The Pentagon ruled in 2009 not to award the decoration to sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because it “can be difficult to diagnose, and symptoms can arise later in life not linked necessarily to any one action or an enemy,” reports USA Today.
It’s a logical argument. But is it the correct one?
An ongoing debate in the medical and psychology communities focuses on whether combat-related PTSD could be the result of an undetected physical injury such as microscopic brain changes resulting from exposure to a blast wave, other outside influences or the physiological or hormonal overload of stress, or a psychological reaction to trauma exposure.
The Pentagon concluded that more research was needed in the field of brain science before deciding to award the Purple Heart for PTSD.
In the report “Parity for Patriots,” the alliance also said the Defense Department should “forcibly end discrimination associated with invisible wounds of war” by requiring military leaders to focus on reducing stigma associated with mental health treatment and hold them accountable for suicides in their commands.
“Suicides are preventable just as are the heat and cold injuries of service members for which leaders are routinely relieved of command,” the report states.
The Veterans Affairs Department and the general public also must do their part in supporting veterans with behavioral health concerns, the organization said.
The group called on the Veterans Health Administration to expand its treatment options by using already existing community health networks and private practitioners, and it urged the public to “reach out, listen and care.”
“Give veterans rides, watch their children or grant them extra time off work in order to make it possible for them to get treatment,” Fitzpatrick said.
Mental health advocates counter with the notion that recognizing invisible injuries as a wound received in service to America would remove some of the stigma of PTSD — especially among the public:
Arguing in a report published Thursday that PTSD and other mental health issues such as depression can be war-related injuries, the group said the department has an obligation to honor personnel.
“NAMI is drawing a line in the sand with the Department of Defense,” Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick said. “Troops with invisible wounds are heroes. It’s time to honor them. It will also strike a tremendous blow against the stigma that often discourages individuals from seeking help when they need it.”
I’m not sure that it’s necessarily a good reason to give PTSD sufferers a Purple Heart in order to strike a blow against the stigma attached to the condition. And I imagine other Purple Heart recipients would have their own thoughts on the issue and should be listened to.
But PTSD is, by any definition, an epidemic among our soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It not only affects the life of the soldier, but those around him as well.
Recognizing that the condition is not the fault of the soldier by awarding him a Purple Heart seems the proper thing to do, as long as the condition can be correctly diagnosed and seen as the result of recent service in a war zone.
After all, you wouldn’t want to oversleep or anything, right?
The planet’s timekeepers are adding an extra second to the clock at midnight universal time Saturday night. And if you blink, you just might miss it.
The so-called leap second is needed to synchronize the world’s official atomic clocks, said John Lowe, who heads the time and frequency services group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The reason? Earth is spinning just a bit slowly. The time it takes Earth to rotate on its axis — which is the definition of a day — is now about two milliseconds longer than it was 100 years ago, said Geoff Chester, spokesman at the U.S. Naval Observatory, in an interview with the Associated Press. Over the course of a year, that adds up to nearly three-quarters of a second.
A second might not seem like much, Lowe said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “But if you allow that accumulation to go on, it starts to become apparent.” The seconds would stack up and “sunrise” would eventually take place at sunset. And “spring” would arrive in the dead of winter, Lowe said.
“Soon you’d have an obvious problem,” he said.
Obvious? Perhaps if you had a lifespan of a few thousand years, yes. With 86,400 seconds in a day and a gain of less than a second a year, it would take an awful long time to have “sunrise arrive at sunset.”
No matter. Now if I can just figure out how to reset my atomic clock without blowing up Streator, Illinois…
Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ran Mexico for most of the 20th century before being turned out for rampant corruption 12 years ago, appears to be the odds on favorite to win Sunday’s elections.
Their standard bearer — presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto — has been trying to refurbish the party’s image during the campaign. The party was seen by many as a massively corrupt, one party dictatorship during its 70 years of holding power. Nieto is a new breed of PRI leader who imparts a more moderate, attractive image for the party. His beautiful soap actress-wife Angelica, along with his own devastating good looks, gives his campaign an aura of glamor that Mexico has never seen.
At rallies the women swoon and chant “Enrique! Cutie! We are with you all the way to bed!” The jostle to touch him is known as the “hug path”.
He has been called Latin America’s answer to David Beckham, John F Kennedy and Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken. And after today, if the polls are correct, he will be called Mexico’s president-elect.
In just a few years Enrique Pena Nieto has zoomed from anonymity to political power, celebrity and controversy; a figure who simultaneously inspires and repels Mexico, and who now seems poised to add glamour to the world stage.
Critics have taken to the streets and also to Twitter to brand Mr Pena Nieto a disaster in waiting; a shiny, duplicitous hologram who will mask the return of corruption and authoritarianism, old vices associated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which ruled from 1929 to 2000.
“If you vote for the PRI and EPN [the candidate's initials] don’t forget to turn your clock back 70 years,” one person tweeted.
A student-led movement, Yo Soy 132, has mobilised demonstrations and online protests against Mr Pena Nieto’s links to Televisa, a media behemoth, saying that both manipulate public opinion and state institutions in malign synergy.
“My only definition is that I am a pragmatist,” Mr Pena Nieto told one interviewer. “What matters are results.”
Nieto is ahead by anywhere from 7-15 points in the latest polls and is likely to bring a PRI majority on his coattails in the senate and the chamber of deputies. The resurrection of the one party state is not seen as a blessing by many Mexicans. And given the challenges Nieto is facing — a bloody drug war, endemic poverty and unemployment — he will have to accomplish much to make people forget the past and embrace a PRI future.
Emphasis on “armed.” Perry Chiaramonte at Fox News reports:
Border Patrol agents in Arizona are blasting their bosses for telling them, along with all other Department of Homeland Security employees, to run and hide if they encounter an “active shooter.”
It’s one thing to tell civilian employees to cower under a desk if a gunman starts spraying fire in a confined area, say members of Tucson Local 2544/National Border Patrol Council, but to give armed law enforcement professionals the same advice is downright insulting. The instructions from DHS come in the form of pamphlets and a mandatory computer tutorial.
“We are now taught in an ‘Active Shooter’ course that if we encounter a shooter in a public place we are to ‘run away’ and ‘hide’” union leader Brandon Judd wrote on the website of 3,300-member union local. “If we are cornered by such a shooter we are to (only as a last resort) become ‘aggressive’ and ‘throw things’ at him or her. We are then advised to ‘call law enforcement’ and wait for their arrival (presumably, while more innocent victims are slaughtered).”
The FEMA-administered computer course, entitled “IS-907- Active Shooter: What You Can Do,” is a 45-minute tutorial that provides guidance to all employees on how to recognize indicators of possible workplace violence and what to do should their office be invaded by gunmen and focuses around three main options; either evacuate, hide out, or in dire circumstances, take action.
Perhaps this is an effort by the Obama administration to avoid having any more agents killed by Fast and Furious weapons? More at the link.
Congress has passed a measure that will fund transportation projects through 2014 while maintaining the current interest rate on student loans, and appropriate money to subsidize national flood insurance.
“This massive bill spends too much money, will continue taxpayer bailouts for highway spending, and keeps subsidies that have contributed directly to skyrocketing tuition rates,” Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said.
Despite the backlash from such core conservative groups, the bill’s supporters expressed confidence. “We got a pretty good reception in conference this morning,” Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania said after House Republicans met on the bill.
After three months of haggling, House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on the package Wednesday. It includes a two-year, $100 billion spending plan for highway and mass transit construction and repairs, $6 billion to prevent rates on new student loans after June 30 from doubling, and a five-year renewal of federal flood insurance subsidies.
The bill gives states more flexibility over how they spend federal highway aid, consolidates transportation programs and shortens environmental delays to get highway projects built faster. It also expands a loan guarantee program aimed at increasing private investment in infrastructure projects.
Democrats and Republicans each gave way on issues important to their political constituencies, but both sides also scored victories. Republicans sacrificed proposals to force a go-ahead with the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline in the Midwest and to prevent the Obama administration from regulating coal ash as a hazardous toxin. Democrats gave ground on environmental protections blamed for stalling some road projects and safety, biking and pedestrian programs.
About $121 billion of the $127 billion measure is for highway funds. You can be sure that a lot of that spending is pork, with whatever this year’s version of a “bridge to nowhere” taking funding from more vital and pressing projects. Even with no earmarks, transportation spending is largely a result of horse trading, with members selling their vote for access to the cookie jar. It’s no way to fund highway projects but congress appears reluctant to reform it.
An additional $6.7 billion will go to keeping the student loan interest rate at 3-4% rather than see it double to 6.8%. And subsidies for flood insurance were also in the package.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is hosting a meeting in Switzerland to talk about his Syrian peace plan and finding ways to implement it.
The only problem is, the plan has been dead for months — ignored by both President Bashar al-Assad and the Free Syrian Army of rebels. It never got off the ground. It never had a chance of working.
But here we are 3 months later and Annan is still beating his dead horse. Remarkable denial in the face of overwhelming facts.
The US isn’t much better. Washington and Moscow are quarreling over whether to allow President Assad a role in the “political transition” in Syria. This is a pipe dream because Assad has no intention of talking with the opposition much less allowing for a transition of any kind. The US and Russia are arguing over a fantasy.
So the great game of “pretend” continues as the world fails to face up to the massive bloodletting in Syria by pretending they’re doing something about it.
A conference called by special envoy Kofi Annan to end the Syria crisis appeared on the brink of failure as it opened Saturday, with the U.S. and Russia still divided over a role for President Bashar Assad in a transition government.
Annan seemed confident of his plan a few days ago, but Russia has refused to back a provision that would call for Assad to step down to make way for a unity government, a stance that could scuttle the entire deal.
The envoy warned the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — that if they fail to act at the talks hosted by the United Nations at its European headquarters in Geneva they face an international crisis of “grave severity” that could spark violence across the region and provide a new front for terrorism.
“History is a somber judge and it will judge us all harshly if we prove incapable of taking the right path today,” he said.
He appeared to specifically aim his words at Russia, Syria’s most important ally, protector and arms supplier, which insists that outsiders cannot order a political solution for Syria. The U.S. is adamant that Assad should not be allowed to remain in power at the top of the transitional government and there is little chance that the fragmented Syrian opposition would go along with any plan that does not explicitly say Bashar must go.
I suppose it makes these well meaning diplomats feel better that they have convinced themselves they are doing something to stop the bloodshed. But the fact is, the time for a diplomatic end to this horrible situation has long since passed and the only way forward would involve soldiers — something all sides agree won’t happen.
So the pretending will continue. It’s just too bad that the 170 people dying every day in Syria can’t pretend they’ve lost their lives.
- How Obama Distorted the Obamacare Ruling, by Jeffrey H. Anderson. Did the Court agree with the president that “no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin?”
- How Liberals Become Cover Girls in the Capitalist System They Oppose, by Janine Turner. The underground movement.
- Your Own Private 21-Tax Salute, by Roger Kimball. The clock is ticking on ObamaCare, the mother, grandmother, and great aunt of all taxes.
- Obamacare Repeal Dealt Mortal Blow by SCOTUS Decision, by Rich Baehr. The prospects for getting rid of the law have never been bleaker.
- Fast and Furious Noose Tightens Around Justice Department, by Andrew C. McCarthy. Rep. Darrell Issa’s wiretap disclosure appears to negate Eric Holder’s “I didn’t know” defense.
- Standing Athwart ‘Fundamental Transformation,’ by Michael Walsh. After yesterday’s ObamaCare decision, it’s time to man up and realize we’re in the fight of our lives — and one with no pre-ordained guarantee of victory.
- Justice Roberts’ Reckless Restraint? By Scott Ott. Was this capitulation? Is he irrational or cowardly? Off his meds? You decide
- PJTV’s Poliwood Cracks The Newsroom: Blame Bush and Halliburton If You Don’t Like Aaron Sorkin’s New HBO Drama , by Roger L Simon. Click to watch video.
For those who are following the Fast and Furious news, you might be aware Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has done a bit of constitutional end run on info related to Fast and Furious that is presently under court seal by reading it into the Congressional Record.
The Washington Times reports:
Rep. Darrell Issa managed to push the details of a secret wiretap application from the botched “Fast and Furious” gunwalking operation into the public domain this week when he entered summaries into the Congressional Record, apparently using Congress‘ protection under the speech and debate clause to get around legal boundaries.
The summary of a March 2010 wiretap application shows that federal agents repeatedly lost track of guns they knew were being trafficked back to cartels in Mexico — a violation of Justice Department policy that should have raised red flags with top department officials who signed off on the wiretaps, said Mr. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the oversight committee that is looking into the operation.
Mr. Issa introduced the summary as part of the House’s debate Thursday before lawmakers held a historic vote to to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress…
The information in the wiretap affidavit is sealed and was not supposed to be released in public, but Roll Call reported Friday that Mr. Issa was using constitutional protections for speech and debate in Congress to put the information before the public.
I have posted the relevant three pages of Thursday’s Congressional Record for PJ Media readers to review:
Cher – who called the putative Republican presidential nominee “Richy Rich Romney whitest man in magic underwear” thus achieving the twofer of being both a classist and an anti-Mormon bigot in one tweet.
For the record, Cher’s own net worth, according to celebritynetworth.com, 305 million. (Plastic surgery non compris.)
The White House sector is doing fine.
The White House released its annual report to Congress on staff salaries. At 4:39 p.m. on Friday.
A quick review found the White House payroll appears to have grown since last year, going from $37.1 million in 2011 to $37.8 million in 2012. The number of employees listed also grew — from 454 last year to 468 in 2012.
White House officials did not immediately respond to a message seeking explanation of the growth. Overall, the payroll has shrunk since 2009, when it totaled $39.1 million.
This post should only be read in a soft purr, with smooth jazz on in the background and a glass of chardonnay at the ready.
Yesterday I shared an emotional moment with Barack in the Oval Office after he learned health reform had been upheld.
Barack Obama is a man who refused to give up. No matter how politically unpopular it was, he knew it was the right thing to do.
Tomorrow is the biggest fundraising deadline of this election so far. Romney and the Republicans may outraise us again — you can bet they’ll have a whole slew of special interests who want to see Romney make good on his promise to repeal Obamacare on Day One.
But they can’t beat us if we pull together. Our grassroots movement is unstoppable when we put our minds to it.
Talk nerdy to me, Joe.
President Mohammed Morsi (Muslim Brotherhood — Egypt) wants to present the sheik who was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing with a get out of jail free card.
In his first public speech addressing tens of thousands of mostly Islamist supporters, Egypt’s president-elect Mohammed Morsi has vowed to free the blind sheik jailed in the U.S. for a plot to blow up New York City landmarks.
Morsi, Egypt’s first Islamist and civilian president-elect, promised Friday to work to free Omar Abdel-Rahman, the spiritual leader of men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
He also promised to free detained Egyptian protesters facing military tribunals.
The sheik is serving a life sentence for conspiracies to blow up New York City landmarks, including the United Nations, and assassinate then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
In any other time we would cue the Patsy Cline, but Eric Holder did try granting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a civilian trial in New York for his planning role in 9-11, and President Obama was quick to ring up Morsi with congrats for capturing the Egyptian presidency. So…
In the first regular meeting with reporters since the Supreme Court’s upholding of ObamaCare, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked about the court’s branding of the mandate as a tax when President Obama had protested that the mandate was not a tax. His whole response:
“Well, I think you need to read the opinion. I know it’s long, but the opinion in question here said that the Affordable Care Act was entirely constitutional under Congress’s taxing power. And what I can tell you is that if Republicans want to talk about taxes, then we’re happy to have that debate, because there is a very clear difference here.
President Obama has cut taxes by $3,600 for the average middle- class family in this country since he’s been in office. As you know, Republican budget plans would raise taxes on every middle-class family to give every millionaire and billionaire a $250,000 tax cut. There is simply no way to achieve the revenue-neutral promise that has been made on that expensive, many-trillion-dollar tax cut unless middle- class Americans get hit hard.
And the facts are clear with regard to the Affordable Care Act. The health care law provides a significant tax cut of up to $4,000 for 18 million middle-class individuals and families — a tax cut that, by the way, Republicans in Washington continue to vow to repeal, which, if that were to occur, would result in another hit to the middle class.
With regard to the penalty, as was discussed by Chief Justice Roberts in his opinion, for those who can afford health insurance but choose to remain uninsured, forcing the rest of us to pay for their care, a penalty is administered as part of the Affordable Care Act. And this is estimated by the CBO to affect 1 percent of the population — 1 percent. This is not — you can call it what you want, but it is affecting 1 percent of the population, because most people either have health insurance or will do the responsible thing, and if they can afford health insurance they will purchase it. Those who cannot afford it, as you know, will benefit from the generous credits and subsidies that exist in the Affordable Care Act as a part of the expansion of coverage to 30 million Americans.
I would also note — it is important to remember this — that the penalty within the Affordable Care Act that would apply, by CBO estimates, to 1 percent of the population, is modeled exactly on the penalty that exists in the health care reform that was promoted and signed into law by Governor Romney in Massachusetts.”
“So you guys are still saying it’s a penalty, not a tax?” a reporter then asked.
“You can call it what you want. If you read the opinion, it is not a broad-based tax. It affects 1 percent, by CBO estimates, of the population. It is not something that you assess like an income tax,” Carney responded.
“But for that 1 percent, is it a tax or a penalty?”
“It’s a penalty because you have a choice. You don’t have a choice to pay your taxes, right?” Carney responded. “…So your choice is to purchase health care reform or a penalty will be administered.”
The Justice Department moved Friday to shield Attorney General Eric Holder from prosecution after the House voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.
The contempt vote technically opens the door for the House to call on the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia to bring the case against Holder before a grand jury. But because U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen works for Holder and because President Obama has already asserted executive privilege over the documents in question, it was expected Holder’s Justice Department would not take that step.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole confirmed in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner that the department in fact would not pursue prosecution. The attorney general’s withholding of documents pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious, he wrote, “does not constitute a crime.”
The move by the Holder Justice Department means Republicans are likely to take their case to civil court as they seek documents pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious — which was already the unofficial plan. Along with the criminal contempt resolution, Republicans also passed a civil contempt measure Thursday allowing them to go to civil court to try and get an order that would compel the Obama administration to release the documents.
I don’t know about you but I sure have missed the clowns from the Occupy Wall Street movement. Their crazy antics provided plenty of comic relief during these grim economic times. I mean really, who could resist those lovable lunkheads and their filthy encampments? Or the abusive, obscene signage? Or the unintentional hilarity that would ensue when they tried to explain what they were protesting?
Well, if the light has gone out of your life because OWS has retreated into the shadows (or simply gone back home to live with mommy and daddy), never fear. Beginning this weekend through the 4th of July, the dregs of the OWS movement will be gathering in Philadelphia, birthplace of the 99% — and coincidentally, America — to denounce, harangue, inveigh, reproach, and otherwise throw a tantrum about whatever it is they think is wrong with the world.
The national gathering is endorsed by more than 100 Occupy groups across the country. Organizers have kept in touch through a networking communication system known as “inter-Occupy,” using conference calls and other means of communication, said Tammy Shapiro, a member of Occupy Wall Street.
Larry Swetman, a member of Occupy Philadelphia, said the conference will feature teach-ins, workshops, and protests, including one in which participants will march to the Comcast Center. On the fourth day, Swetman said, protesters will come up with a list of priorities and goals that will likely cover a broad range of issues including health care and housing. Ultimately, a group of protesters plans to lead a 99-mile march to Wall Street on July 5.
Swetman expects about 1,500 people, with some coming in caravans from all over the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Miami and Chicago.
The group isn’t releasing many specifics, but camping will likely be part of the program. “Please be prepared to camp! Due to Philadelphia weather in July, tents more than likely won’t be necessary, so you may not want to bring them,” a statement on the group’s website reads.
“What we plan is to ‘Occupy’ for our national gathering in and around Independence Mall,” Swetman said. “We occupy with tents and we build communities.”
The second, smaller conference, dubbed “Continental Congress 2.0″, is being planned at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from July 2 to July 4. That conference isn’t endorsed by Occupy Wall Street. Organized by The 99% Working Group, it’s expected to draw around 150 delegates from across the country, said Robert Manning, of Pinole, Calif., one of the organizers.
Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter supports the notion of free speech for the protestors, but was perhaps more prescient than he realizes when he said “No one has the right to act like an idiot.” It could be hizzoner and Philadelphia’s finest will be quite busy over the next week enforcing that dictum.
This year’s We The People Convention kicked off in Columbus today. I would estimate today’s attendance at 600 or more so far, with probably several hundred more arrivals by the time all festivities conclude tomorrow.
As was the case last year, the sizzle is found in the lunch and dinner speakers, while the steak is in the morning and afternoon general sessions. Those sessions include how-to presentations for candidates, campaign managers, and activists; Ohio-specific modules on taxes, natural resources, and potential electoral matters such as right-to-work; and break-outs on national issues like immigration reform, voter fraud, environmental policy, and (oh yeah) ObamaCare, where the related Supreme Court decision is on everyone’s outraged mind.
I have audio of the lunchtime speeches today, but attempts at transcription will have to wait until I escape the cavernous echo chamber known as the Ohio Expo Center. For now, I’ll note some key and in some cases quite sobering points made by the three lunchtime speakers (mostly paraphrased):
- Former Congressman Dick Armey, whose FreedomWorks has in effect been advocating tea party values for over a quarter-century, told the audience that when he saw the tea party groups forming en masse from the group up in 2009, he felt like the cavalry had finally arrive. He emphasized that rehabilitating the Republican Party is of paramount importance. Also (no pressure — ha), Ohio activists need to recognize that the weight of that “the weight and burden” of liberty may very well be on their shoulders in November, because in his view (and of course many others through several decades, “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.”
- Kibbe, also of FreedomWorks, opined that if progressives may have thought they saw something in scary (to them) in 2010, “they haven’t seen anything yet.”
- I’ll relay more of what Fund had to say later, but here’s one key point he made — So many Republicans and (so we thought) conservatives going to Washington planning to draining the swamp (or saying they do), but they end up deciding that the swamp instead serves as a great hot tub. Obviously, that’s got to stop.
As would be expected in a state with both a significant existing coal mining operations and huge potential in fracking that is enduring Obama administration hostility in both areas, energy is also a dominant topic.
To say that the determination to make a difference in November is fierce would be a huge understatement.
Rep. Darrell Issa today upped the ante in the Fast and Furious scandal, entering details about secret Department of Justice wiretaps into the Congressional record.
The wiretap applications are under court seal, and releasing such information to the public would ordinarily be illegal. But Issa appears to be protected by the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution, which offers immunity for Congressional speech, especially on a chamber’s floor.
According to the letter, the wiretap applications contained a startling amount of detail about the operation, which would have tipped off anyone who read them closely about what tactics were being used.
Holder and Cummings have both maintained that the wiretap applications did not contain such details and that the applications were reviewed narrowly for probable cause, not for whether any investigatory tactics contained followed Justice Department policy.
The wiretap applications were signed by senior DOJ officials in the department’s criminal division, including Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco and another official who is now deceased.
In Fast and Furious, agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed assault guns bought by “straw purchasers” to “walk,” which meant ending surveillance on weapons suspected to be en route to Mexican drug cartels.
The tactic, which was intended to allow agents to track criminal networks by finding the guns at crime scenes, was condemned after two guns that were part of the operation were found at U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder scene.
I added the emphasis because, as Ace notes, it may represent something we didn’t know before: That Fast and Furious depended on crimes (murders in many cases) being committed to even stand a chance of working to track guns.
If social network interactions are any guide, then the Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare as a massive tax (which President Obama said he would not impose on the middle class) is bringing huge new energy to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Romney campaign spokesman Andrea Saul says that in the 24 hours since the ruling, Romney’s facebook page has picked up 28,000 new users while the Obama campaign has gained just 9,000. Additionally, the Romney page reports 493,000 engagements — likes, shares, comments — to 464,000 for the Obama campaign. But the most telling sign of enthusiasm may be in the percentage of the pages’ users who engaged in the past 24 hours. According to Saul, the Obama campaign saw 1.7% of its users engaged. The Romney campaign saw 23% of its users engaged.
Earlier we reported that the Romney campaign hauled in $4.6 million from 47,000 donors in the day since the ruling. The Obama campaign is now claiming that it has outraised the Romney campaign. But tellingly, the Obama campaign is not sharing any hard numbers so far, leading to the reasonable assumption that its claim to have outraised the Romney campaign is nothing more than spin.
Last night the Obama campaign tweeted out a new t-shirt design available at its online shop. It takes this:
And makes this:
It says quite a bit about the atmosphere of the Obama camp, that it would proudly use an R-rated profanity that should have embarassed the administration, as a means to punch the 55% of Americans who oppose ObamaTax in the nose. But that is how the Democrats have behaved since the ruling came down. DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard set the tone, and rather than face firing as he should, the president’s campaign has one-upped him.
Exit question: Would Barack Obama like for Sasha and Malia to know what the F on that T-shirt stands for?
The fact that Supreme Chief Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote upholding Obamacare means it is time for another world famous Tatler Photo Caption Contest.
These two leaders have not only made history this week with the Affordable Care Act ruling but they also have a very interesting personal history.
First, in 2005 then Senator Obama voted against the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts.
Second, in 2009 at Obama’s inauguration Roberts garbled a few words of the presidential oath while administering it to Obama.
Our caption contest photo is that of Roberts’ issuing the presidential oath again the next day, to President Obama in the White House Map Room.
Surely, this was an omen of future history to be made that has now been fulfilled with Roberts’ surprise ruling, one that many are saying has saved Obama’s presidency.
(However, this writer disagrees with that sentiment.)
Now, the only rule of this new contest is to BE NICE and follow the PJM Guidelines for comment submissions because, as noted in our last photo caption contest winner’s post, there is a certain reporter at Politico who actually reads and writes about our photo caption contests. Therefore, we must not give him any reason to poke fun at all our passionate, highly educated, and amazingly creative Tatler readers.
The winner of this photo caption contest will receive absolutely nothing except accolades in the winner’s post, which of course are priceless.
Good luck and stay classy!
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Obama’s signature legislative achievement as a tax, and a massive $500 billion tax at that, has helped the Mitt Romney and RNC to build up their campaign war chest. Within two hours of the court handing down its decision, the campaign reported that it was closing in on half a million dollars in donations. Twenty-four hours later, the Romney campaign reports that its fundraising website has netted a whopping $4.6 million. Donations poured in from more than 47,000 individual donors, powering the campaign to its largest online fundraising total to date.
The Romney campaign also isn’t missing a messaging beat. Today the campaign released a new ad using the angry words of Hillary Clinton to declare “Shame on you, Barack Obama” for the Obama campaign’s misleading attacks on Romney’s successful business career.
Appearing on America’s Morning News today, America’s leading populist Pat Buchanan had strong words for the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health care law’s individual mandate as a tax. Calling for “absolute unity” behind Mitt Romney as the GOP’s presidential nominee, Buchanan assailed Chief Justice John Roberts for making America “safe for socialism.”
“This is truly historic,” Buchanan said. “I can see what Chief Justice Roberts wants. He wants the Supreme Court to step up and away and outside all of these partisan battles they’ve had…the Gore Bush election of 2000 and the Citizens United…I think he wants it to move up and away and be more of an umpire, but in doing this I think he has stretched the Constitution.”
Buchanan praised Mitt Romney’s reaction to the Thursday ruling, and said that the Republicans have to have “real clarity” on what will be a winning issue for them in the fall. “If the Republicans…are gonna mope about what Chief Justice Roberts did, I think we will lose an opportunity. But there’s no doubt…we are headed for Gettysburg,” referring to the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3 1863, a Confederate defeat that was the turning point of the Civil War.
Even though Team Obama and the Democrats are celebrating Thursday’s Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare, numerous arguments can be made that this decision is actually bad news for President Obama’s re-election prospects. Chief among them is the Supreme Court has re-branded ObamaCare as a tax.
Hearken back to President Obama’s September, 2009 interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos where Obama vehemently denied that the health care individual mandate was a tax. Look for sound bites from this landmark interview to appear any minute now in Romney’s campaign ads.
From a Romney campaign perspective, the best aspect of this ABC interview is when President Obama “refused to accept the argument” that a mandate to buy health insurance is equivalent to a tax.
President Obama may have “refused to accept the argument” then, but now that Chief Justice Roberts has had the last word, Roberts just wrote Mitt Romney a new campaign bumper sticker:
Obama Lied – The Health Care Mandate Is A Tax.
Now, we all know that ObamaCare is unpopular. Just how unpopular? According to the latest Rasmussen poll, 54% of likely voters favored its repeal vs. 38% who opposed. For Governor Romney the good news of this poll concerns all the money, time and energy President Obama must spend between now and Election Day defending and selling his signature program.
As a result of today’s ruling, Republicans and many Independents have been energized into a frenzy. So then is Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod quoting Japanese Admiral Yamamoto who, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor famously said, “I am afraid we have awakened a sleeping giant” as the Japanese high command was celebrating the surprise attack? If not, he should be, for this Supreme Court decision is filled with many positive unintended consequences for Romney.
Besides an energized opposition, another positive unintended consequence is all the money pouring into the Romney campaign. Furthermore, Governor Romney now has an issue that will completely define his presidential campaign which at times seems like it is in need of a little more defining.
The ruling today will also have an adverse effect on the economy at large. Besides the stock market’s negative reaction, small and large business owners from coast to coast will continue to avoid hiring additional employees because of ObamaCare and its unknown costs. ObamaCare many argue, hurts job creation and Romney has even more reason now to make this issue his non-stop campaign mantra.
So even though President Obama may be celebrating a victory at the White House his campaign headquarters in Chicago surely knows this Supreme Court decision is a minefield that must be carefully cleared.
Remember, no president in his right mind wants his signature program to be associated with, or to be an excuse for, a new tax. But that is where Team Obama is today.
The Obama campaign might be wise to recall the 1984 Walter Mondale acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention when Mondale said:
“Let’s tell the truth. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did”.
Mondale badly lost the 1984 election against Ronald Reagan and historians point to that statement as a chief reason. In fact, that statement is the one with which former Vice-President Walter Mondale is most closely associated.
Similar to Mondale, President Obama in order to be reelected must defend a tax increase, indeed, one that the Supreme Court has now defined as a tax increase — doubly onerous because it funds a program that has grown increasingly unpopular since its inception.
Which means for both Obama and Romney, today is the beginning of the rest of the campaign.
- ObamaCare Ruling: Pure Fraud and No Due Process, by Andrew C. McCarthy. Led by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court has decided that Americans have no right to due process.
- A Modest Proposal, by Rand Simberg. With yesterday’s ruling, Justice Roberts has begun to close down the Commerce Clause loophole. Conservatives and libertarians need to help him finish the job.
- The Supremes Get It Fundamentally Wrong, by Hans A. von Spakovsky. The Court has issued a ruling with terrible implications for the future.
- Holder Found in Contempt After Dems Walk Out of Vote, by Bridget Johnson. “As a result of the action taken today by the House, an unnecessary court conflict will ensue,” Holder said.
- What Should Americans Do After the Supreme Court ObamaCare Ruling? By Paul Hsieh. We can still reclaim our freedoms.
- Congressional Republicans: ObamaCare in Our Court Now, by Bridget Johnson.
- Democrats on the Hill, meanwhile, trumpeted today’s surprising Supreme Court ruling as a “victory for the American people.”
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the Court Decision, by J. Christian Adams.
- Here is all you need to know.
- SCOTUS & ObamaCare: The Search for a Silver Lining, by Roger Kimball, Did John Roberts hand the president a legislative victory in one hand and political doom in the other?
- 4 Foods the Government Should Ban, by Sunny. A few more items for Mayor Bloomberg to add to his list.
Elizabeth Harrington at CNSNews has the reaction of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX01) to today’s ObamaCare/ObamaTax ruling:
“It’s greatly disappointing because obviously the Supreme Court they said by their verdict, by their opinion that when the administration and the president himself and all of those he trusts repeatedly said this is not a tax, the Supreme Court is saying, ‘You people are a bunch of fools,’” Gohmert said on the steps of the Supreme Court just after the ruling was announced.
“‘Of course you should have known they lied when they said what they did to get this bill passed. Of course it’s a tax. Don’t listen to what they say, listen to what we say,’” he said.
“It’s time for the American people to get outraged,” Gohmert added.
More at the link.
One of two Republicans to vote against finding Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt of Congress today said he believes in “progressive discipline.”
“Accordingly, and after a careful review of the facts, I voted against a bill to hold the Attorney General in criminal contempt of Congress,” said Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.). “Later, I voted for a bill that authorizes the Oversight Committee to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings and force the Attorney General to comply with what are very reasonable oversight requests from this Congress.”
“In my view, the Attorney General has not served the President or the American people well. I believe he should resign,” Rigell continued. “I am intent on pursuing the facts and gaining a full understanding of the Administration’s handling of the events leading to the Fast and Furious program, and as importantly, the conduct of the Administration in the months that followed.”
The other Republican to vote against the contempt resolution was Ohio Rep. Steven LaTourette.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) credited the spirit of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) with saving ObamaCare at the Supreme Court today.
“I knew that when he left us, he would go to heaven and help pass the bill and now I know he was busily at work until this decision came down inspiring one way or another and now he can rest in peace,” Pelosi told reporters today. “His dream for America’s families has become a reality.”
She said she spoke to Vicki and Patrick Kennedy this morning and thanked them for the late senator’s push for healthcare reform.
“The president has said himself on numerous occasions that the individual mandate is not a tax. Do you think the individual mandate in the health care law is a tax?” the first reporter asked Pelosi.
“Call it what you will, it is a step forward for America’s families,” Pelosi said. “…That’s what’s really important to people. Technical terms, that’s for us here. What means something the American people is what it does to them.”
Like Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the nation, I’m still working through what to make of today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the ObamaCare individual mandate, not as a mandate, but as a tax. It’s been more difficult for me because of unfortunate timing — I spent most of the day either in an airport or on a plane, and while I did have connectivity here and there it wasn’t the best of circumstances to wrap my head around such a complex decision. And make no mistake, the ObamaCare decision is a complex one. If today’s decision did nothing else, it destroyed the left’s image of the Roberts court as predictably swinging from the right. Roberts himself comes out of today as perhaps the most mercurial and strategic thinker in all of American politics.
The easiest takeaway — that ObamaCare stands — is probably wrong in the end. The court left most of it in place, sure, but the states still get to chip away at it. The federal government still can issue waivers that end up cracking it and opening up the case for its unfairness. And a new president and Congress can do away with it. Today’s ruling may have made repeal easier by classifying it as a tax that cannot be filibustered against. The ruling certainly wasn’t the last word. My twitter feeds today were rocking with congressmen promising to repeal, and a vote is scheduled to do just that on July 11. The way the SCOTUS ruling may turn out to work may make the communications side of repeal easier, as ObamaCare can now be rebadged as ObamaTax. That’s really what it is, according to the four liberals on the court and its chief justice. It’s a tax, and that’s how they justified allowing it to stand. That changes everything.
When he was selling his plan to the American people, President Obama insisted that it was not a tax. He promised not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 per year.
The Supreme Court’s liberal wing plus Chief Justict Roberts have publicly charged Obama with lying to the American people.
ObamaTax is a particularly onerous and invasive tax that liberal commentators are already comparing to such mundane aspects of life as buying groceries. Will we see a federal tax/mandate for that in a second Obama administration? Buy salads instead of burgers or face the loving embrace of the IRS? Why not? They’re already banning sugary drinks on the local level. Obama II could usher in the wrath of the broccoli for all of us.
Once the American public digests the fact — not opinion now, but fact — that President Obama broke one of his core promises in enacting this law that remains unpopular, he ought to pay a heavy price for it. That he and his Democratic Party own that regressive tax lock, stock and barrel ought to heavily influence the November election. That they together foisted this tax on a public that did not support it, and that their tax has proven to be a threat to an already weak economy, ought to galvanize both business and tea party interests to fight as hard as they possibly can to help out in the repeal effort at the state and federal levels.
So that’s my take as of now. Obama won today, but his victory was Pyrrhic. ObamaTax is unlikely to last.
BREAKING: Unit commander is shot during formation at Ft Bragg – UPDATED Battalion commander killed 2x – 2 others injured
WTVD is reporting:
Fort Bragg law enforcement said it is responding to a shooting incident on-post that occurred at about 3:30 p.m.
Officials urged drivers and pedestrians to avoid the historic district of Fort Bragg until further notice.
The historic district is an area near Knox Street close to the 18th Airborne Headquarters and FORSCOM near the heart of Fort Bragg.
Officials did not immediately release more information. Sources told ABC11 that an officer was shot during a formation. The officer’s condition was not known.
A press conference is scheduled to be held in a few minutes, 6pm EDT.
UPDATE: MSNBC reports that a battalion commander is dead:
A senior US defense official told NBC that the deceased victim is a battalion commander. There is no indication of motive at this time, but the incident does not appear to be terrorist-related.
UPDATE 2X: WRAL reports two other injured:
Arata gave no indication about what might have led up to the shooting but said a soldier from the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade shot another member of the unit and then turned the gun on himself.
The shooter was injured, as was a third soldier who was in the area.
At Hot Air, Erika Johnsen writes:
For the first time ever, the House of Representatives voted Thursday on whether to hold a sitting attorney general in contempt of Congress. Republicans brought the vote to the House floor in an effort to force Attorney General Eric Holder to finally face the music for his willful failure to fully comply with a Congressional subpoena of documents relating to Operation Fast & Furious, the not-botched gunwalking scandal that resulted in the death of a U.S. border patrol agent and countless Mexicans — and face the music Holder did. The House voted 255-67 to hold Eric Holder in contempt.
What was Holder doing while he this was about come down on his head? He’s going to Disneyworld!
On the day in which the U.S. House of Representatives has determined that Attorney General Eric Holder’s actions are egregious enough to warrant a criminal contempt vote, the AG has skipped town and headed to … Disneyworld.
According to the National Journal’s Daybook, Holder will be addressing the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) during a convention at a Disneyworld Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
The optics of an AG going to Disneyworld while simultaneously being voted in contempt of Congress by a bipartisan majority would be brutal for a Republican administration. Good thing the Obama administration knows that old media are firmly in the tank for them.
Update: As with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney before her, Nancy Pelosi botches name of slain federal agent Brian Terry. (Video of Pelosi offering boilerplate condolences to the family of “Brian Tay, Tay, Terry” at Newsbusters.)
More: Bridget Johnson has a full report on the today’s congressional proceedings (and the
temper tantrum walkout by Dems they inspired) on the PJM homepage.
(Cross-posted at Ed Driscoll.com.)
Fallout continues from the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare and one aspect of the issue that will be debated for the next several months is how Medicaid expansion was affected and whether it can still work.
The original Affordable Care Act language ordered states to expand Medicaid to cover those families whose income is 133% above the poverty line — $23,300. That’s about 19 million more Americans that states will be responsible for covering. The government offered to pay up to 90% of the cost — but only for 4 years. After that, states are responsible for the additional money.
Realizing that many states might balk at expanding coverage, Washington threatened to withhold Medicaid grants from recalcitrant states if they refused the expanded coverage. It was this that the Roberts decision found unconstitutional.
So is expanded Medicaid coverage now optional for states? Yes and no, say experts. States can refuse to offer Medicaid to the expanded pool of insureds, but citizens would still be mandated to carry insurance. Ezra Klien explains:
[S]ubstantially more people than the law’s authors expected might find themselves eligible for either hardship waivers from the mandate or subsidies to buy insurance on exchanges. How much of each of those things happened will depend on exactly what states do, and figuring out the budgetary implications of the whole thing is going to require some hard work by the little modeling gnomes at the Congressional Budget Office.
So governors could refuse to offer expanded Medicaid coverage, but all they’d be doing is making Obamacare more expensive and unwieldy for the rest of us.
Then there’s the matter of the insurance exchanges. States are supposed to set up exchanges that will serve as a clearinghouse for the purchasing of health insurance in each state. They would also impose minimum regulations on the insurance being sold and provide a way for consumers to comparison-shop for insurance policies.
Governors could refuse to set up the exchanges but all that would do is force HHS to do the job. This would be an annoyance and again, make Obamacare more expensive for the rest of us. But it wouldn’t alter the basic program.
Nevertheless, GOP governors are vowing to do nothing to implement Obamacare at the state level until after the election.
Republican governors are planning to ignore the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold Obamacare hoping that the issue will drive voters to dump President Obama in favor of Mitt Romney who has vowed to kill the Affordable Care Act.
After the decision, the Republican Governors Association said that nothing should be done by the states until after the election, a clear signal that they believe a GOP president, House and Senate will kill the health care reform pushed through by Democrats and opposed by Republicans.
RGA Chairman Bob McDonnell said, “Today’s ruling crystallizes all that’s at stake in November’s election. The only way to stop Barack Obama’s budget-busting health care takeover is by electing a new president. Barack Obama’s health care takeover encapsulates his presidency: Obamacare increases taxes, grows the size of government and puts bureaucrats over patients while doing nothing to improve the economy.”
The Virginia governor, who is on Mitt Romney’s list of potential vice presidential candidates, added, “By replacing Barack Obama with Mitt Romney, we will not only stop the federal government’s healthcare takeover, but will also take a giant step towards a full economic recovery.”
Other governors have urged a similar strategy. Scott Walker, the newly re-elected Wisconsin governor, said that he won’t put into place any elements of Obamacare until after the election. Other governors are taking a similar position.
By taking the slow-down route, the Republican governors are hoping that the GOP sweeps in November and can somehow manage to get repeal through a less than veto proof senate. That’s a tall order, but it’s really the only option left.
As all the subjects of the United States now know, the Supreme Court has upheld the individual mandate component of Obamacare as “constitutional.” This means, in effect, that the Constitution, which was designed to limit the powers of the federal government, has now been interpreted to mean that the only thing to be limited are the limitations themselves. Roll that one over your tongue before swallowing.
Now consider that, in light of this postmodern/Foucauldian conception of “constitutionality,” there are a whole backlog of Supreme Court decisions that are currently not being enforced. Why not? This is positively un-American, I say. These decisions are, after all, constitutional. I hereby propose that we bring back internment camps for Japanese- Americans. Why are we not enforcing Korematsu v. United States (1944)? It has not been overturned by the Supreme Court and is therefore still enforceable. An executive order should be issued immediately to remove all persons of Japanese descent into designated camps as a penalty for not paying taxes to support the insurrection clause.
How do I arrive at this conclusion? Simple. This measure is clearly not a violation of the 14th Amendment, since a part of the federal government’s taxing power is the creation of federal internment prisons, which are necessary and proper for the enforcement of the insurrection clause of Article I, Section 8. Since the tax money of Japanese-Americans has not gone toward the creation of such necessary and proper and constitutional internment prisons since the Second World War, they are clearly withholding their money from the federal government, thus weakening the government’s ability to enforce the insurrection clause. The general welfare of the people is imperiled by this unprecedented act of tax evasion. Therefore, the federal government must act immediately to penalize their refusal to pay such constitutional taxes by enacting a penalty (i.e., internment) for such dereliction.
Next week, I shall prove the following:
(1) That Congress can and should, in light of the Second Amendment, force every American to buy two firearms: one to be used for mandatory well-regulated militia duty, as defined in the Second Amendment, and the other to be used to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(2) Suicide for all Americans is Constitutionally mandated by both the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the double-jeopardy clause.
A source on the Mitt Romney campaign tells the Tatler that the ObamaCare ruling is swiftly stirring up the passions that led to the Republican House takeover in 2010. The source tells me that in the hours since the Supreme Court upheld the ObamaCare individual mandate as a tax, the RNC’s ObamaCare-focused web site has already raised more than $400,000.
Update: The Romney campaign’s money bomb is here.
Update: As of early afternoon central time, the total has topped $1 million.
Update: Make that $1.5 million.
Okay, here’s some advice. Go ahead and scream, but try to keep your throat relaxed and open. Otherwise you’ll hurt your vocal cords.
Now, let’s calm down and look at what the SCOTUS really decided.
First, it decided that the individual mandate could be justified, but only as a tax. Well, we knew that. From the first, the Republicans were saying “this is a tax and a big tax, and a big tax that affects the poor and middle class disproportionately.” We also knew that the Federal Government could tax us to pay for health care. The only limits on the government’s power to tax us pretty much ended with the 13th Amendment in 1913. The notion that it wasn’t a tax was a fig leaf the Democrats came up with to keep from admitting Obama was setting up a big tax.
So what the decision has done is say “if it walks like a tax and talks like a tax, it’s a tax.” Of course, that does mean it’s incumbent on us to brag on how the SCOTUS agreed with the Republicans on that point, and to hammer home the point that Obama broke his tax promise.
By the way, the fact that it wasn’t advertised as a tax meant the Anti-Injunction Act didn’t apply. In other words, the Democrats were too clever by half — if they’d have called it a tax, the Court couldn’t have considered it at all. By not calling it a tax, they ensured the decision would come before the election.
Second, the decision says that the governments power under the Commerce Clause is limited. It may seem like a Pyrrhic victory right now, but this is still a good thing. Again, we already knew the Federal Government could tax us for pretty much any reason it pleased, and they already impose taxes for not choosing to buy certain things. (Consider, eg: if you have a million dollars in a savings account, the income is taxable. If you have it in a stock that pays dividends, the income is currently taxed at a lower rate. And if you have it in municipal bonds, it’s not taxable.) So this establishes a good thing, and only affirms something else that was already true. No loss there.
Third, it says that the Federal Government can’t force states to pay for Federally-mandated programs, at least under some conditions. It will be interesting to see if that is called on in the future.
So, as I say, calm down. This isn’t the end of the world, and actually establishes a couple of good precedents.
Now that the shock has worn off, let’s think about this.
President Obama is now the owner of the biggest tax hike in history, he wields the most powerful IRS in history, has effectively been called a liar by the Supreme Court, and the Commerce Clause finally hit a wall future congresses will find it difficult to scale.
How again is this a political win for the Democrats?
Cross-posted from Vodkapundit.