Issues of the Day
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HERE’S WHAT TED CRUZ DID AFTER HOUSTON MAYOR SUBPOENAED PASTORS’ SERMONS
The decision by Annise Parker (the lesbian mayor of Houston) to subpoena sermons might be one she regrets.
That’s because there’s been tremendous backlash against the liberal city council after they demanded to see any sermons that addressed homosexuality, gender identity, or the mayor herself.
And there should have been backlash because Parker’s demands are a clear violation of first amendment rights.
What’s more outrageous is the White House had no comment on the issue. Where the President should be standing up for constitutional freedoms, he’s been conspicuously silent.
Fortunately, not all politicians are out to attack the first amendment.
And some, like Senator Ted Cruz, will gladly defend it.
Cruz appeared in Houston to show he wasn’t going to let political underlings make a mockery of the Christian faith and the first amendment. His appearance was meant to show liberals that the government is supposed to stand up for rights… not trample them for their own personal vendettas.
Cruz blasted the city council for their Gestapo tactics, saying:
I’m proud to stand with the pastors. Religious liberty is the very first protection in the Bill of Rights, the foundation of all our liberties. The City of Houston’s subpoenas demanding that pastors provide the government with copies of their sermons is both shocking and shameful.
For far too long, the federal government has led an assault against religious liberty, and now, sadly, my hometown of Houston is joining the fight. This is wrong. It’s unbefitting of Texans, and it’s un-American.
The government has no business asking pastors to turn over their sermons.
These subpoenas are a grotesque abuse of power, and the officials who approved them should be held accountable by the people. The Mayor should be ashamed. And we should all be proud to stand up and defend the pastors who are resisting these blatant attempts to suppress their First Amendment rights.
The Texas senator’s words are a touching gesture from a D.C. politician.
Unfortunately, Americans are used to watching the establishment violate Constitutional rights with impunity. Hardly ever do they see the establishment standing up for them.
Cruz has been one of the more honorable politicians to make his round in the D.C. circuit. Though he isn’t perfect, he certainly has done his part to ruffle some feathers in the Republican party.
But Cruz can’t turn the tide alone. The government is working tirelessly to strip you of basic rights and freedoms.
Is the Ebola outbreak receding?
BY NOAH ROTHMAN
In Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, the outbreak of Ebola which has raged since the early spring continues to spread and claim lives.
According to a World Health Organization situation report released on October 17, there are a total of 9,191 probable, confirmed, or suspected cases of Ebola worldwide and 4,546 confirmed deaths from the disease. But new hope is emerging that the disease can be stopped in West Africa, which would make its spread to other parts of the world unlikely.
Last week, the nation of Senegal’s single case of Ebola was successfully isolated and no new cases were discovered, prompting the WHO to declare the country Ebola-free. On Monday, the massive West African country of Nigeria joined the ranks of formerly Ebola-plagued nations.
“For WHO to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass 42 days with active surveillance in place, supported by good diagnostic capacity, and with no new cases detected, the agency said,” read a report via CNN. “The 42-day period is also twice the maximum incubation period fr [sic] Ebola.”
Nigeria’s success story is a significant one. At one point, a total of 19 people had contracted the deadly hemorrhagic fever. In July, the disease spread to Lagos, a city of 5 million, but with a limited ability to cope with a significant outbreak.
“This is a spectacular success story that shows that Ebola can be contained,” a WHO representative said on Monday. “Such a story can help the many other developing countries that are deeply worried by the prospect of an imported Ebola case.”
The key to Nigeria’s success was that every probable or suspected case of infection was contacted and monitored throughout the 21-day incubation period, and those few who tried to evade monitoring were tracked down by Nigerian authorities. That has not been the case in the three West African nations where Ebola still continues to infect new patients.
Africa is not the only front in the fight against Ebola where there is good news. In Spain, a nurse who sparked a global fear after becoming the first patient to contract the disease outside of Africa was declared Ebola-free over the weekend. Two other patients at the hospital where the nurse was receiving care being monitored for infection were also determined by health officials to not be carriers of the virus.
There was even more good news on Monday out of Dallas, where the first Ebola patient to die in the United States lost his fight with the disease. Today marks the end of the three-week monitoring period, and the 48 people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan before he died are going to be taken off monitoring. It seems likely at this stage that, though he came in contact with over 100 people in the United States after displaying Ebola symptoms, Duncan only spread the disease to two of the health care workers who were caring for him directly.
Even with this spate of good news for those concerned about the spread of Ebola internationally, anxiety remains high. These combined reports create the unmistakable impression that, while this deadly strain of Ebola is difficult to contain, it can be managed. Is the worst of the outbreak over?
DoD Creates Military Team to Deal With Ebola in U.S.; 'We Actually Do Have the Legal Authorities'
"We actually do have the legal authorities to do this," a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday, one day after U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the U.S. military to form an "expeditionary Ebola support team."
"This isn't going to violate Posse Comitatus," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 says the Army (and later, the Air Force) may not be used to "execute the laws" of the United States.
"This is nothing more than potential support, and I stress 'potential support,' to civilian medical authorities -- if and only if they ask for that," Kirby said. "But there's no violation of posse comitatus. The Northern Command commander has the authorities that he needs to get this team ready to go."
The Defense Department announced on Sunday that, "In response to a request by the Department of Health and Human Services -- and as an added prudent measure to ensure the nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively, and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States -- Secretary Hagel today ordered his Northern Command Commander, Gen. Chuck Jacoby, to prepare and train a 30-person expeditionary medical support team that could, if required, provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States."
The nature of that assistance is not explained, but the concern about additional Ebola cases suggests the military would be used to enforce potential quarantines.
The military team will consist of 20 critical care nurses, 5 doctors trained in infectious disease, and 5 trainers in infectious disease protocols.
The team will go to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for up to seven days of "specialized training in infection control and personal protective equipment," the Pentagon said. After the training, the team will remain in a "prepare to deploy" status for 30 days -- "available to be sent to other CONUS (continental U.S.) locations as required."
The Defense Department said this team will not be sent to West Africa or anywhere else overseas: They "will be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health officials," the news release said.
"Identifying, training, and preparing forces in advance of potential requests ensures that we can respond quickly and is analogous to how we prepare DoD personnel in advance of other potential civil support missions, such as hurricane relief and wildland firefighting."
The news release said Defense Secretary Hagel "is committed to ensuring DoD is prepared to provide appropriate capabilities, as required, to support our government's response to this deadly disease."
The Posse Comitatus Act reads as follows: "Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both. (Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1385)
Some 540 U.S. troops are now working mainly in Liberia to build health clinics and training facilities to help that region deal with its Ebola epidemic.
Fauci: Ebola Protocols That 'Worked in Field' Not Adequate for 'Intensive Care Setting'
By Susan Jones
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, admitted on Sunday that precautions designed for treating Ebola in African bush country don't work in an intensive-care hospital setting.
"[T]he protocol that was originally recommended was a protocol that's a WHO (World Health Organization) protocol that's best fitted for out in the field. It doesn't cover every single aspect of your skin. That worked in the field.
"What what's very clear now, if you're in an intensive care setting, doing things you would never do in the bush or in the field in Africa, very invasive type procedures, that that is not the optimal way. So, we don't know for sure, but it is likely she (nurse Nina Pham) got infected because she was not completely covered."
Fauci said the same thing on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos:
"Well, the previous protocols were really based on a WHO model in which people were taking care of people in a different environment, essentially in the bush, as they say, in remote places almost sometimes outdoors. Those people did not have to do the tertiary care, intensive type of training that we do. So there were parts about that protocol that left vulnerability, parts of the skin that were open.
"Very clearly, when you go into a hospital, have to intubate somebody, have all of the body fluids, you've got to be completely covered."
Fauci told Stephanopoulos that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now developing new protocols that will be "finalized soon."
"But one of the things is going to be complete covering with no skin showing whatsoever."
Press reports said the protective gear used by nurses at the Dallas hospital where a Liberian man died did not cover their necks.
According to WHO, "Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding. When in close contact (within 1 metre) of patients with EBV, health-care workers should wear face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown, and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures)."
Fauci told "Fox News Sunday" that two infected nurses "is strictly not an outbreak."
And he called it "unfortunate" that the Dallas hospital was not able to quickly isolate its first Ebola patient. But nothing is ever risk-free, he said:
"There aren't absolutes. You want to have a delicate balance between assuring the American people, but not scaring them with the fact there may be a risk. So, what we do right now is, nothing is completely risk-free. And that's what people need to understand, but the relative risk of things people need to understand is very, very small. Never zero, Chris, never zero -- but very small."
Obama to bring thousands of Haitians to US
By Miami Herald (FL)
Thousands of Haitians who have been waiting to reunite with U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident family members in the United States will now have a chance to do so -- up to two years before their immigrant visa for a green card may be issued.
Beginning next year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will implement a Haitian Family Reunification Parole (HFRP) Program to expedite family reunification for eligible Haitian family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are living in Haiti and have already been approved for a family-based immigrant visa.
The major policy shift announced Friday comes nearly three months before the fifth anniversary of Haiti's devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, which launched a campaign by immigration and Haitian advocates to speed up family reunification for Haitians, some of whom have been waiting as long as 12 years in the immigration pipeline.
But after 80 pieces of support, including letters signed by the entire South Florida Congressional delegation and 17 editorials in nearly a dozen major U.S. newspapers, some had given up hope that such a program would happen.
"There have been more political letters than I can count," said Steve Forrester, who has led the effort as immigration policy coordinator for the nonprofit Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.
Forrester hailed the announcement although it doesn't cover immediately the approximately 100,000 Haitians whose I-130 visas have already been approved for a potential green card.
Under the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program, Haitians authorized parole will be allowed to enter the United States and apply for work permits but will not receive permanent resident status any earlier than when their priority date is due.
"It's a good first step in the right direction and we're pleased and gratified that they have finally done something helpful," Forrester said. "This isn't a gift. They did this because of how Haiti is. This will save lives and reunite families; and hopefully generate some remittances for Haitians in need."
But Forrester and others say that all will depend on how quickly the program is implemented. The implementation date has not been decided yet, and DHS on Friday could not say how many people would be eligible to come to the United States in the first year.
Marleine Bastien, executive director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami, said while the program is limited in scope, activists remain grateful to the Obama administration for hearing their collective voices.
"After five long years of organizing locally and nationally, we are elated by the Obama administration's decision to create the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. But we understand that the plan will only cover those who are only two years away form their priority date," she said. "It is our estimation that we are talking about a little over 5,000 people."
"At least we have our foot in the door. But we will continue to work for the rest of the group who are qualified, to get them the opportunity to be reunited with their family members because they have been waited for so long," she added.
Alejandro Mayorkas, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security who had met with Haitian community activists over the years about the issue, said the parole program promotes a fundamental underlying goal of the U.S. immigration system, family reunification.
It also addresses another concern of the United States, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Haiti since the earthquake.
"The rebuilding and development of a safe and economically strong Haiti is a priority for the United States," Mayorkas said, adding that the parole program "also supports broader U.S. goals for Haiti's reconstruction and development by providing the opportunity for certain eligible Haitians to safely and legally immigrate sooner to the United States."
With the announcement, immigration officials are also strongly discouraging Haitians from taking to the high seas in dangerous voyages to reach the United States.
"Such individuals will not qualify for the HFRP program and if located at sea may be returned to Haiti," Mayorkas said.
Voters poised to hit brakes on Obama, Dems
By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)
Midterm elections are the political equivalent of a gas pedal or a brake pedal.
This will be a brake-pedal election, centered on competency and trust -- from the launch (disastrously) of the healthcare.gov website, to telling Americans (incorrectly) that if they like their health-care policy they can keep it, to not caring for veterans, the growth of ISIS and the handling (or, more appropriately, mishandling) of the Ebola crisis.
George W. Bush went to war in 2002; he got a gas pedal, and Republicans gained seats in Congress. In 2006, the war was going badly; Bush got a brake pedal. In 2010, Barack Obama finished ObamaCare and got a brake pedal.
This year, President Obama has done nothing to slow the car.
Democrats could have held on to their Senate majority this year, but the president never tried to help them. Aside from raising money -- swooping in on Air Force One to a glitzy home or hotel, and speaking to an adoring crowd of intellectuals who hang on his every word -- he has remained completely indifferent.
You can see it in how he has handled immigration (saying he will not act until after the election) or outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder (saying he will not pick a successor until after the election). He is like a flashing red signal, warning that he will do something people won't like, right after they vote.
Democrats are in trouble because Obama has done too much that people didn't like -- namely, ObamaCare.
If he had handled other things better, Republicans still would be campaigning on ObamaCare; in fact, it remains the No. 1 vote-driver, although Republicans haven't mentioned it in TV ads for months.
What Democrats needed and what voters, even many full-throated Obama supporters, have craved was a humble moment from the commander in chief.
But a chastened Obama has never existed.
Obama has never had that moment of walking to the podium and telling the public, "I hear you." We've seen that with immigration, with ISIS, with Eric Holder and, now, with the risks of an Ebola outbreak in this country.
There is no question that ObamaCare is driving this year's election. What analysts miss is that Obama has continued to demonstrate that the disastrous rollout of and subsequent problems with ObamaCare were not flukes.
He could have put a tourniquet on his political problems if he had decided to govern in a centrist way and simply told voters, "I heard you. You think I went too far. I got the message."
Instead, he has continuously demonstrated that he did not get the message and that he is going to do what he wants anyway. He has been incredibly arrogant as a leader, and dangerously indifferent to his party's political fortunes.
You can't govern if you can't lead. Yet Barack Obama seemingly does not care what Democrat is defeated because of his "stuff," as long as he gets to do his "stuff."
Name one Democrat who can say they were a partner with him. They were a lever, that's all -- because governing with Obama always has been about politics and never has been a team sport.
When he declared, "We are the change you have been waiting for," what he meant was, "You are the stooges I have been waiting for to help me."
Republicans cannot win a majority in this election cycle and just walk away, however. If they do, they will be no better than the people they replace, and they will quickly lose whatever goodwill Americans feel toward them.
The smart move for Republicans would be to focus immediately on an issue important to everyone, something that makes Americans more prosperous, stable and secure, such as energy.
Not focus on a catchphrase like "Drill, baby, drill," but focus on a comprehensive, all-of-the-above package that brings all sides together and shows Americans that Republicans can lead and can enact policies that impact the country positively.
Not focus on something that leaves people behind, demonizes the other side or creates more bureaucracy, but focus on something that shows Republicans hear people, get it, and will get things done.
Something, in other words, that Barack Obama hasn't done.
He is a Hollywood legend, respected for his Oscar winning acting as well as his support of charitable causes. But when Brad Pitt talks about the right to bear arms, he separates himself from the Liberal Hollywood crowd.
In an interview with The Independent, Pitt explained.
There’s a rite of passage where I grew up of inheriting your ancestors’ weapons. My brother got my dad’s. I got my grandfather’s shotgun when I was in kindergarten.
The positive is that my father instilled in me a profound and deep respect for the weapon.
Pitt was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Missouri. His first firearm was an air gun, then he was given a shotgun when he was six. He learned to fire a handgun by the time he was eight.
The actor also spoke out after the Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting:
America is a country founded on guns. It’s in our DNA. It’s very strange but I feel better having a gun. I really do. I don’t feel safe, I don’t feel the house is completely safe, if I don’t have one hidden somewhere. That’s my thinking, right or wrong.
Gun control continues to be a hot issue, not just in Hollywood, but throughout the country. In November 2013, President Obama said the country needed to do some “soul searching” about gun control:
We kill each other in these…mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than anyplace else.
This is becoming the norm. And we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent, are terrifying to me. Right now, it’s not even possible to get even the mildest restrictions through Congress… We should be ashamed of that.
Advocates of the 2nd Amendment believe that gun control laws would not have stopped any of the tragic mass shootings, as the shooters involved had previously unidentified mental health issues.
Despite the fact that guns are a staple of action movies, and actors regularly earn multimillion dollar paychecks playing parts in these movies, most film stars continue to support restrictions on the ownership of firearms. A piece in the U.K. Daily Mail Online edition highlights the level of hypocrisy that pervades the entertainment industry.
LOL: LA Newspaper Says Sen. Landrieu Represents the 'Middle Ground' in Congress
She votes with President Obama 97 percent of the time. Yet, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) represents the "middle ground" in Congress, according to The Times-Picayune, a New Orleans-based newspaper.
In its gushing editorial, The Times-Picayune praises Sen. Landrieu's efforts in steering disaster relief to the state after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rattled its borders, as well as helping to secure the necessary funds to restore Louisiana's coasts following the disastrous BP gulf oil spill in 2010. Her success in these areas is certainly commendable, but the newspaper takes its praise a bit too far when it claims Landrieu is working directly in the political center:
She occupies the middle ground in Congress. She has been an advocate for free trade and a strong military. She pushed the Obama administration to lift its drilling moratorium after the BP spill and is an advocate for the oil and gas industry, which is a mainstay of Louisiana's economy.
Right...Did I mention Landrieu votes with the president 97 percent of the time? This is a fact The Times-Picayune has even reported. Oblivious. In addition to her nearly perfect party line voting record, Landrieu has proven to be radical on issues such as abortion. The Democratic senator has supported taxpayer funding for the procedure and has refused to support restrictions on abortion after five months, when unborn babies can feel pain.
What's more, Landrieu is a proud supporter of Common Core, an educational initiative the federal government has forced on schools across the country, taking decisions out of the hands of teachers and parents.
Landrieu is nowhere near the middle. She's in left field, catching everything our liberal president throws her way.
Our poll tracker currently has Landrieu's GOP opponent Bill Cassidy up by six points.