Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rangel’s rival files suit over ballot count as vote margin narrows

The Hill ^ | June 30, 2012 | By Meghashyam Mali

Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-N.Y.) primary rival on Friday filed a legal challenge to the ballot-counting process as the 82-year old lawmaker's margin of victory in Tuesday's Democratic primary narrowed.
Rangel seemingly won Tuesday's competitive primary against state Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat. The former House Ways and Means Committee chairman declared victory and Espaillat conceded defeat.

But since then, as ballots have continued to be counted, Rangel's reported margin of vicotroy has shrunk from 6 points on Tuesday, when reports gave him a 46 percent to 38 edge with 82 percent of precincts reporting, to 2.6 percent, media reports said.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

ObamaCare Survives - Electing Romney Just Became Imperative ^ | June 30, 2012 | Bob Beauprez

The Supreme Court did not save us from ourselves, at least not entirely. That is still up to us, the people.

When the American people elected Barack Obama and large Democrat majorities, the die was cast. ObamaCare was coming. Popular or not, constitutional or not, affordable or not, it didn't matter. They were going to pass it, and then the rest of us could find out what they put in it.

After the Democrats shoved the 2700 pages of ObamaCare down our throats -- and we did find out how expensive, controlling, and coercive the legislation was -- a majority of Americans wanted the Supreme Court to toss it aside as unconstitutional.
In a 5-4 decision, the Court did not deem it a legal overreach by the Democrats. While I would have agreed with the minority (Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Kennedy), I respect the decision.
For those of us who originally disagreed with ObamaCare and now disagree with the majority opinion of the SCOTUS, the challenge remains the same as it would have been had the Court ruled otherwise. We need to elect Mitt Romney and House and Senate majorities that will repeal ObamaCare and replace it with free-market, pro-liberty solutions.
In a very real way, the Court just put the responsibility back on the voters to re-establish government of, by, and for the people. In the end, we get the government – and policies that go with it – that we deserve. So, who will we elect as our representative leaders in November? The importance of this election – already historic – just grew even greater.
As the nation absorbs and deciphers the SCOTUS ruling on ObamaCare, we thought our readers would find the following excerpts from NRO's analysis insightful. Included is a link to the entire editorial.
Chief Justice Roberts’s Folly
Posted June 28, 2012, 2:00PM-ET
National Review Online
By The Editors

…Rarely has the maxim that the power to tax is the power to destroy been so apt, a portion of liberty being the direct object in this case.
What the Court has done is not so much to declare the mandate constitutional as to declare that it is not a mandate at all, any more than the mortgage-interest deduction in the tax code is a mandate to buy a house. Congress would almost surely have been within its constitutional powers to tax the uninsured more than the insured. Very few people doubt that it could, for example, create a tax credit for the purchase of insurance, which would have precisely that effect. But Obamacare, as written, does more than that. The law repeatedly speaks in terms of a “requirement” to buy insurance, it says that individuals “shall” buy it, and it levies a “penalty” on those who refuse. As the conservative dissent points out, these are the hallmarks of a “regulatory penalty, not a tax.”…
It now falls to the Republicans, and especially to Mitt Romney, to make the case for the repeal of the law and for its replacement by something better than either it or the health-care policies that preceded it…Opponents should take heart: The law remains unpopular. Let the president and his partisans ring their bells today, and let us work to make sure that they are wringing their hands come November.

Read more.


Insurance Exchanges Won't Work ^ | June 30, 2012 | Jeff Carter

In the aftermath of the Obamacare ruling, the proponents of Obamacare are touting “Insurance Exchanges” as one of the cost drivers to save people money. As a person who was on the board of an exchange, and has traded markets for twenty five years, I think I know a little bit about exchanges-or at least enough to analyze the government run exchanges for health insurance.
There is a lot wrong with the Obamacare bill. But one of the unique parts of the bill was the creation of exchanges for health insurance. However, these aren’t exchanges like you might be imagining.
First, exchanges never guarantee to save you money. An exchange is an efficient marketplace where buyers and sellers can meet to create a transparent price that sends supply and demand signals to that marketplace. Exchanges have always been created to create that common place, with a standardized set of rules to conduct business by. Exchanges never create, or influence the price of the good that is being traded there.
Second, we know from basic Microeconomics 101 that if you subsidize or put a ceiling on a price, the market is less efficient. Those types of actions distort prices. For a real world example, check out the price of corn ($ZC_F) which is distorted to the upside because of the ethanol subsidy. Farmers now plant more grain than would otherwise be planted because of the subsidy. Price ceilings have a different effect in the market. Because a price cannot go above a certain level, if demand would naturally take it above that level the marketplace becomes very imbalanced. There won’t be enough goods to go around and they will become scarce. Certain people in the marketplace will begin to hoard the good if the demand is high enough and scarce enough.
Graphically, this is a subsidy

and this is a price ceiling

The other thing about exchanges is that they work really great when there is one centralized market. It is an aggregation of the most buyers and sellers and because you have more market participants, you get a more market driven price. One of the issues in the stock market today is the fragmentation that has taken place which gives less price transparency. This creates a lack of confidence in consumers, and less faith in the market.
In the Obamacare system, they aren’t creating one insurance market. They are creating fifty of them. Each state will have it’s own market. That fragmentation will create massive inefficiencies. Because each and every state will have to incorporate the subsidies and price ceilings called for by Obamacare, there is no way for any of the fifty markets to work efficiently. Supply and demand forces just won’t be able to adjust freely and quickly enough to create the price transparency necessary to make the market valuable. The outcome will be a side car black market which will probably have the truer price of the good. This is not unlike the black markets behind the Iron Curtain for foodstuffs.
Not only that, but the pool of market participants won’t be big or varied enough to guarantee the randomness that true markets depend on for supply/demand interactions. What is a state like South or North Dakota going to do with a small population? Even in states like California with large populations, so much of that population today is already on government programs that there won’t be enough participants to balance their effect on the market. When pools get imbalanced like that in health care markets, prices rise aggressively. When the price rises aggressively enough to bump into the ceiling, scarcity will surely ensue.
In addition, there is no way for risk to be laid off in single state markets. There won’t be any arbitrage available between states to keep prices in line like there are in many financial markets today. The existence of arbitrage, or the threat of arbitrage, helps keep markets very efficient in financial circles.
Just because people go on television and tout the “free market” doesn’t mean they actually know what they are talking about. Most of them don’t know how to set up a free market. As evidenced by the way the Obamacare Insurance Exchanges are currently envisioned, we already know that there are built in imbalances to the market that will make it run extremely inefficiently.

ObamaCare—Upheld and Doomed - Regardless of the Supreme Court, fiscal reality will prevail.

WSJ ^ | June 29, 2012 | HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

Fans of ObamaCare must be busting a gut three times over. The mandate that conservatives now hate was originally a conservative proposal. In upholding it, Chief Justice John Roberts followed President Obama's Rose Garden instructions to the letter: The Court must find an act constitutional if it happens to be the signature act of a president running for re-election.

Worse, in doing so, he may have read any constitutional limit on Congress out of the Constitution while pretending to do the opposite. Congress cannot compel you to do anything Congress wishes, but it can impose taxes on you until you finally have no rational alternative but to do whatever Congress wishes.
History will judge whether Mr. Roberts saved the reputation of the court or lost his nerve. Many conservatives obviously suspect the latter. Resolved: The government cannot make you eat broccoli, though it may levy a non-broccoli-eating tax on any who refuse.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Obama Wants Troops to Sacrifice MORE

Flopping Aces ^ | 06-30-12 | CJ 

I've been on the White House mailing list since about 2006. In 2009, the nature of emails I received from the White House began to change. Now, there is really no rhyme or reason to the announcements I get. I still get some important, embargoed speeches, but I also get these odd emails about how the Justice Department has charged such and such Soldier with fraud. I never get emails with good information about what our troops have accomplished, but always get the ones about how the administration apologizes for [insert stupid Soldier act caught on photo or video and leaked on the internet].
Interestingly, I never received the following statement from the administration in my inbox about H.R. 5856 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013:
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5856, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year (FY) ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes. ... passing H.R. 5856 at its current funding level would mean that when the Congress constructs other appropriations bills, it would necessitate significant and harmful cuts to critical national priorities such as education, research and development, job training, and health care. Furthermore, the bill undermines key investments in high-priority programs, impeding the ability of the Secretary of Defense to carry out the defense strategic guidance issued earlier this year, and hindering the ability of the Armed Forces to carry out their missions consistent with the new strategy. The Administration also strongly objects to the inclusion of ideological and political provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation.
Additionally, the document states that it is the administration's priority to ensure "funding for Overseas Contingency Operations; the requested pay raise for military personnel; DOD’s program of basic research; the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; and air and missile defense programs, including support for the Government of Israel to purchase additional Iron Dome missile systems." This is awesome! A military that has been at war and is becoming exhausted from the high operational tempo over the past decade surely deserves a pay raise. But, wait! The statement noted that there are areas in which the administration is disappointed in Congress, among them "that the Congress did not incorporate the requested TRICARE fee initiatives into either the appropriation or authorization legislation. The Administration asks the House to reconsider the TRICARE fee proposals, which are essential for DOD to successfully address rising personnel costs. The $1.8 billion in savings are part of a carefully balanced FY 2013 Budget request."
That $1.8 billion in savings is and additional $1.8 billion that the administration wants the troops to pay for. Those "fee initiatives" were hikes in TRICARE health coverage. Hikes in what troops pay at a time in which "a staggering 45 percent" of veterans are seeking compensation service-related injuries.
Our troops are beat up. They've been under heavy loads for more than ten years, especially those that have stayed in long enough to rack up multiple tours. Our nation has sent its sons and daughters into hell to find them coming back incomplete.
Nearly half a million veterans have been or are being treated for PTS and other mental health injuries. The Pew Research Center estimates that about 10% of troops have been seriously injured since 2001. These injuries range the entire gamut from tinnitus in the ears to lost of multiple limbs. Some Soldiers are so horribly disfigured they will be forever be gawked at by an unappreciative citizenry.
Yet, instead of ensuring that these troops are offered the BEST health care at the lowest price since they went on the orders of their leaders, our government leadership wants its troops that have borne more sacrifice than ANY OTHER SEGMENT of society to ensure and safeguard freedom. It's absolutely detestable!!
(Excerpt)

On The Five, Sarah Palin Takes On Health Care Ruling, Bob Beckel And George Stephanopoulos
MEDIAite ^ | 6/30/2012 | MEDIAite

Posted on Saturday, June 30, 2012 12:15:06 PM by Jayster
Sarah Palin slaps around Bob Beckel. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin appeared on Fox News Channel’s The Five on Friday where she gave a wide ranging interview about the Supreme Court decision on health care on Thursday as well as her objections to health care reform legislation. Towards the end of the interview, Palin challenged ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos to call out President Barack Obama for lying to him in an interview where he famously claimed that the individual mandate in health care reform was not a tax.

TOPICS: Health/Medicine
KEYWORDS: abortion; bobbeckel; deathpanels; healthcare; news; obama; obamacare; sarahpalin; scotus; zerocare

  Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin appeared on Fox News Channel’s The Five on Friday where she gave a wide ranging interview about the Supreme Court decision on health care on Thursday as well as her objections to health care reform legislation. Towards the end of the interview, Palin challenged ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos to call out President Barack Obama for lying to him in an interview where he famously claimed that the individual mandate in health care reform was not a tax.
RELATED: Sarah Palin On ObamaCare Ruling: ‘Obama Lies; Freedom Dies’
Co-host Eric Bolling asked Palin to weigh in on the broadly varying conservative reaction to the Supreme Court’s verdict on health care reform.
“I can see both sides of this,” said Palin. She said that there are conservatives who are understandably disappointed that the court did not overturn the health care law, while others might be saying “right on, Supreme Court, thank you for concluding that this is a tax – despite what Obama had promised that it’s not a tax.”
“The glass being half full now tells us, good,” Palin continued. “You put it back in our hands, the people’s hands.” She said that this tax will be either enacted or rescinded by Congress – she recommended that after the Congress returns from recess that they should begin the process of rescinding that tax in order to defund health care reform.
Kimberly Guilfoyle asked if Palin was saying that she thought this was a boon to Republican’s electoral hopes. Palin agreed and enumerated a number of reasons why the bill was deceptively passed to begin with. She contends that the individual mandate being a tax was just one of many deceptions.
“Governor, the deception; does that include death panels there that were never real that you said were in the bill,” interjected co-host Bob Beckel. 

Obamacare and SCOTUS Court Rule 44 - REHEARING

U.S. Supreme Court Rules ^ | June 30, 2012 | seahawkfan

Rule 44. Rehearing 1. Any petition for the rehearing of any judgment or decision of the Court on the merits shall be filed within 25 days after entry of the judgment or decision, unless the Court or a Justice shortens or extends the time. The petitioner shall file 40 copies of the rehearing petition and shall pay the filing fee prescribed by Rule 38(b), except that a petitioner proceeding in forma pauperis under Rule 39, including an inmate of an institution, shall file the number of copies required for a petition by such a person under Rule 12.2. The petition shall state its grounds briefly and distinctly and shall be served as required by Rule 29. The petition shall be presented together with certification of counsel (or of a party unrepresented by counsel) that it is presented in good faith and not for delay; one copy of the certificate shall bear the signature of counsel (or of a party unrepresented by counsel). A copy of the certificate shall follow and be attached to each copy of the petition. A petition for rehearing is not subject to oral argument and will not be granted except by a majority of the Court, at the instance of a Justice who concurred in the judgment or decision. 2. Any petition for the rehearing of an order denying a petition for a writ of certiorari or extraordinary writ shall be filed within 25 days after the date of the order of denial and shall comply with all the form and filing requirements of paragraph 1 of this Rule, including the payment of the filing fee if required, but its grounds shall be limited to intervening circumstances of a substantial or controlling effect or to other substantial grounds not previously presented. The petition shall be presented together with certification of counsel (or of a party unrepresented by counsel) that it is restricted to the grounds specified in this paragraph and that it is presented in good faith and not for delay; one copy of the certificate shall bear the signature of counsel (or of a party unrepresented by counsel). The certificate shall be bound with each copy of the petition. The Clerk will not file a petition without a certificate. The petition is not subject to oral argument. 3. The Clerk will not file any response to a petition for rehearing unless the Court requests a response. In the absence of extraordinary circumstances, the Court will not grant a petition for rehearing without first requesting a response. 4. The Clerk will not file consecutive petitions and petitions that are out of time under this Rule. 5. The Clerk will not file any brief for an amicus curiae in support of, or in opposition to, a petition for rehearing. 6. If the Clerk determines that a petition for rehearing submitted timely and in good faith is in a form that does not comply with this Rule or with Rule 33 or Rule 34, the Clerk will return it with a letter indicating the deficiency. A corrected petition for rehearing submitted in accordance with Rule 29.2 no more than 15 days after the date of the Clerk’s letter will be deemed timely.

The awakened giant likes tea!

WorldNetDaily ^ | Matt Barber

It’s often said, “Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.” Democrats got it all right!

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts – once counted among the constitutional originalists on the high court – has granted President Obama’s supreme wish. By inexplicably siding with the court’s left wing and upholding the president’s signature achievement – government-run socialized health care – Roberts has given Democrats a shiny election-year package adorned with a judicial-activist bow.

The excessive celebration has begun. Nancy Pelosi immediately released a statement gloating, “We made history. … We completed unfinished business!”

Exhibiting that characteristic class intrinsic to “progressivism,” other high-level Democrats took to Twitter: “it’s Constitutional. B*tches,” tweeted Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee and all-around sexist pig.

The DNC’s new media outreach director, Greg Greene, one-upped his boss: “Overheard in the office: ‘TAKE THAT MOTHER******S!!’”

To his credit, Mr. Obama showed a bit more of a measured response. At least he bothered to abbreviate his sophomoric profanity tweeting about his signature achievement: “Still a BFD OFA.BO/ayPgAZ” (BFD stands for “Big F–king Deal”).

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

ObamaCare's Other Mandate Threatens Religious Liberty

IBD editorials ^ | June 30, 2012

Posted on Saturday, June 30, 2012 3:26:32 PM by raptor22
First Amendment: The bizarre ObamaCare decision leaves unresolved the separate issue of whether government can define what a church is and what it can do. Will the courts also redefine the "free exercise" of religion?

For now, ObamaCare remains largely intact and so does its attempt to rewrite the First Amendment by prohibiting the free exercise of religion through its mandate that religious institutions provide contraceptive coverage in violation of their church teachings and religious consciences.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty says it will move forward with litigation challenging a requirement from the federal health care law that employers provide access to contraceptive services. "Never in history has there been a mandate forcing individuals to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay a severe fine ," said Hannah Smith, lawyer for the group.
The fund is engaged in religious liberty lawsuits on behalf of four institutions. There are now 23 lawsuits in 14 states and the District of Columbia involving more than 50 plaintiffs, according to the group, including lawsuits filed by 43 Catholic institutions in May.
So if the Supreme Court has ruled that the government can impose a tax in the form of a penalty on those who refuse to buy health insurance, can it also impose such a "tax" on those who refuse to provide contraceptive services in violation of their religious beliefs?
Beckett argues the contraception mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which bars rules that impose a substantial burden on religious liberty.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Prof. Randy Barnett says Roberts’ tax power argument is “lame” but “easily fixed”

Washinton Examiner ^ | June 29, 2012 | Philip Klein

Back in 2010, Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett, who has been described as the legal architect behind challenges to the health care law,.......Yet in the wake of the Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority decision to uphold the mandate on taxing power grounds,

Barnett has been downplaying the legal significance of that precedent, especially relative to the Court’s ruling that the law was not allowable under the Commerce Clause.......

“Chief Justice Roberts rewrote the (health care) statute to change this from a requirement, or mandate, to an option to buy insurance or pay a penalty,” Barnett explained. “This is far less dangerous than had the mandate been upheld under the commerce power....

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Still a BFD, Obama Loses

American Thinker ^ | Saturday, June 30, 2012 | William L. Gensert

Always classy, Obama himself has already tweeted, "Still a BFD."

...the Supreme Court declared the mandate a tax... Remember, he said that "no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase."

Instead, ObamaCare is the largest tax increase in the history of the nation...and it is a regressive tax. After all, the 1% of Americans he rails against religiously already have health insurance. Guess what: much of the burden of the cost of this legislation will be borne by families making less than $250,000...
In the coming months, many people will begin to realize how much the survival of ObamaCare will cost them in additional taxes and higher insurance premiums. All the Supreme Court has done, in upholding the president's destruction of medical care in America, is give another 100 million people a reason to despise Barack Obama and all he stands for. Obama may claim to care, but I suspect that the American electorate on November 6 will come out in force to show the president and the world how much they actually care for him.
Another point has gone unmentioned. After Ted Kennedy joined Mary Joe Kopechne in the afterlife, the ACA was passed with 51 votes in the Senate using reconciliation. Reconciliation is a process restricting use of the filibuster with respect to legislation related to budget matters. The mandate, now labeled a tax, is a revenue item that can be repealed with the same 51 votes. The filibuster-proof 60 votes needed for repeal before the decision are no longer required...

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Michele Bachmann: 'Don't Let Anybody Tell You We Need 60 Votes to Repeal...We need 50+1

Reaganite Republican ^ | June 30, 2012 | Reaganite Republican

'It's like a knife was stuck into us and twisted'

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said last night on The Factor that the good guys only need
51 Senate votes to repeal ObamaCare, provided we've got a GOP president:

'People are angry. They’re shocked.

What Americans must realize is there’s one option left, it's a powerful option- the ballot box in November.

I think more than ever Democrats and independents are going to be looking at Mitt Romney for president. Because it’s a very clear contrast. It’s Barack Obama and you keep ObamaCare or it’s Mitt Romney and you repeal it…

And people should’t be fooled to think that we need to have 60 Republican seats in the senate. We don’t. We need fifty plus one. That’s all we need. That’s what the Democrats had with the reconciliation bill and we can repeal ObamaCare.

Don’t give up hope. We can get this done'

Why the Individual Mandate is still constitutional

Atlanta Journal-Constitution ^ | June 29, 2012 | Jamie Dupree

Since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Obama health law on Thursday, I have received a number of messages from listeners and readers arguing that because the Justices found the individual mandate was a tax, it was unconstitutional, as that plan didn't start in the House.
"Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution states that 'All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House,'" is what the Constitution says, these readers argue.
They go on to say that since the mandate was added in the Senate, and not in the House, the entire plan should have been found unconstitutional.
Sounds simple enough, but I'm sorry, that's not going to derail the Obama health law.
Let me explain.
At issue is bill number H.R. 3590, which became the legislative vehicle for the Obama health law, known officially as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
When that bill originated in the House of Representatives, it was known as the "Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009."
That bill was approved by the House on October 8, 2009 by a vote of 416-0, and then sent to the Senate.
As Democrats started to push ahead on health care reform in the Senate, they knew about the constitutional prohibition stated above, that all revenue bills must start in the House.
So, they found a legislative vehicle - H.R. 3590 - and simply amended that revenue bill with the language that ultimately became the revenue provisions of the health care law.
The Senate passed that bill on Christmas Eve of 2009, and then the House approved that plan on March 21.
The House also approved another bill, H.R. 4872, which made a series of changes in H.R. 3590. The House acted on March 21; the Senate approved that same plan on March 25, 2009.
If the bill approved by the Senate had any constitutional issues dealing with tax revenues, it would have been stopped in the House by what's known as a "blue-slip" objection, as the House protects its constitutional power to act first on revenue and spending bills.
There is a lot of legislative history to support the Senate taking a minor revenue bill from the House and making major changes; I saw it up close and personal the first time in 1982 when the Senate used a miscellaneous revenue bill and turned it into a major tax measure that was ultimately signed by President Reagan.
So, to all those sending me notes that say the Obama health law is unconstitutional now because the individual mandate was declared to be a tax by the Supreme Court, sorry, but that's just not the case.
The mandate's tax penalty was included in a revenue bill that originated in the House.
There is no constitutional issue on that front

Operation Hot Mike

AFP Releases Blistering Ad Bashing the $2 Trillion Obamacare Tax

Gateway Pundit ^ | June 29,2012 | Jim Hoft

The Hill reported:

A conservative advocacy group closely aligned with the Tea Party announced a $9 million swing-state push against President Obama and the healthcare law.

The announcement by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), which is largely funded by the conservative Koch brothers, comes one day after the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the vast majority of the law in a major coup for Obama.

“While we are deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court ruling,” AFP President Tim Phillips said in a statement, “this is far from over.”
The group’s push is worth $9 million, according to a release. It includes a television ad buy as well as grassroots and online efforts against the law, though the division of spending between the different efforts was not made clear.
Targeted states include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — all expected to be hotly contested in November’s presidential election. Blue states Minnesota and New Mexico were also on the list.
The television ad calls the health law “one of the largest tax increases in history” — a refrain expected to form the foundation of GOP arguments against the law as the election draws near.
“Shouldn’t President Obama’s priorities have been creating jobs and ending reckless spending?” the ad’s narrator says.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Explain it simply!

Democrats’ New Motto: Never Let a Wildfire Go to Waste!

By Michelle Malkin • June 29, 2012 08:17 AM

Note: My column below deals with wildfire politics in advance of President Obama’s visit. But as you all know, this is also personal. My family and I are approaching a full week as Waldo Canyon Fire evacuees. As readers of this blog (archive here) and my Twitter feed have been reading, we were forced to leave our home Saturday afternoon. Some 32,000 were displaced by mid-week. Nearly 350 saw their homes burned to the ground, including many belonging to our friends and acquaintances. (Must-see before and after pics.) Last night, officials allowed many residents to return to their neighborhoods, but ours remains under mandatory evacuation. While light rain provided a little relief yesterday, the blaze is still burning. The night ended on a tragic note with officials revealing that a body had been discovered in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood at one of the scorched homes. Several others are still missing. Also last night: A new fire broke out near Grand Junction — the Pine Ridge Fire — that has already consumed 10,000 acres and closed I-70.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Did you know that President Obama has been incommunicado with Colorado’s governor for more than two weeks as the nation’s worst wildfires rage across the state? Maybe he thought we were all “doing fine.” After an embarrassing Beltway press briefing revelation about our out-of-touch White House, the administration finally decided to divert the campaigner in chief from his nationwide fundraising frenzy for a quick look-see at our devastated city on Friday. It’s “leadership from behind” you can count on.
On Wednesday, press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that Obama hadn’t talked to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in 15 days. Holy smokes. The High Park fire, which has consumed nearly 90,000 acres and claimed nearly 257 homes west of Fort Collins, ignited on June 9 and is still active. During a campaign swing just last week, first lady Michelle Obama made a brief mention of the High Park fire before launching into her standard GOP-bashing stump speeches.
On June 23, the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs erupted. An estimated 19,000 acres and nearly 350 homes burned down to the ground on Tuesday. More than 32,000 have been displaced so far. My family was forced to abandon our home on Saturday, and our neighborhood remains in a mandatory evacuation zone. On June 27, Boulder’s Flagstaff fire broke out and has so far blazed through 300 acres. While he made no public statements prior to the announcement of his visit, an irritated Carney told reporters on Wednesday that Obama was being “updated regularly” on the wildfires in Colorado and across the West. He then rushed out a face-saving press release heralding the president’s hasty phone call that afternoon to Hickenlooper and Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, in which he “expressed his concern about the extent of damage to homes in the Colorado Springs area, and informed both the governor and the mayor that he plans to travel to the area Friday to view the damage and thank the responders bravely battling the fire.”
As Obama sightsees overhead in this key swing state and surrounds himself with first responders for campaign-ready photo-ops, his supporters on the ground are busy spewing excuses, attacks and death wishes on their political opponents. I know. I’ve received countless numbers of them hoping that firefighters let my “mansion” burn down and gloating that God or karma is punishing Colorado’s conservative population. Liberals took to Twitter to bash local GOP officials and me as “fire retardants” who should be dropped over the blaze. And jokes about Colorado social conservatives like this proliferated: “If this Colorado fire takes out the Focus on the Family campus, then God really exists.”
The sniping isn’t limited to social media. Obama strategist Rahm Emanuel said in 2008: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” On cue, Hickenlooper mocked limited-government watchdogs who questioned the Obama administration’s decision to cancel a key aerial tanker contract last summer. (It was the topic of my June 20 column last week, “How Obama Bureaucrats Fueled Western Wildfires.”) The Denver Post reported Wednesday: “Asked about criticism from the right over the Obama administration’s canceling of the contract, Hickenlooper offered an uncharacteristically strong defense of the president. ‘Were these the same conservatives that were so worried about the Obama administration spending too much money, or were these different conservatives?’ Hickenlooper said. ‘Quite honestly, in a situation like this where over 30,000 people have been evacuated, I don’t think that (criticism of Obama) is appropriate,’ the governor said. ‘We should be focusing our support on them and on the people out there risking their lives to fight these fires.’”
Spare us the sanctimony, and lay off the firefighter human shield strategy. The conservatives in Congress and libertarians at and elsewhere on the right who called attention to the U.S. Forest Service’s aging, neglected and undercapitalized aerial tanker fleet are the same conservatives who have doggedly called attention to the Obama administration’s serial squandering of taxpayer dollars on nonessential, ineffective, crony-driven spending. We are the conservatives worried about dumping billions of dollars into bankrupt federal green boondoggles like Solyndra, Abound Solar, Beacon Power, Ener1 and LightSquared at the expense of fundamental services — like fighting fires.
It is entirely appropriate and possible to question this administration’s policy decisions while supporting frontline emergency personnel at the same time. And it is entirely logical and rational to express gratitude for firefighters and police officers — while working to ensure the long-term financial viability of their departments through tough but necessary budget and public employee union reforms. But don’t look to Obama to put out the flames of politically expedient and inflammatory rhetoric. He may be slow on the uptake to respond to national crises, but when it comes to exploiting them, he’s an industrial-grade accelerant.
More on the aerial tanker issue from Heritage’s Michael Sandoval.

What's wrong with Obungacare is that it does not address any of the real needs.

IBD Editorials ^ | June 29, 2012 | Editor 

The country does need medical reform, but not Obungacare.

The size of obungacare indicates to me that it is about power and not about health care. Likewise Mark Steyn notes that the job of director or head of public health has become the biggest govt. job in European countries which have public health care i.e. it would be a step upwards from PM or President or King or Grand Duke or anything else to head of health care. In other words, European health care is ultimate bureaucracy. If I had the power to I would institute a sort of a basic health care reform which would be overwhelmingly simple and which would resemble the thing we're reading about in no way, shape, or manner. Key points would be:
1. Elimination of lawsuits against doctors and other medical providers. There would be a general fund to compensate victims of malpractice for actual damage and a non-inbred system for weeding out those guilty of malpractice. The non-inbred system would be a tribunal composed not just of oher doctors, but of plumbers, electricians, engineers, and everybody else as well.
2. Elimination of the artificial exclusivity of the medical system. In other words our medical schools could easily produce two or three times the number of doctors they do with no noticeable drop off in quality.
3. Elimination of the factors which drive the cost of medicines towards unaffordability. That would include both lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and government agencies which force costs into the billions to develop any new drug. There should be no suing a pharmaceutical for any drug which has passed FDA approval and somewhere between thalidamide and what we have now, there should be a happy medium.
4. Elimination of the outmoded WW-II notion of triage in favor of a system which took some rational account of who pays for the system and who doesn't. The horror stories I keep reading about the middle-class guy with an injured child having to fill out forms for three hours while an endless procession of illegal immigrants just walks in and are seen, would end, as would any possibility of that child waiting three hours for treatment while people were being seen for heroin overdoses or other lifestyle issues.
All of those things would fall under the heading of what TR called "trust busting". There would also be some system for caring the truly indigent, but the need and cost would be far less than at present.
By far the biggest item is that first one. I don't know the exact numbers but if you add every cost involved in our present out-of-control lawyering, it has to be a major fraction if not more than half of our medical costs. The trial lawyers' guild being one of the two major pillars of financial support for the democrat party is the basic reason nobody is saying anything about that part of the problem.
Other than that, you almost have to have seen some of the problems close up to have any sort of a feel for them.
Item 1, this is what I saw in grad school some time ago, although I do not have any reason to think much has changed. In the school I attended, there appeared to be sixty or seventy first year med students walking around and all but one or two of them would have made perfectly good doctors, they were all very bright and highly motivated. The only way the school should have lost any of those kids was either they discovered they couldn't deal with the sight of blood in real life or six months later they changed their minds and went off to Hollywood to become actors or actresses; the school should never have lost more than ten percent of them. But they knew from day one that they were keeping 35% of that class.
That system says that you know several things about the guy working on your body: You know he's a survivor, and that's highly unlikely to be from being better qualified than 65% of the other students; You know he hasn't had enough sleep (he's doing his work and the work of that missing 65%); You know he's probably doing some sort of drugs to deal with the lack of sleep... One of my first steps as "health Tsar" or whatever would be to tell the medical schools that henceforth if they ever drop more than15% of an incoming class, they'll lose their accreditation.
Item 2. My father walks into a pharmacy in Switzerland with a bottle of pills he normally pays $50 for in Fla. and asks the pharmacist if he can fill it. "Why certainly sir!", fills the bottle of pills and says "That will be $3.50." Seeing that my father was standing there in a state of shock, the man says "Gee, I'm sorry, Mr. V., you see, we have socialized medicine in Switzerland and if you were a Swiss citizen and paid into the systemn, why I could sell you this bottle of pills for $1.50 but, since you're foreign and do not pay into the system I have to charge you the full price, certainly you can appreciate that."
The guy thought my father was in shock because he was charging him too MUCH... Clearly whatever needs to be done with drugs amounts to trust busting, and not extracting more money from the American people.
Item 3. A caller to the Chris Plant show (D.C./WMAL) the other morning, an ER nurse, noted that much of the costs which her hospital had to absorb, as do most hospitals, was the problem of people with no resources using the ER as their first and only point of contact to the medical profession. She said that there were gang members who were constantly coming in for repairs from bullet holes and knife damage and drug problems, that they could not legally turn any of those people away, and that there was zero possibility of ever collecting any money from any of them, and that the costs of that were gigantic.
Clearly throwing money at that problems is not going to help anything either. Again if I'm the "Medicine Tsar", those guys would be cared for, but not at the ER or at least not the part of the ER where normal people go, and they would not be first in line. Mostly they'd be dealing with medical students who needed the practice patching up knife and bullet damage.

What's wrong with Obungacare is that it does not address any of the real needs.

High Court Ruling Energizes GOP (Gov. Romney now has 23% black support in Georgia!)

Georgia Public Broadcasting ^ | June 29, 2012 | Jeanne Bonner

The U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold Pres. Obama’s healthcare law is mobilizing Georgia Republicans. Fundraising and volunteer activity spiked on Thursday, and a new state poll shows the lead of GOP presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is widening.

For Georgia Republicans, the ruling means one thing: electing Romney is the only way to repeal the law.

State GOP officials say donations surged upon news of the ruling, and volunteers are flooding the party’s Web site.
Mark Rountree is Georgia-based Republican strategist and pollster. His firm, Landmark Communications in conjunction with Rosetta Stone, conducted a poll Thursday that shows Romney capturing 52 percent of the Georgia vote. That’s a ten-point lead over Obama – his biggest lead to date.
Rountree says it’s notable because Democrats once thought Georgia could be in play.
“It’s galvanizing," he said. "There’s no simpler way to put it. If Romney had to have a series of political events happen for him, they’re happening for him.”
Twenty-three percent of black voters polled said they planned to vote for Romney. Rountree says that’s the strongest support from black Georgians for a GOP candidate in modern history.
"If those numbers hold, and they may not, that would be sea change in Georgia," he said.
Georgia Republicans up until now have been lukewarm to Romney. Newt Gingrich won the state’s primary before leaving the race, and Gov. Nathan Deal only recently endorsed Romney.
But Georgia GOP spokesman Chris Kelleher says Republicans now see unseating Mr. Obama as the only way to repeal the healthcare law.
“We have a volunteer signup on our Web site and we got more submissions yesterday than we got in the previous month combined," he said. "I would say that sort of awoke the sleeping giant. We’ve got a lot of party members whose sights are now set on November because we gotta win now.”
Georgia Democrats said the ruling had a smaller impact, largely because it was a win for Mr. Obama. But nonetheless they say they feel vindicated by the decision. Kristin Oblander, who runs the Oblander Group, a political fundraising firm in Atlanta, says she's seeing a surge of enthusiasm.
"I have not seen a level of excitement this high since the '08 election," Oblander said.
The Supreme Court upheld Obama’s Affordable Care Act in an historic 5-4 decision. The ruling maens 123,000 young Georgians who gained health insurance under their parent’s plans due to the law will now be able to keep it. The decision also leaves in place the so-called individual mandate. It requires Georgia’s nearly 2 million uninsured residents to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.

Media Welcome OTaxaCare With Open Arms

Newsbusters ^ | 6/29/12 | Noel Sheppard

In the blink of a shocking Supreme Court ruling Thursday, the President's signature piece of legislation went from ObamaCare to OTaxaCare. Not surprisingly, the Obama-loving media didn't mind that despite promises from their hero his healthcare reform wasn't a tax, according to the highest court in the land, it is.

I guess many of these folks forget that it was imperative to the President and his party that his healthcare reform proposal wasn't a tax, for they knew Americans including many Democrats wouldn't support such a thing. Such was made infinitely clear in a in a September 2009

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

White House claim ObamaCare fine a penalty, court calling it a tax [If not a Tax, it's illegal]! ^ | June 29 2012 |

First it was a penalty. Then it was a tax. Now it's a penalty again.

The war of words over what to call the fine attached to the federal health care overhaul's most controversial provision continued Friday, as the White House took issue with the Supreme Court's argument -- even though that argument alone spared President Obama's law.

The five-justice majority argued that, while the fine imposed by the law for not buying health insurance would otherwise be unconstitutional, the fine is actually legal under Congress' authority to tax.

Ergo, the fine is officially a "tax" in the eyes of the court. The law stands.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

The Truth About Obamacare: Yes, It's Even Worse Than You Think!

FreeDomain Radio ^ | Jun 28, 2012 | Stefan Molyneaux

Fact 1: There Is No Law in the US Anymore
Fact 2: Obamacare Is an Admission That All Previous Government Healthcare Programs Have Failed
Fact 3: Cost of Already Doubled from Initial Estimates
Fact 4: 70%+ of Healthcare Issues Results from Individual Choice
Fact 5: The Inability to Discriminate on Pre-Existing Conditions is an Essential Driver of Healthcare Costs
Fact 6: The Fines for Noncompliance Are Destined to Rise Enormously
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
If you do nothing, I’ll tax your conceit....that you are not my slave by deceit
(With apologies to the Beatles)

SCOTUS Decision A ‘Poison Pill’ That Will ‘Make 2010 Happen Again’ For Republicans!

Mediaite ^ | June 29, 2012 | Noah Rothman

Geraldo Rivera appeared on Fox & Friends on Friday where he praised the Supreme Court decision on Thursday that allowed President Barack Obama’s health care reform law to stand. However, he said that the decision would lead to a Republican victory in November as Democrats would now have to defend the law as a tax increase. “It is a political issue and now the Republicans can make 2010 happen again, reenergize the tea parties, get the base motivated and bring the Obama tenure to an end,” said Rivera.

Rivera called Chief Justice John Roberts decision “brilliant” and said that, in the wake of the Citizens United ruling in 2010, his court was getting a reputation for being reliably conservative.
“He achieved a result that absolutely blew that out of the water,” said Rivera. “Nobody now is talking about the political court. Chief Justice Roberts, one of whose prime roles is protecting the court scores big time – he protects the court.”

Rivera said that by upholding the law on the narrowest of grounds and reframing the mandate as a “tax,” Republicans have been handed a political opportunity.
“He has gifted President Obama a poison pill,” said Rivera. “Republicans now can remember, unless something is done, that the Bush tax cuts also lapse at the end of the year. So here you have the largest tax increase and the increase coming from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts – he taxed us, he said he wouldn’t tax us, he taxed us. I think the Obama presidency hangs by a threat right now.”
“I don’t mean to demean the Chief Judges integrity in any way,” said Rivera. He said that Roberts may believe his opinion – but the result is an incredible shift towards Republicans.
“It is a political issue and now the Republicans can make 2010 happen again, reenergize the tea parties, get the base motivated and bring the Obama tenure to an end,” said Rivera.
Watch the segment below via Fox News Channel:

Reality Check: If Healthcare Law Is A Tax Is It Now Invalid?

Fox 19 ^ | 6-28-12 | BenSwann

According to Ben, then if Obamacare is a tax as per the USSC, then the bill had to originate in the house. He claims that it did not. Watch the Video. Can anyone with great understanding validate if what he says is true. Did the final bill not originate in the house? Someone at youtube suggests that the senate used a gutted bill from the house. True or False?

Swim at your own risk: America's dirtiest beaches revealed in shocking new study

Daily Mail ^ | June 29, 2012 | Snejana Farberov

With the summer in full swing and temperatures rising into the mid-90s, it may seem like a great idea to take a cool dip in the ocean, but according to a new report, some beach-goers may be getting more than they bargained for.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit environmental group, published on Wednesday its 22nd annual report which showed that storm water runoff and sewage pollution continue to spoil many of America's shores.
The study titled ‘Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches’ examined the results of water testing data at more than 3,200 beaches nationwide, which suggest that beaches ‘continued to suffer from serious contamination and pollutants by human and animal waste’ in 2011.
As a result, U.S. beaches had the third-highest number of closing and advisory days in more than two decades – only slightly lower than in 2010.
Two-thirds of those closings and advisories were caused by bacteria levels surpassing public health standards.
Swimming in bacteria-infested waters can cause stomach flu, skin rashes and pinkeye. The report stated that children tend to be most susceptible to these and other waterborne illnesses likely because they tend to submerge their heads.
The NRDC report labelled 15 beaches in California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin as ‘repeat offenders.’
Louisiana fared particularly poorly, with 29 per cent of the reported water samples below safety standards, followed by Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.
However, there was some marginally good news in the report. The number of beaches that violate national recommended health standards remained steady at 8 per cent — the same level as 2010.
A dozen U.S. beaches received a five-star rating from the NRDC, indicating strong testing and safety practices, as well as low violation rates.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

I found this interesting:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that up to 3.5million people become ill from contact with raw sewage from sanitary sewer overflows each year, and that number could even be higher since many people who become ill after swimming in polluted water are unaware of the underlying cause of their symptoms, and it often goes unreported.

The NRDC has called on the EPA to revise the new water quality criteria it has been developing, which the non-profit claims would leave beach-goers even less protected than in 1986, when the current standards were adopted.

The draft criteria, which are expected to be finalized this coming October, are based on what EPA has determined is an acceptable gastrointestinal illness risk of 3.6 per cent.

According to NRDC, that means the agency deems it acceptable for one in 28 swimmers to become ill with gastroenteritis from swimming in water that just meets its proposed water quality criteria.

The thought of having a 1/28 chance of getting the stomach flu is not something I'd want to gamble. The stomach flu is horrible.

My cousin and I both picked up a stomach virus (we think) from swimming in Lake Erie when we were kids. My cousin's brother didn't get it, though, and he was in the water too. It make the five hour trip home a nightmare, and neither of us wishes to swim in a lake anymore. My parents ended up getting the virus too. However, his brother who swam in the lake with us didn't get it. He doesn't like to swim in lakes anymore either, though, after he got an ear infection after swimming in a lake on a Boy Scout's trip. Anyway, here's the list for all of you who may be considering swimming at these beaches:

California: Avalon Beach in Los Angeles County (3 of 5 monitored sections)
California: Doheny State Beach in Orange County (3 of 6 monitored sections)
Illinois: Winnetka Elder Park Beach in Cook County
Illinois: North Point Marina North Beach in Lake County
Louisiana: Constance Beach in Cameron Parish
Louisiana: Gulf Breeze in Cameron Parish
Louisiana: Little Florida in Cameron Parish
Louisiana: Long Beach in Cameron Parish
Louisiana: Rutherford Beach in Cameron Parish
New Jersey: Beachwood Beach West in Ocean County
New York: Woodlawn Beach – Woodlawn Beach State Park in Erie County
New York: Ontario Beach in Monroe County
Ohio: Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County
Ohio: Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County
Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County 

Texas Students Hijack a U.S. Government Drone in Midair
PopSci ^ | June 28, 2012 | Colin Lecher

The U.S. government, understandably, doesn't want its drone technology to fall out of the sky and into other peoples' laps. But being able to hijack a drone and control it? That's even worse. And a team of researchers has done it for 1,000 bucks.

The University of Texas at Austin team successfully nabbed the drone on a dare from the Department of Homeland Security. They managed to do it through spoofing, a technique where a signal from hackers pretends to be the same as one sent to the drone's GPS.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Administration Wants to Hike Healthcare Fees for Military! The audacity of the Obama administration never ceases to amaze! ^ | June 29, 2012 | Leah Barkoukis

The audacity of the Obama administration never ceases to amaze! On Friday, they threatened to veto a defense appropriations bill because it, in part, does not include hikes in healthcare fees for members of the military. The House bill passed 299-120 in May. The official policy statement offers this objection:
TRICARE Fees and Co-Payments. The Administration is disappointed that the Congress did not incorporate the requested TRICARE fee initiatives into either the appropriation or authorization legislation. The Administration asks the House to reconsider the TRICARE fee proposals, which are essential for DOD to successfully address rising personnel costs. The $1.8 billion in savings are part of a carefully balanced FY 2013 Budget request.
The proposed increases in healthcare payments for members of the military members were reported by The Washington Free Beacon in February:
“The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.”
Of course, it all goes back to propping up ObamaCare…
“Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.”
If the administration had their way:
"Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30 percent to 78 percent in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94 percent to 345 percent—more than 3 times current levels.
According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.
The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.
The changes are worrying some in the Pentagon who fear it will severely impact efforts to recruit and maintain a high-quality all-volunteer military force. Such benefits have been a key tool for recruiting qualified people and keeping them in uniform."
This just makes it abundantly clear how the administration regards those who serve this country and have already given so much.