Saturday, February 11, 2012

If You Thought SOPA Was Bad, Just Wait Until You Meet ACTA


Updated below.

When sites like Wikipedia and Reddit banded together for a major blackout January 18th, the impact was felt all the way to Washington D.C. The blackout had lawmakers running from the controversial anti-piracy legislation, SOPA and PIPA, which critics said threatened freedom of speech online.

See Also: The Latest Developments in ACTA as it moves forward in Europe.

Unfortunately for free-speech advocates, these pieces of legislation are not the only laws which threaten an open internet.

Few people have heard of ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, but the provisions in the agreement appear quite similar to – and more expansive than – anything we saw in SOPA. Worse, the agreement spans virtually all of the countries in the developed world, including all of the EU, the United States, Switzerland and Japan.

See Also: The Downsides of the TPP IP Rules

Many of these countries have already signed or ratified it, and the cogs are still turning, with the final real fight playing out in the EU parliament.

The treaty has been secretly negotiated behind the scenes between governments with little or no public input. The Bush administration started the process, but the Obama administration has aggressively pursued it.

Indeed, we signed ACTA in 2011.

According to critics, ACTA bypasses the sovereign laws of participating nations, forcing ISP’s across the globe to act as internet police.

Worse, it appears to go much further than the internet, cracking down on generic drugs and making food patents even more radical than they are by enforcing a global standard on seed patents that threatens local farmers and food independence across the developed world.

Despite ACTA’s secrecy, criticism of the agreement has been widespread. Countries like India and Brazil have been vocal opponents of the agreement, claiming that it will do a great deal of harm to emerging economies.

I’ll have more on the agreement as it emerges. But to briefly sum up, according to critics of the agreement:

ACTA contains global IP provisions as restrictive or worse than anything contained in SOPA and PIPA.

ACTA spans virtually all of the developed world, threatening the freedom of the internet as well as access to medication and food. The threat is every bit as real for those countries not involved in the process as the signatories themselves.

ACTA has already been signed by many countries including the US, but requires ratification in the EU parliament.

ACTA was written and hammered out behind closed doors. While some of the provisions have been taken out of the final US draft, plenty of unknowns still exist. It’s not nearly clear enough how the agreement will affect US laws.

Nor is this the only international agreement in the works.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, there are “other plurilateral agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which contains a chapter on IP enforcement that would have state signatories adopt even more restrictive copyright measures than ACTA. Similarly, negotiations over TPP are also held in secret and with little oversight by the public or civil society. These initiatives, negotiated without participation from civil society or the public, are an affront to a democratic world order. EFF will remain vigilant against these international initiatives that threaten to choke off creativity, innovation, and free speech, and will stand with EDRi, FFII, La Quadrature du Net and our other EU fellow traveller organizations in their campaign to defeat ACTA in the European Parliament in January.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has questioned the power of the executive to enter into the agreement.

“It may be possible for the U.S. to implement ACTA or any other trade agreement, once validly entered, without legislation if the agreement requires no change in U.S. law,” he wrote. “But regardless of whether the agreement requires changes in U.S. law … the executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter a binding international agreement covering issues delegated by the Constitution to Congress’ authority, absent congressional approval.”

Now it is quite possible that the ACTA we signed in 2011 will not affect US laws. It’s difficult to say at this point given the lack of transparency. It’s also hard to say how the coordination between governments would affect existing IP law. Probably the biggest problem with this trade agreement is how little we all know. There’s something worrisome about governments pursuing these sorts of agreements behind closed doors – even if, at the end of the day, they don’t actually affect existing US laws.

We should all be worried about the implications of this and other trade agreements on the global economy, the ripple effects of which would reach all of us regardless of geographical location.

Remember, when one of these bills or trade agreements falls, another rises up to take its place. ACTA has been in the works for several years. SOPA almost passed into law unopposed. The threat to civil society isn’t going away. Honest, open, and transparent regulations written to stem the flow of pirated materials can be crafted in the light of day with input from industries outside of entertainment.

Update 2: The final draft of ACTA has been seriously watered-down. Many of the concerns expressed in the above piece no longer apply to the final agreement. Read more here. While many critics of ACTA still have valid concerns about what it means for internet freedom, it does appear that the USTR caved on the final version.

The TPP is now more cause for concern, at least to US citizens.

Update: An earlier version of this post claimed the act required Senate ratification. Reports are conflicting, but it appears this is not the case. ACTA has been signed as a sole executive agreement, meaning the president’s signature on this is all it takes for it to become law, though Sen. Ron Wyden has questioned the constitutionality of that move on the part of the administration.

Cory Doctorow describes the agreement as “a secretly negotiated copyright treaty that obliges its signatories to take on many of the worst features of SOPA and PIPA. The EU is nearing ratification of it. ACTA was instigated by US trade reps under the Bush Administration, who devised and enforced its unique secrecy regime, but the Obama administration enthusiastically pursued it.”

While this may be the case, it is much more difficult to assess the actual impact of the bill on US law. It may end up having a negligible affect on US IP law and internet freedom. It may have a slow impact that creeps up over the years. The lack of transparency has made it very difficult to assess, especially given the numerous governments involved. Whether or not it represents as great a threat as its critics claim, it is always worrisome when these sorts of agreements are worked out without public input.

From the EFF update on developments in ACTA in 2011:

While Internet blacklist bills exploded into the domestic U.S. Congressional scene this year, foreboding international forces are also posing new threats to the Internet around the world. The most prominent of these is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), signed by the U.S. in 2011, which would strengthen intellectual property enforcement norms between signatory countries, handing overbroad powers to the content industry to preserve their antiquated business model. ACTA was widely criticized for being negotiated in secret, bypassing national parliaments and the checks and balances in existing international organizations. One of the most disheartening features of this plurilateral agreement [1] is that it creates a new global IP enforcement institution to oversee its implementation.

Eight[2] of the 11 ACTA participating countries have signed the agreement and the battle now mainly lies in the European Union. This week, the Council of the European Union—one of the European Union’s two legislative bodies, composed of executives from the 27 EU member states—adopted ACTA during a completely unrelated meeting on agriculture and fisheries. It is now up to the European Parliament, the EU’s other legislative body, to give consent on ACTA in the coming year. The European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee has discussed the agreement on December 20th, and released its very guarded opinion, summarily stating: “It appears that the agreement per se does not impose any obligation on the Union that is manifestly incompatible with fundamental rights.” This opinion is not surprising, given how the Committee newsletter [doc] published a few days prior spoke highly of ACTA, hinting strongly that it is supportive of its signature.

But to be quite honest, the fog surrounding all of this is pretty thick still. I’ll try to shine more light on it in future posts.

For more information please visit:

EFF’s International Issue Page on ACTA:

European Digital Rights’ (EDRi) coverage here:

La Quadrature du Net’s coverage here:

Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure’s (FFII) blog on ACTA

Twitter hash tags: #ACTA

Twitter accounts:





Former New Orleans failure of a DEMOCRAT, mayor Ray Nagin under investigation

Capitalist Preservation:
February 11, 2012

Absolutely no mention of Nagin being a DEMOCRAT in this Reuters article.

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin , the colorful and controversial spokesman for the city after the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is under investigationby federal authorities, a source with direct knowledge of the probe said.
The source told Reuters on Friday that several people linked to Nagin or the New Orleans city administration during his two terms as mayor ending in 2010 were cooperating with the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI.
The investigation includes whether Nagin received favors or items of value from vendors to the city in return for contracts they received while Nagin was in office, the source said. [...]

Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney 15 pts in national poll. He can be the Victor Cruz of politics.

The Last Tradition
Saturday, February 11, 2012

Some may feel that Rick Santorum isn’t a real threat to take the GOP nod.

But, nothing about 2012 has been ordinary thus far.

I think Santorum can be the Victor Cruz of politics—undrafted, came out of nowhere to become an impact player for the Super Bowl champs New York Giants.

PPP reports riding a wave of momentum from his trio of victories on Tuesday Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in PPP's newest national poll. He's at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul.

Part of the reason for Santorum's surge is his own high level of popularity. 64% of voters see him favorably to only 22% with a negative one. But the other, and maybe more important, reason is that Republicans are significantly souring on both Romney and Gingrich. Romney's favorability is barely above water at 44/43, representing a 23 point net decline from our December national poll when he was +24 (55/31). Gingrich has fallen even further. A 44% plurality of GOP voters now hold a negative opinion of him to only 42% with a positive one. That's a 34 point drop from 2 months ago when he was at +32 (60/28).

More here

The Church of Obama

The president his issued his own Act of Supremacy.
By Mark Steyn
February 11, 2012 5:00 A.M.

Announcing his support for Commissar Sebelius’s edicts on contraception, sterilization, and pharmacological abortion, that noted theologian the Most Reverend Al Sharpton explained: “If we are going to have a separation of church and state, we’re going to have a separation of church and state.”

Thanks for clarifying that. The church model the young American state wished to separate from was that of the British monarch, who remains to this day supreme governor of the Church of England. This convenient arrangement dates from the 1534 Act of Supremacy. The title of the law gives you the general upshot, but, just in case you’re a bit slow on the uptake, the text proclaims “the King’s Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England.” That’s to say, the sovereign is “the only supreme head on earth of the Church” and he shall enjoy “all honors, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity,” not to mention His Majesty “shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, record, order, correct, restrain, and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts, and enormities, whatsoever they be.”

Welcome to Obamacare.

The president of the United States has decided to go Henry VIII on the Church’s medieval ass. Whatever religious institutions might profess to believe in the matter of “women’s health,” their pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, and immunities are now subordinate to a one-and-only supreme head on earth determined to repress, redress, restrain, and amend their heresies. One wouldn’t wish to overextend the analogy: For one thing, the Catholic Church in America has been pathetically accommodating of Beltway bigwigs’ ravenous appetite for marital annulments in a way that Pope Clement VII was disinclined to be vis-à-vis the English king and Catherine of Aragon. But where’d all the pandering get them? In essence President Obama has embarked on the same usurpation of church authority as Henry VIII: As his Friday morning faux-compromise confirms, the continued existence of a “faith-based institution” depends on submission to the doctrinal supremacy of the state.

“We will soon learn,” wrote Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “just how much faith is left in faith-based institutions.” Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s vicar on earth, has sportingly offered to maintain religious liberty for those institutions engaged in explicit religious instruction to a largely believing clientele. So we’re not talking about mandatory condom dispensers next to the pulpit at St. Pat’s — not yet. But that is not what it means to be a Christian: The mission of a Catholic hospital is to minister to the sick. When a guy shows up in Emergency bleeding all over the floor, the nurse does not first establish whether he is Episcopalian or Muslim; when an indigent is in line at the soup kitchen the volunteer does not pause the ladle until she has determined whether he is a card-carrying papist. The government has redefined religion as equivalent to your Sunday best: You can take it out for an hour to go to church, but you gotta mothball it in the closet the rest of the week. So Catholic institutions cannot comply with Commissar Sebelius and still be in any meaningful sense Catholic.

If you’re an atheist or one of America’s ever more lapsed Catholics, you’re probably shrugging: What’s the big deal? But the new Act of Supremacy doesn’t stop with religious institutions. As Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, put it: “If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell, I’d be covered by this mandate.” And so would any of his burrito boys who object to being forced to make “health care” arrangements at odds with their conscience.

None of this should come as a surprise. As Philip Klein pointed out in the American Spectator two years ago, the Obamacare bill contained 700 references to the secretary “shall,” another 200 to the secretary “may,” and 139 to the secretary “determines.” So the secretary may and shall determine pretty much anything she wants, as the Obamaphile rubes among the Catholic hierarchy are belatedly discovering. His Majesty King Barack “shall have full power and authority to visit, repress, redress, record, order, correct, restrain, and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts, and enormities whatsoever they be.” In my latest book, I cite my personal favorite among the epic sweep of Commissar Sebelius’s jurisdictional authority:

“The Secretary shall develop oral healthcare components that shall include tooth-level surveillance.”

Before Obama’s Act of Supremacy did the English language ever have need for such a phrase? “Tooth-level surveillance”: from the Declaration of Independence to dentured servitude in a mere quarter-millennium.

Henry VIII lacked the technological wherewithal to conduct tooth-level surveillance. In my friskier days, I dated a girl from an eminent English Catholic family whose ancestral home, like many of the period, had a priest’s hiding hole built into the wall behind an upstairs fireplace. These were a last desperate refuge for clerics who declined to subordinate their conscience to state authority. In my time, we liked to go in there and make out. Bit of a squeeze, but it all adds to the fun — as long as you don’t have to spend weeks, months, and years back there. In an age of tooth-level surveillance, tyranny is subtler, incremental but eminently enforceable: regulatory penalties, denial of licenses, frozen bank accounts. Will the Church muster the will to resist? Or (as Archbishop Dolan’s pitifully naïve remarks suggest) will this merely be one more faint bleat lost in what Matthew Arnold called the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of the Sea of Faith?

In England, those who dissented from the strictures of the state church came to be known as Nonconformists. That’s a good way of looking at it: The English Parliament passed various “Acts of Uniformity.” Why? Because they could. Obamacare, which governmentalizes one-sixth of the U.S. economy and micro-regulates both body and conscience, is the ultimate Act of Uniformity. Is there anyone who needs contraception who can’t get it? Taxpayers give half a billion dollars to Planned Parenthood, who shovel out IUDs like aspirin. Colleges hand out free condoms, and the Washington Post quotes middle-aged student “T Squalls, 30” approving his university’s decision to upgrade to the Trojan “super-size Magnum.”

But there’s still one or two Nonconformists out there, and they have to be forced into ideological compliance. “Maybe the Founders were wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion in the First Amendment,” Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post offered to Chris Matthews on MSNBC. At the National Press Club, young Catholics argued that the overwhelming majority of their coreligionists disregard the Church’s teachings on contraception, so let’s bring the vox Dei into alignment with the vox populi. Get with the program, get with the Act of Uniformity.

The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else: First, other pillars of civil society are crowded out of the public space; then, the individual gets crowded out, even in his most private, tooth-level space. President Obama, Commissar Sebelius, and many others believe in one-size-fits-all national government — uniformity, conformity, supremacy from Maine to Hawaii, for all but favored cronies. It is a doomed experiment — and on the morning after it will take a lot more than a morning-after pill to make it all go away.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2012 Mark Steyn


Astute Blogger:
Saturday, February 11, 2012

Another bluff from the Administration of Smoke and Mirrors!

According to "Obama Revamps Contraceptive Policy:
President Barack Obama announced Friday that the administration will not require religious-affiliated institutions to cover birth control for their employees.

Capping weeks of growing controversy, Obama said he was backing off a newly announced requirement for religious employers to provide free birth control coverage even if it runs counter to their religious beliefs.

Instead, workers at such institutions will be able to get free birth control coverage directly from health insurance companies....
When one gets treatment under the coverage provided by a health insurance policy, the employer never directly pays for that treatment. Employees don't go to the employer's management office for their healthcare needs but instead to the doctor or other provider.

For example, when I had knee surgery in 2000, my husband's employer-based health insurance policy, which also covered me, paid for that surgery according to the parameters of the health insurance contract. My husband's employer didn't even know that I had knee surgery, either before or after the fact.

I can't see that Obama's "compromise" has been any real compromise. If employers are providing health insurance plans to employees and all insurance plans provide free contraception, then those employers with religious objections are still paying for access to something to which they object. Furthermore, Obama has once again dictated to a private company what that company's policies must cover.

The Catch in Obama's "Accommodation"

Sarah Kliff, Washington Post

The White House has given reporters the rundown on the “accommodations” that President Obama will announce on the health reform law’s requirements for hospitals run by faith-based groups to cover the costs of employees’ contraceptives. Here’s how it works.

As it stands, church-run hospitals are required to cover contraceptives at no cost to employees. A slew of Catholic groups have opposed that requirement. So on Friday, the White House rolled out a new rule, where insurance companies, rather than faith-based agencies, will offer birth-control coverage directly to these employees and foot the bill.

Read Full Article ››

Democrats In Congress Go 'Gangsta' With Their Illegal Refusal To Pass A Budget

IBD Editorials:

Democrats Failure To Pass Budget Is Illegal
Posted 02/10/2012 06:33 PM ET

Leadership: Two top Democrats in Congress say the legislature doesn't really need to pass a budget. Excuse us, but passing a budget isn't optional; it's required by law. Is this the future of rule under the Democrats?

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is tired of passing budgets as the law demands. He thinks Congress can just keep spending money without any sort of budget.

"The fact is, you don't need a budget," he said last Tuesday. "We can adopt appropriations bills. We can adopt authorization policies without a budget. We already have an agreed-upon cap on spending."

Actually, "the fact is," Congress is required under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 to pass a spending plan and then have it scored by the Congressional Budget Office and signed by the president. That none of this happens suggests a level of disrespect for the law and the people found only among criminals.

As for the "agreed-upon cap on spending" mentioned by Hoyer: How's that model of fiscal restraint working out? Well, a new report out Thursday notes that Congress has already blown right through the spending "cap" put in place just last summer.

According to the Heritage Foundation, "last week's Congressional Budget Office report shows they (Congress) have exceeded their official Budget Control Act limits for the current year by a stunning $156 billion."

Stunning indeed. It's now been 1,020 days, or 2.8 years, since Congress last passed a budget. Rather than an official document, Congress has passed a series of continuing resolutions and spending bills, periodically raising the debt ceiling so it can spend even more.

Hoyer is not only in his dereliction. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: "We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year. It's done, we don't need to do it." In short, laws are for the little people.

As for President Obama, he's set to release his own budget proposal Monday. Is he annoyed that Congress has made his budget a dead-letter before it's even released?

"Well," said Jay Carney, the president's spokesman, "I don't have an opinion to express on how the Senate does its business with regards to this issue."

This is fiscal gangsterism, nothing else. It has nothing to do with the current fiscal crisis, or the slow economy. It has everything to do with Democrats' refusal to admit that their unparalleled spending binge and exploding debt will soon lead to a tidal wave of tax hikes on average Americans.

Rick Santorum was the rock star of the Conservative Political Action Conference

Judicial Watch
February 10, 2012

Riding the momentum of three primary victories—in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota—Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was the rock star of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. Friday.

Joined on stage by his wife and children, the former Pennsylvania senator earned various standing ovations from the pumped-up, capacity crowd at the event’s main ballroom. He presented himself as the true conservative in the race and, like the other two candidates who spoke at CPAC on Friday, trashed Obamacare, saying a mission to overturn it motivated him to run for president.

A few hours later Mitt Romney received his biggest applause about half way into his 25-minute speech, when he got around to trashing Obamacare. Otherwise, the former Massachusetts governor received a much colder reception from the crowd than Santorum or Newt Gingrich, who took the stage last. “I will eliminate Obamacare,” Romney said. It’s the only time the crowd cheered loudly and stood up in approval.

About an hour later Gingrich earned waves of applause with many of his witty one-liners, mostly trashing the Obama Administration. The boisterous crowd often broke out chanting “Newt, Newt, Newt” as he revealed his plans for fixing a broken government. “My first executive order is to abolish all White House czars,” he said over thunderous clapping. Gingrich also said that among his first goals as commander-in-chief is to repeal Obamacare.

Speaking of Obama’s hostile takeover of the nation’s healthcare system, Judicial Watch held an informative panel on the subject in the main ballroom following Romney’s speech. “Obamacare is an unprecedented power grab,” said JW President Tom Fitton before introducing the panel of experts that discussed how the measure is unconstitutional.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who bailed on CPAC at the last minute in 2011, will wrap the conference up with a Saturday afternoon speech. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Florida Governor Rick Scott will also speak at different times throughout the day. Among the more interesting seminars on the final day appears to be one that addresses state versus federal law involving illegal immigration.

Read more about CPAC

Girls, 13, fitted with contraceptive implants at school
Girls as young as 13 have been fitted with contraceptive implants at school without their parents knowing.

10:46AM GMT 07 Feb 2012

The procedure was carried out in Southampton, Hants, as part of a government initiative to drive down teenage pregnancies.

As many as nine secondary schools in the city are thought to have been involved.

But it has caused a backlash from parents who weren't aware that their daughters had been fitted with the 4cm device, which sits under the skin.

It is currently unknown exactly how many youngsters have taken part in the scheme.

Parents say they have been forced to inspect their child's arm for any sign of the implant.

Health chiefs have defended sexual health services going into schools, saying teenage pregnancies had dropped by 22 per cent as a result.

But campaigners from the Family Education Trust say the implant fuels the flames of promiscuity by giving girls licence to have underage sex.

Norman Wells, director of the trust, has urged health chiefs to look at ways of discouraging sexual activity amongst children in the first place.

He said: "Schemes like these inevitably lead to boys putting pressure on girls to have sex.

"They can now tell their girlfriends: 'You can get the school clinic to give you an implant, so you don't have to worry about getting pregnant.'

"They'll tell them they don't have to face the embarrassment of going to see their doctor, and it's all confidential so their mum doesn't need to know a thing.

"Parents send their children to school to receive a good education, not to be undermined by health workers who give their children contraceptives behind their backs.

"Health authorities should be looking for ways of discouraging young people from engaging in sexual activity in the first place.

"The last thing they should be doing is fuelling the flames of promiscuity and the sexual health crisis with schemes that treat parents, the law and basic moral principles with contempt."

One mother, whose 13-year-old daughter was given the implant, has called the scheme "morally wrong".

She claimed the school had gone ahead without consulting their family doctor.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said the pupils had to simply fill out a questionnaire about their medical history.

They then underwent a consultation with health experts before receiving the contraceptive but there was a lack of follow-up appointments.

She said: "I feel really angry about this.

"I agree that teaching teenagers about sexual health and contraception is very important but this is a step too far.

"To perform a minor surgical procedure on school grounds, without parents knowing is morally wrong.

"I'm told a long list of checks were made before she had this implant but how many 13-year-olds are aware of their full medical history?

"I cannot understand how this is allowed to happen.

"Teenagers have the right to protect themselves and she did the right thing by seeking advice but to not be checked after such a procedure is totally wrong.

"Luckily I now know but many other parents are unaware their daughter has one.

"I have spoken to a lot of parents at the school and they were horrified to find out this was happening.

"As parents we want to protect our children and I feel that has been taken away from me."

Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, has now been asked to look into the matter.

He said: "This contraceptive implant clearly requires a surgical procedure which ought to be undertaken in suitable and appropriate conditions.

"I am not sure whether the services that are being offered at the moment enable this it happen and that is what I am going to be looking into."

Health chiefs have defended the scheme, insisting letters were sent to all parents at participating schools in 2009 when the service was launched.

It was then left to individual schools to inform parents of all future students joining, either by letter or in the prospectus.

They also say reports are showing that teenage pregnancies have dropped by 22 per cent since sexual health services went in to schools.

In Southampton there were as many as 136 pregnancies among 13 to 15 year olds in 2001 and 2003, this fell to 106 in 2007-2009.

A spokeswoman for Solent NHS Trust and NHS Southampton said: "We are committed to ensuring local young people are able to access clinically appropriate sexual health support.

"This helps them to avoid unwanted pregnancies and protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.

"One element of this is commissioning a sexual health service for young people that is provided in nine secondary schools across the city.

"The service is provided by trained staff and includes offering information, advice and support to students.

"It also includes chlamydia screening, condom distribution, pregnancy testing, providing a range of contraception methods and referral to other services.

"Since the service was introduced there has been a reduction in the number of under 16-year-olds who have become pregnant.

"The service is provided by Solent NHS Trust which undertakes detailed medical assessments for all patients attending any sexual health clinic.

"In addition, all young people under the age of 16 who visit sexual health services receive a full risk assessment.

"This is over and above national guidance and meeting all legal requirements."

Remember That Bad Q4 GDP Report? Look At It Now

Business Insider:
Joe Weisenthal
Feb. 11, 2012, 7:19 AM

A couple weeks ago, the advance estimate of Q4 GDP came in at 2.8%, below the estimates of 3.0%, and it caused people to start getting worried about the economy sputtering out.

Well, that was just the advance estimate, and it looks like when the revisions come out the number will be higher.

From BNP Paribas:

The trade deficit in the US for December widened to USD48.8bn. Nevertheless, the Q4 trade balance was narrower than the advance GDP report suggested. Along with the construction data, US GDP for Q4 is now tracking at 3.0% q/q annualised, which is greater than the advance estimate of 2.8%.

NRA: Obama Plans To Outlaw Guns Second Term

Washington Times:

A top official with the National Rifle Association said Friday that President Obama will move to “destroy” gun rights and “erase” the Second Amendment if he is re-elected in November.

While delivering one of the liveliest and best-received speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said the president’s low-key approach to gun rights during his first term was “a “conspiracy to ensure re-election by lulling gun owners to sleep.”

“All that first term, lip service to gun owners is just part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment during his second term,” he said.

“We see the president’s strategy crystal clear: Get re-elected and, with no more elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms’ freedom, erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and excise it from the U.S. Constitution.”

Mr. LaPierre said the president’s two Supreme Court appointees — Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan— are “two of the most rabid anti-gun justices in history.” He also accused Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of being a foe of gun rights.

And with the possibility of two or more Supreme Court justice positions opening during the next four years, the NRA official warned that gun ownership would be in jeopardy if Mr. Obama stays in office.

“If we get one more like those three, the Second Amendment is finished,” he said. “It’ll be the end of our freedom forever.”

Mr. LaPierre, who said “there is no greater freedom than to own a firearm,” predicted that gun owners will rally en masse to defeat Mr. Obama in November.

“All of what we know is good and right about America, all of it could be lost if Barrack Obama is re-elected,” he said. “It’s all or nothing.”

Under ObamaCare, Anti-Discrimination Law Trumps Religious Liberty

Posted by Roger Pilon
February 10, 2012 @ 9:42 am

The three-week battle over ObamaCare’s contraceptive-abortifacient ruling isn’t letting up. Catholics for Choice has a full-page ad in this morning’s Washington Post, urging the president to stay firm. And it’s the lead story today on NPR’s Morning Edition, which in printed form devotes fully 2 of 16 paragraphs—the last 2—to the other side (not bad for NPR). The gist of the piece is, what’s the big deal? “The only truly novel part of the plan is the ‘no cost’ bit,” says NPR’s Julie Rovner.

“Now millions more women and families are going to have access to essential health care coverage at a cost that they can afford,” says Sarah Lipton-Lubet, policy counsel with the ACLU. “But as a legal matter, a constitutional matter, it’s completely unremarkable.”

Unfortunately, they’re right: our modern anti-discrimination law has been so extended that today it undermines religious liberty on many fronts. Two terms ago, for example, a bitterly divided Supreme Court ruled that the Christian Legal Society, a student group at the Hastings Law School, had to admit “all comers,” not only as members but as officers. (See Cato’s amicus brief defending the group’s right to discriminate in the name of religious liberty and freedom of association.)

Here, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in 2000 that failure to provide contraceptive coverage violates the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an amendment to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlaws, among other things, discrimination based on gender. And 26 states today have similar “contraceptive equity” laws on the books, Rovner reports, which state courts have upheld in suits brought by Catholic Charities and others. She quotes from the 2006 decision of New York State’s top court:

When a religious organization chooses to hire non-believers, it must, at least to some degree, be prepared to accept neutral regulations imposed to protect those employees’ legitimate interests in doing what their own beliefs permit.

Right there, of course, is the problem. As I wrote over the past two days, no one on the other side is asking employees to do anything contrary to their religious beliefs—or not do “what their own beliefs permit.” Employers are not “imposing their religious beliefs” on their employees, as some have argued. Those employees are still perfectly free to use contraceptives and abortifacients. They just shouldn’t expect their employers, through the group health insurance plans the employers offer, to provide and pay for such measures if doing so violates their religious beliefs. But that would be to discriminate against women, the courts have held, since only women get pregnant. Thus does our antidiscrimination law, as found in statutes, trump religious liberty, as once protected by the Constitution. “To each his own” falls by the wayside when “we’re all in this together,” as ObamaCare requires us to be.

CPAC Video: The crowd during Santorum’s speech

Conservative Commune:
By Da TechGuy – February 11, 2012

Hey plenty of places covered the speech but it is the reaction of the crowd that I considered important so I filmed it

I walk through and check out crowd size and reaction to Rick Santorum's speech at CPAC 2012
I think they were riveted, what do you think?

Price Tag Of The Entitlement Generation

February 11, 2012
Price Tag Of The Entitlement Generation

99 percenters for Obama!
Protesters at Friday’s “Occupy CPAC” event, organized by AFL-CIO and the Occupy DC movement, told The Daily Caller that they were paid “sixty bucks a head” to protest outside the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

His Wall Street cronies hold out for a lot more.

Progressive Obsolescence

Canadian Free Press:- Arnold Ahlert Friday, February 10, 2012

Few things make this conservative happier than when progressives drop their holier-than-thou facade and reveal their true intentions. A column written by NY Times columnist Adam Liptak entitled “‘We the People’ Loses Appeal With People Around the World” is a textbook example. Essentially Mr. Liptak, and no doubt many of his progressive soul-mates, are ready to kick the Constitution of the United States to the curb because they consider it an “obsolete” document. Yet in explaining why, Liptak inadvertently reveals something else along the way: progressivism is an utterly bankrupt ideology.

Why is the Constitution “obsolete?” “There are lots of possible reasons,” writes Liptak. “The United States Constitution is terse and old, and it guarantees relatively few rights. The commitment of some members of the Supreme Court to interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning in the 18th century may send the signal that it is of little current use to, say, a new African nation. And the Constitution’s waning influence may be part of a general decline in American power and prestige.”

Let me translate for you. Nothing has animated progressives more than the expansion of so-called “rights” — bestowed by government coercion, be it an activist judiciary, executive orders, or Cabinet heads and unelected Czars bypassing Congress. As for the general decline in American power and prestige, it is the Constitution which stands as the best expression of American exceptionalism — and it is precisely that exceptionalism that stands in the way of the progressive One Worlders who would like nothing more that to make national sovereignty an anachronism.

How do the One Worlders get from here to there? “Americans recognize rights not widely protected, including ones to a speedy and public trial, and are outliers in prohibiting government establishment of religion,” writes Liptak. “But the Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.”

“At least in so many words” demonstrates the ignorance of the author. If the Founding Fathers were forced to list every right and/or freedom to which people were entitled, their descendants would be still be writing away. Do I have a right to scratch my nose, or mow my lawn? The Ninth and Tenth Amendments solve the problem: IX. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people; and X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

No doubt these are the two Amendments that cause the most consternation among progressives because they reveal the essence of the Constitution itself: it is a document designed for limited government, one whose powers are constrained by the reality that anything not specifically spelled out as an item relegated to its authority is retained by the people themselves.

No doubt Liptak and his fellow travelers consider Constitutionalists out of step because America has yet to reach the tipping point where people are willing to trade the freedom to pursue happiness for entitlements guaranteed by government. Not a safety net for those incapable of taking care of themselves, but an expansion of government to the size where everyone is part of a national safety net. As for the three entitlements Liptak mentions, two of them, food and healthcare, are utter pipe dreams for the same reason. The “entitlement” to either food or healthcare presumes, absent one owning his own farm or obtaining a license to practice medicine, that one can force someone else to do one’s bidding. Really? You can force someone to grow his vegetables for your consumption, or demand that a doctor use his skills to perform surgery on you — because you’re entitled to it, no less? Good luck with that, comrade. And even better luck with forcing someone to become a farmer or a doctor in the first place when such is little more than a ticket to indentured servitude.

As for education being an entitlement, no one has done more than progressives to ensure that public school education remains a monopoly so suffocating as to make the word entitlement meaningless. In America one is certainly entitled to attend a public school — just not a good public school. Either your children go to the one specifically designated for where you live, no matter how horrendous it is, or you must opt out of the system entirely. The obvious alternative to such a restriction is a voucher system that puts money for schooling in the hands of the parents and turns them into free agents, capable of picking the school of their choice. That’s a genuine entitlement, which is why progressives, beholden to their union masters, fight such a choice, also known as educational freedom, tooth and nail.

Liptak goes on. “The rights guaranteed by the American Constitution are parsimonious by international standards, and they are frozen in amber. As Sanford Levinson wrote in 2006 in ‘Our Undemocratic Constitution,’ ‘the U.S. Constitution is the most difficult to amend of any constitution currently existing in the world today.’ (Yugoslavia used to hold that title, but Yugoslavia did not work out.)” The first sentence is a flat out lie. The Constitution is not “frozen in amber.” It’s been amended 27 times since its adoption. The second sentence is the kicker: progressives don’t like the amendment process, because getting two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures to agree on something is too “difficult.” No doubt it is — for an ideology that worships both moral relativism and instant gratification. The idea that the amendment process is both deliberative and requires the consent of an overwhelming majority of Americans who still believe in the concept of a democratic republic, as opposed to the fevered idiosyncrasies of mob rule, must grate quite a bit on our more “enlightened” brethren of the left.

So what grates even more? “[The Constitution] has its idiosyncrasies. Only 2 percent of the world’s constitutions protect, as the Second Amendment does, a right to bear arms. (Its brothers in arms are Guatemala and Mexico.)” I guess we’re all Mexicans and Guatemalans now, if a right to bear arms is seen by progressives as an “idiosyncrasy.” It’s exactly that idiosyncrasy that remains the primary bulwark against those who would kick the Constitution to the curb because, as Washington University professor David Law puts it, there are “newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace.”

Let me tell you what is really going on here. Up until now, serious political differences between the left and the right have been constrained by one thing and one thing only: the Constitution. That is not to say one cannot have a political debate without that particular document as a backdrop. But such debates are essentially meaningless without it, much like the game of baseball would be if no one could agree on the number of balls and strikes that were permitted. One could still play a game with balls and bats, but it wouldn’t be baseball if one batter got three strikes and another one got four or six.

What Mr. Liptak is revealing is that progressives can no longer compete in the arena of political ideas — unless the fundamental rules of the game are changed. In order for their arguments to prevail, the Constitution must be rendered obsolete and replaced with a “sexier” document, one in which amendments can enacted in a far less “cumbersome” manner than they are right now.

I’ve got news for Adam and his pals. The Constitution isn’t obsolete. Progressivism is obsolete.

Obama’s occupiers try to instigate fist fight at CPAC 2012 (Video)

Fire Andrea Mitchell:

Left wing loons and Obama’s occupiers threatened before CPAC even begun that they would try and start physical altercations. Here is the first, where Obama’s Occupy CPAC tried to start fist fights inside the Marriot. The left wing loons tried to block the large TV screens that were showing Mitt Romney’s “severely conservative” speech.

Obama Administration Launches New Program Aimed At Homeowners

Fox News:
By Doug McKelway
Published February 10, 2012

After several failed attempts to jolt the housing slump out of its paralysis, the Obama administration launched a new effort aimed at providing refinancing opportunities to a wide swath of American homeowners.

The program, which the president unveiled at a Falls Church, Virginia community center on Feb. 1, extends refinancing opportunities, not just to homeowners whose loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but to almost all homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments, even for properties that are underwater or worth less than their outstanding balance.

It could potentially benefit millions of homeowners.

David Berenbaum, of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, applauds the new plan. "We know working families across America are looking to refinance. They may live in condos or area of high foreclosure rates. Their credit scores may have been impaired or they have depressed values of their property -- but they are good risks -- hard working citizens, they would tap into this immediately," he said.

Joe and Liza Diamond of Centreville, Virginia, a Washington, D.C. bedroom community of cul-de-sacs and town homes 20 miles outside the city center are considering the option, should it become law.

The couple are professionals -- Joe is an IT technician, his wife is a scientist. They've been scrupulous about paying their mortgage on time and have a good credit score. "It would save us $200 maybe $300 a month," Joe said. It is money that the couple would hope to save and eventually apply to the purchase of a bigger, new home, or to other expenses the young couple presently foregoes.

In 2009, when the Diamonds bought their townhouse, they took advantage of another Obama administration effort to stimulate the housing market -- the first-time home buyers credit for $8,000. As much as the Diamonds welcomed it, critics say it was the homeowners version of the "Cash for Clunkers" program to stimulate the auto industry.

It resulted in a wave of initial purchases, they say, which quickly dropped off when the program ended with no net gain.

Similarly, critics say the new home refinancing stimulus plan also has deep flaws. It would be paid for by adding a fee to monthly mortgage payments, adding potentially several hundred dollars to some mortgage payments. It would also add a tax on large banks, which Republicans have long opposed.

"The banks are struggling. They're trying to figure out what Dodd-Frank means to them. They're being asked to come up with 5-10 billion dollars to subsidize this program -- and you have to wonder what's really going on," T. Nicholas Gill of the longtime Washington real estate firm of H.A. Gill and Sons said.

Adding to the banking industries words, that tax would be imposed just after five of the nation's largest banking institutions were hit with a $25 billion settlement announced Thursday after they were sued by many state attorney generals for foreclosure abuses.

But the Diamonds believe the new refinancing program could not only potentially save them money, but help preserve home values in their neighborhood. "I personally know there are several foreclosures in my neighborhood and those foreclosures affect the price of my house," Joe said.

But Gill sees the refinancing plan as another case of government manipulation of the free market. "We'd be much better off and the housing market would improve, if the government would unwind some of its efforts to get into the middle of the housing market. The market will heal itself and it will heal itself quicker if they withdraw from their interference," he said.

Because the president's refinancing plan involves the expenditure of more money, it requires the approval of Congress. But House Republicans are in no mood to act when they believe so many other administration efforts to revive the market have failed.

Sources tell Fox News that the refinancing plan has not taken shape in any bill as of yet, but may appear as a part of the appropriations process when it gets under way next week.

Friday News Dump: MF Corzine Actually Lost $1.6 Billion

JWF - Posted by Jammie on Feb 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Hey, what’s another $400 million when you’re a well-connected liberal Democrat?

The trustee supervising the liquidation of MF Global Holdings’ brokerage said Friday that more than $1.6 billion in customer cash remains out of his grasp, more than previously estimated.

The figure was revised upward from the previous $1.2-billion estimate largely because of the way the trustee, James Giddens, is defining various chunks of money left behind — or still missing — after the broker-dealer’s late-October collapse.

Included in Giddens’ estimate for the first time is approximately $700 million in client money seen residing in the UK that is likely to be the center of a legal fight with KPMG, the UK-based administrator overseeing the unwind of MF Global’s London-based division.

“We now know we’re in for a long haul with the UK administrator,” said a spokesman for James Giddens, the court-appointed trustee for MF Global’s brokerage in New York.

Giddens this week was cleared by US bankruptcy court to hire Slaughter & May, a London law firm, as the process of securing funds from MF Global’s foreign-based operations plays out.

Even better news for Corzine? The story doesn’t even mention his name! Now that’s some teflon. It’s no longer Name That Party, it’s Name That Perp. Don’t forget who it was Team Obama called for economic advice.


Friday, February 10, 2012



Rick Santorum Makes Townhall Appearance in Tulsa, Oklahoma

By Bob Russell on Feb 11, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum made an appearance at the Oral Roberts University Mabee Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma this afternoon after a campaign stop in Oklahoma City this morning. Santorum began his remarks with encouragement for a man who had an unknown medical emergency just as the event was to start. He also spoke of the importance of the prayers offered up by the staff of Oral Roberts University when the announcement was made that a medical emergency was in progress. The exact problem has not been announced but several doctors, EMS Technicians, and firefighters worked on the victim for abut 15 minutes before taking him to an ambulance.

In his address, he spoke of the situation in Syria and the consequences of a lack of action on the part of the administration. He also addressed Barack Obama’s disdain for life and faith in his attitudes towards religious institutions and abortion, and his disregard of the freedoms we hold dear. Santorum spoke of the uniqueness of America, the need to return to the tenets of the Constitution, the operator’s manual of our nation. He said this nation is the cornerstone of civilized society because of our Constitution. He spoke of our founding fathers taking their inspiration from the bible to craft a document that acknowledge God as giving us our freedoms, not government. He talked about and quoted the Declaration of Independence, which says; “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. He reiterated that our freedoms come from God not government. If government gives us our rights then government can take those rights back. Santorum spoke of how the French Revolution had tried a similar method but chose “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity”, a system which ended up with the guillotine.

Mr. Santorum spoke also of tolerance and the difference between conservative Christian tolerance and that of the leftists in our nation. He said Christian people accept every nationality, every religion, and every aspect of life. He told the assembled there that no other nation anywhere in the world is as tolerant of so many varied aspects of humanity as is America. He also pointed out that those on the left who claim to be tolerant have no tolerance for anyone who does not totally agree with their specific views of a subject.

Santorum covered the energy issue, and its relation to the global warming issue of environmentalists. He brought up the Keystone pipeline and the fact that there are hundreds of pipelines crossing this country, including in the area now made off limits by Obama. He told the assembled crowd that if the oil is not brought to America it would go to the west coast of Canada and be sent to China, costing America jobs and cost efficient fuel. He also spoke if his support of energy independence from the beginning, not just lately.

Santorum also spoke of the War on Terror and how it is not winnable because we can’t win a war against a tactic. He told the 5,000 or more in the audience that warring against terror would be like warring against the Nazi tactic of “blitzkrieg”. America wasn’t fighting against blitzkrieg; it was fighting against Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany. In the same sense, Santorum said, America today is fighting against radical Islamists. He made the distinction that we are not fighting against all Muslims, but those who desire to kill all those who do not accept Islam as their faith.

In a Townhall type segment, several students of Oral Roberts University were given the opportunity to ask questions of Santorum. The first question came from a student who wanted to know what the differences were between Santorum’s foreign policy and that of Ron Paul. Santorum replied that the difference was that he had a foreign policy and Ron Paul did not. He went on to say that Paul’s ideas of pulling all of our military back into the United States would leave a vacuum that would be filled by someone. He pointed out that the void is being filled in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and that has resulted in Americans being held hostage. Santorum said we need to have a presence in the world if there is any chance of many people to ever experience freedom. He pointed out that many people in Iran love America but that when they tried to stand up and gain their freedom from an oppressive regime that Obama stood by idly while they were crushed.

A student who identified himself as the president of the student Democrats asked Santorum about Obamacare. He wanted to know why Santorum was against the plan when the Catholic Church, of which Santorum is a member, accepted the plan. The student said that the Pope actually came out and said health care was a right so how was Santorum standing against it. Santorum replied that the opportunity to purchase health care is indeed a right but that government mandating that everyone buy insurance and also mandating what the policy would include or leave out was not freedom of choice, it was dictating a policy to be enforced by fining those who did not comply. He said that religious freedom must be gauged by a combination of conscience and practicality that had to be balanced for the sake of freedom.

The last questioner was a young lady who asked the candidate how he would deal with the attacks that would come from the Obama regime in the general election. Santorum stated that he had a message that would resonate with Americans and that any Republican candidate can expect the same attacks from Obama, that he would not face anything different that what is being put out now from Obama.

After the Townhall meeting Santorum stated in an interview on Tulsa’s KRMG radio that Tulsa has had the biggest and most enthusiastic crowd to attend an event so far in the campaign.

Part of Santorum’s address can be found at this link.

Dog Whistle Progressives Fabricate Racial Incident at CPAC

P.J. Salvatore - Big Journalism
Feb 10th 2012 at 11:22 pm

Earlier today Comedian Steven Crowder and Chris Loesch, a production artist, performed a satirical (by design) number called “Mr. America” at CPAC as a last-minute request to mark the launch of the same name video. The video (and the performance) features Crowder and Loesch dressed as George Washington and Jefferson Adams opining about the loss of American exceptionalism. “We were fighting off Red Coats while we were brewin’ our beer” raps Crowder. At one point in the song the duo say “knickers,” while referencing their old-school pants. A writer at Huffington Post, with an apparently inability to spell, convinced herself that they said a racial slur, based on the sole observation that the audio technician, who happens to be black, which blogger Amanda Terkel was quick to note, walked out of frame to fix the audio levels.

There was one particularly awkward moment in the performance, when they used the word “knickers,” which happens to sound a lot like a racially loaded word beginning with the letter “n.” The music then stopped and they joked, “What? Knickers? I can say knickers!” At that moment, coincidentally, a technician — who happened to be one of the only African-American individuals in the room and was working at the front at the time — stood up and walked away.

Terkel’s scope of journalistic integrity doesn’t include actually interviewing the subjects about whom she’s writing. Terkel did not stay or ask either Crowder or Loesch for comment, nor did she interview the audio technician. She didn’t post the original video, either, until asked, because it’s easier to blow the race whistle without context.

Big Journalism is working to identify and interview the audio technician.

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, the man who once accused Andrew Breitbart of using a sandwich board as a computer, cracks out this lie:

Yes, they’re yelling the N word, pretending they’re saying “knickers.”

Johnson wasn’t there, of course, nor has he watched the video. Not that it would matter; everything any conservative does is somehow racist. Somewhat relatedly, Johnson thinks our Marines are “bloodthirsty killers."

Progressives will do anything to play the race card — or attack conservatives, even employ lies which do more to show their own prejudices than condemn those they are attacking.

Ohio: Self-Proclaimed ‘Tea Party’ Candidate Doesn’t Know Who Andrew Breitbart Is?

February 10, 2012

-By Warner Todd Huston - Publius Forum:

Is it possible these days to be a new, active conservative running for Congress for the first time and not know who Andrew Breitbart is? Me, I’d reckon that an in the know, new candidate that claims to be conservative and a spokesman for Tea Partiers could not possibly be so isolated that he is unaware of conservative media-crusader Andrew Breitbart. But there is a candidate in Ohio who displayed right on his own campaign website just such a display of ignorance on Breitbartania, Breitbartism, or Breitbartness… whatever you want to call it, it just appears that this guy is stone-cold out of touch with the current conservative movement not to know thing one about Andrew Breitbart.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are plenty of 90-year-old, Brahmin conservatives who get flummoxed at “the Facebookings.” I am sure there still exist out-of-touch, elder statesmen of the movement that just haven’t caught up with those newfangled Internet tubes that our friend Al Gore created. I am sure that there are more than a handful of aged establishment types shaking their fist at the Fox News and those darn websheets positive that they’ll never catch on, just as they were sure rock-n-roll was a passing fad. But can you be an up and comer in the conservative movement and be wholly unaware of one of the newest icons of conservatives everywhere?

I am here at CPAC this week and just ran into Joe “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher who was telling me about his run for Congress in the 9th Congressional District. Joe made me aware of a hilarious little example of the abject cluelessness of his opponent. So let me introduce to you one Mr. Steve Kruas. Professional auctioneer actually licensed with the Ohio State Ag Department with well over 300 “successful” auctions under his belt. I guess you don’t need the Internets, talk radio and TV news shows to sell used farm equipment.

Anyhoo, the “strong fiscal conservative” is running in the 9th Congressional District GOP Primary against Wurzelbacher both of whom are vying to face Marcy Kaptur (D, OH) in the general election this year. Steve is a bit miffed that Joe isn’t giving him much notice at this point in the campaign.

Certainly, Kraus is happy to link himself with the Tea Party and even helped put on an event in Sandusky, Ohio where he set himself up as a spokesman for those venerable homegrown activists.

But it’s Kraus’ website where all the action is. There Kraus attacks Joe as a scurrilous sort of scoundrel. Why? Well, because Joe claims to be a limited government guy but he and all his friends work for BIG Government, darn it!

Joe the Plumber is a contributor for

His campaign manager Phil Christofanelli was going to school in Missouri and is a contributor at

Dustin Stockton of the Western Representation PAC (based in Nevada I think) solicits money for Joe the Plumber and again is a contributor for

Kinda funny all these connections to and supposedly they are fighting for limited government.

Maybe I ticked off Andrew Breitbart in a previous life (owner of

Horrible, right? How could this Wurzelbacher fellow, whoever that is, be claiming to be for small government when he works so darn hard for this BIG GOVERNMENT thingie?

But isn’t it obvious that Kraus doesn’t have any idea what he is talking about?

Yes, is a site owned by Andrew Breitbart (whoever that is, eh Stevie?). But is not a site that is working to promote big government ideas. It is a site that attacks big government ideas. The site’s subject is big government exposées.

So, one has to wonder how someone can claim to be a tea party conservative — a new movement, mind you, one informed daily by the Internet, talk radio, and TV cable news — and not know who Andrew Breitbart is and what his websites are and do? How can he not understand that Andrew Breitbart and all his minions are not advocates of bigger government? How can he be a new, young conservative and never have become aware of one of conservatism’s most active rock star-like personages?

Go ahead and claim that I am just coming to the defense of my boss and my coworkers here at, but come on. Think about it. Can you be a well-informed conservative these days and not be aware of the leaders in your own movement?

You tell me? But what do I know? Not only do I write for this Breitbart fellow’s but I also write for his site, too. So I must be enamored of fat journalists.

This Joe guy talking to some other guy in 2008, it’s just so hard to keep things straight these days.

FULL TEXT: Gov. Scott Walker's remarks to CPAC

Washington Examiner:
by Philip Klein Senior Editorial Writer

Here are Gov. Scott Walker's prepared remarks before the Conservative Political Action Conference:

Reince and I grew up not too far from each other in southern Wisconsin. In fact, Reince lived a few miles east of the small town I grew up in and Paul Ryan lived a few miles to the west. Without a doubt, each of the three of us was inspired to pursue public service at about the same time. And the prime inspiration for that call was a man named Ronald Reagan.

He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things. He had the courage of his convictions.

Last year, I had the honor to speak to a group of young people at the President’s Rancho del Cielo. It was remarkable to stand at the exact spot where President Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Act of 1981. His plan slashed the marginal tax rate and put money back into the hands of the American people. It was a true stimulus that brought about the longest peacetime economic boom in history.

Ronald Reagan believed in limited government, lower taxes and a strong national defense. He saw a problem and he acted swiftly to fix it. He will forever be known in history as one of our nation's greatest Presidents.

That bold leadership was an inspiration to me then… and it still is today.

When I ran for governor, I was part a job interview with the people of Wisconsin to see if they would hire me to be the CEO of their state government. I told them that our state faced an economic and a fiscal crisis. Then, I told them what I’d do to fix it.

Once elected, I took swift action. Last year at this time, a reporter asked me why we were moving so fast. I said it’s simple: if you were a CEO taking over a failing company, you wouldn’t wait a year or six months or even a month to take action; you’d start right away. That’s what we did.

On the very first day we took office, I called the state legislature into a special session on jobs. In the first month or so, we lowered the tax burden on job creators and entrepreneurs; we passed major regulatory reform to cut through the bureaucratic red tape; we passed some of the most aggressive tort reform in the country to stop frivolous law suits and we repealed the state tax on health savings accounts.

We showed that when we say “Wisconsin is open for business”, we mean it.

Last year, Wisconsin created thousands of new private sector jobs and our unemployment rate is down from a year ago. In fact, it is the lowest it’s been since 2008.

In contrast, when liberal Democrats controlled Wisconsin, our state lost 150,000 private sector jobs.

In 2010, just 10% of our employers thought Wisconsin was headed in the right direction. That same survey was taken a month ago and 94% of our employers now believe that Wisconsin is headed in the right direction. A majority of them are ready to grow in 2012.

And it used to be that we didn’t like to talk about the business rankings that compared states because we were usually in the bottom ten. This past year, Wisconsin moved up 17 spots. That's the fastest increase of any state in the country.

Contrast that with my neighbor to the south. There is no greater example of the failed policies we are running against than the mess we see in Illinois.

Last year, Governor Quinn proudly proclaimed that they were not going to do things like Wisconsin. Clearly, they did not. Their actions only made matters worse.

They raised taxes by 67% on individuals and 46% on businesses. That might explain why they dropped 40 spots during the past five years on the same poll that showed Wisconsin up 17 spots in one year alone.

Recently, Moody’s downgraded Illinois’ bond rating to the lowest in the nation. The Pew Center says Illinois’ pension system is the worst-funded in the country. And their unemployment rate is 9.8%.

In contrast, Wisconsin’s budget was called “credit positive” by Moody’s and our pension system is fully funded for state employees. Our unemployment rate is 7.1%.

Wisconsin, like most states, had a budget deficit last year. But we avoided the major mistakes made by other states.

Some states chose to balance their budgets with higher taxes. We did not because we knew it would be devastating to our economy and a further burden to our citizens.

Other states relied on massive public employee layoffs to balance the books. But I don’t want massive layoffs of anyone – public or private. We are planning on shrinking government through attrition and reform, not through random pink slips.

Some states have also chosen budget gimmicks to balance the budget. We did not do this in Wisconsin because that is part of what caused the budget deficit in the first place.

Instead, we chose long-term structural reforms that helped us balance both our state and our local governments budgets for years to come. We thought more about the next generation than we did about the next election.

And isn’t that what you elect us to do? We kept our promises.

One of those promises was to limit the size of government and to have the government serve the people - and not the other way around. I promised to empower the taxpayer - instead of a handful of big government union bosses.

Liberals find that hard to understand, which is why the President went after me on this issue last year.

So I responded to the President during my daily 5:00 pm press conference. My comments were simple, I said: “I’m sure that the President of the United States must know that most federal government employees do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits. I’m sure he must know that. And I’m sure that the President must know that the average federal government employee is paying about 28% of their health insurance premium (which is double what I am asking state and local employees to pay in Wisconsin.). Because I’m sure that the President of the United States is not getting his talking points from the big government union bosses in Washington.” That was the last we heard from the President on this matter - because the facts are on our side.

So let me be clear, Collective bargaining isn’t a right, it is an expensive entitlement. Once and for all, we are giving the taxpayers a voice in this debate. We put the power back in the hands of the people.

We are the ones looking out for the middle class. Who do think pays for the endless expansion of government? Its middle class taxpayers.

Our reforms protect middle class taxpayers.

After a half decade of property taxes going up $220 million on average each year, our reforms lead to the school property tax levy going down by $47 million.

The previous administration’s policies lead to a $3 billion tax increase, we passed a budget that lowered the overall tax burden in Wisconsin.

The other thing that drives the Madison liberals wild is that we made our government work better too. I believe that smaller government is better government. But I also believe that in the areas where government does play a legitimate role, we should demand that it is done better.

For years, there has been a false choice between raising taxes or cutting core services. Few, if any, adopt that mindset in the private sector. If you own a business, you certainly don’t look to double the price of your product or your customers will run to your competitor. Similarly, you don’t cut the quality of your product in half or you will see those same customers quickly lose faith in your product as well. Instead, people outside of government routinely find ways to make things work better.

We applied those same principles to putting government back on the side of the people.

We proved that our kids can have access to a great education AND we can protect taxpayers at the same time. Let me give you an example: for years, school districts in Wisconsin had to purchase their health insurance from just one provider, who was affiliated with the teachers union. Now, because of our reforms, school districts can bid out their health insurance and it’s saving these school districts tens of millions of dollars. That’s money that can go directly into the classroom.

Here is another example: two years ago, well before I was governor, a young woman in the Milwaukee Public Schools system was named one of the best new teachers of the year in Wisconsin. A week later, she got laid off.

Why would they lay off such a great new teacher? Well, the old collective bargaining system basically said the last teachers to be hired were the first to be fired. It didn’t matter that she was one of the best in the state.

Now things have changed for the better. Our reforms end seniority and tenure so we can hire and fire based on merit AND pay based on performance. That means we can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms - and we can keep them there.

My budget proposed major expansions in choice and charter schools because they help give every kid, no matter what zip code they come from, an opportunity for a great education.

With these and other reforms made to our school systems we have given our traditional public schools the same chances for success that we see in our good choice and charter schools.

Overall, we created a better business environment for jobs, we balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes and we made our government work better for the people we serve. In other words, we kept our promises.

So why am I facing a recall election?

Simple: the big government union bosses from Washington want their money. They don’t like the fact that I did something fundamentally pro-worker; something that’s truly about freedom. I gave every one of the nearly 300,000 hard-working public servants in my state the right to choose. Now, each of them gets to determine whether they want to be in a union or not; and the unions can no longer automatically deduct dues from their paycheck.

For a teacher in Milwaukee, that means as much as $1,400 that he or she can keep and spend on their retirement contribution or on health insurance or their kids’ college education.

The big government union bosses are worried that workers may actually choose to keep the money for themselvers. That’s why the big government union bosses spent tens of millions last summer to try and win the six state senate recall elections in Wisconsin. In fact, the total amount spent by all parties was over $40 million.

And it’s why many observers believe that $70 million or more may be spent on the race for governor this year. The largest amount of that will come from out-of-state, big government unions. On top of that, liberal groups like and Organizing for America are already descending like vultures on Wisconsin.

They understand that this recall election is about much more than who is the Governor of Wisconsin. In fact, it is even bigger than what it means for the elections in November of 2012.

This election is ultimately about courage. When we prevail, it will send a powerful message – not only in Madison but in Springfield and St. Paul; Columbus and Austin; and in state houses all across America. Most of all, it will send a message in the halls of Congress.

When we win, it will tell every politician in America that if you are bold, if you do the right thing, if you tackle the tough issues, there will be people standing there right with you.

And Lord help us if we lose. If we lose, I believe that it will set acts of courage in politics back at least a decade if not a generation. This is why we must not lose.

To win, however, I need your help.

The most important tool we have is the truth. Help us share our positive message to anyone you know in Wisconsin and encourage others to do the same. The choice in Wisconsin could not be clearer: do we go back to the days of double-digit tax increases, billion dollar budget deficits and record job lose or do we move Wisconsin forward towards greater prosperity? I say we move forward.

Next, you can help us with manpower. Our opposition will not be a single candidate on the ballot but the tens of millions of dollars spent by the national big government unions and the thousands of bodies that they will bring into our state. We need to counter it with good, old-fashioned grass-roots. We need people to hand out fliers and make calls. Join our cause at

And to counter the literally tens of millions of dollars being poured into our state by the national big government union bosses, we need your financial help. Thousands of people have already visited us online at to give or by texting "Scott" to 64274.

Our last report showed that 76% of our donations are from people who gave us $50 or less. Even one dollar can make a difference: it may be one more call placed or one more flyer printed or event one more second of air time. Every bit counts - which is why we need your help.

This recall isn't about me and it isn't just about who will be the Governor of Wisconsin. It is about all of us and whether or not we can make bold decisions for the future.

You see, I made tough decisions because I want our kids and our grandkids to inherit a Wisconsin – and an America – even greater than the one we did. That’s what this is all about.

Last September, Tonette and I were in Philadelphia. We got up early before some meetings and went in to see Constitution Hall. You see, I grew up in a small town and I love history so I wanted to see the place where our founders worked. I always thought of these leaders as bigger than life, almost supernatural.

Standing in that room, which isn’t much bigger than this stage, I looked up at the chair where Washington sat with the rising sun on it and thought “wow, these were ordinary people who did something extraordinary.” These people weren’t just risking their political futures; they were risking their lives for the freedoms we hold dear today.

I believe it was Ben Franklin who said, “we must all hang together or we will surely all hang separately.” Think about it. They really had courage.

These leaders and others like them – people like Washington and Lincoln and yes, Reagan - these leaders proved something amazing about our country. For more than two centuries, what has made America great is that in moments of crisis (be it fiscal or economic or military or even spiritual), we’ve had men and women of courage who thought more about their children and grandchildren’s future than they did about their own political futures.

Let this be one of those moments. Let this be our call to action. Let this go down in history as the time when you helped move Wisconsin – and ultimately America - forward.

A Message From Lead Paint Chip Consumer Al Sharpton:

'You Cannot Have Rights Voted On' - It's 'Tyranny By The Majority'
By Noel Sheppard | February 11, 2012 | 00:28

Al Sharpton on Friday said something that every American on both sides of the aisle should totally fear.

"You cannot have rights voted on," the MSNBC anchor actually said on HBO's Real Time. "You have tyranny by the majority" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

REIHAN SALAM, NATIONAL REVIEW: If one state, if you have the voters of that state actually affirmatively vote for same sex marriage, it would actually change the discussion pretty dramatically. When you look at what happened in the early seventies with Roe v. Wade, there were a lot of folks who favored liberalizing abortion laws and then there was significant numbers of people who didn’t. Now, constitutionalizing, nationalizing that settlement changed the dynamic. And so, something that might have happened state by state in Democratic fashion didn't happen that way and that engendered a huge amount of resentment.

If you have a situation where state by state people’s minds are changing. If you look at people under the age of 40, they favor same sex marriage far, far more than people over that age. If you have it happen in a way where people feel, “You know, we heard the argument,” and people embrace this, fair enough, that argument is lost and, you know, you're not going to be able to reverse that by referendum.

I think that Mo is absolutely right that that is the more stable way, and I think that folks who are advocating same sex marriage should recognize that, because when you have it happen in the courts, it doesn't have the legitimacy that it would if it happened through a popular vote.

As should be obvious, the discussion was dealing with the 9th Circuit Court in California striking down that state's Proposition 8 which made same sex marriages illegal.

National Review's Salam observed that the people's voice in such a controversial issue is essential in actually resolving the matter long term. Here we are almost 40 years after nine justices on the Supreme Court decided the fate of abortion in this country and we're still arguing about it.

As such, maybe citizens' views in such a contentious matter should be required to truly settle it.

Not surprisingly, Sharpton didn't see it that way:

AL SHARPTON: No, but you have tyranny by the majority. You cannot have rights voted on. If you, if you do not, the role of government is to protect people. And if, if you had civil rights voted on, I'd be sitting in the back of the bus and with a bad eye driver you'd be sitting next to me. So don't think about voting for rights.

First off, that was a despicably cheap shot at the dark-skinned Salam who's the son of Bangladeshi immigrants. Sadly, liberals have no problem making racially-insensitive comments aimed at conservatives.

But the rest of Sharpton's point was equally preposterous. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved by both chambers of Congress with wide majorities. It passed 289 to 126 in the House and 73 to 27 in the Senate.

Although this didn't come to a popular vote across the nation, at least 535 members of Congress representing the wishes of the electorate decided on this groundbreaking piece of legislation.

That's a far cry from what happened Tuesday when three judges - not appointed by the people of California but instead hand-picked by governors - overruled the wishes of millions of citizens they're supposed to serve.

If this is what Sharpton thinks is justice, and he really believes "You cannot have rights voted on," it's a total disgrace that any news outlet - even the farce that is MSNBC - gives him a national platform to speak such nonsense.

Obamacare architect: Expect steep increase in health care premiums

By Myles Miller - The Daily Caller
Published: 12:56 AM 02/11/2012

Medical insurance premiums in the United States are on the rise, the chief architect of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul has told The Daily Caller.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber, who also devised former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s statewide health care reforms, is backtracking on an analysis he provided the White House in support of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, informing officials in three states that the price of insurance premiums will dramatically increase under the reforms.

In an email to The Daily Caller, Gruber framed this new reality in terms of the same human self-interest that some conservatives had warned in 2010 would ultimately rule the marketplace.

“The market was so discriminatory,” Gruber told TheDC, “that only the healthy bought non-group insurance and the sick just stayed [uninsured].”

“It is true that even after tax credits some individuals are ‘losers,’” he conceded, “in that they pay more than before [Obama's] reform.”

Gruber, whom the Obama administration hired to provide an independent analysis of reforms, was widely criticized for failing to disclose the conflict of interest created by $392,600 in no-bid contracts the Department of Health and Human Services awarded him while he was advising the president’s policy advisers.

Gruber also received $566,310 during 2008 and 2009 from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a study on the Medicare Part D plan. (RELATED: Full coverage of the health reform law)

In 2011, officials in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado ordered reports from Gruber which offer a drastically different portrait in 2012 from the one Obama painted just 17 months ago.

“As a consequence of the Affordable Care Act,” the president said in September 2010, ”premiums are going to be lower than they would be otherwise; health care costs overall are going to be lower than they would be otherwise.”

Gruber’s new reports are in direct contrast Obama’s words — and with claims Gruber himself made in 2009. Then, the economics professor said that based on figures provided by the independent Congressional Budget Office, “[health care] reform will significantly reduce, not increase, non-group premiums.”

During his presentation to Wisconsin officials in August 2011, Gruber revealed that while about 57 percent of those who get their insurance through the individual market will benefit in one way or another from the law’s subsides, an even larger majority of the individual market will end up paying drastically more overall.

“After the application of tax subsidies, 59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent,” Gruber reported.

The reason for this is that an estimated 40 percent of Wisconsin residents who are covered by individual market insurance don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage requirements. Under the Affordable Care Act, they will be required to purchase more expensive plans.

Asked for his own explanation for the expected health-insurance rate hikes, Gruber told TheDC that his reports “reflect the high cost of folding state high risk pools into the [federal government's] exchange — without using the money the state was already spending to subsidize those high risk pools.”

Gruber’s Wisconsin presentation, previously available on the website of Wisconsin’s Office of Free Market Health Care, disappeared from the state government’s Web servers shortly after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker issued a Jan. 18 executive order scrapping the agency’s mission.

NEXT: Minnesotans to see premium increases, even after subsidies

Minnesotans have already seen a 15 percent average rate increase because their state government is spending approximately $100 million to subsidize those high-risk pools. Gruber said they, too, will see a premium increase — even after subsidies are factored in.

In his presentation there in November, he estimated 32 percent of Minnesotans will face premiums hike similar to those of their neighbors in the Badger State.

In his Colorado analysis, which he delivered last month, Gruber wrote that while some may benefit from new tax credits folded into Obama’s health care overhaul, “13 percent of people will still face a premium increase even after the application of tax subsidies, and seven percent will see an increase of more than ten percent.”

Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, told TheDC that the health care law’s mandates will ultimately result in far greater costs across the board.

“If [instead] we change the tax code and allow a competitive market to build, and put doctors and patients in power, then that would really solve a lot of the problem,” Pipes said.

Pipes said she believes applying the Affordable Care Act, as written, will result in care “being rationed and more expensive.”

(RELATED VIDEO: Health care expert Sally Pipes on what could replace Obamacare)
South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Health Care, told TheDC that consumers are beginning to understand that the president’s 2010 promises are out of sync with reality.

“What a shock,” Gowdy said, feigning surprise. “Obamacare doesn’t lower costs, doesn’t increase coverage, and has turned into a wildly unpopular, labyrinthine government overreach.”

“’If you like your health insurance, you can keep it’ has morphed into ‘I, President Barack Obama, will decide what you need and make others pay for it.’”

White House deputy press secretary Jamie Smith was unable to immediately respond to a request for comment.