Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DoD Leave for Same-Sex Marriage Criticized

Stars and Stripes| by Leo Shane III

gay marriage rings 428x285
WASHINGTON -- Conservative critics are blasting the Defense Department for giving gay troops an early wedding gift: up to 10 days uncharged leave time for same-sex marriages.
Pentagon officials say it’s about fairness, not generosity. Only 13 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages, creating a hardship for U.S. servicemembers stationed in many parts of the world.
The policy change came last week as part of Pentagon plans to extend spousal benefits to all married couples, gay or straight, in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling in June knocking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. For the last two years, defense officials have said that law barred them from offering any military benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
Along with housing stipends, health care coverage and separation pay, the new rules allow commanders to grant free leave time -- up to 10 days for troops overseas, up to seven days for U.S.-based troops more than 100 miles from a state that recognizes same-sex marriages -- for gay troops to marry.
Members of the Family Research Council, which opposed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, labeled the uncharged leave policy government-endorsed “homosexual honeymoons.” Peter Sprigg, FRC’s senior fellow for policy studies, said the move goes well beyond simply recognizing same-sex couples in the ranks.
“It could well be argued that the new policy actively discriminates against opposite-sex couples, who receive no special leave for their weddings,” he wrote in a FRC news release on Thursday.
DoD officials dismissed those arguments, saying that military life presents extra difficulties for gay troops looking to get married. Travel to the states that allow same-sex marriages is a significant problem for troops stationed in places such as Texas or South Korea.
“(The uncharged leave) will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the department and help level the playing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples seeking to be married,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman.
Gay servicemembers aren’t guaranteed the full seven or 10 days off. Christensen said decisions on the amount of time granted will be made by their commanders, who will decide based on unit responsibilities and an individual’s personal situation.
The uncharged leave is for “traveling to a jurisdiction where [a same-sex] marriage may occur,” not for a wedding vacation, Christensen said.
Advocates noted that the military is offering uncharged leave, not travel stipends or any way to cover the costs of potentially lengthy trips.
“We don’t want the country at large to think that these couples are getting special treatment,” said Mark Mazzone, spokesman for the military LGBT advocacy group SPART*A. “There will still be expenses and difficulties, but we feel like (the uncharged leave) is a fair compromise.”
In the past, Pentagon officials have estimated that about 5,600 active-duty servicemembers and 3,400 guardsmen and reservists would apply for same-sex spousal benefits when they became available.

RELATED TOPICS

Gays in the Military Military Marriage

This bill tolls for thee, Democrats (Obamacare)

washingtonexaminer.com ^ | 8/21/13 | Noemie Emery

Forget demographics. Forget the re-branding. Forget the poll matchups, most of them involving newcomers who are still largely unknown to the general public.

Nothing will influence 2014 (and 2016) nearly as much as the implosion of Obamacare, which so far has been messy and will become even worse.

Demographic allegiances aren't always stable, parties cannot re-brand themselves in a vacuum, and the current contenders will be judged, not for who they appear to be today but on who they become in the next three years.
Democrats may seem to have a strong coalition, but Republicans had one, too, in 2005, before events intruded. In Forbes, Avik Roy notes that the White House has missed 41 of 82 deadlines in the bill's first three years of existence, while labor leaders say the bill is destroying full-time employment.
Last week, Obama announced the umpteenth delay in implementation; exempted congressional staffers from Obamacare costs; and said he will spend an additional $67 million to "educate" the public on the blessings to come with the law that survived the Supreme Court and the 2012 election (in part because it was planned NOT to kick in before then).
It may not survive its clash with reality, however, which was always its enemy and which seems to be closing in fast.
Democrats claim these "glitches" mirror those faced by Medicare and Social Security soon after their birth, but two key things are different: Medicare and Social Security had wide and bi-partisan backing, and they didn't have a Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.
Though Brown failed to stop the bill's passage, he stopped it from being passed in a form in which its survival was possible. With Brown in the Senate, a conference committee wasn't an option, so the House had to pass the Senate bill as it was.
"What landed on the president's desk was incomplete and unfinished," said Jonathan Adler. "Not all of its parts fit together, complicating implementation and providing greater opportunities for litigation from those who thought the law goes too far."
What else Brown did was make Obama and Democratic congressional leaders force the bill through on a technical loophole that further inflamed the enraged opposition, which waged all-out war in the 2010 midterms, and turned record numbers of state houses red.
As a result, only 16 states are committed to running Obamacare exchanges, a critical fact that may ultimately doom the whole enterprise. If not enough people join the exchanges, the rickety house will collapse.
Democrats are pinning their hopes on Jan. 1, 2014, when subsidy checks start going out to Obamacare recipients, as they believe that once an entitlement goes into practice, it never can be dialed back.
But what if the pain suffered by those hurt by the bill — those whose premiums soar, whose doctors and jobs disappear, and whose coverage suffers — outweighs the gain of those getting benefits, and these people make their voices heard?
Except for somewhat higher taxes, Medicare and Social Security never hurt anyone, and disrupted the lives of no actual voters. Obamacare does. The time has long passed when Obamacare could be called a success; what remains to be seen is the size and the scope of the chaos it brings; and what this will do to its party of origin.
No man is an island, and no island is detached enough to be immune from this wreckage, if only through the harm it has done the economy. Ask not for whom this bill tolls, all of you Democrats. This bill tolls for thee.

Here’s how Republicans may try to kill immigration reform

washingtonpost.com ^ | 8/20/13 | Greg Sargent

As I’ve been arguing, the August recess has brought a bit good news on immigration: we’ve seen at least a few House Republicans trying to sincerely grapple with the issue and move towards comprehensive reform.

Now for the bad news: GOP Rep. Robert Goodlatte — who wields influence over immigration as Judiciary Committee chair — has now shown us what it will look like if House Republicans decide to kill reform, while trying to evade blame for it.

Goodlatte is being closely watched by both sides. Some have noted Goodlatte’s willingness to entertain a path to citizenship (without any special pathway), while others believe Goodlatte is more likely to end up sticking a knife in comprehensive reform’s back while talking a nice game about doing something for the DREAMers even as he winks at the right.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...

UPS drops spousal coverage, teachers get hours cut due to ObamaCare!

Hotair ^ | 08/21/2013 | Ed Morrissey

Thanks to the delayed employer mandate in ObamaCare, we are now sixteen months away from enforcement of those statutes, even though they go into effect in four months. Are employers taking a break from ObamaCare prep? Not hardly. Today we have three new stories about how the perverse incentives of the ACA will impact workers, starting with UPS, which has just announced that it will stop offering health-care coverage to spouses — and explicitly cites ObamaCare as the reason (via Jim Geraghty and Jeryl Bier):
United Parcel Service Inc. plans to remove thousands of spouses from its medical plan because they are eligible for coverage elsewhere. The Atlanta-based logistics company points to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as a big reason for the decision, reports Kaiser Health News
The decision comes as many analysts are downplaying the Affordable Care Act’s effect on companies such as UPS, noting that the move reflects a long-term trend of shrinking corporate medical benefits, Kaiser Health News reports. But UPS repeatedly cites Obamacare to explain the decision, adding fuel to the debate over whether it erodes traditional employer coverage, Kaiser says.
Rising medical costs, “combined with the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, have made it increasingly difficult to continue providing the same level of health care benefits to our employees at an affordable cost,” UPS said in a memo to employees.
As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the law requires employers to subsidize health-insurance costs for employees, but not for dependent children (meaning the employee has to pay full price), and they don’t have to cover spouses at all — even if the spouses don’t have their own jobs. Under that scenario, employees with children and stay-at-home spouses are better off going into the exchanges and getting taxpayer-fueled subsidies to buy their own family insurance — even though a mass migration into those exchanges will create an avalanche of unforeseen cost to ObamaCare. And sure enough, some workers have figured it out:
Just imagine saying this to your boss: “Don’t offer me health insurance benefits.”
Those apparently bizarre words might actually end up being uttered next year because of a quirk in Obamacare that could financially penalize a number of workers and their families.
That quirk means that for some people, it will be more economical to have an employer not offer health insurance subsidies for them and their families—and for the entire family to then instead be able to buy insurance with government subsidies on the Obamacare state health exchanges.
“For a lot of people, that may be a better deal,” said Jonathan Wu, co-founder of the price-comparison site ValuePenguin.com. “We’re talking like thousands of dollars.”
Wu refers to this as “weird”:
What Wu calls one of several “weird” unintended effects of the Affordable Care Act—effects that lead to some less-than-affordable outcomes—stems from a rule that was adopted by the Health and Human Services Department last winter and goes into effect in 2014.
Under the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare, a worker whose employer offers company-subsidized health insurance that costs the worker less than or equal to 9.5 percent of household income is considered to be receiving “affordable coverage.” …
But HHS has ruled that the affordability test will consider only the cost to workers of buying insurance from their company’s plan for themselves—not that of insuring their entire family.
The solution is to have the employer end health-care coverage so that workers then qualify for the exchanges. The business will have to pay a penalty, but that’s far below the cost of providing subsidized health insurance, so they win, too. The only losers in this scenario are taxpayers who have to fork over billions more than anticipated in exchange subsidies.
The proper term isn’t “weird.” It’s “perverse incentives,” and we’ve been warning about them since ObamaCare was first proposed.
Not all workers have this much control over their health-insurance offerings, though. Substitute teachers in Trenton, New Jersey won’t even get the opportunity to make that choice after the Hamilton school district limited their potential work schedules, specifically because of ObamaCare:
The Hamilton school district has told its substitute teachers they will be limited to working a maximum of four days a week in the coming school year because of the federal health reform law’s future requirement that full-time employees be provided with health insurance.
A memo mailed to the substitutes in late June said that the restriction resulted from a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will require employers to provide affordable health insurance for full-time employees and their dependents. Full-time is defined as an average of 30 or more hours per week.
“This memorandum will serve as official notice that, as of the 2013-2014 school year, strict limits will be placed on the number of working hours of part-time/temporary employees,” read the letter signed by director of human resources Katherine Shilenok-Wright.
Hey, didn’t Obama say he would delay enforcement of that employer mandate? Hamilton doesn’t want to wait around to find out:
The provision of the federal law was originally scheduled to go into effect in January 2014, and last month the federal government delayed enforcement until 2015, but the memo says the limits on substitute teachers’ hours will go into effect when school starts next month.
Once government sets the conditions for perverse incentives in the marketplace, it doesn’t take long for businesses and consumers to adjust to them.

Bra vending machine debuts in Japan

WPXI ^ | August 21, 2013

The Japanese have long been known for their innovations in unusual vending machine technology, but one of the newest offerings takes things to a whole new level.
Recently a bra-dispensing vending machine debuted in a Tokyo store. According to the web site Kotaku, Japanese lingerie maker Wacoal unveiled the bra vending machine at its Une Nana Cool branded specialty shop in Shibuya shopping district in Tokyo.
The vending machine is packed with the popular wireless “Fun Fun Week” bras.
The vending machine includes a handy size chart and offers a wide-range of bra colors. The bras cost about $30.
The shop’s manager told Tokyo MX, “The vending machine’s strength is that you can quickly look at the size chart and buy.”
The manager also said one of the vending machine’s merits was that customers didn’t have to tell shop staff their size.
(Excerpt) Read more at wpxi.com ...

OBAMA'S BROTHER LINKED TO MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD!

WND ^ | Jerome R. Corsi

NEW YORK – President Obama’s half-brother in Kenya could cause the White House more headaches over new evidence linking him to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and establishing that controversial IRS supervisor Lois Lerner signed his tax-exempt approval letter.

Malik Obama’s oversight of the Muslim Brotherhood’s international investments is one reason for the Obama administration’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to an Egyptian report citing the vice president of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, Tehani al-...

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/08/obamas-brother-linked-to-muslim-brotherhood/#ldfzAyHJuZUAkSp5.99

(Excerpt) Read more at wnd.com ...

I’ve Got the Obama Blues

Canada Free Press ^ | 8/21/2013 | Alan Caruba

I have a case of the Obama blues, a nagging depression that is exacerbated daily by having to listen to the endless lies he tells about everything when he isn’t blaming Congress, the Republicans, and everyone else for the horrid state of the economy and his rejection of the leadership America demonstrated through both World Wars and since.
Listening to Obama say that he intends to ignore Congress and selectively not enforce the laws it passes is such a serious threat to the Constitution and to our most fundamental freedoms that it is impossible not to be depressed by this grossly incompetent, historically ignorant, and pathologically narcissistic president.
(Excerpt) Read more at canadafreepress.com ...

Ted Cruz could beat Hillary!

Salon.com ^ | Saturday, Jul 20, 2013 03:30 AM PDT | Jonathan Bernstein

He may be a right-wing nut, but the Texas senator can beat a Democrat in a general election. Here's why:

There’s been some more buzz this week about Ted Cruz’s presidential prospects. The demagoguing senator took his first trip to Iowa just six months after being sworn in to office, and he’s pretty clearly reaching for the White House. Early reports are that it’s going well. And Rich Yeselson wrote a high-profile (and fascinating) essay arguing that, basically, Cruz is perfectly positioned for reaching the top of the Republican ticket.
The focus of this piece is on Cruz’s general election viability. When it comes to the primary, I’m not going to start handicapping the viable candidates seeking the Republican nomination yet; I’ll only say that I don’t see any reason not to include Cruz in that group, as of now. Viable candidates have conventional credentials and are in the mainstream of their party on questions of public policy. Cruz, from what we know now, qualifies. With four years in elected office by January 2017, he’ll be in a similar boat with Barack Obama (who, granted, had held lower office as well) and Mitt Romney (who at least had four full years before his campaign began). And while Cruz surely is planted at an edge of the Republican mainstream, I don’t see any reason, so far, to believe he’s close to falling off that edge. Whether or not Yeselson is correct that Cruz is a particularly strong candidate, it’s certainly very possible to see him nominated.
But what about the general election? Could he actually win?
What I hear from many liberals about Cruz’s chances are two things. One is just disbelief: Republicans wouldn’t really do something like nominate Cruz, would they? The key is that Ted Cruz isn’t Herman Cain or even Michele Bachmann; he’s a United States senator, and that counts for something (that is, conventional credentials count for something) in presidential elections. So, yes, they really could do something like that.
The other thing I hear, however, is perhaps even more wrong. Some liberals react by actively rooting for Cruz. The theory? The nuttier the nominee, the worse the chances of Republicans retaking the White House. Indeed, in conversation I’ve heard all sorts of justifications: Cruz couldn’t possibly win Florida! Therefore, he couldn’t win the White House!
Don’t listen to it.

Cruz to GOP: 'Don't blink' in 'Obamacare' fight

NBC News ^ | Aug 20, 2013 | By Kasie Hunt, Political Reporter, NBC News

DALLAS -- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's message to Republican lawmakers who won't support defunding "Obamacare" at the risk of shutting down the government? "Don't blink." And he downplayed the effects of a possible shutdown, telling a Dallas crowd on Tuesday evening that the last time the government experienced "a temporary suspension of non-essential federal government spending," the military kept functioning and Social Security checks were distributed.

Cruz is leading the charge to defund President Barack Obama's health care law at what he calls "the single best time" to get rid of the law. And while Democrats who back the law certainly aren't on his side, Cruz has framed the fight so that they're not his only foes.
"We have to do something that conservatives haven't done in a long time: We've got to stand up and win the argument," Cruz told the crowd of thousands who gathered at the town hall style meeting.
Cruz said that if enough Republicans stand together, it will create an impasse to force the issue.
"A significant amount of Republicans assume, with an impasse, that President Obama will never ever ever give up his principles, so Republicans have to give up theirs," Cruz said. "If you have an impasse, you know -- one side or the other has to blink. How do we win this fight? Don't blink."
(Excerpt) Read more at firstread.nbcnews.com ...

The Best Choice

School Choice

Hillary's Baggage

Oprah on the back of the bus!

Define Con Artist, Mr. President

Real Class

I HOPE...

3 years later...

The Watchdog

OOPS!

The Mentor

Change that destroys

Duck Dynasty

Mr. God

Another Negro High

Storage

Obama Mask

Three Teens, Two Of Them Black, Murder Chris Lane Because Of Boredom

Political Realities ^ | 08/21/13 | LD Jackson

First of all, this is not a post I enjoyed writing. It's never good when we hear of senseless violence like this, but it is especially bad when it happens in my home state. Second, my headline says something that the national headlines about this story do not say. In fact, Maggie's Notebook and Conservative Hideout are two of the few places on the Internet where I have read that mentions the significant fact that two of the teens that killed Chris Lane are black.
Oklahoma Shooting
Let me be clear about this. I am not saying this shooting had anything to do with race. At this time, we do not know that, anymore than we knew the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin was race related. The race factor, if it exists, has yet to be determined. I just felt it necessary to point out the hypocrisy of the media and the national outrage industry. Where are people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton when they should be raising their voices in protest? No need to answer that question. I think we all know the answer.
I can not fathom the senselessness of this shooting. I have been bored lots of times, especially when I was growing up. During that time, I had access to my father's shotgun, his .303 British rifle, and other assorted firearms. Not once did I, or my twin brother, entertain the thought of finding someone to shoot, just to break up the boredom. We usually went fishing. If the fish weren't biting, we burned a lot of gunpowder and massacred several snakes and snapping turtles, but we never thought about killing someone for the fun of it. If our Dad thought we were too bored, he would find a pasture that had rocks that needed to be picked up, or something along those lines. Trust me, he would take our minds off the boredom.
I am placing this post in the News/Politics category, but it could just as easily go under Society. Our society leaves much to be desired when it can produce teenagers with such a callous attitude towards the life of another human being. I have already read several remarks by people who are outraged that teenagers could have such easy access to a gun and shoot Chris Lane down in cold blood. Many of those remarks have came from Australia, the country from which he came. To those people, I say this.
Oklahoma and America are sorry for your loss. However, we need to place the blame where the blame belongs. Let us not call out an object of steel, plastic, and wood and make it into something evil. Instead, we should place the blame on the real culprit. Our society has failed our young people and that failure has nothing to do with guns. Chris Lane and his family have paid the ultimate price for that failure.

Who's Laughing Now?

What? Me Worry?

Stay Ignorant

I just got...

Florida Lawmakers Reject "Stand Your Ground" Session [Sharpton LOSES!]

NBC MIAMI ^ | 8/21/13

An overwhelming number of Florida legislators have rejected a call for a special session to repeal the state's "stand your ground" law.

The Department of State on Tuesday released a final tally. It showed 108 legislators voted against the special session while 47 voted for it. Four legislators didn't vote....

The vote was split largely along partisan lines. Seven Democrats joined with Republicans in voting no.

(Excerpt) Read more at m.nbcmiami.com ...

Progressives and Negros

Townhall.com ^ | August 21, | Walter E. Williams


Sometimes I wonder when black people will reject the patronizing insults of white progressives and their black handmaidens. After CNN's Piers Morgan's interview with the key witness in the George Zimmerman trial, he said: "Rachel Jeantel is not uneducated. She's a smart cookie." That's a remarkable conclusion. Here's a 19-year-old young lady, still in high school, who cannot read cursive and appears to be barely literate. Morgan may have meant Jeantel is smart -- for a black person.

Progressives treat blacks as victims in need of kid glove treatment and special favors, such as racial quotas and preferences. This approach has been tried in education for decades and has revealed itself a failure. I say it's time we explore other approaches. One approach is suggested by sports. Blacks excel -- perhaps dominate is a better word -- in sports such as basketball, football and boxing to such an extent that blacks are 80 percent of professional basketball players, are 66 percent of professional football players and, for decades, have dominated most professional boxing categories.

These outcomes should raise several questions. In sports, when have you heard a coach explain or excuse a black player's poor performance by blaming it on a "legacy of slavery" or on that player's being raised in a single-parent household? When have you heard sports standards called racist or culturally biased? I have yet to hear a player, much less a coach, speak such nonsense. In fact, the standards of performance in sports are just about the most ruthless anywhere. Excuses are not tolerated. Think about it. What happens to a player, black or white, who doesn't come up to a college basketball or football coach's standards? He's off the team. Players know this, and they make every effort to excel. They do so even more if they have aspirations to be a professional player. By the way, blacks also excel in the entertainment industry -- another industry in which there's ruthless dog-eat-dog competition.

Seeing as blacks have demonstrated an ability to thrive in an environment of ruthless competition and demanding standards, there might be some gains from a similar school environment. Maybe we ought to have some schools in which youngsters are loaded up with homework, frequent tests and demanding, top-notch teachers. In such schools, there would be no excuses for anything. Youngsters cut the mustard, or they're kicked out and put into some other school. I'm betting that a significant number of black youngsters would prosper in such an environment, just as they prosper in the highly competitive sports and entertainment environments.

Progressives' agenda calls for not only excuse-making but also dependency. Nowhere is this more obvious than it is in their efforts to get as many Americans as they can to be dependent on food stamps; however, in this part of their agenda, they offer racial equal opportunity. During President Barack Obama's years in office, the number of people receiving food stamps has skyrocketed by 39 percent. Professor Edward Lazear, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers from 2006-09, wrote in a Wall Street Journal article titled "The Hidden Jobless Disaster" (June 5, 2013) that research done by University of Chicago's Casey Mulligan suggests "that because government benefits are lost when income rises, some people forgo poor jobs in lieu of government benefits --unemployment insurance, food stamps and disability benefits among the most obvious." Government handouts probably go a long way toward explaining the unprecedented number of Americans, close to 90 million, who are no longer looking for work.

This is all a part of the progressive agenda to hook Americans, particularly black Americans, on government handouts. In future elections, they will be able to claim that anyone who campaigns on cutting taxing and spending is a racist. That's what Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said in denouncing the Republican 1994 call for tax cuts. He said, "It's not 'spic' or 'n****r' anymore. (Instead,) they say, 'Let's cut taxes.'"

When black Americans finally recognize the harm of the progressive agenda, I'm betting they will be the nation's most conservative people, for who else has been harmed by progressivism as much?