Issues of the Day
“This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future.”
~~~ Adolf Hitler, 1935
“The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.”
~~~ Thomas Jefferson
THE HALBIG RULING: ONE BRIEF, SHINING MOMENT FOR THE RULE OF LAW
By: John Hayward
Tuesday’s Halbig v. Burwell ruling touched off a panic on the Left, as the unexpected 2-1 ruling against ObamaCare looked as though it might be a death blow to that tortured, unpopular, blatantly unconstitutional program. By the end of the day, liberal pundits were advising their readers to calm down, promising them that ObamaCare would weather this storm.
Those pundits are right, or at least they’re calling the odds correctly. We no longer live in a constitutional republic that respects the rule of law. If we did, ObamaCare would have died at the Supreme Court before it had a chance to do any damage. There are too many pitfalls awaiting the Halbigdecision, too many ways for it to die before it escapes our systemic Temple of Doom. Tuesday might prove to be an important milestone on the long road to ObamaCare repeal, but it will not be allowed to strike a death blow.
The Halbig ruling is still significant, no matter what ultimate fate awaits it. For one brief, shining moment, the old republic was back. A three-judge panel of the powerful D.C.. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a law actually meant what it clearly said, the Leviathan State should be bound by the clear language of the law it passed, and anyone who dislikes the result should direct their ire at the power-hungry politicians and staffers who wrote the Affordable Care Act. Golly, maybe the Democrats actually should have read it before they passed it!
And this particular “oversight” would seem like a stake to the heart of ObamaCare, because let’s face it: this isn’t a health care reform, it’s a massive socialist wealth redistribution system. It’s a pile of regulations that adds an immense government burden to the cost of health insurance, making it nearly impossible for what politicians refer to as “working Americans” to afford coverage… combined with a system of lavish subsidies that force other people to pay much of that exorbitant cost. (Not all of it, which is why many ObamaCare customers find themselves facing “sticker shock” price increases even with the subsidies.)
In other words, this was a strategy to radically increase the cost of an important product, then hook everyone in the Middle Class on government subsidies so they could afford to pay for it. The Left’s long-desired subjugation of the Middle Class was at hand! They would never be truly “independent” again. People pulling down sixty grand a year would become wards of the welfare state, with thousands of dollars in leverage available to ensure their political cooperation with statism. (If you want to see how that works, wait until there’s serious energy behind a small-government proposal, and the modified defensive whine from the Left insists that the first dollar of spending cuts must come from police, firefighters, teachers… and ObamaCare subsidies.)
But it turns out that buried in the thousands of pages of the Affordable Care Act were provisions (repeated more than once) specifying that only insurance purchased on a health-care exchange set up by a state government would be eligible for subsidies. Insurance purchased on the billion-dollar bugtastic Healthcare.gov website could not be subsidized. In fact, the Affordable Care Act didn’t even empower the federal government to create such an exchange at all. And since the majority of ObamaCare customers, spread across 36 states, were using the federal exchange, this language in the law meant most of those buyers would be forced to - gasp! - pay the inflated premiums themselves.
Contrary to liberal caterwauling on Tuesday, the Halbig decision didn’t “increase” the price of insurance by a single penny. It just changed who would be paying the bills. It’s as clear a demonstration of the old leftist “free stuff” sleight-of-hand – in which “free” bunnies are magically conjured from the bottomless top hat of tax revenues – as you could ever ask to see. Suddenly most of the people benefiting from insurance policies would be forced to - horror of horrors! - pay the bills themselves. They would actually see what Barack Obama and his cronies did to the health care system. What a disaster!
To shoot down another talking point: no, this wasn’t a clerical error or typo in the Affordable Care Act. The restriction on subsidies was introduced deliberately, as part of an effort to bully state governments into setting up ObamaCare exchanges. ObamaCare is a mountain of lies and deceptions, written during a series of hasty maneuvers designed to keep political opponents (and the American people) confused and off-balance. Simplyrequiring the states to create exchanges would have spooked too many state electorates, and brought strong opposition from certain governors, not all of them Republicans. Therefore, the illusion of freedom was introduced. It’s the same illusion Obama was peddling when he lied, thirty or forty times, about how everyone would be able to keep their insurance plans if they liked those plans. It was a massive scam designed to make ObamaCare look voluntary. It was going to sell itself. It would be so good that every state government, and every insurance buyer, would rush to participate!
But there were fears that state governments might decide to exercise their nominal freedom and opt out of the ObamaCare exchange system – fears that proved to be quite accurate, as 36 states would go on to exercise that option. The con artists who created ObamaCare therefore slipped in the subsidy cudgel, reasoning that even if some states chose not to create exchanges at first, they would swiftly be forced to do so by their angry constituents, who would notice people in other states receiving juicy subsidies to purchase their overpriced insurance plans. This was all supposed to be a legislative mousetrap that would make the freedom to opt out of the exchange system purely hypothetical. At some point during the mad dash to stuff ObamaCare down America’s gullet during a brief window of opportunity when Democrats held both houses of Congress, some of these dolts forgot about the little subsidy bomb they left lurking in a bill none of them read before voting on it.
So here we are, with a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruling, quite reasonably, that the law says what it says, and if Congress now believes the law was written incorrectly, our carefully balanced system of government provides a simple remedy: Congress can vote to amend the Affordable Care Act. But of course, ObamaCare’s defenders – desperately trying to protect a deeply unpopular law while both it, and the President it is named after, are imploding – don’t want to follow the proper procedure for amendment, because it would be a political disaster for them, with a good chance of repealing all, or most, of the Affordable Care Act. And that’s as it should be. The ACA is a fraud. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t do what its authors claimed it would do. Many of its funding mechanisms have been stripped away. President Obama has illegally rewritten it on the fly to keep it alive. The American people deserve a do-over: a second chance to look at health care reform with their eyes wide open.
But no, we can’t have that, so the Halbig decision will be swiftly neutralized, most likely by giving a full court stacked, packed, and racked with Obama operatives a chance to reverse Tuesday’s ruling. Another court, the Fourth Circuit, coincidentally ruled in favor of ObamaCare on the very same topic Tuesday, and their ruling makes clear that the Affordable Care Act was an usurpation of the constitutional order, the very sort of enabling act that our Founders were horrified of. In the Fourth Circuit’s view, the “context” of what ObamaCare’s authors “intended” trumps the clear text of the law itself. More to the point, what they claim today was their intention two years ago is all that matters. The ACA was a writ of unlimited power for the government to force what it decides is “affordable” and “universal” coverage upon the public… subject to such waivers and exemptions as the royal court sees fit to grant, of course. (You would think all those exemptions could stand as a devastating retort to all this blather about “context” and “intentions,” since they’re obvious proof that ObamaCare isn’t making insurance universal or affordable, but logic departed this argument some time ago, and left no forwarding address.)
This is all about politics and power, not the rule of law, so the ACA will continue to say whatever His Majesty declares it says on any given day. The White House immediately announced it would ignore the Halbig ruling even if it stood, which in a better era would appear on Barack Obama’s bill of impeachment, but frankly they’re just being honest about how things work these days. No mere “law” will be allowed to obstruct the imperial President from exercising the powers he has seized. If you didn’t want him to seize those powers, you shouldn’t have voted for him, suckers.
Even if Halbig made it the Supreme Court, it’s highly unlikely that a Chief Justice who has already rewritten the law on the fly to save it would be reluctant to do so again, and we all know the liberal justices will vote in a mindless Borg-like bloc to protect ObamaCare, no matter what is actually written upon its many pages.
We bid farewell to the rule of law long ago; ObamaCare makes for a perfect final epitaph. This is a political struggle now, a clash of powers, in which laws are only selectively invoked by politicians who cannot defend their actions (see, for example, Democrats’ absurd insistence that one passage of a 2008 law they are willfully misreading is an iron barrier against dealing with our border crisis.) When the power elite needs to deflect accountability, it raises the law as a shield and crouches behind it, whining that its hands are tied. But when the elite wants to get something done, the law is no obstacle to their ambitions. Why, it’s foolish to think the words printed on a page, above the President’s signature, could ever restrict his power! Law binds the people, not the State!
With that in mind, the politics of the Halbig ruling are pretty much the opposite of its legal interpretation. If it stood, and those ObamaCare subsidies were shut down, the exchange mousetrap might well snap shut upon state governments, precisely the way ObamaCare’s designers intended. The clamor to implement such exchanges immediately, so that residents of those states could start collecting subsidies, would be deafening. It might well become an election issue that could save a few Democrat seats in November. Imagine barrages of political ads, and angry debate performances, in which the Republican candidate was backed into a corner and force to support the creation of state exchanges… or go on the record as wanting his constituents to pay thousands of dollars more per year for their insurance plans. ObamaCare might end up dying from its Halbig wounds, but it would go down snapping its fangs and slashing its claws.
On the other hand, if the more likely outcome occurs and Halbig is overturned (or ignored), it becomes a powerful election-year issue for Republicans. It’s one more undeniable piece of evidence that ObamaCare is fundamentally incompatible with the American system of government. Sharp GOP candidates can make devastating arguments about how subsidies are used to hide the true cost of the program from the American people. The banana-republic tactics used to beat down Halbig will be fodder for many Republican campaign ads. There’s a lot of other bad news rolling in about ObamaCare; an overturned Halbig ruling will make a nice maraschino cherry atop the sundae of failure.
No matter what happens next, let us savor the one brief, shining moment when the rule of law actually mattered again, the Ruling Class was held responsible for its actions, and Americans were granted a vision of the great republic they have lost. It’s more clear than ever that if we want the republic back, getting rid of ObamaCare is an indispensable first step.
Meriam Ibrahim Arrives in Italy, 1 Day After Conservatives Blast Obama for Ignoring Her Plight
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said “a warning should be sounded across America” over the Obama administration’s “virtual silence” toward the Sudanese government’s persecution of Meriam Ibrahim, who was imprisoned in Sudan for being a Christian.
Shortly after Perkins testified Wednesday before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Ibrahim and her family – two young children and her American husband – were allowed to leave the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, where they took refuge on June 27.
They arrived in Rome on Thursday, their exit from Sudan reportedly negotiated by the Italian government and the Vatican -- not the United States. Later on Thursday, Meriam was blessed by Pope Francis.
In his testimony to Congress, Perkins said Ibrahim has shown more courage than the Obama administration throughout her ordeal:
“We are here because of the courage of a 27-year-old mother -- a 27-year-old mother, if you’ll just imagine the situation for a moment, in a prison on Khartoum [Sudan], which the U.N. says has an infant mortality rate of one child dying per day in that prison. At her side, at eight months pregnant, is a 21-month-old boy. And she is told that if she will denounce her faith in Jesus Christ, there’s the door, you can be a free person. But yet she refused to renounce her faith because she had the courage to stare death in the face.”
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, from Sudan, with her daughter Maya in her arms, in his Santa Marta residence, at the Vatican, Thursday, July 24, 2014.
“What has America done?” Perkins challenged. “Where is the courage in America?”
Meriam was arrested on February 17 after her brother told police she left Islam to marry Daniel Wani, who is a Christian and an American citizen. Under Islamic law in Sudan, apostasy is a capital crime, and on May 15, she was convicted and sentenced to death.
She was imprisoned with her 21-month-old son, and she gave birth to a daughter while still in shackles.
But Meriam insisted all along that she was raised a Christian, and she refused to renounce her faith.
Facing international pressure and condemnation, the Sudanese government freed Ibrahim on June 23, but she was detained again the next day at the airport in Khartoum for alleged document fraud, preventing her from leaving the country.
Perkins criticized the Obama administration for being “practically mute” as Ibrahim was allowed to sit in prison awaiting death simply for being a Christian.
“While other governments have called attention to Meriam’s situation, including the European parliament passing a resolution and the British government’s prime minister speaking out publicly, the U.S. government has been practically mute,” Perkins said.
“The U.S. government’s disinterest in the plight of an American and his family is simply indefensible,” he added, accusing the administration of “ignoring the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which states that ‘it shall be the policy of the United States to condemn violations of religious freedom and to promote and assist other governments in the promotion of the fundamental right to freedom of religion.’
“The United States has clearly failed to condemn this violation and to speak out clearly and with conviction and courage on behalf of Meriam,” Perkins said.
He added that the Obama administration’s silence over international religious persecution goes hand-in-hand with a “reinterpretation” of religious freedom in the United States.
“A warning should be sounded across America that an indifference to religious persecution abroad can only lead to greater religious intolerance here at home,” Perkins warned.
“It is difficult to look at these facts and not understand them in light of the current administration’s unilateral reinterpretation of religious freedom domestically.
“This administration believes religious beliefs should be quarantined to private spaces and excluded from the public space. This truncated view of religious freedom domestically more accurately described as the freedom of worship, is matched by the administration’s failure to address the growing threats to religious freedom internationally,” Perkins added.
While the Obama administration has condemned other discriminatory acts by governments abroad, it has often turned a blind eye to violations of religious freedom, Perkins said, even as the Obama administration has actively urged other governments around the world to acknowledge rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.
“The State Department has been pursuing its values and its goals, which have not included religious liberty,” Perkins said.
At the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) also criticized the administration for its silence, saying the lack of an immediate response to Ibrahim’s situation “seems wrong.”
“When a woman of faith is neglected at least for several months, and I would say mistreated, as well as her children and her husband, recently they’re doing things we can all be proud of, but at first, why did it take an outcry by U.S. Congress, members of the U.S. Senate, religious freedom NGOs and others to bring a focus upon this?” Smith questioned. “It seems wrong to me that it takes that kind of pressure just to do the right thing.”
Obama Dinner Fire Sale: Price Of Seats Slashed At President’s California Fundraisers
by Ben Bullard
President Barack Obama’s fundraising junket on the west coast has reportedly hit a wall, with per-plate prices for the Democratic fundraising dinners which he headlines tanking from a previous high of $32,400 to as little as $5,000.
That’s getting into hoi polloi territory.
Why the price cut? Donor fatigue, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“President Obama hit the Bay Area for a fast cash-and-grab fundraising drive Wednesday, but there were signs that even in one of the nation’s most reliable Democratic ATMs, donor fatigue is setting in,” the Chronicle reported this morning.
“Democratic donors who were invited to the San Francisco event, at the Four Seasons Hotel on Market Street, said they had initially been asked to donate as much as $25,000 to sit down with Obama. One who balked at the price said organizers had offered a cut-rate deal of as little as $5,000,” the report also revealed.
A San Francisco event also reportedly began offering tickets at a deep discount, even though similar events in the past have routinely enjoyed ticket prices of $32,400 per guest.
Only three months have passed since Obama made a similar trip through Silicon Valley to pass the hat, and one unnamed invitee (the report doesn’t say whether the invitee actually attended an event this time around) told the Chronicle it feels as though donors are being asked to pay more for the privilege of the President’s brief company — while receiving less than they’re used to.
“Five-thousand dollars to sit down with the president for an hour? That’s usually what it costs for a photo of you and your whole family.”
Maine Governor Curbs Public Assistance To ‘Able-Bodied’ Recipients Unless They Work
by Ben Bullard
Acting on the order of Republican Governor Paul LePage, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the State would stop administering Federal food stamp benefits to capable residents who do not hold jobs, receive job training or do volunteer work.
In a statement, the Governor explained his rationale, saying people in need “deserve a hand up, but we should not be giving able-bodied individuals a handout… We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”
According to Portland NBC affiliate WCSH-TV, the new rule, set to take effect on Oct. 1, applies to adult food stamp recipients who do not claim any dependents. It will require them to work or volunteer for 20 per week in order to continue receiving food stamps, now formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Recipients can also meet the requirement by participating in the Maine Department of Labor’s Competitive Skills Scholarship Program, which trains residents in developing practical job skills.
The SNAP program is funded by the Federal government but is administered by the States. LePage’s plan would affect approximately 12,000 Maine residents.
More from the report:
In an interview with NEWS CENTER, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew emphasized that the change only affects SNAP recipients with are not disabled, not elderly and have no dependents. She says that means it will not affect single mothers, for example. DHHS says federal law already requires work for those recipients, but Mayhew says Maine has been operating under a federal waiver since 2009. The waiver expires at the end of September and Mayhew says the state will not renew it. She says the lower unemployment rate and improving economy should make it more feasible for those people to find jobs. But DHHS is also stressing that specific education or training programs can also qualify, as can approved community service work.
Democratic elected leaders in Maine reportedly aren’t happy about the end of no-work food stamps, criticizing LePage for playing politics and neglecting the plight of poor people in the State’s rural areas, where the logistics of getting and keeping part-time work aren’t feasible for people who lack funds.
In June, LePage made a similar move to curb wasteful applications of public assistance, announcing a plan to end State benefits for illegal immigrants who reside in Maine. “[I]llegal aliens who choose to live in Maine are not our most vulnerable citizens,” LePage explained in a radio address discussing the proposal.
Interesting nugget: LePage himself reportedly was homeless as a child.
by Chuck Muth
So bleeding heart liberals are in a tizzy over the fact that it took almost two hours for Joseph Rudolph Wood to die after his lethal injection in Arizona on Wednesday. His attorneys claim their client was “gasping and snorting” for an hour, and death penalty opponents will certainly use this incident to complain of cruel and unusual punishment.
You know what I think is cruel and unusual? What Wood did to land on death row in the first place, that’s what.
According to the Arizona Department of Corrections website, Wood “had been involved in a turbulent relationship for 5 years,” including “numerous breakups and several domestic violence incidents” with his ex-girlfriend, 29-year-old Debbie Dietz.
Twenty-nine years old. Her whole life still ahead of her. Now here’s the rest of the story…
“Debbie was working at a local body shop owned by her family. On August 7, 1989, Wood walked into the shop and shot Gene Dietz, age 55, in the chest with a .38 caliber revolver, killing him.
“Gene Dietz’s 70-year-old brother was present and tried to stop Wood, but Wood pushed him away and proceeded into another section of the body shop.
“Wood went up to Debbie, placed her in some type of hold, and shot her once in the abdomen and once in the chest, killing her. Wood then fled the building.
“Two police officers approached Wood and ordered him to drop his weapon. After Wood placed the weapon on the ground, he reached down and picked it up, and pointed it at the officers. The officers fired, striking Wood several times. Wood was transported to a local hospital where he underwent extensive surgery.”
So this guy beats up his girlfriend multiple times. She breaks up with him. He shows up at her place of business without warning. Kills her unarmed father for no reason. Kills his unarmed ex for breaking up with him. Then tries to kill two police officers.
And I’m supposed to feel badly that this murderous piece of human garbage didn’t die a quick and totally painless death?
Wood got to live almost 25 years longer than the two people whose lives he snuffed out. How are their murders not cruel and unusual punishment for both the victims and their families?
As for death penalty opponents who claim the death penalty is not a deterrent, let me assure you that thanks to the death penalty Joseph Rudolph Wood absolutely, positively, without a doubt, will never, ever murder an innocent person again. He has been permanently deterred
As for the afterlife, I can only hope that when Wood reaches the Gates of Hades, Saddam Hussein is the greeter, takes a fancy to him, and makes him his boy-toy for eternity.
Rest in pain, Mr. Wood. Rest in pain.