The 300,000-member union that was the first to endorse then-Senator Barack Obama has released a devastating Obamacare report that says Obama’s controversial healthcare program will slash worker wages by up to $5 an hour, reduce worker hours, and exacerbate income inequality.
The report by Unite Here – a North American labor union that represents workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries – is titled: “The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse.”
“Ironically, the Administration’s own signature healthcare victory poses one of the most immediate challenges to redressing inequality,” states the 12-page report. “We take seriously the promise that ‘if you like your health plan, you can keep it. Period.’ UNITE HERE members like their health plans.”
The report features first-person testimonials and photos of union members describing how Obamacare is personally hurting them and their families – the same kinds of stories that Majority Senator Harry Reid said are “all untrue” and that progressive New York Times columnist Paul Krugman mocked as”nonexistent” in his piece “Health Care Horror Hooey.”
Arturo Marquez, a single father with two children who works as a cook, explains how Obamacare is hurting him:
“I’m a single dad and need every penny for my kids. The best deal Obamacare could offer me would take $1,908 more than our union plan. That’s like a dollar an hour pay cut. If I get really sick and wind up in the hospital, they can charge me $3,700 more out of pocket. I can’t imagine taking care of my son and daughter while taking a $2.70 an hour pay cut,” says Marquez.
Another union member, housekeeper Angela Portillo explained how Obamacare is hurting she and her husband:
“Housekeeping is a tough job – many of us suffer serious injuries doing this work. And Obamacare would cause my husband and I even more pain. The Obamacare website says we would have to pay $8,057.04 a year more to keep the great insurance we have now. That’s a $3.87 per hour pay cut. We work hard for our insurance. Why should we have to take a cut in pay for it?” says Portillo.
Food service worker Earl Baskerville feels the same way, according to the report:
“The health care crisis hit our workplace hard. We tried three different plans in a three year contract. When the for-profit insurance companies were going through the roof, we switched our union’s plan to keep good benefits. But Obamacare will give government money to those plans and not ours. Obamacare would cost me $4,855.20 a year more, or a $2.33 an hour pay cut. That’s not right. We just want to be treated like everyone else,” says Baskerville.
Last week, Unite Here Donald Taylor discussed the possibility of a union worker strike over Obamacare and said, “Even though the president and Congress promised we could keep our health plan, the reality is, unless the law is fixed, that won’t be true.”
The Unite Here report further exacerbates Democrats’ already daunting electoral hurdles heading into the midterm elections, now less than eight months away.
Union members are not alone in opposing Obamacare. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, just 38% of Americans now support Obamacare.
Top administration officials have directed 21,000 border patrol officers to retreat whenever illegal immigrants throw rocks at them, and to avoid getting in front of foreign drug-smugglers’ vehicles as they head north with their drug shipments.
“Agents shall not discharge firearms in response to thrown or hurled projectiles… agents should obtain a tactical advantage in these situations, such as seeking cover or distancing themselves,” said the instructions, issued Mar. 7, under the signature of Michael Fisher, chief of U.S. Border Patrol.
Agents were also directed to keep their weapons holstered when drug smugglers drive by.
Agents can’t use guns against “a moving vehicle merely fleeing from agents,” say the instructions.
The new instructions do allow agents to use guns to defend themselves from vehicles that drive at them. “Agents shall not discharge their firearms at a moving vehicle unless the agent has a reasonable belief that… deadly force is being used against an agent,” the new instructions say.
However, the instructions also suggest that officers be penalized if they don’t step back. Agents “should not place themselves in the path of a motor vehicle or use their body to block a vehicles’s path,” according to new instructions.
The new curbs were praised by advocates for greater immigration, including Juanita Molina, director of the Border Action Network. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, and Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Menendez is one of the drafters of the June 2013 Senate immigration bill, which would boost the inflow of legal immigrants and guest workers up to 40 million over the next decade. During the same period, roughly 40 million Americans will turn 18.
The new rules were issued at the direction of Jeh Johnston, the new head of the Department of Homeland Security.
The rules match the recommendation of a report by an advocacy group that wants to reduce policing of illegal immigration.
The report by the Police Executive Research Forum was commissioned by DHS, and it said border agents should be barred from standing in front of smugglers’ vehicles or from shooting at people who are attacking them with rocks.
The commissioned report was challenged by mid-level DHS officials, who argued that the rules barring self-defense from rock-throwers “could create a more dangerous environment [especially for agents operating] in rural or desolate areas, often alone, where concealment, cover and egress is not an option,” according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
But Johnston overrode the internal response, and forced the implementation of the advocacy groups’ recommendations.
The PERF report was commissioned by top DHS leaders after advocates said law-enforcement agents had killed roughly seven people a year along the 1,933-mile border in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The shootings came during 67 clashes with a huge stream of armed drug-smugglers and illegal immigrants.
Three U.S. border guards have been killed in recent years, including one who was shot during a clash with drug smugglers carrying AK-47 assault weapons.
In a Friday news conference, Fisher told reporters that agents would be equipped with short-range tasers and pepper spray, plus medium-range pellet guns, to deter attacks.
But he also admitted that agents have been attacked 6,000 times since 2007. They’ve been “assaulted by rocks” 1,713 times since 2010, and have responded with deadly force only 43 times, he said.
The agents killed only 10 drug-smugglers and other attackers during the same three-year period, Fisher said.
Typical union goon behavior.
Via Red State:
In the latest development of a more than year-long labor dispute in Vancouver, the National Labor Relations Board has accused picketers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 4 of a multitude of horrific acts which include violence, threats of rape and implied harm to children, as well as racial slurs toward company security officers.
These acts, according to The Oregonian include the pinning of a security officer’s legs under a moving vehicle, blocking drivers’ vision and causing permanent eye injury to a security officer, reckless pursuit of company vans, as well as threatening a manager’s daughter with rape and “implied threats to harm a manager’s children by telling him they would ‘see his children at school’ and asking, ‘are (his) children okay today?’”
The labor dispute began in February 2013, when United Grain Corporation – a wheat exporter that runs a terminal in Vancouver, Washington – locked out 44 ILWU workers following six months of “fruitless negotiations” and after an ILWU member allegedly sabotaged the company’s equipment. [...]
In addition to the acts alleged by the NLRB, the union has used religious leaders to accuse the company of sins, “including the sin of ‘theft in stealing the right to work,’ the sin of ‘heartlessness in failing to acknowledge the humanity of their workers’ and the sin of “manipulation in hiring replacement workers who need the money.’”
As a U.S. senator, Barack Obama won $48 million in federal funding to help Ukraine destroy thousands of tons of guns and ammunition – weapons which are now unavailable to the Ukrainian army as it faces down Russian President Vladimir Putin during his invasion of Crimea.
In August 2005, just seven months after his swearing-in, Obama traveled to Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine with then-Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar, touring a conventional weapons site.
The two met in Kiev with President Victor Yushchenko, making the case that an existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program covering the destruction of nuclear weapons should be expanded to include artillery, small arms, anti-aircraft weapons, and conventional ammunition of all kinds.
After a stopover in London, the senators returned to Washington and declared that the U.S. should devote funds to speed up the destruction of more than 400,000 small arms, 1,000 anti-aircraft missiles, and more than 15,000 tons of ammunition.
Photographs from the trip show Obama inspecting a plant where Soviet-era artillery shells and shoulder-fired missiles were collecting dust, leftovers dumped in Ukraine after the USSR withdrew from Eastern bloc nations after the once-mighty communist nation fell apart.
The United Nations had already identified some 7 million small arms and light weapons, and 2 million tons of conventional ammunition, warehoused in more than 80 weapons depots spread across the country.
Many of the artillery shells shown in photographs from Donetsk, multiple weapons experts told MailOnline, would be the same types of ammunition required to repel advancing Russian divisions as they advanced to the west, had they not been destroyed.
Two experts said the ammunition, particularly small-arms rounds, would have been useful to train Ukraine’s armed forces and million-strong reserves.
‘Vast stocks of conventional munitions and military supplies have accumulated in Ukraine,’ Obama said in am August 30, 2005 statement from Donetsk. ‘Some of this stockpile dates from World War I and II, yet most dates from Cold War buildup and the stocks left behind by Soviet withdrawals from East Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungry and Poland.’
‘We need to eliminate these stockpiles for the safety of the Ukrainian people and people around world, by keeping them out of conflicts around the world.’
More than a year later, President George W. Bush signed into law a proposal authored by Obama and Lugar.
Obama said then that the existing Cooperative Threat Reduction Program ‘has effectively disposed of thousands of weapons of mass destruction, but we must do far more to keep deadly conventional weapons like anti-aircraft missiles out of the hands of terrorists.’
Much of the Ukrainian small-arms supply was ultimately exported, not scrapped, by a Yushchenko regime that chose revenue from arms dealing over the cost of melting down metal.
In 2008 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that between 2004 and 2007, the Ukrainian Export Control Service told the UN that it sent 721,777 small arms and light weapons to 27 different countries.
The United States was the top recipient, with more than 260,000 of those weapons, followed by the UK and Libya, which each imported more than 101,000.
That flood of weapons exports has continued, with annual export records showing hundreds of thousands of new exports each year, covering everything from pistols and carbine rifles to heavy machine guns and anti-tank weapons.
But while today’s 130,000-strong standing Ukrainian military isn’t short on AK-47s, Russian troops have met little to no large-scale resistance from armored divisions or heavy artillery as they steamrolled their way into Crimea.
Some of that was Ukraine’s own doing – it sold 320 tanks to Pakistan in the 1990s, for instance – but Obama and Lugar accelerated the pace of the country’s arms liquidation.
While the Ukrainian army seems to have been careful to avoid provoking an even larger conflict, it’s impossible to know whether Putin would have behaved differently in the face of columns of heavy weapons that once belonged to the Soviet Union in whose KGB he held a high-ranking position.
Sky News video broadcast on Tuesday showed Russian troops firing automatic weapons over the heads of apparently unarmed Ukrainian Air Force personnel near a contested airfield in Crimea.
The powerful House Ways and Means Committee will get everything from disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner’s email account since a few weeks before Barack Obama became president.
And Republican committee members are hoping they’ll find a smoking gun tying the Obama administration to the years-long scheme to play political favorites with nonprofit groups’ tax-exemption applications.
After eight months of back-and-forth stonewalling, the IRS has agreed to turn over the complete contents of Lerner’s email account, along with other documents that two congressional committees have been demanding.
‘If there’s not a Holy Grail email in this round of documents,’ a senior staffer to a Ways and Means committee member told MailOnline, ‘then we’re not going to find it.’
‘Whether that’s because Lerner covered her tracks or because the IRS is shredding documents, we’re probably never going to know.’
The committee’s chairman, Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp, seems eager to put his staff to work sifting through thousands of messages in search of an explanation for the program that has been a major embarrassment to the White House.
‘This is a significant step forward and will help us complete our investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups,’ Camp said Friday.
‘From the few Lerner documents we have received, we know that Washington, DC orchestrated the targeting of groups applying for tax-exempt status, surveillance of existing tax-exempt groups and formed the proposed 501(c)(4) rules designed to push conservative groups out of the public forum.’
Camp warned the IRS in a February 24 letter that he would start issuing subpoenas if the agency didn’t turn over the documents he wanted.
The IRS has proposed a rewrite of its regulations governing communications restrictions on ‘public benefit’ organizations that are exempt from paying federal income taxes.
That redesign of the rules began long before Lerner herself exposed the IRS’s pattern of holding up right-wing groups’ applications, often with dozens of intrusive questions over several years.
The effects of the agency’s desired rule change would be substantial: Organizations would be prohibited from emailing information, or publishing anything online, about candidates’ voting records during the last 60 days before an election.
Tea party groups, which began their rise to prominence five years ago, comprised most of the organizations that the IRS targeted beginning in 2010. Their political free-speech concerns have driven more than 146,000 public comments to the IRS, demanding that the regulatory revisions be scrapped.
Cleta Mitchell, a board member of the American Conservative Union Foundation, said Friday during that organization’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference that the new rules would affect the event where she was speaking.
‘It would mean that in even-numbered years, CPAC could have no speakers who are candidates for office,’ she said, dumbfounded.
Mitchell, an attorney, is representing some of the tea party groups in lawsuits related to the IRS targeting scheme.
The House Oversight Committee, chaired by California Rep. Darrell Issa, has cast a larger public shadow than Ways and Means has on the IRS targeting scandal.
Lerner has appeared before Issa-led hearings twice, both times invoking her Fifth Amendment rights and refusing to testify, despite President Obama’s insistence in a February interview that the IRS displayed ‘not a smidgen of corruption’ in the damaging episode.
Becca Glover Watkins, the Oversight Committee’s communications director, told MailOnline that Issa’s and Camp’s committee staffers are working hand-in-hand.
‘The Oversight Committee and the Ways and Means Committee have worked in partnership during the course of this investigation,’ Watkins said.
‘We expect the IRS will also be delivering a copy [of the complete Lerner files] to the Oversight Committee.’
A spokesperson for the Ways and Means Committee told MailOnline that it was the new IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, who broke the inertia after months of requests.
‘We have been asking for the materials for months, and after many discussions the new IRS Commissioner has said the IRS will comply with the request,’ said the committee’s Sarah Swinehart.
Lerner ‘was clearly at the center of the IRS targeting and was running it out of the Washington, D.C. office,’ she added. ‘We expect her documents to provide a fuller picture of this.’
Koskinen took over the tax agency on December 23, ending a 13-month period during which two interim commissioners served as caretakers.
The IRS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Taxpayers have paid more than $2.4 million to develop “origami condoms,” including male and female versions, and the “first of its kind anal condom.”
Out to “reinvent the condom,” Los Angeles businessman Danny Resnic has completed the first rounds of testing for three variations based on Japanese folding paper, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development initially spent $212,162 for a feasibility study on Resnic’s “new condom” in 2006. The idea was a non-rolled, silicone-based condom that “increases pleasure” and is more effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
The issue is important to Resnic who said a broken condom in the 1990s changed his life.
“We all know that latex condoms don’t feel great. They break, they slip, and they interfere with intimacy,” Resnic said, sporting green neon shoes and sitting next to an outdoor fireplace for a promotional video on his website.
“From my perspective, the latex condom, designed in 1918, just got it wrong,” he said. “In 1993 I had a life-changing incident, a broken condom and an HIV diagnosis. This drastically changed my view about condoms.”
“Like many people, I don’t love condoms for the obvious reasons,” Resnic continued. “Do you know anyone who does? What if there was something new and radical that you loved using instead of latex condoms?”
Resnic says he has done just that, creating a design that gives the feeling of “sex without a condom: the real deal.”
Perfecting his condoms would not be possible without the U.S. taxpayers. “Generous research and development funding” provided by the NIH supported Resnic’s company’s research and development and four Phase I clinical trials. Since 2006, he has received $2,466,482 to test the three variations.
The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases then began funding Resnic’s clinical trials in 2009, providing two grants worth $1,130,670 to design and test the Origami RAI condom for “receptive anal intercourse.”
The “feasibility and acceptability study” tested the anal condom, which is “worn internally by a receptive male or female partner,” on 24 couples.
The condom is intended to “provide better sensation and less breakage” and to “increase the acceptability of condoms among those who practice anal intercourse and are at risk of HIV / STIs.”
“Unlike the off-label use of the rolled latex male condom, the [origami anal condom] OAC creates direct tactile contact for the penis inside the internally lubricated condom,” the company said. “The Top partner does not need to wear a condom, creating an experience closer to ‘sex without a condom.’”
“You can walk around and do most any activity with the condom pre-inserted,” Resnic said.
The anal condom is expected to hit the market in late 2015. It is undergoing further clinical trials.
Additionally, Resnic received $591,950 to test his “Origami female condom” on 40 heterosexual couples.
The female condom’s design provides “maximum protection against breakage, slippage, and viral permeability.” It features a “unique patented reservoir designed to minimize semen backflow,” the grant said. A video demonstration is provided on Resnic’s website.
Finally, the initial study for the “Origami male condom” cost $531,700, beginning in 2011. The male and female versions, which can “accommodate a range of penis sizes,” are also expected to reach the market in 2015.
“I am grateful for the support from the epidemiology research community and the NIH, without whom these innovations would not be possible,” Resnic said on his website.
“We re-invented the condom,” a promotional video on the Origami condom website said. The video will be used on social media to market the products, since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) restricts their advertising on television and radio.
Set to electronic dance music and neon colors, the 30-second promo begins with a song:
We’ve realized that people are still having sex
They’ve been told not to
Perhaps they are perplexed
When you see them holding hands
They’re making future plans to engage in the activity
Do you understand me?
People are still having sex
Lust keeps on lurking
Nothing makes them stop
“We did not anticipate the marketing challenge with FCC restrictions on media placement for the condom ads on TV and radio,” Resnic said. “The FCC will not allow a condom to be shown on TV, and radio messages have language restrictions. This makes it really difficult to market a product that cannot be seen or discussed.”
Resnic, who studied design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., said the “strategic” promo works around the FCC rules. “Origami condoms won’t go viral, but our promo should,” he said.
The Origami condom has been praised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is also providing millions in research for new condom designs. The billionaire and Microsoft founder is a strong proponent for increasing contraceptive use in developing countries in response to “population growth.”
Resnic also sees his products as being used around the world.
“In the long term we believe we can make a sustainable and measurable difference to reduce incidence of HIV and unplanned pregnancies on a global scale,” he said.
Requests for comment from NIH were not returned.
Less than a year after suffering a major investment downgrade, Chicago has been downgraded again. Moody’s Investment Services announced Tuesday that it was lowering Chicago’s rating from A3 to Baa1, three levels above junk bond status.
Last July, Moody’s downgraded Chicago from Aa3 to A3. President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown now has the lowest municipal bond rating of any city in the U.S. except bankrupt Detroit.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as White House Chief of Staff for President Obama from 2009 to late 2010, and who is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, has struggled to tackle the city’s looming pension crisis.
Through he reached an agreement with sanitation workers to reform the city’s garbage collection system, he has struggled to work with teachers’ unions and has not been able to rally the city behind broader municipal financial reforms.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the official federal deficit was $680 billion. Liberals have cheered this drop while subsequently ignoring how this deficit is both larger than all of Bush’s pre-recession deficits and is expected to grow dramatically over the next several decades.
However, the Treasury Department’s annual report on the finances of the U.S. federal government shows that not only is $680 billion an incomplete measure of the federal government’s finances, it’s off by nearly a factor of five.
The U.S. Treasury has just released its annual “Financial Report of the United States Government,” which provides an account of the federal government’s finances using accounting standards like those that the government requires of large corporations. Because the federal budget is not bound by these standards, it does not have to account for all of its fiscal obligations.
For example, the Treasury report reveals that the federal government owes $6.5 trillion in retirement and health benefits to federal employees and veterans. This legal responsibility amounts to $53,000 for every household in the United States, but none of these liabilities are reflected in the 2013 budget deficit or national debt.
During the federal government’s 2013 fiscal year, the official federal deficit was $680 billion, but this comprehensive accounting reveals that the federal government’s fiscal position deteriorated by $3.3 trillion or an average of $27,000 for every household in the U.S.
There are two basic ways the federal government calculates its obligations. The first does not account for the obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and other programs in the same way the federal government requires of private corporations.
The method the Treasury report uses is far more complete. It includes long-term obligations and liabilites unaccounted for in the deficit and debt measurements.
In this year’s report, Treasury says the government should initiate deficit reduction measures (cuts and/or tax increases) equivalent to 1.7 percent of GDP every year for 75 years. This means, just in 2014, Treasury is recommending a cut in deficits of approximately $274 billion just to prevent a fiscal crisis – and these cuts will grow in size every year for the time period Treasury examined. Waiting 10 or 20 years makes things even worse.
And even these cuts are grossly undersized. First, this would still leave America’s publicly held debt-to-GDP ratio the same as it was in 2013, which the Congressional Budget Office has said is problematic.
Additionally, Treasury assumes in its report that the Affordable Care Act will reduce long-term health care costs. And, finally, these cuts are recommended to reduce “primary” deficits, those that do not include the enormous interest payments the federal government is expected to incur.
In short, not only is the federal government in financial trouble, it’s in worse shape than we ever realized. After compiling all of the data in the Treasury Report, Just Facts found that the full obligations of the U.S. federal government total $71 trillion, or $580,000 per household.
By racist thug, I mean Lubbock, Texas City Councilman Victor Hernandez, who apparently is quite the ass hat
Texas politicians are recoiling after a prominent Lubbock Democrat accused Republican candidate for governor Greg Abbott of “piñata politics” in a bigoted tirade and allegedly disparaged Abbott’s Latina wife.
“Greg Abbott came into our house uninvited, wanting to somehow give the illusion that the Lubbock County Hispanic community is supportive,” Lubbock city councilman Victor Hernandez said after Abbott visited the West Texas town and held a campaign rally at a Mexican restaurant. “If you want to come into my house, the first thing you have to do is to see me — see me as a person, see me as a human being, see me as a fellow Texan.”
So people have to wait for Hernandez to invite them in order to visit Lubbock? Or does that only apply to Republicans? And please Mr. Hernandez should spare us all the “see me as a person” noise. Seriously, how pathetic!
Hernandez, who chairs the local chapter Tejano Democrats, is furious about Abbott’s appeal to Hispanic voters in his city. Even though Abbott was met by a crowd of supporters at Jimenez Bakery and Restaurant last week, Hernandez branded the stop as “offensive” to Hispanics and “beyond any sense of decency.”
So, it sounds like Hernandez is really put out that Abbott was well received. Is someone a wee bit jealous? Insecure? Looking for attention?
He criticized Abbott and Republican candidates for not clearing their visit with local Hispanic groups.
In other words he did not “clear” it with the thugocracy that demands that all Hispanics do as they say! Abbott bypassed the thugs and went to the people! Democrats HATE that!
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.”
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.