Obamacare Effect On Jobs: Part-Time Outgains Full-Time As Businesses Scale Back

The unemployment rate in the United States for the month of June dallied at 7.6 percent, a number attended by the reported addition of 360,000 new part-time jobs — a record high. Such a big jump was hailed at the White House as a sign that the economy continues to benefit from the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).

What the numbers really show is that full-time, “quality” jobs are being supplanted on a massive scale as companies steady their workforce numbers ahead of the implementation of Obamacare. The labor force lost 240,000 full-time jobs in June, continuing a trend that has seen 557,000 part-time jobs in the United States outpace the comparatively paltry 130,000 new full-time positions since the first of the year.

Thank Obamacare, which mandates businesses employing more the 50 people to contribute toward health coverage for anyone who’s been hired to work more than 30 hours per week — or face paying per-employee penalties to the government (via the Internal Revenue Service).

Alan Kreuger, who chairs President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, spun the numbers to persuade the media the President was a visionary whose grand plan to get the economy back on track was destined to succeed.

“In the four years since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has added 5.3 million jobs, thanks to the resilience of the American people and policies like the Recovery Act, which helped bring the recession to an end and put us on the path to recovery,” said Kreuger, who characterized the spectacular turnaround as “further confirmation that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”

State Department: Kerry Worked ‘Nonstop’ During Egypt Crisis; Photo Evidence: Kerry Was Chillin’ On A Boat In Nantucket

The U.S. State Department lied to the American people last week when a spokesperson lionized Secretary of State John Kerry for allegedly sweating bullets as he and President Barack Obama’s National Security Council monitored the unfolding Egyptian regime change in real time.

Jen Psaki with the State Department issued a statement late Wednesday, responding to critics who’d noticed Kerry’s absence from photos of White House meetings where Administration officials were strategizing an American response to the military ouster of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s Mulim Brotherhood President. The statement was meant to deflect anecdotal reports that Kerry had instead been spotted vacationing on his yacht, the Isabel:

Since his plane touched down in Washington at 4 a.m., Secretary Kerry was working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt.

He participated in the White House meeting with the president by secure phone and was and is in non-stop contact with foreign leaders, and his senior team in Washington and Cairo. Any report or tweet that he was on a boat is completely inaccurate.

The only thing completely inaccurate was the State Department’s deception. Kerry was aboard his Isabel as the situation in Egypt deteriorated, and he took the yacht out for a spin again on Friday, even as the State Department’s Psaki issued her version of a mea culpa:

While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday, Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day including participating in the president’s meeting with his national security council.

Regardless of whether the Secretary of State was working while he was playing (or simply playing), the lack of communication among members of the President’s cabinet, along with the Administration’s “lie first” approach to communicating with Americans, represents only its most recent attempt to conceal its own disunity.

As Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro observed: “[I]t’s clear that confusion reigns at the highest levels…President Obama isn’t even leading from behind at this point, simply because he can’t tell which direction is behind.”

George W. Bush Set To Back Immigration Reform

As the House of Representatives prepares an alternative to the omnibus immigration reform billed that cleared the Senate last week, former President George W. Bush will push next week in favor of immigration reform in a speech and panel discussion to be held at his new Presidential library in Dallas.

The event, which will feature 20 (legal) immigrants receiving a grant of citizenship at a naturalization ceremony, will center on the ongoing immigration debate in the U.S., with a panel discussion called “What Immigrants Contribute” to follow Bush’s remarks.

From the Dallas Morning News:

It’s unclear whether the ex-president will stick to generalities during his remarks at the citizenship ceremony, or elevate the conversation with details about the super-sized immigration bill now being debated in Congress.

The George. W. Bush Institute has thrown some weight behind measures to overhaul immigration policies and linked it to its “4% Growth Project,” which proposes such growth would create 10 million additional jobs during the next decade with no rise in government spending. The event will include panels discussing immigration and economic growth, why naturalization matters and “how immigrants serve America.”

Bush attempted – and failed – to coax an immigration bill out of Congress during his second term, after spending most of his first term placing a planned immigration reform effort on the backburner following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Fewer Than Half Of Americans Have Full Time Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics June jobs report that came out Friday predictably polarized liberals, who praised the net gain of 195,000 jobs, and conservatives, who pointed out that most of them were part-time and represented businesses’ fear of Obamacare.

But there’s one negative stat in the report that can’t be spun: only 47 percent of employment-age American are working at full-time jobs. The rest? They’re all either working part time, or they’re not working at all.

The U.S. has an employment-eligible population of 245 million. Of that number, 144 million are working – and of that number, only 116 million hold down full-time jobs. That number is accelerating downward, too, as businesses swap full-time positions for part-time staffing that allows them to escape the Obamacare rule that forces employers to subsidize health care for all employees who work more than 30 hours per week.

Even though the Obama Administration, aware that it’s created an economy-killing boondoggle, announced earlier this week that the employer-subsidy mandate would be postponed until 2015, that announcement came after the June statistics had already been compiled.

Euro Zone Ditching U.S. Data; SCOTUS’ Future; Snowden Snowbound; Egypt’s Military Tightrope; Organs Off The Shelf — Friday Morning News Roundup 7-5-2013

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

  • European businesses are likely to abandon the services of American Internet providers because of the National Security Agency surveillance scandal, the European commission has warned. Source: The Guardian… 
  • In a Reuters interview, 80-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg vowed to resist any pressure to retire that might come from liberals who want to ensure that Democratic President Barack Obama can pick her successor before the November 2016 presidential election. Source: Reuters… 
  • Icelandic lawmakers have introduced a proposal in Parliament that would grant immediate citizenship to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Source: Fox News… 
  • In a statement posted on its Facebook page Friday, Egypt’s armed forces warned against “falling into an endless circle of revenge,” saying it was keen to avoid any extraordinary or arbitrary measures against any faction or political movement. The military is calling for reconciliations ahead of planned rallies by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. Source: Al Arabiya… 
  • A human liver has been grown inside a mouse, giving hope that patients could receive new organs created from their own skin cells within a decade. The breakthrough would eradicate donor waiting lists and the risk of the body rejecting a replacement organ. Source: Metro UK… 

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

Clapper’s NSA Claptrap: ‘Simply Didn’t Think Of’ Patriot Act When I Lied To Congress

James Clapper, director of the National Intelligence Program, apologized this week for lying to Congress in testimony he gave in March at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

That was before Edward Snowden, before the Internal Revenue Service scandal had reached its full burn, before the Justice Department’s Associated Press phone surveillance scandal, before PRISM. The public didn’t even have one eye open when Clapper testified three months ago.

But Clapper has found himself revising his testimony in the court of public opinion ever since the bottomless volcano of spy scandals started belching, terrorizing Americans who’d remained peacefully unaware they’d been living in the Federal government’s dangerous surveillance shadow.

He pulled a Bill Clinton in June, telling NBC’s Andrea Mitchell his earlier testimony represented “what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner” of answering a direct question from Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on whether the National Security Agency (NSA) engaged in a data collection dragnet that sweeps information on millions of Americans.

But this week, Clapper went from “least untruthful” to “I’m sorry.” He wrote Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and posted the letter’s contents on the National Intelligence website Tuesday, apologizing for making “clearly erroneous” statements in denying Congress any informed oversight of the NSA’s immensely broad citizen spying program. He justified the willed omission (i.e., lie) by saying he “simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act,” which enables expanded government spying through use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

I have thought long and hard to re-create what went through my mind at the time. In light of Seantor Wyden’s reference to “dossiers” and faced with the challenge of trying to give an unclassified answer about our intelligence collection activities, many of which are classified, I simply didn’t think of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Instead, my answer addressed collection of the content of communications. I focused in particular of Section 702 of FISA, because we had just been through a year-long campaign to seek reauthorization of this provision and had had many classified discussions about it, including with Senator Wyden. That is why I added a comment about “inadvertent” collection of U.S. person information, because that is what happens under Section 702 even though it is targeted at foreigners.

That said, I realized later that Senator Wyden was asking about Section 215 metadata collection, rather than content collection. Thus, my response was clearly erroneous — for which I apologize.

Take a look at the relevant portion of Clapper’s testimony below, which begins 22 seconds into the video:

 

Remember, Clapper had three months to figure out a way to backtrack, and this letter is what he came up with. Feinstein’s only response to the letter was to say Clapper’s statement “speaks for itself.”

And, since Clapper brought it up, metadata collection is ostensibly too benign, too impersonal, too incapable of revealing to the government any inkling of the intimate aspects of an individual’s life. If you believe his explanation, it was simply too inconsequential a component of the NSA’s surveillance power (both technical and legal) for Clapper to call to mind under direct questioning. In short, metadata can’t tell you much, he’s arguing.

Oh yeah? See this. And this.

Republican Defectors: This ‘Lesser Of Two Evils’ Bit Is Getting Old

Fiscal and/or social conservatives have gotten more and more fed up with moderate Republican political candidates over the years, a fact that galvanized jaded conservative voters in the mid-2000s who came together to form the disparate, but united, Tea Party movement — a movement that hasn’t shown signs of losing momentum.

Now, a study of disaffected conservatives who leave the GOP reveals a corresponding disgust among voters who’ve favored Republican candidates on the reasoning that those politicians may not reflect true conservative values, but at least they’re better than the unrepentant liberals whom they aim to defeat.

This so-called “lesser of two evils” argument has left conservatives voting for the John McCains, Mark Rubios, Rick Santorums and Chris Christies of the world, only to sit through the GOP winners’ elected terms bemoaning that politicians are all the same and that mainstream Republicans are RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).

Market research outfit Frontier Lab examined the attitudes of GOP voters who’ve had enough and identified a number of reasons why they decided to check out. Chief among those was the fatigue of having to choose from between the “two evils” of traditional two-party politics, with some voters striking out in support of independent candidates whose platforms more closely reflected their own conservative views.

In addition, the study found many voters had grown frustrated with what they perceive as a lack of conservative leadership within the Republican Party’s upper echelon, even though many Republican candidates at the local level struggle to reconcile their own conservatism with the national party’s increasingly moderate platform — a platform laid down by the GOP’s centralized, rarefied national politicians, with plenty of help from lobbyists and advisers.

Interestingly, the Tea Party’s grass-roots appeal has filled a void many jaded former Republicans had found lacking, the study notes.

“Beyond losing hope and fatigue with the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument,” the report states, “former Republicans often either rejected the Republican community or found camaraderie in a new one prior to disaffiliating. We saw the Tea Party as instrumental in providing a new sense of community, but also conservative talk radio and independent candidates as other avenues to community outside of the Republican label. In this sense alternative conservative or independent communities play a much larger role than education or political action, but instead supplant and weaken ties to the Republican label.”

View Frontier Lab’s “Switching Behavior” study here.

Lois Lerner Will Testify About IRS Scandal — If She’s Granted Immunity

Lois Lerner, the former director of the Internal Revenue Service’s division responsible for quelling Tea Party groups while fast-tracking liberal nonprofits during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, told a House oversight panel this in May:

I have not done anything wrong, I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee. While I would very much like to answer the committee’s questions today, I have been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject manner of this hearing.

Then she attempted to invoke her 5th Amendment right not to testify against herself.

But now Lerner’s changed her mind, offering to testify about the IRS discrimination scandal — if she’s guaranteed immunity from prosecution. (Hey, no problem — she didn’t do anything wrong, remember?)

On Wednesday, Lerner’s attorney said she would testify before the House oversight committee, telling POLITICO: “They can obtain her testimony tomorrow by doing it the easy way … immunity. That’s the way to resolve all of this.”

The House oversight panel held a bipartisan vote last week, determining that Lerner indeed waived her 5th Amendment protection when, at her hearing in May, she prefaced her “silence” against self-incrimination by first telling the panel she was innocent of any wrongdoing. Republicans pounced, noting that Lerner attempted to have her legal cake and eat it, too, by rewriting the rules on how much a witness can say before clamming up under Constitutional protection.

Under the committee’s assertion that she waived her 5th Amendment rights, Lerner could be held in contempt if she refuses to testify at a future, as-yet unscheduled recall appearance.

Obama’s Approval Numbers Plummet (Again)

President Barack Obama’s rapport with the American people continues to slip. A poll released this week by Investors Business Daily (IBD) shows more than half the country now disapproves of the President’s second-term performance.

Only 41 percent of Americans said they approve of Obama when the survey was conducted at the end of June, as the President shrugged off yet another surveillance scandal before dashing off to a lavish tour of Africa. But a 52 percent majority said they disapprove.

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The surveillance scandals have hit the President hard.

“A clear majority, 59%, said government surveillance invades innocent Americans’ privacy, vs. 34% who disagreed,” the survey summary reports. “Among independents, the split was 72%-25%. Even 42% of Democrats agreed the surveillance invades privacy. Obama has taken heat from his liberal base over the NSA program and the seizure of phone records of AP reporters and Fox News’ James Rosen. Normally friendly editorial pages have been scathing and have noted Obama’s broken 2008 promise to promote civil liberties.”

Obama has seen a particularly steep drop in support from single women — a key demographic that buoyed both his election campaigns. His approval from single women has fallen 29 percent, from 74.5 percent last November to 52.9 percent in late June.

The IBD survey employs a number of factors in assigning the President’s overall approval rating a number known as the Presidential Leadership Index. In only a single month, Obama’s already-low index rating fell from 48.9 to 43.2 on the 100-point scale. “The 11.7% slide was the worst since Obama took office. For the fourth straight month, the reading stood below 50, signaling disapproval,” the report notes.

Police Chief Tries To Shoot Dog; Shoots Owner Instead; Ignores Victim; Gets Sworn In

A North Carolina woman was hit by a ricocheting bullet meant for her dog, after Winston-Salem police chief in-waiting Barry Rountree got scared of the dog last week and tried to shoot it.

The woman, Tamara Whitt, was shot by Rountree as he was responding to a 911 call alleging a man with a gun was roaming the neighborhood, aiming the weapon at people.

Evidently there was such a man: Rountree. Police said after he and other officers arrived in the area to investigate, Whitt’s dog approached them in a “threatening manner.” Rountree got scared of the dog and tried to shoot it, but the .40 caliber bullet bounced off the pavement and hit Whitt in the leg.

According to Whitt – who described her pet’s behavior throughout the ordeal as “very passive” – Rountree’s reaction to her injury was to walk across the street and have a cell phone conversation, then cross back over to ask her if she was alright.

“He did not come to me. He backed away,” she said. “He walked across the street over there by that car over there and he was on his phone … and I told the SBI [State Bureau of Investigation] he did not come to me.”

Whitt hasn’t had the bullet removed; doctors have told her the procedure would be too dangerous.

At the time of the shooting, Rountree was in line to be sworn in as the new Winston-Salem chief of police. He was placed on administrative leave after the shooting, but has since been cleared of any wrongdoing by Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill. Rountree was sworn in as chief of police on June 30.

The dog, a boxer named Lebrone, is still alive, but remains in the custody of Forsyth County Animal Control.

Toy Gun March On Washington Draws 2nd Amendment Supporters

While there’s no sign that remnant supporters of the dubious, now-cancelled  July 4th armed march on Washington, D.C. are coalescing near the capitol with loaded weapons, 2nd Amendment supporters did turn out Wednesday to stage a legal demonstration – using toy guns.

From the “Toy Gun March on DC” Facebook page, the event’s mission is to “communicate the importance of 2nd Amendment rights to the citizens of the District of Columbia.”

The Toy Gun March is a gathering of liberty loving people and their families to promote responsible gun ownership, private charity and to bring public perception of gun owners into a better light.

Due to the fact that it is currently illegal to carry a loaded firearm into the District of Columbia, we liberty lovers have decided to tweak the nose of big government and show Obama what a clown he is for trying to restrict our natural rights. Join us as we march on DC fully armed with toy guns!

 

“We’re trying to make the point that it’s ridiculous for little kids to be getting in trouble for playing with toy guns and being suspended for things like biting a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun,” organizer Austin Petersen told The Huffington Post. “We’re also trying to send the message that gun owners are responsible” and that many, who identify themselves as libertarians, “aren’t all crazy gun nuts.”

The event, which was conceived and staged by Libertarian Republic, also raised money and toy donations for Toys for Tots.

Wednesday’s demonstration did, ultimately, descend into a gun battle – only, at the end, everyone was soaked in water instead of blood, and the “casualties” picked themselves off the capitol grounds and walked away in peace.

Putting Lipstick On Obamacare; Rick Perry’s Buzz Machine; The Gun Veto That Won’t Stick; FBI Sleeps On IRS; Restoring Rubio’s Conservative Cred — Wednesday Morning News Roundup 7-3-2013

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

  • The Administration of President Barack Obama is postponing the “employer mandate”  portion of Obamacare — the part that would levy financial penalties on businesses with more than 50 employees that fail to provide health insurance that meet the minimum standards and “affordability” — until 2015. The move delays implementation of at least one component of the unpopular law until after the next mid-term elections. Source: Human Events… 
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry promised friends and top fundraisers Tuesday he’d reveal “exciting future plans” next week in San Antonio, sparking wide speculation he will announce if he’ll run again for Governor. Source: CBS Houston… 
  • Illinois Governor Pat Quinn moved Tuesday to tighten legislation that would end Illinois’ last-in-the-Nation prohibition on gun owners’ carrying their weapons in public places, setting the stage for near-certain legislative defeat for him next week. Source: Chicago Sun-Times… 
  • More than a month and a half after it was announced that the FBI would launch an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, the groups and their legal representatives are still waiting to hear from the FBI. Source: CNS News… 
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) agreed Tuesday to be the lead sponsor of a Senate bill to ban abortion after an unborn child is 20 weeks old. Source: Weekly Standard… 

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

Nearly Half Of Americans Want Governors To Spurn Obamacare

To date, 26 States have agreed to sign on to an expansion of their Medicaid programs under Obamacare, while 13 have remained firm, opting out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s promise of matching Federal subsidies for those who get with the program.

But with the October start date for State-managed health insurance “exchanges” to begin enrolling applicants, public opinion is souring on Obamacare, as well as on the Governors of States that lined up to become early adopters.

A survey done by Rasmussen Reports in late June reveals that 48 percent of Americans now want State Governors to opt out of Obamacare, while only 41 percent hope their Governor supports the plan. Another 11 percent haven’t made up their minds.

The survey, which polled 1,000 “likely voters” over the telephone, confirms Americans’ steadfast antipathy toward State-managed healthcare. CNN found that public attitude toward Obamacare hasn’t changed much in the three years since Congress approved the plan, with the most recent assessment — done in May of this year — showing 54 percent opposed.

A proliferation of reports indicating insurance rates will increase under Obamacare hasn’t helped sell the plan, especially as the picture of how it will be rolled out becomes clearer. Writing for National Review, James Capretta notes:

Study after study — by Oliver Wyman, by Milliman, and by the Society of Actuaries — have confirmed the views of the experts, which is that premiums are going up a lot for most people in the individual-insurance market. Looking across these studies, one can expect premium increases, on average, in the range of 30 to 50 percent, depending on the state.

Remember when President Barack Obama said this?

Why Doesn’t America Have Feminist Extremists Like These?

Over the weekend, a coven of Ukranian feminists dressed in black robes went to a mosque in Stockholm. They went inside, taking off their shoes as a show of respect. The place was mostly empty, which hurts the impact of what they did a little bit. But we’re all reading about it, so what they did next obviously resonated beyond Sweden.

They ripped off their black robes, revealing slogans emblazoned across their topless torsos. The slogans said things like “No Sharia in Egypt and the world” and “My body is mine, not somebody’s honor.” They shouted things like “Free women!” and “No oppression!”

As happened at a similar protest six weeks ago in Tunisia, the half-naked protesters were hilariously dragged from the scene, probably by sheepish men in impeccable suits. They were jailed and charged on charges of suspicion of disorderly conduct.

The women are members of FEMEN, a 5-year-old Ukranian women’s organization that, unlike the consumer-grade lifestyle feminist movements that preoccupy the affluent ennui of liberals in Western society, actually has a few things to fight about — and Islamic repression lies at the heart of nearly all of it.

“If we did that demonstration in my country, we [would be] raped; we’re going to be cut with knives; we [would be] killed,” said Egyptian protester Aliaa Magda. “We should not be called ‘whores,’ or [told that] we are doing something shameful, like they were calling us today in the mosque,” said another unnamed protester. “They were calling us whores, whores from hell.”

Call them whatever you want. But they’re not fighting for more social support for prostitutes or Federal mandates on access to late-term abortions. They’re fighting against Islamic extremism and the brutal male fantasy of Sharia law, which imposes unbelievable structure, bondage and punishment on women living in societies where Sharia serves as the arbiter of Islamic justice.

The Clarion Project, a New York-based nonprofit group that targets Islamic extremism, describes the danger the United States faces if its political, business and cultural leaders don’t start drawing a line to turn back the slow creep of Sharia influence, as Muslims put down roots in the Western world in greater numbers. It’s clearly a case of encouraging assimilation into liberal Western society, as opposed to fostering pockets of Islamic extremism that remain capable of adhering to Sharia practice in a radical colonization of the West:

Under Muslim Sharia law, the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, and the television you watch would all be censored. Behavior in public is legally restricted and controlled. And Sharia is the ideal social system for those that preach Radical Islam. Sharia is an Arabic term referring to a legal framework to regulate public and private aspects of life based upon specific Islamic teachings.

Sharia does not dominate the rule of law today in western society, but dangerous elements of Sharia are rapidly creeping into institutions across the western world. Sharia has infiltrated major western financial institutions that now run Sharia Finance or Islamic Banking Divisions. Sharia ideology has a very real influence on the creation of public school curriculums and the publication of textbooks in the United States. Radical Islamists promote the idea that Muslim communities should be subject to their own separate law.

Very few American leaders have shown they possess the combination of common sense and resolve necessary to publicly speak against even the extremist form of Islamic practice — even though it prescribes all-out social revolution in countries like the United States and insinuates itself not merely into the religious sphere of citizens’ private lives, but also into the fabric of society itself: jurisprudence, property ownership, law enforcement and politics.

If FEMEN stages one of its protests on American soil, will anyone have the will to stand up and say it’s right?

Rubio’s Immigration Push Not Winning The Hearts Of Hispanic Voters

Even though Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has bent over backwards – or at least 180 degrees – to help craft an immigration reform package amenable to millions of non-citizens residing in the U.S. as illegal aliens, it hasn’t helped his standing in the eyes of Latino voters.

An early poll gauging the tendencies of would-be Hispanic voters in the 2016 Presidential election shows Rubio trailing far behind other possible candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden – though he did lead the pack of Republicans whose names have been tossed around as potential nominees.

According to the poll, conducted by Latino Decisions, eligible voters preferred Clinton over Rubio by a 66 to 28 percent margin; Biden also led Rubio 60 percent to 28 percent. Rubio did receive considerably more interest from Hispanic voters than other Republicans, though, with 29 percent favoring him over Chris Christie (14 percent), Jeb Bush (13 percent) and Paul Ryan (11 percent), among others.

Born in Miami to first-generation Cuban immigrants, Rubio was elected to his Senate seat in 2010 as a come-from-behind candidate, riding a wave of Tea Party support in winning the Republican nomination over incumbent Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

Borrowing From The Borrowers To Fund Obamacare

As Congress fights over whether to permanently raise interest rates on Federal student loans, or to keep them level or peg them to financial markets, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a report that indicates the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will appropriate billions of dollars in student loan interest to subsidize the state-managed health insurance program.

According to the report, Obamacare will incur an additional $8.7 billion in interest on Federal student loans over the next ten years. The government is claiming it will save more than $60 billion by eliminating bank-based lending and administering student loans in-house, but instead of passing that savings on to borrowers, it’s breaking off a huge chunk for Obamacare.

That means the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found a way to bankroll the ACA on the backs of young people, regardless of whether they actively choose to buy in to Obamacare (and many have said that they won’t.)

In a sad way, though, it’s a no-harm, no-foul situation for the busted student loan program. Student entitlements have been a major factor in driving up college costs and bloating university programs for decades. Perhaps Monday’s doubling of student loan interest rates will have the same effect on the wallets of young would-be borrowers as Obamacare, passing the threshold at which it makes financial sense for them to opt in.

Obama Does Damage Control; European Romance Shattered; China & Russia On A Boat; Muslim Brotherhood Digs In For Morsi; Dems Run For The Hills As Obamacare Looms — Tuesday Morning News Roundup 7-2-2013

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

  • President Barack Obama has sought to limit the damage from the growing transatlantic espionage row after Germany and France denounced the major snooping activities of U.S. agencies and warned of a possible delay in the launch next week of ambitious free-trade talks between Europe and the U.S. Source: The Guardian… 
  • It has taken a long time, but the world’s fantasies about Barack Obama are finally crumbling. In Europe, once the headquarters of the global cult of Obama, Monday’s newspapers were full of savage quotes about the perfidy of the Obama-led U.S. Source: Financial Times…
  • China will join Russia later this week for its largest-ever naval drills with a foreign partner, underlining deepening ties between the former Cold War rivals along with Beijing’s desire for closer links with regional militaries. Source: The Guardian… 
  • A member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party addressed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters on Tuesday, calling on them to sacrifice themselves in defense of Morsi’s legitimacy in the face of millions of demonstrators who demand an end to his rule. Source: Egypt Independent… 
  • With just three months away from the Oct. 1 enrollment start date, nothing about the Obamacare implementation process should be politically encouraging for Democrats. In fact, the more people learn about Obamacare, the more frightened they become. Source: Washington Post…

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

Concealed Carry Dawns In Violent, ‘Gun-Free’ Chicago

Over the objection of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, it will soon be legal to carry a concealed weapon on the streets of Chicago.

The change in the law comes via the actions of conservatives in the Illinois Legislature, as well as from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that discarded a Chicago “carve-out” exemption that would have continued to allow Cook County and its municipalities to pass broad gun bans. A supermajority of the State Legislature passed a “veto-proof” concealed carry bill in January, making Illinois a “shall-issue” State in spite of the Governor’s strident opposition. Under the law, the State police are responsible for the licensing process, a prerogative that can’t be usurped by municipal fiat.

While 2nd Amendment supporters aren’t crazy about Illinois’ gun laws in general, those among Cook County’s 358,000 gun owners (yes, that number represents those who are “registered”) can at least expect the same measure of protection (or infringement) under the State’s mechanism for regulating gun ownership as that enjoyed by residents everywhere else in Illinois.

Under the new law, the Illinois State Police shall issue a concealed carry license to “any gun owner with a state-issued Firearm Owners Identification [FOI] card, who passes a background check, pays a $150 fee, and undergoes 16 hours of training.” FOI permits must be renewed every five years, and guns are still outlawed in government buildings and on college and school campuses.

On the bright side, any municipality that takes steps to add its own regulations on top of the State gun law faces a per-day penalty of $10,000 per occurrence — even Chicago.

Palin: Leaving GOP An Option For Conservatives Who’ve Had Enough

Conservatives’ frustration over mainstream Republican response to expanded government surveillance, immigration reform, and financial and administrative bloat leaves them with few options for effecting fundamental changes via the traditional political process — at least as long as that process is dominated by two political parties that are, especially on the national level, often indistinguishable.

Sarah Palin intimated Saturday on FOX News that the time may be near when conservatives disenfranchised by elected leaders who represent their interests less poorly than a more liberal opponent, but still not well, may wake up and realize that the modern American political landscape is a product of citizens’ own making and that it should be changed.

 

Palin reminded viewers that Republican and Democrat are appellations affixed to private political parties, that they don’t entwine with any founding document or Constitutional charter, and that nothing prevents Americans from organizing new parties and movements if they’re fed up with how far the collective ideology of the ruling class has strayed from its primary role of enacting the will of the people.

“Remember, these are private parties, and no one’s forcing us to be enlisted in either party,” she said. “If the GOP continues to back away from the planks in our platform, then, yeah, more and more of us are gonna start saying, ‘You know, what’s wrong with being an independent?’ — kind of that libertarian streak that much of us have.

“In other words, we want government to back off and not infringe upon our rights. I think there will be a lot of us who start saying, ‘GOP, if you abandon us, we have nowhere else to go except to become more independent and not enlisted in one or the other of the private majority parties that rule in our Nation — either Democrat or Republican.’”

Palin pointed to the Senate’s hasty passage of a bipartisan immigration bill, which lawmakers passed without having read through it, as a prime example of both parties’ summary disregard for the electors who placed them in Washington, D.C.

“I think that Republicans who caved, along with Democrats who caved in to [President Barack] Obama’s wishes to legalize illegal aliens, is a matter of a lack of principle and respect for the rule of law. This was an absolute betrayal of working-class Americans who do respect the rule of law and [of] legal immigrant who have come here, stood in line and paid their dues — that’s some of the hypocrisy of our permanent political class in Washington, D.C., which is such an indication of such a problem about abandonment of what we, the people, expect from our representatives and those whom we elect to fulfill the will of the people.”

The stranglehold the two-party system has had on the quadrennial popularity contest known as the Presidential election showed brief signs of weakening in 2008 and in subsequent midterm elections. But even though the Tea Party movement drove a wedge between some RINO politicians and their conservative constituents, it often meant different things (Is the Tea Party about small government only, or does it embrace social conservatism across the board?) to people in different States.

Going forward, can conservatives’ frustrations galvanize future leaders — and their electors — in a more organized fashion? And, if so, will the idealism of a conservative party’s constituents get in the way of the necessary bureaucratic operational mechanics required for a modern political party to function on a national scale? Or will conservatives, as Palin suggests, be content with a grass-roots approach, backing independent candidates and winning small political victories here and there, biding their time until there’s finally sufficient will among our elected leaders to reform the underpinnings of America’s morally bankrupt two-party system?

Obama’s $7 Billion “Power Africa” Energy Scheme

President Barack Obama revealed a plan to bring electricity to sub-Saharan Africa on a massive scale Sunday, pledging $7 billion in Federal funds to a new program he said will bring “light where there is currently darkness.”

Under the President’s “Power Africa” program, the U.S. will commit to funding the expansion of the region’s infrastructure by undertaking projects that ambitiously seek to double the reach of the electrical grid. The President’s own assessment of the project pinpoints the overall capital investment needed to accomplish that goal at $300 billion.

Obama announced the initiative Sunday at a stop on his African itinerary in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age,” said the President. “It’s the light that children study by, the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business. It’s the lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs, and it’s the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy.”

More than 85 percent of rural sub-Saharan Africa has no electrical infrastructure, affecting approximately two-thirds of the population.

Critics fret that such massive American investment in an area with a history of political instability (to say the least) could result in giving power players in regional conflicts a new, high-stakes trophy to justify more civil strife.

California Sheriff Strips Feds Of Enforcement Authority Over 2nd Amendment Rights

John D’Agostini, Sheriff of El Dorado County, Calif., has revoked the authority of U.S. Forest Service officers to enforce State law within his countywide jurisdiction. The new policy is set to kick in July 22.

D’Agostini said he made the decision after hearing numerous complaints from visitors to the El Dorado National Forest who reported being stopped by Forestry officers and questioned about their activities on Federal public lands. Complainants said the Federal officers showed particular interest in whether they were carrying guns.

“They want to know what you’re doing here, where you’re going, do you have any firearms on board?” park visitor Cory Ward told CBS Sacramento.

D’Agostini said he takes seriously the “style and manner of service we provide” to citizens and visitors, and that the Forest Service, “after many attempts and given many opportunities, has failed to meet that standard.”

A Forest Service representative is set to meet with D’Agostini this Wednesday in an attempt to resolve the standoff, but legal experts say the Sheriff is within his rights to supersede the Feds on determining whether they can enforce State law in his county.

‘A Victory For Common Sense’: Charges Dropped Against Teen Who Wore NRA Shirt To School

More than two months after 14-year-old West Virginia student Jared Marcum wore a National Rifle Association T-shirt to Logan Middle School, criminal charges stemming from his refusal to take off the shirt have been dropped.

Logan County Circuit Judge Eric O’Briant dismissed a charge of obstruction last Thursday, following an agreement struck with prosecutors and school faculty that there was no point in creating a criminal record for Jared, whose behavioral record as a student was previously unblemished.

(Side note: It took two months for adults to reach that conclusion?)

Prosecutors had been forging ahead in the case as recently as Monday of last week, when Jared was summoned back into court after the State had requested a gag order against both Jared and his father, Allen Lardieri, who had appeared on several television stations discussing the case.

Prosecutors had claimed the order was for the defendant’s own protection, but defense attorney Ben White found that a risible argument, saying it was simply a PR move designed “to take it [the case] out of the court of public opinion.”

Jared was immediately suspended following the T-shirt incident, during which he continued talking about how his 1st Amendment rights were being violated after band teacher David Burroway, who evidently wasn’t too keen on the 2nd Amendment, told him to stop arguing about changing shirts. But the then-eighth-grader’s persistence in voicing his beliefs incurred an obstruction charge.

Upon his return to school, Jared’s fellow students signaled their solidarity by wearing their own NRA T-shirts to class, with no opposition from school administrators.

“I think, with the gun issue, with what is going on, this is a victory for common sense,” White told WOWK-TV after the charges had been dropped. Jared’s parents have indicated they will file a civil suit against the school system.

Sanity Prevails: Traffic Cams Come Down; Judge Holds Ohio Town In Contempt

An Ohio judge has slapped town leaders in the Village of Elmwood Place, a Cincinnati suburb, with a contempt charge and has ordered the county sheriff’s office to dismantle and impound the traffic monitoring cameras the town had been using to ticket speeders.

Elmwood Place must also pay for storage fees incurred by the impoundment, and it must refund money it has collected from alleged speeders “caught” by the cameras since they were installed in September.

Judge Robert Ruehlman made the ruling last week at a contempt hearing in which he found both the town and the camera company — Maryland-based Optotraffic — in violation of an injunction in place since March. That’s when Ruehlman found the cameras UnConstitutional and barred the town from operating the cameras and collecting any more fees from motorists.

Under its service contract, the town was collecting 60 percent of revenues from the camera-generated tickets, with Optotraffic taking the rest. But the judge slammed both parties after learning the town had turned the cameras back on, ostensibly only to collect traffic data, and had continued to accept an additional $48,000 in fines from motorists who had come in to pay off outstanding tickets, at $105 a pop, after the date of the original injunction.

Drivers paid their fines through Optotraffic, and town officials said refunds will have to be issued from data the company maintains, since no one in Elmwood Place has any record of who received a ticket. Overall, the town and contractor have collected more than $1.7 million in camera-based ticket fines since the devices were installed.

Ruehlman called the ticketing program “a scam that the motorists can’t win.”

“The entire case against the motorist is stacked because the speed monitoring device is calibrated and controlled by Optotraffic,” he wrote.

The Ohio House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a ban on red light and speeding camera enforcement last Wednesday, sending the legislation to the State Senate for approval. If passed, only mobile camera enforcement within school zones, during restricted hours, would be permitted.

The Columbus Dispatch lamented the House vote in an editorial, calling the ban “reckless lawmaking” that places individual freedom over public safety.

[T]he Ohio House on Wednesday threw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s now up to the Senate to block House Bill 69, a wholesale ban of an important law-enforcement tool… Sure, many drivers hate these cameras. But as a result, most change their driving behavior for the better. For lawmakers to cave to populist sentiment by helping people skirt safety laws is bad policy.

An untold number of Ohioans have been spared accidents and are still around to complain about their tickets. The Senate should recognize that it is being asked to make roads less safe and reject this bill.

A leading Senate Republican said he favors banning the cameras, but can’t predict how the bill will fare in the Senate.