing footage from his patrol car’s dashboard video camera. The department obtained warrants for his arrest following an internal investigation and booked him into the Hays County Law Enforcement Center on July 16 for aggravated assault with serious bodily injury by a public servant — a first-degree felony that carries a possible maximum sentence of life in prison. He had been on paid administrative leave since the internal investigation had begun in early June, and is now on indefinite unpaid leave as the legal process unfolds.

San Marcos Police Chief Howard E. Williams told the San Marcos Mercury:

I won’t prejudge the [internal] investigation. I have not heard what the officer has to say yet and I’ll reserve judgment until that happens. But there are standards and I think it’s fairly obvious what we think about his conduct that night in that we were the ones that went down and filed the criminal charges. … I believe what he did was criminal.

Palermo, who had worked for the department since 2000, was the subject of a complaint two years ago alleging excessive use of force, but that complaint was dismissed.

Read the affidavit, filed by San Marcos Officer Penny Dunn, here.

California Senate Takes Up Digital License Plates That Can Track Movements, Collect Fees

The California State Senate is considering a statewide conversion to non-renewable digital license plates that would be able to collect electronic information, such as determining whether a motorist has pre-paid a road toll, in a bid to do away with what sponsors feel is the costly, inconvenient process of producing, distributing and renewing traditional license plates.

According to CBS San Francisco, Senate Bill 806 would establish a pilot program outfitting 160,000 vehicles with the new plates, which would essentially be computer screens with wireless capability.

A San Francisco-based startup company with lobbyists in Sacramento would supply (read: sell) the digital plates.

Advocates say the switch to digital would be convenient (no annual waiting at the DMV), cheap ($20 million a year less than traditional plates) and virtuous (the plates could issue Amber Alerts.)

Critics, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), say the plates could easily become a tool for warrantless, secret tracking of motorists’ movements.

“Law enforcement needs a warrant to be able to put a tracking device on your car,” said an EFF attorney. “It’s a possibility the way this program could be implemented, these smart plates could be that tracking device.”

California Senate Democrat Ben Hueso is sponsoring the bill.

Army Vet Refused Gun Permit For 42 Year-Old Drug Misdemeanor

A Texas man who served for 20 years in the U.S. Army after being convicted for a minor drug charge in 1971 was turned away from a local Walmart after attempting to purchase a .22-caliber rifle and failing a Federal background check for his 42 year-old offense.

According to a report from CBS Houston, Ron Kelly incurred the drug charge while still in high school and was sentenced to a year of probation. He enlisted in the Army two years later, and went on to obtain a top-secret security clearance.

“It is amazing that they won’t let me buy a gun for a misdemeanor 42 years ago,” he told The Houston Chronicle. “I am ashamed of the way my government has treated me. The government may have the greatest of intentions with the [law], but they messed it up.”

A Texas Rifle Association representative said it was “crazy” that such a minor blemish in the life of an American veteran – one who went on to fire cannon and machine guns as a soldier – could place him in the same company with felons and traitors as one who doesn’t meet the government’s standard for owning a firearm.

More troubling is the mystery surrounding how the FBI, which conducts Federal background checks, knew of the decades-old conviction. When the Chronicle checked with the North Carolina courthouse, police department and District Attorney to obtain a record of Kelly’s bygone run-in with the law, the paper was told records that old weren’t stored in a computer database, and very likely couldn’t be located.

Courts Keep Striking Down Obama Appointments; Rubio Stumbles; Reid Says ‘Climate Change’ Is Causing All The Fires; Even Jimmy Carter Hates PRISM; Obamacare Costs A Million Bucks – Thursday Morning News Roundup 7-18-2013

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

  • A third Federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that President Barack Obama violated the Constitution last year when he made recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, adding more weight to the case as it goes before the Supreme Court in the justices’ next session. Source: The Washington Times… 
  • Immigration reform — the very issue Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) thought would be a game-changing legacy-builder — looks like a big liability, at least right now. In the process, the self-confident Presidential hopeful suddenly looks wobbly, even a little weak, as he searches for what’s next. Source: POLITICO… 
  • Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday blamed “climate change” for the intense Southern Nevada blaze that consumed nearly 28,000 acres and drove hundreds of residents from their homes. “Why are we having them? Because we have climate change,” he said. “Things are different.” Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal…
  • Jimmy Carter criticized the American political system this week at an Atlanta speech, saying “America has no functioning democracy” and that “the invasion of privacy has gone too far — and I think that is why the secrecy [about the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities] was excessive.” Source: Spiegel Online… 
  • KSAT in San Antonio reports that a local businessman faces a $1 million Obamacare bill (with video). Source: The Weekly Standard…

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

California Sheriff Sued For Deadly Attack On Sleeping Man

The partner of a California man is suing the Kern County sheriff’s department after a May incident in which she alleges sheriff’s deputies attacked him while he slept in someone’s front yard and beat him to death, without the victim having ever had an opportunity to demonstrate that he was a potential threat to their safety.

Tara Garlick and the victim’s four children, three of whom Garlick has since obtained through an application for Guardian ad Litem custody, are suing Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and eight other individuals, including deputies allegedly involved in the May 17 beating that led to the death of her partner, David Sal Silva.

Garlick alleges the deputies first “knuckle-rubbed” the sleeping Silva and then began beating him with batons as he awoke in a panic. He was then allegedly attacked by a police dog and hog tied, and eventually stopped breathing. Knowing this, the officers allegedly neglected to seek immediate medical attention. Silva eventually ended up at a hospital, but it was too late.

From the filing:

On May 17, 2013, a sheriff’s deputy reported to a scene where a man was asleep on a front lawn. Upon arrival the sheriff’s deputy proceeded to knuckle-rub the sleeping man, causing the man to wake up in a panic. Immediately thereafter, this sheriff’s deputy, along with five other sheriff’s deputies and a sergeant, proceeded to strike this man with batons several times all over his body, while the man screamed in pain and repeatedly begged the officers to stop. At about this same time, a K-9 dog belonging to one of the sheriff’s deputies attacked the man. Eventually, the officers hog-tied the man. After the repeated beating by the sheriff’s deputies and biting by a deputy’s K-9 dog, the man eventually stopped breathing. Nonetheless, the sheriff’s deputies failed to immediately transport the man to a hospital despite the man’s apparent inability to breathe. Finally, after a significant delay the man was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:44 a.m. on May [1]8, 2013.

A witness told the local newspaper that her mother and another acquaintance each recorded portions of the incident using cellphone video cameras, but they were tracked down by detectives who allegedly barged into her sister’s home without a warrant, demanding — and obtaining — one of the phones. Their attempts to retrieve the other phone (the one used by the witness’ mother) were stalled when the woman refused to hand the device over without seeing a search warrant.

For a man to be asleep in someone’s front yard very likely suggests the possibility that he had compromised himself by taking substances legal or illegal, but that’s speculation. And even the biggest junkie in America doesn’t deserve to be attacked — let alone killed — by a gaggle of five deputies in the manner the lawsuit alleges.

Youngblood said later a pathologist had ruled Silva’s death an accident from “falling, hypertensive heart disease, and complications from being drunk and high on methamphetamines and other drugs.”

That certainly sounds like a lethal cocktail of illness, self-abuse and misfortune – one that doesn’t intuitively gibe with Youngblood’s assertion that Silva was menacing enough to require being hog tied and beaten.