Report Questions Motives Behind Post-Midterm Timing Of Obama Administration’s Next Wave Of Regulations

A new report from the American Action Forum (AAF) suggests President Barack Obama may have had this year’s midterm elections in mind when coordinating the implementation of a bevy of new environmental, health, finance and labor regulations.

“After reviewing the administration’s most recent agenda of federal rulemakings, it appears there are at least 15 major regulations scheduled for release after the upcoming midterms,” AAF wrote in a report released Thursday. “Combined, just six of these rules could impose more than $34 billion in costs.”

AAF, which describes itself as a “center-right policy institute,” noted the $34 billion estimate may be a very conservative one. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ground-level ozone standards plan, scheduled to be published in December of this year, “actually does not have an attached cost,” AAF noted, observing that the same standards, which Obama vetoed in 2011, were projected at the time to cost $90 billion.

The report acknowledges that many of these regulations have been in the works for a long time. However, the White House has already demonstrated — as it is now doing with the EPA’s controversial carbon proposals, which are still in the public comment phase — that it may have had politics in mind, all along, by coordinating with Federal agencies to ensure unpopular policies won’t be enacted until after Election Day.

Whether that’s a coincidence is, of course, a matter of speculation. But that speculation is reasonable to anyone who observed the Obama Administration’s post-election timing of new rules back in 2012.

“Recently, numerous reports have highlighted how the White House delayed controversial regulations until after Election Day in 2012,” AAF wrote. “… Many of these [new] regulations are controversial, including the GHG [greenhouse gas] rule, and have spent years in the courts and the rulemaking process. Regardless of possible motive, if this schedule remains in place, there will be no shortage of major regulations issued immediately after Election Day.”

For a tabular breakdown of the rules changes that won’t come until after the November elections, see AAF’s full report.

Maine Governor Curbs Public Assistance To ‘Able-Bodied’ Recipients Unless They Work

Acting on the order of Republican Governor Paul LePage, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the State would stop administering Federal food stamp benefits to capable residents who do not hold jobs, receive job training or do volunteer work.

In a statement, the Governor explained his rationale, saying people in need “deserve a hand up, but we should not be giving able-bodied individuals a handout… We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”

According to Portland NBC affiliate WCSH-TV, the new rule, set to take effect on Oct. 1, applies to adult food stamp recipients who do not claim any dependents. It will require them to work or volunteer for 20 hours per week in order to continue receiving food stamps, now formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Recipients can also meet the requirement by participating in the Maine Department of Labor’s Competitive Skills Scholarship Program, which trains residents in developing practical job skills.

The SNAP program is funded by the Federal government but is administered by the States. LePage’s plan would affect approximately 12,000 Maine residents.

More from the report:

In an interview with NEWS CENTER, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew emphasized that the change only affects SNAP recipients with are not disabled, not elderly and have no dependents. She says that means it will not affect single mothers, for example. DHHS says federal law already requires work for those recipients, but Mayhew says Maine has been operating under a federal waiver since 2009. The waiver expires at the end of September and Mayhew says the state will not renew it. She says the lower unemployment rate and improving economy should make it more feasible for those people to find jobs. But DHHS is also stressing that specific education or training programs can also qualify, as can approved community service work.

Democratic elected leaders in Maine reportedly aren’t happy about the end of no-work food stamps, criticizing LePage for playing politics and neglecting the plight of poor people in the State’s rural areas, where the logistics of getting and keeping part-time work aren’t feasible for people who lack funds.

In June, LePage made a similar move to curb wasteful applications of public assistance, announcing a plan to end State benefits for illegal immigrants who reside in Maine. “[I]llegal aliens who choose to live in Maine are not our most vulnerable citizens,” LePage explained in a radio address discussing the proposal.

Interesting nugget: LePage himself reportedly was homeless as a child.

Robbers Use Gun On Gun-Free Campus To – What Else? – Rob Four Ohio Students

Guns are forbidden on the campus of the private Case Western University in Ohio, so it has some built-in value as a safe place for anybody with criminal intent against person and property.

Over the weekend, three guys concealed their faces with hoodies and bandannas, came into a common area for on-campus housing, pulled out a handgun, and robbed four unlucky (and obviously unarmed) students.

The affair took place in the middle of the day Saturday. No one was injured and, according to a reporter for the Northeast Ohio Media Group, “most of” the victims’ possessions were recovered at a nearby house.

Case Western responded predictably, issuing a statement the following Monday saying “we feel compelled to take significant immediate, short- and long-term action to increase security on campus.” The short-term answer was to place a security guard in Wade Commons, the group area where the robbery occurred and to order keycard-activated locks.

Long-term steps involve installing a door buzzer and security camera, as well as to “assess the university’s entire 500-acre campus’s perimeter, which borders several economically stressed neighborhoods in Cleveland and East Cleveland,” according to a follow-up report.

There was no mention of reevaluating the university’s gun policy.

It isn’t the first, or even the second, instance of on-campus violence this year. A woman was robbed at gunpoint in front of a campus building on June 10; another man was robbed of his cell phone in April, by a perpetrator who, according to witnesses, was carrying a pistol.

Obama Dinner Fire Sale: Price Of Seats Slashed At President’s California Fundraisers

President Barack Obama’s fundraising junket on the west coast has reportedly hit a wall, with per-plate prices for the Democratic fundraising dinners which he headlines tanking from a previous high of $32,400 to as little as $5,000.

That’s getting into hoi polloi territory.

Why the price cut? Donor fatigue, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“President Obama hit the Bay Area for a fast cash-and-grab fundraising drive Wednesday, but there were signs that even in one of the nation’s most reliable Democratic ATMs, donor fatigue is setting in,” the Chronicle reported this morning.

“Democratic donors who were invited to the San Francisco event, at the Four Seasons Hotel on Market Street, said they had initially been asked to donate as much as $25,000 to sit down with Obama. One who balked at the price said organizers had offered a cut-rate deal of as little as $5,000,” the report also revealed.

A San Francisco event also reportedly began offering tickets at a deep discount, even though similar events in the past have routinely enjoyed ticket prices of $32,400 per guest.

Only three months have passed since Obama made a similar trip through Silicon Valley to pass the hat, and one unnamed invitee (the report doesn’t say whether the invitee actually attended an event this time around) told the Chronicle it feels as though donors are being asked to pay more for the privilege of the President’s brief company — while receiving less than they’re used to.

“Five-thousand dollars to sit down with the president for an hour? That’s usually what it costs for a photo of you and your whole family.”

Someone Finally Acknowledges Obama’s Transcendent Power Over The Moral Universe

In a spasm of progressive wordsmithing that may have inadvertently forged a new slogan for MSNBC, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, rhapsodically greeted President Barack Obama for a party fundraiser Wednesday by declaring that Obama is “bending the arc of the moral universe forward.”

Some of us understand metaphors and such; but, try as we might, we have no idea what this means. It vaguely sounds like something Jesus might have done.

For Inslee, evidently, worship is the idea. In a midterm election cycle that has seen incumbent Democrats divided over whether to acknowledge their President and risk offending voters who don’t approve of Obama or whether to run from him — even if it means skipping out on your own fundraiser to avoid having your picture taken with him — Inslee is all in.

With two years remaining before voters have the chance to elect another Governor (Inslee scraped by Republican Rob McKenna in the 2012 election), maybe Inslee feels like there’s time enough to disassociate from Obama when it counts.

The Governor’s paean to Obama came at the home of a Seattle real estate developer, where Obama himself took the mic to repeat his threat of executive action to circumvent obstructionist Republicans in Congress, comparing them with luddites who wouldn’t have sent a man to the moon.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

… Obama had sharp words for Republicans in Congress. He praised past Republican presidents: Eisenhower for interstate highways, Nixon for the Environmental Protection Agency. “The problem is that the bunch we have now have gone off the rails,” he said.

He wants to cooperate, said Obama, but: “When I can’t get Congress to help I’m going to do everything I can on my own.”

…Obama evoked Sunday’s 45th anniversary of the moon landing. On Monday, he had Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, and Neil Armstrong’s widow, to the White House.

“Nobody went to the moon because they were skeptics. Naysayers put nobody on the moon.”

It’s worth mentioning that Obama wouldn’t let the press in to Tuesday’s White House celebration of the moon landing, a move that elicited a formal complaint from a very thoroughly infuriated White House Correspondents’ Association.

Back in Seattle, Obama also delivered a minor revelation that sheds new light on his repeated claim that he routinely learns about his Administration’s scandals only when he, along with the rest of America, sees breaking reports about the scandals on TV news.

“Obama did raise eyebrows with an offhand remark about the news media,” the Post-Intelligencer’s Joel Connelley reported. “He doesn’t usually watch the news, Obama quipped, because ‘whatever they’re reporting, I already know.’”

Can both claims be true?

Probably — but only if you know how to bend the arc of the moral universe.

Another Day, Another IRS Revelation: Backups From The Lois Lerner Era Do Exist, Commissioner Admits

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, in front of Congressional investigators for the third time in the last month, admitted today that the agency does possess backup drives that may contain the elusive data that allegedly went missing when former Exempt Organizations administrator Lois Lerner’s computer hard drive crashed.

Koskinen would not attest to the probability of finding anything of interest on the backup drives, though, saying only that an inspector general’s investigation is in the process of reviewing their data. The tape-based devices, intended as six-month backup storage for everyday IRS electronic communications and client-side storage, reportedly date from the time Lerner’s computer hard drive crashed in 2011. Koskinen had told the House Oversight Committee at a previous hearing that the data could not be recovered.

During today’s session, Koskinen also informed a subcommittee of the House Oversight panel that the IRS was dropping its internal investigation into the political discrimination scandal that revolves around the missing data, saying the agency will henceforth defer to the inspector general’s investigation.

Republicans on the Oversight panel were as incredulous as ever at Koskinen’s testimony, insisting that the entire saga of missing emails and serendipitous hard drive crashes, along with the agency’s slow-footed and sometimes contradictory information, suggested a coverup.

“All I’m saying is that timing is pretty suspect,” Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said, with Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) adding, “You guys sat on the information for several months.”

Republicans continue to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the scandal.

IRS Says Lerner’s Emails May Be Recoverable After All

Along with news this week that several additional Internal Revenue Service employees with ties to Lois Lerner suffered computer crashes came another minor revelation from agency lawyer Thomas Kane, who told a Congressional panel that, just maybe, Lerner’s long-lost emails can still be retrieved.

On Monday, the House Oversight Committee released a portion of a transcript from testimony Kane had given last week, revealing that Kane suggested the possibility that tape drives used to archive IRS employees’ electronic data may still be intact, with her communications on them.

“I don’t know if there is a backup tape with information on it or there isn’t. I know that there’s an issue out there about it,” Kane told the Oversight Committee. “… It’s an issue that’s being looked at.”

As noncommittal as that sounds, what’s especially interesting is the fact that, if those drives are still out there — and if they still do contain Lerner’s emails — it’s because the IRS, once again, hasn’t been following its own protocols.

IRS policy calls for tape drives used for backup storage to be “recycled” every six months. That is, after a drive has successfully stored six months’ worth of information, that information can be erased and replaced with new backup data from the present. The emails relating to Lerner’s alleged computer crash date from some still-unknown time beginning in 2011 — when her computer supposedly went on the fritz.

Kane’s testimony that the drives (and with them, Lerner’s emails) may still be out there also contradicted IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s testimony before the Oversight Committee last month, when he averred that all the backup drives used to save data generated in the IRS Exempt Organizations Division had been recycled.

Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) pounced on that revelation, accusing the agency of sloppy management and suggesting Koskinen is still attempting to conceal the truth from House investigators.

“Finding out that IRS Commissioner Koskinen jumped the gun in reporting to Congress that the IRS ‘confirmed’ all backup tapes had been destroyed makes me even more suspicious of why he waited months to inform Congress about lost Lois Lerner emails,” Issa said following Kane’s testimony. “Commissioner Koskinen has repeatedly blamed the reporting delay on an effort to be sure what he said was correct. We now know that wasn’t the case.”

Democrats Pledge To Live A Week On Minimum Wage

It’s been a while since Congressional Democrats have rallied around President Barack Obama’s push for a Federal minimum wage increase, so it’s about time for some fresh publicity. The midterms are less than four months away.

So this week, a gaggle of Democratic Representatives is putting itself through the minimum wage austerity experience, attempting to get by on $77 for a week — a budget that’s supposed to reflect the discretionary spending power that comes from earning a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Here’s how progressive blog ThinkProgress weeps over the tribulations of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who joined with Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Keith Ellinson (D-Minn.), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and others in attempting to subsist on fast-food earnings:

Since he began his minimum wage challenge on Sunday, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, now president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has had eggs and toast, a bowl of cereal with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a banana. On Monday, he came to work with a bologna and cheese sandwich and a banana. “I’m not sure what I’m going to have for supper,” he told ThinkProgress.

He’s also had to give up some pleasures. “I was walking by a nice restaurant last night near my apartment and people were sitting outside and eating nice food and drinking,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘You know what would be nice? To have a cold beer.’ But you know, I didn’t. Ordinarily I would, but if you don’t have much money there’s a lot of things you can’t do.”

Sounds like he’s in a cold, dark place.

This “Live The Wage Challenge” theater is the product of a push, on the five-year anniversary of the last Federal minimum wage increase, to persuade Congress to raise the Federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The challenge, which has a website that invites you to participate, is sponsored by dozens of labor unions and progressive organizations, according to a report from The Washington Free Beacon.

Instead of living for one week on minimum wage, perhaps well-intentioned Democrats could challenge themselves to live for one year on a middle-class wage (while they’re at it, they might even consider enriching the endeavor by doing middle-class work). It would be an experience far more representative of Americans who, while working to pursue their careers and long-term goals, must make tough financial decisions that have lifelong consequences.

Obama’s Fundraising Trip Will Spend Public Funds; Features Only One Job-Related Stop

The last President did it; this President does it, and the next President will likely do it, too: flying around on Air Force One for political cheerleading and fundraising, with a nominal job-related stop along the way to justify using public funds to pay the expense of the entire trip.

President Barack Obama’s schedule for the next three days involves jetting around on Air Force One for a trip that will include five fundraisers in three cities: Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, with the only planned presidential stop a speech on the economy at a vocational school in Los Angeles.

Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard did simple math to arrive at a $2.85 million price tag for that trip – and that’s only the cost of flying the plane:

At $228,288 an hour, the base flight time of 12.5 hours from Washington to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and back to Andrews Air Force Base will cost taxpayers $2.85 million.

Expensive? That bill doesn’t include the cost of flying and housing staff and the Secret Service, or the prepositioning of equipment like limos to get the president from his hotel to events.

More reason to pile on Obama, right? Sure, but he isn’t the only President who’s spent public money to generate money for his party. Democrats were staking out moral high ground during the George W. Bush presidency, criticizing Bush for using Air Force One as a fundraising slingshot during midterm election cycles.

Obama has spent more than Bush – in part because fuel costs more now – but arguing over which President spends more is an academic matter, when set against the realization that our election laws allow for the practice in the first place.

Figuring out how the White House follows the law is itself a mystery. “I’ve never been able to find anything concrete, so we never know the bottom-line cost of any presidential trip,” Brian Doherty, a political science professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, told The Washington Times for a 2012 story on presidential campaign spending. And Doherty’s an expert on the topic – he’s even written a book about it.

Beretta Moving From Gun-Strict Maryland To Gun-Friendly Tennessee

Beretta USA Corp. announced today it will move its current firearms manufacturing operation in Maryland to Tennessee, citing the threat of more gun control laws in Maryland that, if passed, would make it illegal for the company to sell its product in the very State where it’s produced.

In a press release on Beretta’s website , General Manager Jeff Cooper explained the company already had intended to open a Gallatin, Tenn. location to produce new product designs, but that the political climate in Maryland led to a decision to move its entire Maryland manufacturing operation – and with it, 300 jobs – to the Tennessee facility.

From the statement:

“During the legislative session in Maryland that resulted in passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, the version of the statute that passed the Maryland Senate would have prohibited Beretta U.S.A. from being able to manufacture, store or even import into the State products that we sell to customers throughout the United States and around the world. While we were able in the Maryland House of Delegates to reverse some of those obstructive provisions, the possibility that such restrictions might be reinstated in the future leaves us very worried about the wisdom of maintaining a firearm manufacturing factory in the State,” stated Jeff Cooper, General Manager for Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

“While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility,” Cooper added.

Beretta still hasn’t broken ground on its $45 million Tennessee location, and it will be 2015 before the company makes its move out of Maryland. Interestingly, Beretta will continue to keep its Administrative headquarters in Accokeek, Md.

In 2014, Nearly Half Of Americans Aren’t Sure If Barack Obama Is A U.S. Citizen

Birtherism as a political phenomenon may have had its moment, but don’t tell that to nearly half the people who responded to a Rasmussen poll released Monday. By Rasmussen’s count, 40 percent of Americans either firmly believe President Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen, or they haven’t been fully persuaded that he is.

According to the poll, 23 percent say Obama definitely isn’t a citizen, while another 17 percent say they aren’t sure. On the other hand, 60 percent reject the idea that Obama’s not a U.S. citizen.

Republicans make up the majority of those who believe Obama has lied about his citizenship, with 41 percent responding that he’s not a citizen and another 20 percent indicating they aren’t sure. Among Democrats, there are (somehow) 11 percent who believe Obama isn’t a citizen, and 7 percent who haven’t made up their minds.

The poll, which covers public opinion about a range of alternate history narratives and conspiracy theories, reveals that the lingering suspicion over Obama’s citizenship is much more pervasive than other popular theories about hidden truths:

Last November, on the 50th anniversary of the [President John F. Kennedy] assassination, 36% of adults said Kennedy was the victim of a lone gunman, but just as many (37%) said he was the victim of a larger conspiracy.

One-in-four adults (24%) are convinced that the U.S. government knew in advance about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and did nothing to stop them, and 19% more are not sure. Only 57% say that conspiracy theory is false.

Just as many (23%) say the theory that Obama is not an American citizen is true, with another 17% who aren’t sure. Sixty percent (60%) reject that theory as false.

Interestingly, however, more Americans (82%) are willing to declare as false the theory that Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash in 1966 and replaced by the Beatles than are willing to reject any of the other conspiracy theories we asked about.

In addition, there are more people who believe Obama is not a U.S. citizen than there are people who believe the U.S. faked sending men to the moon, that a real UFO with aliens aboard crashed near Roswell, N.M., or that Shakespeare is not the true author of “Hamlet” and “Macbeth.”

Immigrants With Criminal Pasts Often Go Free In The U.S. When ICE Runs Out Of Options

Whenever U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains illegal immigrants or legal foreign nationals with criminal backgrounds, its efforts to deport them to their native countries aren’t always successful — not by a long shot. And whenever ICE exhausts available legal mechanisms in attempting to return those who have committed crimes — even if they’re in the country legally — to their homes, it sets those criminals free in the United States.

A remarkable investigative story Sunday in Minneapolis’ Star Tribune recounts the aftermath of one such failed deportation: the freeing of Somali national Omar Kalmio, who subsequently murdered four people in North Dakota. He was convicted in 2013.

“Omar Kalmio was never supposed to get to North Dakota,” the Tribune’s Mark Brunswick wrote. “The Somali national from Eagan was supposed to be deported because of his violent criminal record in Minnesota. Instead, he was released from custody when federal officials could not send him back to Somalia. Eight months later, he murdered four people in Minot in one of the most deadly crimes ever committed in modern-day North Dakota.”

While the audacity of his crime may seem aberrant, the circumstances that allowed Kalmio the free rein to kill people are not. In the region the Tribune examined, most of the immigrants whom ICE has set free are criminals.

“In the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota, more than 85 percent of the more than 800 who have been released are what the government considers their most dangerous offenders,” the report states. “Many have committed additional crimes after being released from an immigration system that appears hamstrung and intensely secretive.”

Nationwide, ICE has released at least five convicted terrorists and “hundreds” of convicted murderers.

It has to do this, under U.S. law. Currently, the government must operate under a six-month time constraint to deport foreign nationals who’ve been convicted of crimes in the U.S. or whose deeper criminal pasts surface through fresh documentation. But once that period expires, there’s no legal backup plan. As the report indicates, U.S. courts have consistently protected immigrants — even those who represent criminal risks — from indefinite detainment.

Inevitably, immigrants’ home countries don’t want to take back known criminals, and they often stall the bureaucratic process with the knowledge that the problem will forever fall in the lap of the U.S. government, once six months have passed.

Since the early 2000s, when court precedents set the tone for the policies ICE now follows, “Congress has struggled to set the balance between protecting the public and protecting the Constitution,” wrote Brunswick. “So far, it has found no answer.”

IRS Reveals More Crashed Computers With At Least One Thing In Common: Lois Lerner

That fatal computer flu that did in Lois Lerner’s hard drive must have been nasty contagious.

The IRS told a Congressional panel last week that several more previously-undisclosed instances of “computer problems” had afflicted the devices of IRS employees who had regular interoffice communications with Lerner.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a portion of the transcript from testimony it received last week from IRS Deputy Associate Chief Counsel Tom Kane, who told the panel that other IRS employees – “less than 20” in his words – had also experienced computer crashes.

That new group of unfortunates includes people like Lerner advisor David Fish, IRS Cincinnati field office employee Kimberly Kitchens, and IRS Exempt Organizations employee Andy Megosh. Lerner was the head of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit until May of 2013, when she was placed on administrative leave after revealing that the agency had used bureaucratic stonewalling tactics to discriminate against conservative nonprofit groups during President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.

The House of Representatives found Lerner in Contempt of Congress in May of this year over her refusal to testify about her alleged role in the scandal.

Kitchens, you may recall, was among many Obama donors/IRS employees who spent more than twice as much of their personal funds on Obama’s reelection campaign than on that of his Republican opponent in 2012, Mitt Romney.

Kane also told the Oversight Committee last week that it’s possible that backup tape drives housing some of the “lost” email data may, in fact, still be around somewhere – even though it’s agency policy to overwrite the backups after six months.

At any rate, these computer-death coincidences are becoming remarkable indeed. So take us out, Remy:

H/T: Reason TV

Walmart Tests Low-Cost ‘Doc-In-A-Box’ Walk-In Clinics

A small number of Walmart stores in the South are serving as laboratories for an idea the company hopes to expand throughout the Nation: low-cost, walk-in healthcare clinics that focus on minor medical needs, preventive treatments and management for chronic illnesses.

The clinics, simply called “Walmart Care Clinics,” will offer $40 walk-ins for anyone except the company’s own employees, who — so long as they participate in the company’s healthcare plan — can use the clinics for $4 per visit.

Depending on where you live, you may have already become accustomed to seeing some type of health clinic at the nearby Walmart. But until this year, all of the clinics inside those stores have been owned and operated by outside contractors who lease the space. This new experiment, on the other hand, is all Walmart.

Although the clinics that have opened so far are staffed by nurse practitioners, the range of services they provide is similar to that offered by a general practitioner physician’s office: lab work, shots, hypertension and diabetes management, and referrals to outside specialists.

“We have a nickname for these things. We call them docs in a box,” Columbia, S.C.-based Medical consultant Lynn Bailey told WIS-TV News last week. “They’re actually quite good at managing diabetics and hypertension and high cholesterol.”

The first Walmart Care Clinic opened in Copperas Cove, Texas, in April. Since then, the company has opened a few more in Texas, and it should have two more locations at a pair of Walmart stores in South Carolina. According to The Dallas Morning News, Walmart’s goal is to have a dozen clinics operating by the end of 2014.

Aside from whatever profits the company might be able to glean by appealing to the enormous volume of customers who inevitably end up using one of the many adjunct services at Walmart stores (tax prep, banking, vision care, tire and lube, florists and more), the company may be acting out of necessity in order to get a handle on surging employee healthcare costs under the Affordable Care Act.

“With more than 1.3 million associates at Walmart nationwide, the retailer reportedly faces an estimated $330 million in added costs this year because more workers have signed up for insurance to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act,” reports WFAA-TV News in Dallas. “Walmart officials believe they can save a lot of money with in-house clinics, which will be staffed by nurse practitioners.”

Gun Rationing In Cleveland? Yes, If The Mayor Gets His Way

The headline says it: Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is proposing an “emergency” ordinance to limit gun purchases to one every 90 days and report all person-to-person transfers or sales of firearms to the police. Criminals rejoice!

As for everyone else, the proposed law brings city leaders one step closer to attaining the legal prerogative to regard people who are law-abiding citizens today as criminals tomorrow. If the ordinance – which Jackson describes as a “complete rewrite” of the current law – succeeds, you could be held accountable for:

  • Selling or owning gun replicas
  • Selling or owning slingshots
  • Selling or owning long-bladed pocket knives
  • Selling or buying weapons associated with the martial arts
  • Allowing anyone under 18 years old to use a gun
  • Not reporting to the police a person-to-person sale or transfer of a firearm
  • Not reporting to the police a stolen firearm
  • Loaning a gun to anyone who isn’t eligible – under these requirements, as well as State and Federal laws – to possess one.

The ordinance would also establish a municipal “gun offender” registry that would be available for public perusal – presumably to shame violators and make it easier to avoid the stigmatized.

Jackson submitted the ordinance to the city council on Tuesday, eliciting immediate opposition from several 2nd Amendment advocacy groups and private citizens. Ohio Carry vowed to file a suit against the city “that same day” if the council approves the ordinance.

The Ohio Supreme Court already has overturned Cleveland’s municipally-tailored gun laws once, ruling in 2010 that a blanket State law would trump any more restrictive laws passed at the local level.

H/T: Guns.com

Detroit Police Chief Continues To Promote 2nd Amendment Rights As City’s Crime Rate Falls

In Detroit — a city that still has an extraordinary rate of violent crime, even as its population falls — violent crimes are on track to decrease for the second consecutive year. And James Craig, the police chief who’s been on the job since last July, credits citizens who are increasingly crime-aware and well-armed with playing a significant role in that continued decline.

According to The Detroit News, robberies are down in the city 37 percent compared with the same period a year ago; there have been 22 percent fewer burglaries and 30 percent fewer carjackings. The chief “attributed the drop to better police work and criminals being reluctant to prey on citizens who may be carrying guns,” The News reported Wednesday:

“Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” said Craig, who has repeatedly said he believes armed citizens deter crime. “I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed.

“I can’t say what specific percentage is caused by this, but there’s no question in my mind it has had an effect,” Craig said.

This isn’t the first time Craig has endorsed law-abiding citizens’ ownership of firearms as a deterrent to violent crime in the hollowed-out Motor City. In January, Craig spoke at length to a group of reporters on the difference between a self-armed city and a city that relies exclusively on the government for protection.

“When we look at the good community members who have concealed weapons permits, the likelihood they’ll shoot is based on a lack of confidence in this Police Department,” Craig said then. “Coming from California [Craig was on the Los Angeles police force for 28 years], where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of CCWs, and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation.

“I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

Craig’s position suggests he understands that “public safety” isn’t a goal most effectively accomplished by quarantining the job of crime prevention to a limited class of law enforcement officers. Rather, his views indicate he believes the people have a strength that the police, by definition, can never have.

By following a management philosophy that trusts in the people’s right to bear arms, Craig is able to more fully use Detroit’s law enforcement for the purpose to which any organized law enforcement entity is best suited: reaction and response.

“… [W]hether five minutes or seven minutes, the issue is simple. You know, if a citizen is in danger — an immediate threat to life — even if the officer can get there, and even if the community member has the opportunity to contact police, as we all know if there’s an imminent threat to life, it happens in an instant,” he told the National Rifle Association’s America’s 1st Freedom blog last month.

“At some point, are you going to ask this violent predator, ‘Can you wait a few minutes so I can make this 9-1-1 call?’ It’s just like an officer confronted with an imminent threat to their life. Certainly we want our officers to notify dispatch and seek backup when confronted with a dangerous situation, but sometimes it happens in an instant and an officer has to respond. It’s certainly not saying we can’t do our job; it’s saying we can’t be on every block, every corner, every minute of the day to be able to respond in seconds when someone is confronted with a dangerous situation.”

DHS Expects To Spend Between $250 And $1,000 Per Day To House Illegal Immigrant Children

How much does it cost you to pay for yourself each day?

According to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it is costing the Federal government anywhere between $250 and $1,000 per day to feed and house each illegal immigrant child whom immigration enforcement agents have picked up inside the Nation’s southern border.

That information came at a Homeland Security briefing Wednesday at which Johnson met with Senators from both political parties. When he revealed the cost of caring for the illegal immigrants, “there was an audible gasp; a bipartisan gasp” in the room, according to Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who attended the briefing and spoke with National Review following the meeting.

Here’s more from National Review:

Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Patty Murray (D., Wash.) wouldn’t comment on the overall cost of housing so far. “It’s in the president’ request,” she said. President Obama asked Congress to provide $1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services “to provide the appropriate care for unaccompanied children, consistent with Federal law, while maintaining services for refugees.”

Current estimates place this year’s illegal immigrant surge, dating to October of last year, at close to 60,000 people; the government expects another 30,000 illegals to arrive before October of this year.

President Barack Obama, who has a history of insisting that the U.S-Mexico border is adequately secured against mass migrations of such magnitude, has requested Congress to authorize $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the border crisis – from which the above-mentioned $1.8 billion for housing, feeding and health care, while the money lasts, would be drawn. The housing funds would be administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Johnsons explained that $250 per day represents the best-case cost of caring for the illegal immigrant children as they await either a deportation hearing or – if some GOP Congressional leaders can persuade the Obama Administration – expedited deportation. If, however, the government has to contract with outside vendors to provide caretaking services, that cost would quadruple to an estimated $1,000 per day for each child.

Maryland Governor Hopes The Feds Will Spare Illegals From His Hateful Rural Constituents

Wherever you may live in the U.S., do you feel that your Governor tries to represent the interests of all the people, diverse as the demographics of your State may be? If your Governor has plans to continue a political career, either by running for re-election or by seeking a Federal office, do you expect the Governor’s office to at least pay lip service to the interests of all your State’s people for as long as he or she is the Governor — or to write off a chunk of constituents as so much political dross by freely insulting them with deceitful, polarizing and false generalizations?

If you live in Maryland, you probably already know where this is going.

On Tuesday, news reports revealed that Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who has vocally supported the Administration of President Barack Obama’s attempt to accommodate unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrant children in local facilities nationwide, himself urged the White House not to bring any of those same illegals into Maryland.

Specifically, O’Malley told White House adviser Cecilia Munoz last week, “Please don’t send these kids into western Maryland” — a reference to the Obama Administration’s considered plan to establish housing at a vacant Army Reserves facility in the city of Westminster (pop. 18,500), less than an hour north of Baltimore.

That may sound hypocritical on the surface — and O’Malley took some heat for the discrepancy between his stated position and his specific request to keep the kids away from his State — but apparently O’Malley was only looking out for the illegal immigrants’ well-being.

“I suggested to them that the location still under consideration in Westminster might not be the most inviting environment for the kids,” O’Malley told The Washington Post.

Why? The Post explained:

… O’Malley said he raised concerns about the proposed shelter in Westminster, a town of about 18,600 that’s about 35 miles northwest of Baltimore in Carroll County, a deeply conservative stronghold in this mostly Democratic state. Last year county leaders voted to make English their official language, despite protests that such an action was unwelcoming to immigrants.

… O’Malley said that his concerns were confirmed over the weekend when graffiti appeared on the empty military center: “No illeagles here. No undocumented Democrats.” The Maryland State Police are investigating the message as a hate crime.

Graffiti whose message essentially endorses Federal law and contains a politically partisan connotation hardly sounds like a “hate” crime. Property crime, sure. Besides, stories and stories could be written about all that’s wrong with the government’s “hate crime” designation.

At any rate, O’Malley’s name is often mentioned in discussions of potential Democratic Presidential contenders for 2016. We’ve seen enough of the effects of the Obama Administration’s divisive, “us-versus-them” rhetoric — rhetoric that glibly and knowingly draws lines between what the Administration perceives as good Americans and bad ones — to know the Nation needs to run as far and as fast as possible from anyone who demonstrates a propensity to continue that culturally balkanizing trend.

Trend: Democrats Raising More Campaign Money Than Republicans

For the second straight fiscal quarter, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has outpaced the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), raising more money to spend on Federal campaigns this fall as Democrats attempt to hang on to their Senate majority.

The DCCC, along with its NRCC adversary, raises money to fund both House and Senate elections. For the second quarter, which runs from April through June, the DCCC amassed $25.3 million, compared with $19.7 million for the NRCC. In all, the DCCC has $50.9 million — about $8.4 million more than the NRCC after fundraising for the first two quarters of this year.

As The Hill observed Wednesday, having an incumbent President who can devote time to headlining a barrage of fundraisers throughout the Nation brings a level of name recognition — and per-plate prices — that Republicans, for all their big-money wheeling and dealing, haven’t been able to match.

From The Hill:

The DCCC has consistently outraised its Republican counterpart this cycle, buoyed by multiple fundraisers headlined by President Obama and the prolific fundraising abilities of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.).

Democrats’ money advantage has allowed them to reserve a significant chunk of fall advertising time: $43.5 million thus far, and $13.5 million more than the NRCC has reserved.

The kicker, though, is that superior firepower may not be enough for Democrats — especially incumbents — who can’t easily dissociate themselves from immensely unpopular Obama policies in many of their home States.

Last week, incumbent Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) provided the latest of many examples of the weird dichotomy between Obama’s toxicity with voters and his party-nourishing appeal with high-level donors. Udall skipped his own fundraiser — headlined by Obama — in Colorado on July 9, surprising even the President, who’d expected the Senator to attend.

That dodge came on the heels of another brush-off, when Udall conspicuously skipped a Denver speech Obama delivered on the U.S. economy earlier that same day.

New WH Press Secretary Asked Whether Obama Is Enjoying His ‘Photo Ops’ This Week

New White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest got a taste of what it’s like to be Jay Carney at today’s White House briefing, when Fox News senior White House and Foreign Affairs correspondent Wendell Goler asked him whether President Obama is enjoying his latest round of staged photo ops.

Goler asked Earnest whether the President was “enjoying himself at his photo op this afternoon, or this morning,” drawing laughs from the White House press corps. Earnest appeared not to get the reference at first, responding sincerely that Obama “seemed to be in good spirits today.”

So Goler got a bit more direct.

“And is he likely to be just as unhappy with the photo op he has planned later this week on infrastructure?” he prodded.

After grasping for clarity for a moment…ding! – Earnest finally got it.

“What the President’s concerned about is focusing on solutions,” he said, echoing Obama’s own remarks on why he declined to visit the border region with Texas Governor Rick Perry while on a fundraising junket in the State last week. “And that’s exactly what the President was focused on last week.”

Massive Increase In Asylum Requests, Grants Under Obama

Since President Barack Obama took office in 2008, applications for asylum in the United States has tripled, while the rate at which the government grants those requests has increased at an even higher rate.

The Daily Caller, which recently reviewed Federal statistics on illegal immigration, notes that the surge in asylum requests that has accompanied the recent wave of illegal immigration from Central America led the Obama Administration to grant asylum 30,393 times in 2013 — three times the number it granted in 2012 and 10 times as many as in 2008.

In addition, those seeking asylum continue to have reason to be optimistic about their chances for success. From The Daily Caller:

If you came illegally to the U.S. seeking asylum in 2013, you had better than a four-in-five chance of successfully filing an asylum claim. That’s up from a three-in-five chance in 2008.

…In fiscal year 2012, ending September 2012, Obama’s officials approved 10,838 claims, before tripling the score to 30,393 in 2013.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of “unaccompanied minors” for Central American began flooding over the southern border to file asylum cases once they were detained by the border police.

Many of the youths — roughly half claimed to be aged between 14 and 17 — and the children claimed asylum.

The numbers also suggest that the White House has not adjusted its policies to respond to a Central American border surge that has been unfolding not for weeks, but for years.

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry, who criticized Obama last week for passing on the chance to visit the border region while in Texas, as well as for sending weak signals to the illegals’ host countries to deter more attempted crossings, also reminded the press that he had implored the President to address the same problem two years ago — back when decisive action could have prevented the current crisis.

“By failing to take immediate action to return these minors to their countries of origin and prevent and discourage others from coming here, the federal government is perpetuating the problem,” wrote Perry in May of 2012:

Inaction encourages other minors to place themselves in extremely dangerous situations. … Every child allowed to remain encourages hundreds more to attempt the journey.

… I urge you to begin immediate consultation with governments of the countries of origin. These nations must assume responsibility for their own citizens, recognizing that they have the power and ability to prevent this dangerous situation.

This must stop, Mr. President, and it is your responsibility to make that happen.

Obama, of course did not make that happen, and even mainstream publications like The Washington Post have taken notice.

“In a letter to Obama more than two years ago, Perry raised a red alarm about an influx of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border, citing federal statistics showing that the number of minors had shot up 90 percent,” wrote The Post’s David Nakamura last week.

“… Two years later, Perry’s letter appears prescient.”