CPAC is hosted by the American Conservative Union.
More consequences of Obamacare – this time potentially killing an outpatient substance abuse service that many people rely on:
Another day, another illegal Obamacare delay.
Via The Hill:
The Obama administration is set to announce another major delay in implementing the Affordable Care Act, easing election pressure on Democrats.
As early as this week, according to two sources, the White House will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s minimum coverage requirements.
Prolonging the “keep your plan” fix will avoid another wave of health policy cancellations otherwise expected this fall.
The cancellations would have created a firestorm for Democratic candidates in the last, crucial weeks before Election Day.
The White House is intent on protecting its allies in the Senate, where Democrats face a battle to keep control of the chamber.
“I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September,” one consultant in the health insurance industry said. “Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election.”
The Butcher of Benghazi, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has blood on her hands: the blood of Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods, and Glen Doherty.
This according to a scathing report entitled “Breach of Duty: Hillary Clinton and Catastrophic Failure in Benghazi,” put together by Special Ops OPSEC, the same group that produced the viral documentary Dishonorable Disclosures.
Western Center for Journalism has analyzed this groundbreaking report and found that Hillary Rodham Clinton has indeed been implicated in murder.
Watch our exclusive video for all the details about “The Butcher of Benghazi Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
Michael Luecke, a 72-year-old substitute teacher at Westhill High School, was jailed Wednesday after he was allegedly discovered masturbating in a school hallway.
According to police, Luecke’s activity was discovered at about 7:30 a.m. when a school paraprofessional who was walking the hall noticed a man laying on the floor.
Thinking that the man might be hurt, the paraprofessional moved in for a closer look. That’s when she realized that Luecke’s hand was in his pants “manipulating his penis,” according to the arrest affidavit.
The woman immediately alerted school officials who removed Luecke from the class he was teaching and then contacted police.
Investigators reviewed school surveillance video which reportedly shows Luecke masturbating in a school stairwell while staring at a group of students in a nearby courtyard. Luecke is then seen laying on his back and masturbating as six students pass by his location.
Luecke was booked into jail and charged with public indecency, breach of peace and risk of injury to a minor.
The Romike family doesn’t have the values the Administration wants for legal immigration.
Via Fox News
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the United States in 2008 seeking political asylum. They fled their German homeland in the face of religious persecution for homeschooling their children.
They wanted to live in a country where they could raise their children in accordance with their Christian beliefs.
The Romeikes were initially given asylum, but the Obama administration objected – claiming that German laws that outlaw homeschooling do not constitute persecution.
“The goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society,” the Justice Department wrote in a legal brief last year. “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the Romeike’s appeal – paving the way for the Christian family of eight to be deported.
“I think this is a part of the Obama administration’s overall campaign to crush religious freedom in this country,” said Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association. His organization is representing family.
Christians in an east Tennessee community are vowing to engage in civil disobedience if the Obama administration initiates deportation proceedings against a Southern Baptist family from Germany who sought asylum in the United States so that they could home school their children.
“It may require civil disobedience with this bunch,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), who represents the congressional district where the Romeike family lives.
“I am furious about this,” the congressman told me. “You’ve got law-abiding people who did everything right who simply want to home school their kids. We used to be that great shining city on a hill. There’s some rust on that city if we are doing free people this way.”
Roe was among many Tennesseans outraged over the Supreme Court decision not to hear the Romeike’s appeal to stay in the United States. The Christian couple sought asylum in 2008 after they fled Germany so they could home school their children.
The family was initially granted asylum, but the Obama administration objected – claiming that German laws that outlaw homeschooling do not constitute persecution.
“The goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society,” The Justice Department wrote in a 2013 legal brief. “Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.”
Rep. Roe told me the Justice Department needs to “butt out.”
“I don’t know what the Germans are thinking, but we’re not Germany,” he said. “I don’t want to be Germany. I don’t want to be Europe. I want to be America. And right now we’re not acting very much like the America I know with the administration we have.”
Roe called Attorney General Eric Holder “one of the most dangerous people in the country” and called his department’s assault on the Romeike family “appalling and worrisome.”
“I don’t see this as a Democrat or Republican issue,” he said. “It’s an issue of religious freedom. By golly, if we don’t stand for what, what do we stand for?”
Michael Farris, the chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, is representing the family. He said their future in the United States rests with the Obama administration.
“President Obama has the ability to say they can stay,” Farris said. “He can take that pen and piece of paper and make this right today.”
But since that hasn’t happened there are two possible outcomes for the Romeikes and their six children.
Farris said the administration could just ignore the family and let them live in peace. But the government could also file an order of deportation. If that happens, Farris promised a vigorous fight.
“If they come after this family and seek deportation orders, we will be there with our litigation team fighting every step of the way,” he said. “It sounds like their friends and neighbors will be there in a show of solidarity and stand in the gate and prohibit the government from acting.”
And Farris isn’t speaking figuratively. A number of the Romeike’s neighbors in Morristown, Tenn. told me they are prepared to engage in civil disobedience should government agents try to deport the family.
“The Romeikes have become a part of our family,” said Dean Haun, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Morristown, where the family attends. “I don’t think there’s any question that there will be some people who will be willing to stand with them to the very end – even if it means our imprisonment.”
The Southern Baptist pastor said should that day come, he would be counted among the local residents willing to go to jail to save the family from deportation.
“If that’s what it took, yes,” the pastor said. “This is an assault in the face of Christianity in America.”
“This is one of those situations where we are just outraged,” he said. “We are angered.”
He said the Romeikes are beloved in the east Tennessee town – where Uwe is the church pianist as well as an ordained deacon.
“They are not on welfare,” he said. ‘They are not trying to live off our system. They are very productive, godly, Christian people.”
Roger “Sing” Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, told me he was deep distressed by the Obama administration’s actions.
“I’m not sure what’s more chilling – that this administration views their presence in rural east Tennessee as a threat to our nation’s economic and political well being or that this administration lobbied to deport this family to a nation determined to coercively indoctrinate the children in government sanctioned ‘tolerance’ training,” Oldham said.
Oldham said the case is simply perplexing.
“This family is the antithesis of this administration’s political agenda – a heterosexual married Christian couple desiring to teach their biblical values to well-grounded children,” he said. “For whatever reason, our government does not want them in our nation.”
State Rep. Tillman Goins told me the community is “up in arms.”
“Everybody in Morristown knows the Romeike family,” he said. “You have a family who is doing it the legal way, taking every legal step they can to ask to come to this country and to participate as citizens in this country – only to be persecuted by the United States.”
Goins introduced a resolution calling on Tennessee’s congressional delegation to defend the family.
“I don’t know if all religious liberty is under attack in this country,” he said. “It seems like Christian values are under attack more than any other religion.”
Should the day come when the immigration agents show up to take the family away, Goins said he would meet them at the front door.
“Let’s hope that it doesn’t get to that point,” he said. “(But) should it come down to it – absolutely.”
And Morristown Mayor Danny Thomas would be standing alongside the state lawmaker.
“I can tell you this – I would stand with them,” he said. “There has to be a way to work this out before it ever comes to that.”
The mayor said there are no finer folks in his town than the Romeikes.
“They are good citizens without a doubt,” he said. ‘I don’t think you’ll find anyone with a better work ethic – kind, gentle people. I know that he has deep religious beliefs and he wants to stay and so does his family. I would hope our country would be able to accommodate them. They are an asset to our country.”
Farris predicted that if the Romeikes are deported, it would spark a movement among religious liberty supporters.
“If they come for this family, it’s going to ignite a movement that’s going to be the same as when they told courageous Rosa Parks to go to the back of the bus and she wouldn’t go,” Farris said.
“I think we may be approaching a similar moment in our country.”
Already, one in three American voters say they’ve been personally hurt by Obamacare.
One-in-three U.S. voters now says his or her health insurance coverage has changed as a result of Obamacare, and the same number say the new national health care law had a negative personal impact on them.
Forty percent (40%) of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of the health care law, while 56% regard it unfavorably, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. This includes 16% who view the law Very Favorably and 41% who have a Very Unfavorable opinion of it. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Favorable opinions of the law are down from 45% two weeks ago and are the lowest measured since late December. Unfavorables hit an all-time high of 58% in mid-November. Favorables fell to a record low of 36% in that same survey.
Thirty-three percent (33%) now say their insurance coverage has changed because of the new law, up a point from January and the highest finding since last July.
President Obama’s mendacious political promise, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” continues to cast a long and disturbing shadow of doubt and confusion over millions of Americans who have lost coverage as a result of Obamacare. As 2014 unfolds, the most vulnerable senior citizens – those who receive home health care services – are about to learn they are out of luck. Obamacare opens a trap door under them, leaving this elderly population in freefall – with many citizens losing access to home health care.
Add another compelling reason to reverse Obamacare. Whether by accident or intention, the “Affordable Care Act” empirically strips America’s oldest and poorest cohort, all part of the World War II generation, of this basic coverage. Here is how.
On Jan. 1, Medicare’s home health care services, formerly serving 3.5 million elderly beneficiaries across the country, were cut under Obamacare. The cut deleted exactly 14 percent, or an estimated $22 billion, from these lowest-income Americans over four years. News of the forthcoming cut only trickled out the Friday before Thanksgiving, yet another stunning attempt by the Obama White House to reduce Medicare benefits without attracting notice.
Guess what? We noticed. This cut does irreparable damage to recipients of Medicare’s home health care services, those who are aged, homebound and sicker than the average Medicare population. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Medicare home health care users live at or below the federal poverty level, meaning they are the most economically compromised of America’s precious senior citizens.
This cut is an indictment of White House policies. Home health care agencies have always provided services to homebound Medicare beneficiaries. No hoopla, but when these Americans needed skilled care, they got it. In contrast to expensive hospital care, critical health care services got into millions of American homes via clinicians. Home health care was – and still is – vital. It is also now effectively gone for these Americans.
How did home health care save money for taxpayers? Using 2009 as a reference year, Medicare’s average Part A and Part B payment for a home health care visit was $145, compared to $373 per day in a skilled nursing facility or a whopping $1,805 per day in a hospital. In addition, according to one leading expert, skilled home health care services saved the Medicare program $2.8 billion during the most recent three-year period. Approximately $670 million of that savings is attributable to 20,000 fewer hospital readmissions.
Given these facts, one would conclude that the value of home health care in driving down Medicare costs should be obvious, if this – and not a single-payer system – were the real goal of Obamacare. How did we lose sight of common sense? Just keep patients in a familiar surrounding – their homes, not in an expensive hospital – keep sound disease management programs that deliver better and more cost-effective outcomes, and continue to coordinate care for patients. That was working. Now we have the reverse – markedly higher medical and insurance costs, with absolutely no institutional connection, support or continuing benefits for these especially needy Americans, the ones who depended – with their families – on critical home health care benefits. The president and his Democratic surrogates in the House and Senate have done it again: They have wiped out another critical, working system with this Obamacare monstrosity.
What else will this home health care cut achieve? It will hit the small businesses that provide home health care nationwide, and is already doing so. More than 90 percent of those providing home health care are small businesses. According to the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 40 percent of these companies will be operating “at a loss” – that is, they will likely fold or end up in bankruptcy – by 2017 as a result of the cut. What does that mean? It means nearly 5,000 more Medicare home health care providers may go out of business, and nearly 500,000 more jobs within this flogged industry may be wiped out to fund Obamacare. Those who care about such things should put that into their future unemployment calculations – and then thank Mr. Obama and his congressional friends, who all got a waiver and probably do not worry about home health care anyway.
Attacking our weakest senior citizens is no way to run a country. It is, in a word, reprehensible. This abomination devastates another existing and essential Medicare promise, while throwing one more gut-wrenching punch at this job sector. Does the truth no longer matter? Do these lives no longer matter? Do these businesses and jobs no longer matter? When will Mr. Obama and his allies in Congress let up and allow Americans to look after themselves again, as we used to quite well?
In a bombshell interview with Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg, President Obama issued his most direct public threats ever against Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
‘Bibi’, the President all but said, ‘If you don’t accept the peace plan that my Secretary of State hasn’t even released yet, you will ruin your country.’ The interview was released for publication almost the very moment as Netanyahu’s plane departed to meet with Obama in Washington.
In addition to droning on about the growing dangers posed by increasing Israeli settlement ‘expansion’, the “rights” of Palestinian refugees, the historic “moderation” of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the reasonableness of the Iranian regime, President Obama used the interview with Goldberg to issue ominous new threats and dire warnings against the Jewish state if it did not agree to accept his plan to shrink Israel back inside the 1949 armistice lines.
Obama tells Goldberg that it isn’t really the Palestinians who need to change. It is Israel. Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians is essentially the result of steps Israel takes to prevent such terrorism. The best way to change the Palestinian Authority’s incitement to – and celebration of blood curdling violence against Jews – is for Israel to change its housing policy.
Nothing new here. This has been the President Obama’s basic position since long before he ever ran for public office; and a position shared by most of the international community.
What is new about Obama’s latest interview are his threats. If Israel doesn’t do what Obama decides Israel should do, then Israel should no longer expect the U.S. to support it: “If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction – and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the past couple of years – if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguously sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the fallout is going to be limited.”
If Israel accepts that Obama knows best, that his proposed solutions to Israel’s problems are superior to its own, then Israel will faced increased isolation and threats. On supporting Israel, Obama says: “It is getting harder every day”. He explains that Israel faces ‘increasing international isolation’ because there is a “genuine sense on the part of a lot of countries that this issue continues to fester and that nobody is willing to take the leap to bring it to closure.”
Back in January, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was forced to publicly apologise for comments he made to an Israeli newspaper stating his belief that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s all-consuming efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian “peace agreement” might be born out of a “misplaced obsession and messianic fervor”. His comments provoked an unusually ferocious firestorm of outrage from both the White House and State Department. It was outrageous, the State Department and White House told the world in strikingly harsh language, for anyone to question the wisdom of John Kerry’s unshakeable belief that “solving” the Israeli-Palestinian still remains the foremost challenge of U.S. foreign policy. Rarely, if ever, have administration officials used such sharp and pointed language towards the actions or statements of Iran or North Korea.
In the past four days, Russian forces have seized the Crimean Peninsula, another 150,000 troops are mobilizing on Ukraine’s eastern border. North Korea successfully test fired two medium range ballistic missiles. Hundreds of Christian civilians in Nigeria have slaughtered by Islamist terrorists that Obama and Kerry have pressured the Nigerian government to ‘accommodate’; UN nuclear inspectors reported that Iran is accelerating development of its nuclear program thus violating last November’s agreement with America. In our own hemisphere, Venezuela’s leftist regime escalated its brutal crackdown against opposition protestors, Russia announced plans to establish permanent basis in Venezuela and Cuba. In response, President Obama intensifies his rhetoric against Israel.
Maybe it is time that somebody important demand that Moshe Ya’alon retract his apology? If anything, Ya’alon’s “misplaced obsession and messianic fervor” comments might now subject him to charges of ‘understatement’.
The source of all this foolishness is much harder to accept than it is to identify. The Obama-Kerry (i.e. established Western) approach to peace in the Middle East is doomed to fail because it is built upon a false premise. It isn’t Israel’s current size, nor is it Israel’s current housing policy, nor is it even the current Israeli Prime Minister that is the source of the problem. The problem is Israel itself. It shouldn’t exist, argue its enemies. Until those who reject that existence either die off or genuinely accept the Jewish people’s right to a Jewish and sovereign state of their own, there is nothing Obama, Kerry, the UN or even Israel itself can do to “fix” the “problem.”
The Middle East “Peace Industry” is much too vested to allow itself to see any perspective other than the one it has spent 60 years constructing. Since it wants peace (and most of it does), then obviously everyone else must want peace too. Since President Obama and Secretary Kerry want peace, (and they almost surely do) then obviously the Palestinian people and the PA and Hamas who claim to represent them must want peace too. Since the Palestinians want peace, their continued resorts to violence must be the result of something Israel has forced upon them. War can not be a goal in itself for Israel’s enemies because it is not a goal for the Peace Industry.
Like Ptolemists struggling to defend geocentrism after Galileo, Obama can’t focus on Palestinian media incitement for the same reasons none of his predecessors did. Focusing on Palestinian incitement or terrorism would make those doing the inciting and the terrorising look bad. That might drive them away from the negotiating table. Without negotiating partners, there is no need for negotiating tables and the UN, the EU and the US have bought far too many negotiating tables to turn back now.
Obama can’t remind himself, let alone the world, that it was President Abbas who urged Arafat to reject Israel’s acceptance of nearly every Arafat demand in 1999 with a gruesome terror war against Israeli civilians because that would expose the falsity of his premise that the Palestinians truly want peace. He can’t point to opinion poll after opinion poll that shows an overwhelming majority of Palestinians reject the two state solution because that might undermine the carefully crafted image created by the West that Mahmoud Abbas represents a people who Obama says “yearn for peace with Israel.”
The President is hardly alone. Nearly the whole world has now developed an interest in ignoring Palestinian incitement. None more so than the world’s media. Focusing on Palestinian incitement would make the media look not just foolish but dishonest. It would threaten the entire foundation upon which Middle East peace making has been built over the past 60 years. Jettisoning the current approach to ‘Middle East peace making’ would upend an entire industry. It would spell the end for lavishly funded Washington peace institutes; it would mean no more glamorous global conferences, no more UN confabs and worst of all, perish the thought, no more Nobel Prizes for Middle East Peace Making.
The late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov all but predicted the consequences of the UN’s infamous 1975 “Zionism is Racism” Resolution when he said: “It will only contribute to anti-semitism by giving it the appearance of international legality”.
Even years after its repeal, the sentiment that resolution validated lives on. It created a moral and legal justification for those who seek to destroy the very state created as a consequence of genocide and an antidote to future race-murder.
What would Hillary say?
Former President Bill Clinton raised eyebrows on Friday night when he paused to snap a photo with two prostitutes at the star-studded charity ball Unite4Charity.
Clinton, 67, was working the crowd at the fancy LA gala when he paused to take a picture with two young fans, Ava Adora and Barbie Girl, two sex workers from the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel in Moundhouse, Nevada.
The working girls were the invited guests of Dennis Hof, the 68-year-old proprietor of the brothel made famous by HBO’s series “Cathouse.”
“These two girls are just incredible fans of Bill Clinton,” Hof told the Daily News. “They kept saying, ‘Please take me, Daddy.’”
Hof brought 23-year-old Adora and 22-year-old Barbie to the event along with longtime pal, porn superstar Ron Jeremy.
On her website, Adora describes herself as a “passionate lover.” Barbie Girl’s bio boasts that she specializes in “devirginizing parties.
Clinton gave the event’s keynote address, and also received the gala’s Unity Award from Forest Whitaker.
“Clinton was going through there pretty fast, and the girls happened to get up front. They told Clinton that they were big fans and they took the photo,” Hof continued.
Clinton, Hoff confirmed, was busily snapping photos with well-wishers, and didn’t realize that he had posed for a picture with ladies of the evening.
“He didn’t know they were hookers,” Hof said. “But I guess when you’re a President, you like pretty girls too.”
Hof also contradicted a previous TMZ report that the girls had snuck in and were thrown out after snapping the picture.
“There’s no truth to that,” Hof said. “They stayed for the entire event and enjoyed it. The girls were enthusiastic about the event, and thrilled to meet Clinton. It was a great night for a great cause.”
The ex-commander-in-chief was one of the honored guests at the charity event, which also featured Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese. But Ava Adora and Barbie Girl only had eyes for Clinton.
“They didn’t have any interest in Sean Penn or Robert DeNiro,” Hof said. “But Clinton they loved meeting.”
After conducting a search and straw poll, a national tea party group has settled on a Republican primary challenger to House Speaker John A. Boehner, picking high school teacher J.D. WintereggJ.D. Winteregg to carry the tea party banner in the intraparty battle.
The announcement, which the Tea Party Leadership Fund (TPLF) will make Wednesday, could help Mr. Winteregg gain attention in a field dominated by Mr. Boehner and his massive campaign bank account. Mr. Winteregg is one of several men running against Mr. Boehner in the GOP primary in the speaker’s western Ohio district.
Rusty Humphries with the TPLF, a political action committee, said Mr. Boehner has failed to follow through on conservative goals during his time as speaker.
“This is a guy that has allowed spending to increase. This is a guy that fought for benefits for congressmen while at the same time fighting to cut benefits for our veterans,” Mr. Humphries said.
Mr. Boehner has been under fire from tea party groups over last year’s budget deal, which boosted spending in 2014 and 2015, and for this month’s debt vote, when he allowed a 13-month debt increase to pass without conditions on the strength of Democratic votes.
Mr. Humphries said voters in the district itself are ready to dump Mr. Boehner, who is serving his 12th term in Congress – and second as speaker.
“The one thing I found a lot when I was in the district is how few people have seen him in the district in a long time,” Mr. Humphries said. “This is a guy who has not kept up with his people.”
But a campaign aide for Mr. Boehner said he’s still well-connected to Ohio’s 8th congressional district.
“John and his wife Debbie still live in Butler County and call it home. They made that choice – and stuck with it, even when he became speaker – because it was important to them to remain part of the community that has always been central to his service in the House,” the aide said.
As for the policy fights, the speaker had said he wouldn’t allow another government shutdown or default on federal obligations – either of which could have resulted from the failure to pass a budget or a debt increase. Mr. Boehner has argued that the 2014 election will be fought over President Obama’s agenda, including his health care law.
Mr. Humphries said the Tea Party Leadership Fund will post billboards and run radio commercials aiding Mr. Winteregg, and said the more money people donate to the leadership fund, the more will be targeted to ousting Mr. Boehner.
Unseating top party leaders is rare.
Mr. Humphries has been signed to write a column for The Washington Times, which has not yet debuted.
Two years ago Mr. Boehner easily saw off another tea party challenger, defeating pro-life activist David Lewis with 84 percent to Mr. Lewis’s 16 percent.
The No. 2 Republican in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is also facing a primary challenge. Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, is challenging the Virginia Republican, arguing his support for passing an immigration bill is kowtowing to big-business interests.
Mr. Winteregg’s positions on the issues:
The premise that seems to align people from all sides in America is a disdain for our representatives in Congress. This is our common ground. Instead of fighting each other–to the delight of those in power – we need to come together for one objective to replace those in power. Fortunately, the Constitution provides us with a way – through an amendment process–that allows us to enact real change in D.C. I’ve come up with a plan that, when implemented within our Constitutional framework, will change how Congress functions. It’s easy to understand, easy to articulate, and easy to support. These four elements will be my focus while in Congress.
Community- All representatives must live among their constituents. The number of days they spend in Washington, D.C. will be capped. With the technology that exists, and with the need to diminish the lobbyist influence, this mandate will ensure that the representatives do what they’re meant to do – represent the people.
Authenticity- Immediately prior to entering Congress, representatives must have held a non-political, non-lobbying position for a period of 4 years. This will break up the political ladder climbing and ensure that our representatives understand what working in the “real world” is like under the current rules and regulations.
Service- The opportunity to represent a district should be viewed as an honor and framed in a way that reflects that. As such, this amazing service opportunity will be capped at 12 years. No representative or Senator may spend more than 12 years representing a district or state in D.C.
Transparency- No former representative or Senator walks out of D.C. as a member of the middle-class. As members of Congress, they – and their spouses – will be required to publicly and prominently display where all of their earnings are derived. No ranges – specific amounts. This instills another measure of accountability on those in D.C.
Reforming Congress must happen first. Only then will representatives be able to effectively–and fairly – fight for the issues that are important to their respective constituents.
In addition to these ideas of reform, I am proud to say that I am a Christian conservative Republican who believes that relying on the Constitution will help to push our exceptional country back in the right direction.
Premise of governance
I believe that words have meaning, so by extension, the Constitution means today what it meant when it was written. The Preamble to this great document makes clear that the Constitution was written, among other reasons, to secure the blessings of liberty. An activist federal government undermines this key founding principle, so I will work to restore our process of governance to what the founders originally intended with the Constitution as my guide.
We need to secure our borders and enforce the laws that we have on the books. I am 100% opposed to amnesty.
I believe in the free market Capitalist system, and the only way for that to thrive is for the government to have a minimalist approach in intervening.
Without life, there is no liberty. I am pro-life, no exceptions.
I believe in our second amendment right to keep and bear arms. This right should be vigorously defended from attempts by the federal government to undermine it.
We need to reduce the government involvement with respect to our healthcare. Allowing the free market to run its course will help to make healthcare more affordable to all. I am in support of the movement to entirely defund Obamacare.
As a public school teacher, I understand the importance of this issue. As someone who feels the effects of federal mandates, and as someone who has witnessed the toll it has taken on my colleagues and students, I believe that education is best left to the local level. Parents and communities know what is best for their own children, and these decisions need to be left to them.
Representatives need to understand that the government is not the primary source of economic growth. The private sector is more efficient and productive than any government effort. Representatives should work with constituents to achieve private solutions to public problems, and they should avoid at all costs taxing the citizens. Federal spending should be done within the parameters of a balanced budget. Government fraud, waste, and abuse should be addressed before any taxes are raised on the American people.
When the FBI finally fires up its criminal investigation of the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, there is one person the special agent in charge better be sure to interview – former White House Counsel Robert Bauer. The FBI may discover the whole IRS mess leads through the land of campaign finance “reform” and an obsession with speech regulation, an obsession shared by Bauer.
Any criminal investigation identifies for further scrutiny those with motive, opportunity, and means, and Bauer deserves no quarter from FBI investigators on those three counts.
Without any doubt, crimes were committed by IRS employees, not the least of which was the fact that IRS employees disclosed confidential information from IRS forms to the political enemies of the groups seeking tax-exempt status.
For example, Cindy Thomas, the Cincinnati unit manager for exempt organizations at the IRS, illegally released the tax applications of nine separate conservative organizations to the left-wing group ProPublica. The IRS claims that Thomas’ illegal release of private tax information was an “accident,” but the excuse is absurd.
Thomas wasn’t the only IRS employee leaking the tax information of conservative groups to their enemies. Pro-marriage groups found their confidential information in the hands of gay marriage advocacy organizations.
The FBI can start by finding out whether Thomas and her fellow IRS travelers in fact released the private information. If the FBI says Thomas cannot be prosecuted because she claims it was an accident, then Congress needs to step in and impose mandatory minimum prison sentences for any IRS employee that releases private information, accidental or not.
The bigger question the FBI must get to the bottom of is who hatched the policy of targeting Tea Party groups that led to these crimes? For that they should turn back to Robert Bauer.
Robert Bauer had the motive to direct IRS policy against Tea Party groups. He is a longtime opponent of First Amendment freedoms and an advocate of government-speech regulation. He also can’t stand the work the Tea Party is conducting to monitor and eradicate voter fraud, work the Republican Party and national campaigns have utterly failed to perform.
During the 2008 election, while representing the Obama campaign, Bauer sent a threatening letter to the Justice Department demanding criminal investigations of people who had the audacity to speak about voter fraud. Bauer even singled out Sarah Palin in the letter. Anyone who “developed or disseminated” information about voter fraud, to Bauer, deserved the heavy boot of a criminal investigation. Read the letter; it reveals a nasty, thuggish, and lawless attitude toward political opposition.
To Bauer, those merely speaking about voter fraud were worthy of criminal investigation. Sound familiar?
Hindsight reveals why Bauer was so agitated. Two Obama campaign staffers, Amy Little and Yolanda Hippensteele, later pleaded guilty to voter fraud. We also know, courtesy of John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky, that a Minnesota election for U.S. Senate was decided by voter fraud in 2008. And who can forget Melowese Richardson, the Obama activist and poll official in Ohio who said on camera that she voted multiple times for President Obama in 2008? I could go on and on with multiple examples of voter fraud from 2008 where candidate Obama was the beneficiary.
No wonder Bauer was so anxious back in 2008 to shut everyone up.
Fast forward to 2012. Again, Mr. Bauer was up to his old tricks in his second stint as Obama campaign counsel, this time targeting Tea Party groups fighting for election integrity. Bauer and his campaign hench-lawyers called state election officials, seeking to unleash state criminal investigations of Tea Party groups working for election integrity. I have spoken with state election officials in at least three states which describe Obama campaign efforts to prompt state officials to target Tea Party groups.
I’m happy to share with the FBI special agents the names of those states if Mr. Bauer won’t.
Bauer even published this memo, specifically targeting True the Vote with outright lies so egregious he should be ashamed of himself.
After the Obama campaign voter fraud of 2008, in 2012 Bauer was anxious to remove election integrity groups from the polls as observers. If the IRS couldn’t slow the Tea Party watchdogs down, Bauer threatened them in other ways.
If the FBI special agents interview Mr. Bauer, it won’t be hard to conclude he had the motive to launch the Tea Party shakedown.
President Obama’s campaign counsel certainly had the motive to target the Tea Party, but did Bauer have the means as campaign counsel? Remember, Bauer served as White House counsel from November 2009 to June 2011, right during the time this IRS shakedown was hatched.
Anybody who has worked in the White House will tell you that the White House counsel enjoys a position of power like few others. They can make things happen with a phone call. One former West Wing staffer told me that “any department’s staff who received directions from Bauer would think they were getting directions from the president. The White House counsel has the power to make policy with a phone call.”
Something important happened two months after Bauer became White House counsel – the Supreme Court decided Citizens United vs. FEC, a decision that caused the left to go batty. They feared the decision might cost them the White House. President Obama boorishly (and inaccurately) addressed the decision in the 2010 State of the Union.
The FBI special agents should ask Bauer some simple questions: With whom did you speak at the IRS about conservative and Tea Party groups post-Citizens United? Did you direct anyone on your staff to do the same? Did you hear about anyone speaking with the IRS about Tea Party groups? Who hatched the IRS harassment, which started on your watch? Did you meet with Doug Shulman any of the 157 times he visited the White House, and did you discuss exempt status of conservative groups?
The FBI agents might ask Bauer why a parade of Citizens United-obsessed speech-regulation zealots visited the West Wing just before the Tea Party shakedown went into effect.
Tova Wang, of the leftist Soros-funded group Demos, visited the White House and met with Bauer’s staff on June 2, 2010. In fact she hovered around the White House on multiple occasions during the critical time period the IRS policy was being crafted.
Perhaps she was there for the Easter Egg roll. Perhaps not. Either way, the FBI can ask.
Notorious speech-regulation advocate Richard Hasen also visited the White House and met with White House Counsel Robert Bauer on June 24, 2010. (See this absurd screed at Slate saying the post-Citizens United world is “worse than Watergate.” Freedom just rubs some people the wrong way.)
Perhaps Hasen was at the White House with Bauer to watch the longest match in Wimbledon history which occurred that day.
Perhaps not, especially since he previously met with Nicholas Colvin in the White House Counsel’s office on June 21 and 23. Again, the FBI can find out if they ask.
Bauer or his staff met with a number of other ivory tower academics and activists interested in controlling free political speech through the spring of 2010. These also include the noisy reformer Meredith McGehee.
We don’t yet know who engineered the illegal, criminal, and disgusting IRS shakedown of Tea Party and conservative groups. But one thing is certain: Robert Bauer had the motive, the opportunity, and the means to do it. The good folks at the FBI are now busy preparing names of people to interview. They better not leave Mr. Bauer off the list, or his stream of visitors.
The parties better not coordinate stories ahead of time. These days, I hear the Justice Department has adopted an aggressive approach to email and phone records, at least for Fox News.
Senior Airman Ret. Brian Kolfage vented his feelings to President Obama in a strongly worded letter that doesn’t mince words:
Dear President Obama,
My name is Brian Kolfage, I’m a triple amputee and retired Air Force veteran who was severely wounded on September 11, 2004 in Iraq.
I nearly died in a war that most of your colleagues supported overwhelmingly, including the two presidents who came before you. Many citizens may not agree with waging war in Iraq to free the oppressed Iraqi citizens, but it’s something that warriors like myself have no control over. I joined to serve my country and to better my life. I’ve seen things that you could never imagine, and they have made me the person I am today.
Mr. Obama, even though we have extreme opposite views, we have one thing in common, we both attended school in Hawaii. However, that’s where the similarities end. You see, as you attended your exclusive, private school, I would ride my bike to Kaimuki High School in one of the roughest areas in Hawaii. Every morning I would ride past Punahou, the exclusive private school you attended and I would notice all of the Bentleys, Maseratis, and fancy foreign cars that all the kids were dropped off in; wow it must have been extremely rough in Hawaii living that life, right? I could only imagine what it was like to have that kind of money. Fortunately for you, not many people are aware of the school that you and the upper class citizens of Hawaii attended. The tuition to attend your exclusive, private school was more than it cost me to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Arizona. You talk a big game when it comes to financial inequality, yet I’m quite sure you have no idea what it’s truly like to have to sacrifice. You were one of the elitist children in Hawaii.
After High School, we each chose very different paths. You were able to attend America’s finest Ivy League schools, while I pursued a career in the military, in hopes of earning a degree. What we have in life as children usually helps to set the tone for how we acheive success later in life. I worked to get where I am today, while it was HANDED TO YOU… Mr. Inequality.
I volunteered to go to Iraq on both of my deployments, and the second time I begged to go even after I wasn’t selected. During that second deployment, I was ultimately placed on the team where I would lose both legs and my dominant arm. Even though many Americans were against the war in Iraq, I’ve never asked myself if it was worth it after losing 3 of my limbs.
I am frequently reminded of the many young Iraqi children who would beg me for water, food, and toys while I was stationed in Iraq. Children, who in all aspects made the poorest of poor American children look rich. You have no idea what it really means to be poor. It’s laughable that you, who would have no idea what it means to be poor would so frequently play the inequality card.
While I was in Iraq, our mission was to liberate the Iraqi citizens from a tyrant and that’s what we did. Never forget, it was your people who sent us there, like the Clintons, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi & Carl Levin. However, since the day you busted onto the scene you’ve been talking about ending the war and pulling the troops out, not understanding the blood sweat and tears that so many Americans and Iraqi’s invested. And with complete disregard for every life sacrificed, every limb lost, and every broken family, you bailed on our mission to pursue an agenda that was completely centered on your re-election in 2012. If you didn’t bail on Iraq you were worried that you may not get re-elected and that’s a fact. Just before elections on Oct 11, 2012 you said “Al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead.” Look at Iraq now, they are in shambles and the Al Qaeda flag is flying freely. Clearly, you’re unfit for duty as a Commander in Chief. You put your own agenda ahead of America’s agenda, and now you have single handedly ruined and destroyed nearly everything we gained in Iraq. It clearly means nothing to you, because the only thing that you’ve personally invested in that country was a promise to bail on them. However, people like me gave limbs, friends have died, and we’ve watched families destroyed by war’s aftermath.
I’m not placing blame on you for the war, I’m placing blame on you for destroying what we’ve worked so hard to build. You’re not a leader, you’re a community organizer. A leader would have stood up regardless of the situation and put America’s agenda first and that is ensuring a secure Iraq even after 10 years of war. But, you placed Barack first, just as Robert Gates confirmed in his new book. I can’t help but think of those poor kids who I gave water and toys to 11 years ago. They’re probably 15 or 16 years old now, and I can only imagine what it’s like for them to have their nation being torn apart yet again; all because of your poor leadership qualities. Regardless of why we went to Iraq, its water under the bridge. We went there, we waged war, and we not only owed it to our KIA’s but we owed it to the citizens of Iraq. We invaded their country and turned it upside down, and you bailed on them. You bailed on our soldiers and you’ve wasted every death and every limb, it’s all for nothing. And to make matters worse you blame others for your failures.
You’re just another elitist rich thug who’s pretended to live the rough life growing up in the inner-city. You’re only worried about your own agenda and furthering your party instead of taking care of Americans. Your inability to be a leader at some of the most critical points has caused both of our wars to fail. You’ve been a joke to most of our veteran community and we have no faith in your ability to lead.
Senior Airman Ret Brian Kolfage USAF
“The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.” – Lou Holtz
Senior Airman Ret. Brian Kolfage truly sacrificed for this country because it has championed the ideals of freedom and equality; and like many other citizens, he now perceives Obama to be a threat to the American way of life.
Certainly, we wish the best for wounded vets like Senior Airman Ret. Kolfage, and godspeed.
Maryland could end up spending as much as $30.5 million as a result of a glitch in its ObamaCare website, as the Obama administration steps in to help states with problematic exchanges.
Because of Maryland’s defective exchange, the state cannot determine whether customers remain eligible for Medicaid, according to a report by state budget analysts released Thursday.
As a result, the state has agreed with the federal government to a six-month delay in determining eligibility, meaning that payments will continue to be made to customers who are not eligible until the system is fixed. The delay will cost the state $17.8 million in fiscal 2014 and $12.7 million in fiscal 2015, the analysts estimated.
On Friday, the Obama administration said it would suspend some Affordable Care Act rules to help the 14 states with their own ObamaCare sites, particularly Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Oregon, which have had the most problems.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan, completed a day earlier, states the federal government will help pay for “qualified” health-insurance plans for customers in those states who because of “exceptional circumstances” had to buy plans outside of ObamaCare exchanges, as reported first by The Washington Post.
The administration made the change before the end-of-March deadline for Americans to enroll in ObamaCare this year.
In Maryland, the exchange cannot convert income data from the existing Medicaid enrollment system into a calculation needed to review whether enrollees are qualified “because of a variety of system architectural flaws,” according to budge analysts.
The exchange has been plagued by computer problems that have made it difficult for people to enroll in private health care plans since its debut Oct. 1.
State officials have decided to stick with the exchange through the open enrollment period that ends March 31 but is evaluating alternatives with an eye toward the next enrollment period that begins in November.
Among the possibilities is adopting technology developed by another state, joining a consortium of other states, partnering with the federal exchange or making major fixes to the existing system.
Thirty-six states use the federal HealthCare.gov site, which crashed and had other major problems in the first two months of enrollment.
The Maryland report said the state may need to develop an interim solution while a long-term solution is being developed. However, that process would likely take at least nine to 12 months, pushing up against the next open-enrollment period.
The report also states the development of the exchange was “a high risk undertaking” from the outset, in large part because of contractors woes, tight deadlines, constantly evolving requirement and its need to interface with work-in-progress federal databases.
The administration changes this week are not the first to ObamaCare, to be sure.
In November, Obama helped Americans about to lose policies because they didn’t meet new minimum requirements by allow the substandard plans to be sold through the end of this year.
And administration officials has twice this year given medium- and large-sized employers more time to offer health insurance to most full-time workers.
However, the change this week is significant because it marks the first time the federal government has agreed to help pay for policies bought outside the new exchanges.
The coverage in the outside policies would have to be comparable to those offered on the exchange. And customers would have to start paying premiums, then get the subsidies after the state exchanges could determine their income eligibility.
Maryland Health Benefit Exchange official told The Post earlier this week that roughly 7,000 applications are stuck in state’s system, but all of them might not need insurance and that officials were still looking over the administration’s offer.
A new and comprehensive comparison of health insurance options offered by Obamacare versus private websites finds that President Obama’s program offers less choice and higher prices than promised by the White House and leading Democrats.
Adding to the list of broken health care promises, the study from the National Center for Public Policy Research found that there were more and cheaper options available on websites outside the health insurance exchange in 2013 than on healthcare.gov and state Obamacare exchanges.
The report, “Obamacare Exchanges: Less Choice, Higher Prices,” looked at options available for a 27-year-old single person and a 57-year-old couple in metropolitan areas across 45 states.
The report found that a 27-year-old male had about 10 more policies to choose from on eHealthinsurance.com and finder.healthcare versus the exchange. The older couple had about nine more policy choices.
Ditto for the cost findings, with the 27-year-old male having access to 32 policies that cost less than the cheapest Obamacare offering, and the 57-year-old couple access to 29 cheaper policies.
“In general, consumers had substantially more policies to choose from on private websites such as eHealthinsurance.com and Finder.healthcare.gov than they presently have on the exchanges,” said the study.
“Obamacare supporters, including the president himself and Nancy Pelosi, claimed the exchanges would yield more choice and lower prices,” said the study’s author, David Hogberg. “This study shows those claims do not stand up.”
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, describes itself f as a “non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.”
The Obama administration’s new proposed rule for Medicare Part D would eliminate half of all Medicare Part D plans and raise prescription drug premiums for millions of seniors by up to 20 percent, according to a U.S. House subcommittee chairman.
“Today, the average senior has 35 different [Medicare Part D] plans to choose from this year. This rule would reduce that choice to two plans. 50% of the plans offered today will be gone, and the health care that seniors like may go with it,” House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Pitts said in a statement at a Feb. 26 hearing attended by a top administration health official.
“Limiting seniors’ choices like this will inevitably lead to higher costs. By some estimates, the restriction on the number of plans that can be offered could cause premiums to rise by 10%-20%. Costs to the federal government may increase by $1.2-1.6 billion according to a study by Milliman,” Pitts said. “… I urge Secretary Sebelius and Administrator Tavenner to rescind this rule.”
The study Pitts cited also showed that the new rule would increase out-of-pocket drug costs for 6.9 million seniors who do not qualify for low-income subsidies, and would raise federal taxpayer costs for six million seniors who do qualify.
President Bush signed Medicare Part D into law in 2003 to subsidize prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.
The Daily Caller reported that the administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently introduced a new proposed rule on the Federal Register called “Medicare Program: Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs.”
The new rule “would revise the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and prescription drug benefit program (Part D) regulations to implement statutory requirements; strengthen beneficiary protections; exclude plans that perform poorly; improve program efficiencies; and clarify program requirements,” according to the Federal Register.
The rule states that it also aims “to implement certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.”
The new rule’s stated desire to “strengthen our ability to identify strong applicants for Part C and Part D program participation and remove consistently poor performers” would give the Obama administration new authority to limit health insurance and prescription drug providers under the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D programs.
The rule would also violate the Medicare Part D’s law’s “non-interference provision that prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from interfering with the negotiations between drug manufacturers and pharmacies and sponsors of prescription drug plans,” according to testimony by American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin, violating “congressional intent.”
Rep. Pitts expressed confusion and anger at CMS’ new rule.
“CMS itself says that 96% of the Part D claims it reviewed showed seniors saved money at preferred pharmacies, and nearly 25,500 seniors in my district have chosen Part D plans with a preferred pharmacy network. Yet CMS would take that away from them,” Pitts said.
“The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit is a government success story. Last year, nearly 39 million beneficiaries were enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan,” Pitts said.
“Competition and choice have kept premiums stable. In fact, in 2006, the first year the program was in effect, the base beneficiary premium was $32.20 a month. In 2014, the base beneficiary premium is $32.42 – a 22-cent increase over 9 years – and still roughly half of what was originally predicted,” Pitts added. “More than 90% of seniors are satisfied with their Part D drug coverage because of this. African-American and Hispanic seniors report even higher levels of satisfaction, at 95% and 94%, respectively.”
“The program has worked so well because it forces prescription drug plans and providers to compete for Medicare beneficiaries – putting seniors, not Washington, in the driver’s seat. Part D should be the model for future reforms to the Medicare program,” Pitts said.
House Energy and Commerce committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton joined with Pitts at the hearing in criticizing the new rule.
“The proposed rule, issued on January 6, 2014, appears to be a direct assault on the competitive structure of the program. It inhibits the ability of plans to obtain discounts for beneficiaries, limits the range of market segments in which they may compete, and usurps the responsibility of states to license those able to prescribe. This 700-page proposal makes numerous changes,” Upton said.
CMS principal deputy administrator Jonathan Blum testified that limiting Part D sponsors to providing only two plans per region will “promote needed clarity of plan choices for beneficiaries.”
The basic principle behind hydrogen fuel cells is fairly simple: Hydrogen atoms are stripped of their electrons to generate electricity and then combined with oxygen to form water as a by-product. Mainstream deployment of fuel-cell vehicles, though, has proved to be complex. Compared with liquid fuels, hydrogen is tough to transport and store. And without a meaningful number of vehicles on the road, there’s been no incentive to build hydrogen fuel infrastructure. Now new initiatives in California and across the U.S. are pushing for a long-awaited expansion of the refueling network. And with the debut of three promising hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles from Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota, consumers will have new options beginning in 2014. Are we finally seeing the dawn of the hydrogen age? Not so fast.
The current hydrogen push has less to do with consumer demand than with government incentives that treat fuel-cell vehicles (FCV) as equal to or better than electric vehicles. In California the combination of 300-mile range and fast refueling gives fuel cells the maximum available zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) credits. That makes it easy for a manufacturer to meet the state’s ZEV mandate with fewer cars. On the federal level, both FCVs and EVs get an EPA credit multiplier of 2.0 beginning in 2017, which means that sales of either type of car confer a disproportionate benefit on the ledger for an automaker’s entire fleet. In response, manufacturers have formed several high-profile partnerships, including Ford/Daimler/Renault-Nissan, BMW/Toyota, and GM/Honda to develop the vehicles. On the fueling side, a recent infusion of $20 million of funding per year has expanded the California Fuel Cell Partnership’s plan to 100 statewide refueling stations. The Department of Energy’s H2USA organization wants to use California’s efforts as a blueprint for the rest of the nation.
CAN I BUY A FUEL-CELL CAR?
In the past, fuel-cell vehicles have only been available in the hundreds. The three new FCVs slated for production this year and next will increase the volume to thousands, but they will be available primarily in California, where most of the country’s hydrogen stations exist. According to Alan Baum, an automotive analyst at Baum and Associates, even if the stations proliferate, fuel-cell vehicles, like EVs, won’t dominate the market. “It’s not going to be a widespread technology, and for that matter it doesn’t need to be,” he says. “We’re doing an all-hands-on-deck strategy.”
ARE THE PRACTICAL?
Not according to Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who says fuel cells are more of a marketing ploy than a realistic solution. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn agrees: “Knowing all the problems we have with charging [EVs], where is the hydrogen infrastructure?” Both men have a bias toward electric vehicles, but the infrastructure issue is a big one. With the current cost of a hydrogen filling station at more than $1 million, neither the government nor the corporate world has any plans for a rapid expansion of the filling network. “We’ve got electricity everywhere,” Baum says. “Putting in 240-volt charging units requires some effort and expense, but it’s not game changing. Putting in hydrogen is.”
WHERE DOES THE POWER COME FROM?
Here’s the abridged version: Compressed hydrogen from the storage tank (A) is stripped of its electrons in the fuel-cell stack (B), creating electricity. A power-control unit (C) orchestrates the flow of energy from the stack to the battery (D), which powers the electric motor that moves the car. The battery ensures full power during acceleration until the fuel cell reaches peak voltage. Got all that?
ARE THEY SAFE?
Yes. Stringent requirements established by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) ensure that the technology is safe. Automakers are required to build robust hydrogen storage tanks that not only hold the fuel at up to 10,000 psi but also withstand arcane-sounding trials such as “bonfire” and “gunshot” tests by the DOT. Tanks are usually made of several layers of carbon fiber wrapped around aluminum or polyethylene liners, and many are also protected by external layers of steel. Regulations covering PRDs (pressure-relief devices) govern both temperatures and pressures at which gas is released, typically well below what is standard for safe operating conditions.
HOW GREEN ARE FUEL CELLS?
It depends on where you look. The only tailpipe emission from an FCV is water, but the process of creating hydrogen fuel – just like that of formulating gasoline or generating current for an electric vehicle – has an environmental impact. More than 90 percent of hydrogen today is created using a natural-gas-reforming process involving steam and methane, which reduces CO2 emissions from “well to wheel” by approximately 60 percent, compared with the process of creating gasoline. So, carbon dioxide is still released into the atmosphere – it just happens before the liquid hydrogen gets to your tank. Incentives and mandates encourage a cleaner hydrogen-creation process: The state of California requires that 30 percent of H2 supplied for transportation come from renewable sources, which can include wind, solar, and biomass material.
WHAT ABOUT REFUELING?
One advantage of FCVs is that they can travel farther and restore range faster than most current EVs. Refueling is simple: Once a nozzle with a snap collar is securely mated and locked to your car, the transfer of hydrogen begins with a brief hissing sound, followed by a 3- to 5- minute fill-up. However, it takes considerably longer for a filling station to restore the pressure required to service the next vehicle, so current setups can only refuel six or so cars per hour.
SO, IS HYDROGEN HAPPENING?
“When you have several major carmakers saying we’re going to invest in this, that’s significant,” Baum says. But vehicles are just one piece of the puzzle. Every other player in the hydrogen supply chain, such as the service station industry, needs to invest heavily. Until then, refueling options and vehicle choices will remain extremely limited, with no guarantee of expansion. Which is to say that hydrogen-fuel-cell cars will be a minor footnote in terms of overall vehicle sales for the foreseeable future. For all but the earliest of adopters, hydrogen as a prominent fuel alternative remains somewhere on the horizon.
Like most 8-year-olds, Myles Eckert was already dreaming up ways he could spend a $20 bill he had just discovered laying in a Cracker Barrel parking lot earlier this month.
“I kind of wanted to get a video game, but then I decided not to,” the child recounted to CBS News.
That’s because Eckert saw Lt. Col. Frank Dailey enter the restaurant. The man in uniform changed his mind.
“Because he was a soldier, and soldiers remind me of my dad,” Eckert explained to CBS.
So, instead of purchasing something for himself, Eckert did something very different on Feb. 7. Something Dailey says he will remember for “a lifetime.”
The 8-year-old boy wrapped the $20 bill in a note he had authored to the solider.
“Dear Soldier – my dad was a soldier. He’s in heaven now,” the note said. “I found this 20 dollars in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It’s your lucky day! Thank you for your service. Myles Eckert, a gold star kid.”
Eckert’s father, Army Sgt. Andy Eckert, had been killed in Iraq when he was only a few weeks old. The 8-year-old can only think of what he was like.
“I imagine him as a really nice person and somebody that would be really fun,” he told CBS News.
That February day, Eckert even asked his mother to go visit his father.
“He wanted to go see his dad,” said his mother Tiffany. “And he wanted to go by himself that day.”
She took a photograph of her son visiting his father’s grave.
Dailey, touched by the Eckert’s gesture, said he looks at the note he received each day.
“It’s incredible being recognized in such a manner,” he said, adding that the child’s simple gift has provided him “a lifetime of direction.”
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of stories about Common Core, the controversial new educational agenda aimed at imposing federal government standards on every aspect of public and private education in America, which some are even calling “ObamaCore.” The first part spelled out the high stakes for parents, students and education. The second part followed the money trail behind Common Core.
The battle over the deceptively titled Common Core State Standards Initiative, or CCSSI, is raging, and the rhetoric is fierce. Supporters of the national standards have called their opponents “right-wing nuts” and “black helicopter” types.
“All of us get lumped together as ‘the fringe,’ ‘the far right,’ tea partiers,’ etc.,” said Jane Robbins, co-author of the report “Controlling Education from the Top: Why the Common Core is Bad for America.”
“When they don’t have the facts on their side they resort to ad-hominem,” she said.
Opponents of Common Core claim it is the product of progressive elitists who want to put all children under control of federal government bureaucrats. That view was reinforced when a panelist at the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress discounted the opposition as only a “tiny minority,” claiming such views should be ignored because “the children belong to all of us.”
The term “Common Core” has become “toxic,” according to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He continues to support the standards in spite of a unanimous resolution by the Republican National Committee in April 2013 to oppose them. Huckabee told state education leaders at a meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers: “Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat.”
So far, Arizona, Iowa, Florida and Pennsylvania have followed his advice, eliminating the name “Common Core” from their state standards.
‘White suburban moms’
Education Secretary Arne Duncan claims opposition to Common Core is coming from “white, suburban moms” who are suddenly discovering their children are not “as brilliant as they thought they were.” When Duncan’s comments went viral, “white, suburban moms” quickly found many defenders in the blogosphere and opinion columns.
In January, Duncan spoke to a gathering of curriculum professionals. As he lectured them on the distinction between standards and curricula, he asserted that “not a word, not a single semi-colon of curriculum [sic] will be created, encouraged, or prescribed by the federal government.”
But Duncan’s pep talk to curriculum specialists about their role in implementing the standards only increased the perception that it is indeed a federal, not a state, initiative. George Will noted in his Washington Post article “Doubts Over Common Core” that when the federal government initiates top-down “reforms” in education, any mistakes that result are “continental mistakes.”
Will stated the obvious: “National standards must breed ineluctable pressure to standardize educational content. Targets, metrics, guidelines and curriculum models all induce conformity in instructional materials.”
Indeed, textbook companies now advertise “Common Core Editions,” and educational testing companies provide “Common Core-aligned” standardized tests.
The link between the national SAT test and Common Core was forged when the College Board, which puts out the placement test for college-bound students, hired David Coleman as president. The Gates and Mott foundations gave Coleman’s nonprofit, Student Achievement Partners, money to write the standards, which were commissioned by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association.
The new College Board assessments will start rolling out this year with the redesigned PSAT. The new SAT is scheduled for 2015. The once-venerable Iowa Test of Basic Skills is now Common Core-aligned, and even the GED is getting its first makeover since 2002 so it will line up with the standards.
Teachers withdraw support
Fearing this link between the national standards and high-stakes testing, the board of New York’s teachers union voted unanimously Jan. 25 to withdraw its support for the national standards “as they are being implemented.” The union board also declared no confidence in Education Commissioner John King Jr., a Common Core backer, and asked the Board of Regents to remove him. Union leaders urged the state education department to make “major course corrections to its failed implementation plan” and enact a three-year moratorium on the testing.
The Board of Regents responded to the concerns by giving public schools five more years to implement Common Core. Public school teachers will not be held accountable for student test scores for two years.
There is some movement in Congress to oppose the CCSSI. On Jan. 30, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced Senate Bill 1974. It is now in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on which Roberts sits.
The bill, titled the “Learning Opportunities Created at the Local Level Act,” would prohibit the federal government from coercing states to adopt education standards like Common Core. The act would forbid the federal government from intervening in a state’s education standards, curricula and assessments through the use of incentives, mandates, grants, waivers or any other form of manipulation.
Roberts opposed the Obama administration’s Race to the Top grant program, and he and nine other senators have gone on record against spending any federal funds to develop education curriculum or standards, including the Common Core. Given the present make-up of the Senate, Roberts’ efforts may not gain much headway in Congress.
The real battle against Common Core is being waged in the states. As of Feb. 8, edu-blogger Mercedes Schneider had identified legislative action on the Common Core in 30 states.
“Legislators in most of these 30 states are advancing bills to halt the testing consequences of a CCSS that they admittedly do not understand – and for which they must now count the cost,” Schneider wrote.
Initially, the only states that didn’t compete for Race to the Top funds were Alaska, North Dakota, Texas and Vermont. For Texas legislators, that wasn’t enough. They wanted to ensure the State Board of Education would not follow Alaska’s example and adopt Common Core anyway. In June, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed H.B. 462, effectively banning the Common Core State Standards from Texas schools. The bill had passed by a 140-2 vote in the Texas House.
Some states are now delaying implementation of the standards, such as New York. Illinois has bills in both legislative chambers to delay implementation. Colorado’s legislation would delay them until public hearings have been held. Rhode Island wants to study and evaluate the standards.
After its Board of Education voted in 2010 to adopt the CCSSI, Indiana became the first to align its teacher preparation standards to Common Core. However, even members of the state legislature’s education committees didn’t know much about what the adoption entailed until they started hearing from alarmed parents when the standards began to impact school curricula.
As opposition to the standards spread, former Indiana Superintendent of Instruction Tony Bennett visited tea-party meetings around the state to defend them. His Democrat opponent in the 2012 election, Glenda Ritz, told parents she wanted to “pause” adoption of the Common Core.
When election results came in, Bennett was out, in spite of the $90,000 reportedly given by the Gates Foundation to fund pro-Common Core advertising on Indiana TV and radio. Last May, newly elected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill delaying adoption of the Common Core. In January, the Indiana Senate Education and Career Development Committee voted to send a measure to the Senate floor to repeal the Common Core Standards. If the state legislature passes the bill, it would charge the State Board of Education with developing by July 1 new “college- and-career-ready standards,” a favorite phrase with the pro-Common Core faction.
Erin Tuttle, founder of the grassroots Hoosiers Against Common Core, told the Indy Star that the State Board of Education should not make a few tweaks and slap the label “Indiana Standards” on any new guidelines. She said parents will notice if their children are assigned homework that looks like Common Core.
“Parents will be outraged. They will feel tricked,” he said.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been an active advocate of Common Core, not only in Florida but across the country. His nonprofit, Foundation for Educational Excellence, which received $500,000 from the Gates Foundation in 2010, has lobbied for the Core and sent letters to state legislators in embattled states.
Jane Robbins, senior fellow at the American Principles Project, said Jeb Bush “is the ‘big gorilla’ behind the Common Core movement.”
“Bill Gates is the financier, but Jeb Bush is the one who is twisting the arms of all of these Republican governors and legislators around the country not to do the right thing and regain local control,” Robbins said.
In 2013, after he was voted out as Indiana school chief, Bush’s protégé, Tony Bennett, was appointed Florida’s Education Commissioner. His tenure didn’t last long. He resigned after eight months when it was discovered he had been involved in a plan to improve the school evaluation grade of an Indiana charter school run by Christel DeHaan, a major donor to the Republican Party and to Bennett.
Now the question is whether Bush’s influence in Florida is strong enough to stop efforts there to repeal Common Core. A bill to prohibit the State Board of Education from continuing to implement the Common Core Standards has been introduced in the Florida House, which convenes March 4. The bill (H.B. 25) would stop implementation until certain requirements are met for the adoption or revision of state curricular standards. It also would prohibit Florida from implementing Common Core-aligned assessments.
Common Core supporters are hoping H.B.25 won’t go anywhere. It’s being held in the House and Senate education committees until a companion bill is offered in the Senate. Karen Effrem, co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, said a Senate companion bill has been written and will be submitted.
Effrem said that since Florida is “the land of Jeb Bush,” if these bills pass “it would be a huge shot in the arm to the anti-Common Core movement not only in Florida, but in the rest of the country.”
“And that is why ‘the powers that be’ are fighting us so hard.”
The Heritage Foundation, Heartland Foundation, Pioneer Institute and the American Principles Project, which produced the scathing report on Common Core, “Controlling Education from the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for America,” are all providing intellectual bullets and moral support to those on the battle lines. Co-authors of the APP report, Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, have been traveling around the country to speak to groups that are fighting the standards.
Robbins said proponents of Common Core did not anticipate how much opposition they would face.
“They thought people would be sheep and roll over and accept what the experts told them to do; but it hasn’t turned out that way,” she said.
Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee now have bills in their state legislatures to halt or abolish the standards.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That adage has more application than usual in California, where Democrats hold all of the statewide offices and supermajorities in the legislature. They can enact any policies they want, with only the judicial branch offering belated checks on their power. And when I say belated, that’s literally the case with state Senator Rod Wright, whom a jury found guilty in January of committing eight felonies regarding his residency and eligibility for the office he held.
Normally, politicians who get that kind of a verdict have the decency to resign. If not, the body in which they serve would almost assuredly eject them – but not California Democrats:
Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a move to expel their Democratic colleague Sen. Rod Wright by sending a Republican proposal to the Rules Committee, where it could permanently stall.
Sen. Steve Knight, a Republican from Palmdale, introduced a resolution to expel Wright from the Senate because a jury found him guilty of eight felonies last month for lying about living in the district he represents.
“This will be precedent-setting,” Knight said as debate on his measure was being quashed on a 21-13, mostly party-line vote.
Democrats insist that Wright does not need to resign until after sentencing, because the judge could overturn the verdict. That’s a possibility, but it’s rare. Judges almost always abide by the verdicts of juries in criminal cases, especially because they have the opportunity themselves to dismiss charges if they determine that the state has not met its burden of substantiating the charges for a jury to find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the past, a jury verdict of corruption has been enough to press for resignations from the California legislature. Democrats insisted yesterday that a resignation wasn’t necessary because Wright has been stripped of his committee assignments, and – I’m not making this up – he’s on paid leave, and apparently only since Tuesday.
A Mississippi man declared dead woke up in a body bag at a funeral home.
“I stood there and watched them put him in a body bag and zip it up,” Walter Williams’ nephew Eddie Hester said.
The coroner said he checked Williams for a pulse around 9 p.m. Wednesday, and later pronounced him dead at his home in Lexington with no heartbeat.
“That was at 10:30,” Hester said. “My cousin called me and said ‘Not yet’ and I said what you mean ‘Not yet?’ He said ‘Daddy still here.’”
After the coroner helped move Williams to Porter and Sons Funeral Home, workers were getting ready to embalm him when he started to move.
“He was not dead, long story short,” funeral home manager Byron Porter said. Porter said he had never seen anything like it before.
Paramedics took Williams to the hospital.
Family members say they’re happy he’s alive. His daughter Martha Lewis said, “I don’t know how much longer he’s going to grace us and bless us with his presence, but hallelujah, we thank him right now, right now!”