"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself." --Thomas Jefferson
Government & Politics
ObamaCare Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
ObamaCare was built upon so many lies and deceptions it's hard to keep track, but this week revealed three in particular. What was it that Nancy Pelosi said about having to "pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it"?
Lie Number 1: "Now, add it all up, and the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years." --Barack Obama in a September 2009 speech to a joint session of Congress
The Congressional Budget Office at the time did confirm Obama's numbers, but the CBO scores legislation only as written, without any assumptions or reality checks, and therefore accounted for just six years of spending because most provisions of the law don't kick in until 2014. There were other revenue and cost games, too, since it was paramount that the cost be less than the Iraq War so Democrats could sell it as saving money. We weren't fooled then and neither were millions of Americans, but Democrats rammed it through anyway.
This week, the CBO released an updated report that includes three more years of ObamaCare inside that 10-year window. The estimated cost over a decade is now an eye-popping $1.76 trillion, or nearly twice what Democrats told us in 2009. Not only that, but it won't be until next year that we get a truer 10-year cost estimate, assuming the law isn't repealed or overturned by the Supreme Court. That estimate will surpass $2 trillion. Let's hope Justice Anthony Kennedy wakes up on the right side of the bed the day he makes his decision.
Lie Number 2: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." --Barack Obama in August 2009, but repeated often
Obama and his fellow Democrats insisted that ObamaCare was not a government takeover of health care, and that, while all the uninsured would be cared for, none of the currently insured would lose coverage. However, The Hill reports, "Four million Americans can expect to lose their employer-provided healthcare by 2016, according to the revised figures, far more than the 1 million people estimated last year." You can check our math, but that's approximately four million more people than Obama promised in his 2009 speech. By 2022, the CBO says that number could reach 20 million. More employers dropping coverage in favor of paying the penalty means a revenue increase, too, improving ObamaCare's bottom line.
As if to make good news out of broken promises, CBS headlined, "CBO lowers health reform cost estimate." This bit of deception referenced the provision meant to cover the uninsured when the real news was about the overall cost increase. It's true that the coverage cost was revised lower, but that's only because some two million fewer people will be insured than originally estimated, not because of any great savings.
Lie Number 3: "Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place." --Barack Obama in the aforementioned September 2009 address
The Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule this week establishing state health care exchanges, and those plans will collect from each premium payer a $1 surcharge to fund abortions. Obama's HHS will use accounting gimmicks to circumvent the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits direct taxpayer funding of abortion. Former Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and other Democrats made a grand show over this issue in 2010, refusing to vote for the health care takeover until Obama included a ban on funding abortion. They got their wish, but Obama hasn't upheld his end of the bargain.
It's becoming more and more important that this unconstitutional atrocity be either struck down by the Supreme Court or repealed by our alleged representatives. The White House has already mapped out a desperate strategy to boost public support. Perhaps it's no wonder that the law's supporters are organizing a prayer vigil as the Court hears arguments March 26. To whom they will be offering prayer is another matter.
Obama Is Losing the Contraception Battle
The media narrative that women are leaving the Republican Party in droves over the free contraception debate doesn't hold up in the very polls that these same news outlets have executed. The Washington Post and The New York Times have frequently reported and editorialized (pretending they know the difference) about how the GOP is losing women because of its stance against the free contraception mandated under ObamaCare. But just as there is no GOP "war on women," there is also no mass exodus of women from the Republican Party.
A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed Obama's approval rating actually dropped four points after the Sandra Fluke controversy erupted. Similarly, Obama lost ground to Mitt Romney in head-to-head matchups before and after the Fluke episode. The New York Times poll also discovered a post-Fluke drop in female support for Obama. Humorously, the bird-cage liner explained it away by reminding readers about margins of error and other statistical anomalies that can affect poll findings -- all valid points that the paper neglected to make during the Bush years.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
"When we start using religion as a bludgeon in politics, we start questioning other people's faith, we start using religion to divide, instead of bring the country together, then I think we've got a problem." --Barack Obama, bludgeoning defenders of religious liberty who oppose his new contraception mandate
Campaign Trail: Spinning the Winning
By all appearances, Rick Santorum had an outstanding week. It began with Saturday's convincing win in Kansas and continued through Tuesday with narrow wins in Alabama and Mississippi -- states Newt Gingrich sorely needed to win to justify his continued presence in the race. Perhaps the bigger story is Mitt Romney's third place finish in the latter two states. Apparently his friendship with NASCAR team owners didn't translate into votes from NASCAR fans.
On the other hand, the media narrative isn't all there is to the story. Thanks to superior organization, Romney's very close third place finishes translated into a fair number of delegates. Adding wins in Hawaii, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa, he actually padded his delegate lead this week. The Associated Press has his delegate count at 495 to Santorum's 252, with 1,144 needed to secure the nomination.
After his wins, Santorum took some justifiable shots at the supposedly "inevitable" Romney, who had to spend a lot of money for his showing. Supporters of the former Pennsylvania senator also increased their calls for Gingrich to drop out, arguing that it's already a two-man race. Indeed, the former speaker staked much of his campaign on winning in Georgia and much of the South, and he has thus far failed to do so outside of his home state and neighboring South Carolina. However, the delegate math makes it highly unlikely that either Gingrich or Santorum will win the nomination outright, though they can certainly continue to make it difficult for Romney.
Ron Paul, still with no wins and just 48 delegates under his belt, isn't going anywhere either. On the contrary, as blogger Ed Morrissey points out, "Ron Paul's campaign has worked hard to get its own people into the county and state conventions in order to swing the actual delegate allocations to Paul, and they have significant organizations in these states to push that strategy. Paul needs that not to win the nomination at a brokered convention -- no one thinks Paul can get the nod after having won no states -- but to push for his platform and to get a significant speaking slot, either for himself or his son, or both."
This Week's 'Braying Jackass' Award
"These [Republican] guys don't have a sense of the average folks out there. They don't know what it means to be middle class." --Joe Biden to 87 wealthy Democrats who paid a minimum of $10,000 per couple to attend that particular fundraiser
New & Notable Legislation
Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced S. 2188, the "National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2012." The bill is the Senate version of H.R. 822, which passed the House last November by a vote of 272-154. It would permit any concealed-carry permit holder to carry a concealed handgun in any other state that also issues such permits. Illinois is the only state that has yet to acknowledge that the Second Amendment exists -- all 49 other states permit, to varying degrees, carrying a firearm.
From the Left: Voter ID Challenged
The Department of Justice unilaterally blocked a voter identification law in Texas, claiming it unjustly restricts minority voting rights as outlined in Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This follows a similar action in December against South Carolina's voter ID law, which that state is currently fighting in federal court. The DOJ used statistical gymnastics to claim that the Lone Star State's law discriminates against Hispanics, claiming that Hispanics were 46.5 percent more likely than non-Hispanics to lack proper voter ID. This may seem to be a big difference, but the disparity is derived by comparing the 6.3 percent of Hispanic voters who don't have a driver's license to the 4.3 percent of non-Hispanics voters without them. Additionally, election ID cards in Texas may be obtained free of charge with the same amount of effort as it takes to obtain a library card or board an airplane, as Texas Governor Rick Perry pointed out.
While the Civil Rights Act gives the DOJ the power to review voter laws in the South post-Jim Crow, it has been almost 20 years since the DOJ has challenged one. Georgia passed a voter ID law in 2005 that the DOJ cleared, and Hispanic voter turnout in the state has increased 140 percent. However, the landscape has changed since the 2010 election. Widespread Republican victories on state and local levels produced a series of voter ID laws meant to curb the increasing level of voter fraud taking place among immigrant populations and in urban areas.
Meanwhile, a similar Wisconsin law was blocked because, in the words of Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess, it would "impermissibly eliminate the right of suffrage altogether for certain constitutionally qualified electors."
Recent actions by the Supreme Court have upheld Indiana's voter ID law and also expressed a strong dislike for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because it essentially places the burden on states to prove their innocence rather than on the DOJ in proving their guilt. This suggests that if the South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin cases rise to that level of judicial review, the High Court might be sympathetic. That will take time, though, and it will certainly drag on past the 2012 elections, giving the DOJ all the time it needs.
Of course, the United Nations Human Rights Council is also looking into U.S. voter ID laws, so the whole matter will no doubt be resolved satisfactorily once the likes of China, Cuba, Libya and Saudi Arabia weigh in.
IRS Goes After the Tea Party
Dozens of Tea Party groups around the country that applied for nonprofit tax exempt status have received letters from the Internal Revenue Service demanding detailed information about the workings of their organizations. According to IRS rules, certain nonprofit organizations are allowed to have political expenses as long as active electioneering is not their primary activity. It is within the agency's right to question how the money collected by these organizations is spent, but the questionnaires received by the Tea Party groups are outrageously intrusive and probe into areas the IRS has no business investigating. Some of the questions include not just how many members a particular Tea Party group may have, but what the members' backgrounds are, who they associate with, and what is discussed at group meetings.
These questionnaires traditionally precede full-blown audits by the IRS that can cripple an organization's ability to function -- probably just what the government has in mind. The agency claims it's merely doing its job in a nonpartisan fashion, but no leftist nonprofits have reported receiving the same high level of attention. Jay Sekulow, an attorney with the American Center for Law and Justice, represents 20 Tea Party groups in a harassment case against the IRS. Sekulow reports that some of the applications for tax-exempt status have remained dormant at the agency for close to two years. The timing of the IRS follow-up, just months before a major election, is curious at best.
Gas Prices: Chu, Task Forces and Taxes
Energy Secretary Steven Chu has been spending his time lately walking back comments he made about gas prices in 2008. He said then, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," which is roughly $10 per gallon today. In congressional testimony this week, however, Chu said, "I no longer share that view." It is an election year, after all, but even still, Chu wouldn't say he regretted his 2008 comments. "Let me not comment on that," he deflected. We think it remains clear that the administration wants high gas prices to serve their agenda to increase the use of alternative fuels. The trick is keeping that part of the plan hidden.
To that end, the president says that while "we don't have a silver bullet" to fix gas prices, he does have a solution: "[W]e've set up a task force to look into speculation to make sure that folks aren't taking advantage of the situation on the global oil markets." Behold the brilliance.
Don't tell Obama that we need more supply, either. "[D]o not tell me that we're not drilling. We're drilling all over this country," he jeered. "There are a few spots we're not drilling. We're not drilling in the national mall. We're not drilling at your house." However, most drilling is taking place on private land, and, according to the Institute for Energy Research, fossil fuel production on federal lands is at a nine-year low. Even Obama tacitly acknowledges the supply problem when he floats the idea of tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That's a cynical political move and an improper use of the reserve, but a tacit admission nonetheless.
It's also possible that taxes have something to do with high prices. We know that doesn't fit with his re-election narrative, but as it turns out, oil companies pay more than their "fair share." In fact, the Tax Foundation estimates that between 1981 and 2008, oil and gas companies paid more in taxes than they earned in profits. Just remember, though, the oil companies are the greedy ones.
Income Redistribution: Picking (More) Winners and Losers
On the surface, Barack Obama's idea of spending $1 billion for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) sounds plausible, but the details tell the real story. To kick things off, the president will bypass Congress and immediately spend $45 million -- originally intended for the departments of Defense and Commerce and others -- on a "pilot institute" on innovation with the exact location yet to be determined. We suspect the location could depend on the need to pick up a swing state's electoral votes.
Of course, the push will be for manufacturing that focuses on "green" technology, so industries that don't create politically correct widgets need not apply. After being burned by continuing scandals such as the Department of Energy's subsidies to Solyndra and at least 19 other politically correct companies, as well as the fallout from a $10 million award to Philips Corporation for making an "affordable" $50 LED light bulb to replace the 79-cent incandescent variety, it appears the government will use the NNMI as a handy scapegoat for more failures certain to come.
Critics point out that it's another case of government interference in the market, but as Pam Villarreal, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, noted, "I'm a little bit confused that he hasn't renewed the research and development tax credit [in the FY2013 budget]. ... Why have a new initiative when you haven't extended the existing ones you have?" The answer is quite simple: The administration can't control who qualifies for the tax credit, but they get to pick the sites where NNMI will locate and who qualifies. Call it another innovation in command and control economics.
'Buffett Rule' Doesn't Apply to Buffett Subsidiary
Billionaire Warren Buffett gladly lent his name to Barack Obama's "soak the rich" tax proposal. Known as the "Buffett Rule," it says that millionaires ought to pay no less than 30 percent in taxes. When it comes to Buffett's own corporate empire, however, he sure likes to hang on to his money. Last November, NetJets Inc., owned by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway holding company, contended it was due a rebate of $642.7 million in imposed taxes, interest and penalties. It argued that a federal rule assessing a ticket tax to NetJets clients didn't apply. Last week the IRS struck back, countersuing the company for $366 million.
While it's quite possible NetJets isn't, as the IRS sees things, guilty until proven innocent, this seems like hypocrisy on Buffet's part. He advocates that people of his station pay their "fair share," but the business owner in him is fighting tooth and nail -- and paying lobbyists quite handsomely -- to avoid what he sees as "unnecessary" taxes. Then again, he's getting a taste of what the rest of us have to put up with on a smaller scale when we run afoul of the tax man.
Warfront With Jihadistan: U.S. Soldier Kills 16 Afghans
The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating rapidly. Just weeks after U.S. troops accidentally burned terrorist-defaced Korans, setting off the usual outrage, rioting and killing among adherents of the Religion of Peace™, a U.S. soldier threw napalm on the fire allegedly by methodically murdering 16 Afghan civilians last Sunday. Nine of the dead were children and three were women. Eleven of the victims were from the same family. The shooter, reportedly a staff sergeant with two children of his own at home, was assigned to a Special Operations Forces detachment that, ironically and sadly, was training local self-defense forces to protect Afghan villagers from the Taliban. The soldier, whose identity hasn't been disclosed, surrendered and is now in U.S. custody. Investigators say that alcohol played a role in the shootings and that the soldier had seen a close friend grievously wounded by an IED the day before.
Naturally, the Taliban vowed revenge for the murders, and unfortunately the incident lent credence to their claim that foreign troops are callous killers of Muslims. The Taliban failed to note their own frequent mass murders of Muslims. Barack Obama, in the first of his many -- and, in this case, actually appropriate -- apologies, called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to express his "shock and sadness" and to make clear that the U.S. will "hold fully accountable anyone responsible." He added, "We're heartbroken over the loss of innocent life."
Needless to say, this event hasn't helped relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan, nor will it help to stop the erosion of support at home for the Afghan war. Karzai is calling for U.S. troops to pull back to U.S. bases, and the Taliban is suspending negotiations (not that those were going anywhere). Here at home, even Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich joined others in Washington who claim it's time for the U.S. to quit, saying that the U.S. mission is "not doable" and it's time "to back off that region." However, the U.S. ambassador warned against leaving Afghanistan earlier than planned, and both Obama and visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out any dramatic changes to the late 2014 withdrawal date.
The diminished support here at home and the erosion of trust, such as it is, between U.S. and Afghan forces will only increase the risks our troops face. This matter could incite further incidents of Afghan soldiers turning on and killing U.S. troops, as well as emboldening Taliban fighters. The now-muddled Afghan mission and the approaching withdrawal date will also affect troop morale, which can only further raise the risks. The U.S. outlook for Afghanistan is very grim, indeed.
Department of Military Correctness: Enterprise's Final Deployment
The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) departed on its 22nd and final deployment this week. When the world's first nuclear aircraft carrier returns later this year, it will be deactivated and eventually decommissioned, marking the end of more than 50 years in service. We certainly hope CVN-65 doesn't share the same fate as the previous Enterprise -- the World War II carrier CV-6 was dismantled for scrap. There are possible plans to preserve the island of the carrier, but nothing is finalized.
With the decommissioning, the Navy will no longer have a ship named "Enterprise," unless that name is bestowed upon CVN-80. The unfortunate tradition now is to name naval vessels after undeserving politicians -- the USS Ronald Reagan being a notable exception. Ships named for Jimmy Carter and John Murtha happen to serve as the most offensive examples. Indeed, ship names have become little more than political cookies. We mean no disrespect, but naming a ship the USS Gabrielle Giffords after the former Arizona Democrat representative is not terribly appropriate. She has bravely persevered in her recovery after being shot in the head last year, but how about a ship named after a Founding Father first?
'Non Compos Mentis': The Obama Flag
The Democrat headquarters in Lake County, Florida, flew an American flag that was a disrespectful insult to our nation and to the veterans who have given life and limb defending it. The flag bore a picture of Obama in the blue field instead of the 50 stars. The counterfeit flag flew just below Old Glory until local veterans complained. A small group of veterans took pictures and gave a copy of the federal flag code to Nancy Hurlbert, chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party.
She says the flag flew without complaint since she received it as a gift two months ago, and she not only didn't understand the complaint, but also implied that is was based on racism. "It leads me to believe that it's not about the flag," she said. "Certain elements cannot accept Barack Obama as president." Though Hurlbert took the flag down, she wouldn't promise to not fly it again. First, she said, "We want to find out what our legal rights are." Pardon us, but we believe the veterans already supplied that information to her.
To add insult to injury, the flag, which is available online for $12.95, is made in China. We wonder if leftists would be upset at its burning, or if that would be considered free speech.
Village Academic Curriculum: Heating Up the Classroom
Once upon a time, science class meant studying things such as biology, gravity and the speed of light. Now, if some groups have their way, science classes across the country will become labs for developing global warming alarmists. Next month, several national organizations -- including the National Research Council, part of the congressionally chartered National Academies -- will unveil science education standards that teach as fact manmade global warming. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the groups "are working from a document they drew up last year that says climate change is caused in part by manmade events, such as the burning of fossil fuels" and that "rising temperatures could have 'large consequences' for the planet." In other words, no debating theory, no questioning the source, no examining all of the evidence, just calling a political position "settled science."
That's because the "proof" of man-induced global warming is hardly settled science. In fact, the global warming camp can't even meet its own standards for what constitutes reliable evidence that the earth is heating up -- namely that "[i]n order to separate human-caused global warming from the 'noise' of purely natural climate fluctuations, temperature records must be at least 17 years long." Not only have temperatures not "warmed" over the last 17 years but they've actually been dropping since 2005. Naturally, climate alarmists have no answer for this; hence, their need to propagate their indoctrination of our school-age children. Get ready -- the debate over global warming guidelines in the classroom is about to get hot, even if the climate isn't.
Administration to Defend Mt. Soledad
In a rare move to defend religious liberty, the Obama administration decided to defend the Mt. Soledad War Memorial, which includes a 29-foot cross. The Justice Department filed briefs Wednesday asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit Court's 2011 ruling that the memorial is an unconstitutional "establishment" of religion. Frankly, we're rather shocked to find ourselves in total agreement with something written by the Obama DOJ: "The decision below, if permitted to stand, calls for the government to tear down a memorial cross that has stood for 58 years as a tribute to fallen service members. Nothing in the Establishment Clause compels that result, because the Establishment Clause does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm." Thirty-four members of Congress filed a separate legal brief in support of the memorial. We have followed this case for several years, and we hope the Supreme Court takes it up and acknowledges the First Amendment.
Faith and Family: 'Wrongful Birth'
An Oregon couple won a wrongful birth lawsuit last Friday and was awarded nearly $3 million. What is "wrongful birth," you may ask? The couple convinced a jury that their daughter should not have been born because she has Down syndrome, which the woman's doctor assured her was not the case while the girl was in utero. The couple contends that they would have aborted their daughter and now face the financial burden of raising her. It is appalling that a jury voted 12-0 and awarded this couple $3 million for the admission that they would have killed their child if they had only known. Granted, raising special needs children can be expensive, but we mourn the fact that the culture of death is so pervasive -- at least in Oregon -- that a human being can be legally declared to have been wrongfully born.
We Tennessee boys ain't from around there, but we hear that New Yorkers sometimes make fun of the smell emanating from New Jersey. Given the news up there this week, that's little wonder. Police, firefighters and other Trenton city workers were down to their last bit of toilet paper after funding got clogged in the city council. Fortunately, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals came to the rescue, providing six months of free rolls. Of course, they're printed with a message from PETA: "Slaughterhouses are so filthy that more than half of all meat is contaminated with fecal bacteria." We'd say toilet paper is the only suitable place for a PETA slogan, but we don't want to be accused of a nasty smear.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team