Saturday, March 10, 2012

Colleges find ways to foil pro-gun rulings

Policies make carrying tough

By Valerie Richardson
-The Washington Times
Thursday, March 8, 2012

DENVER — Courts are ruling in favor of allowing those with concealed-carry permits to bring their handguns on campus, but universities are figuring out ways to keep the guns out.

Gun rights advocates recently notched major legal victories in Colorado and Oregon, with courts in both states agreeing that university policies banning firearms on campus must defer to state laws allowing permit holders to carry concealed handguns.

In response, however, university officials in Oregon and Virginia have enacted policies allowing concealed carry on campus but not in buildings, including classrooms, dormitories, event centers and dining halls.

The result is that permit holders may do little more than walk across campus with their handguns, an outcome that circumvents the intent of the court decisions, critics say.

Kurt Mueller, chief liaison for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, said the organization is considering whether to challenge the university policies in court.

“We have enormous practical concerns about this,” Mr. Mueller said. “If you’re a student, as a practical matter, what this means is you have to leave your handgun in your car. And a lot of states say you can’t leave a handgun in your car, which means you have to leave it at home.”

The Oregon Board of Higher Education lost the battle to keep its firearms ban in September, when the state Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s Concealed Carry Act took precedence over the university’s ban on firearms.

At the same time, the court ruled that the board has broad control over its property. At its March 2 meeting, the board voted to enact an Internal Policy on Firearms, which prohibits handguns in university buildings as well as at sports and entertainment events.

What’s more, the policy prevents anyone who enters into a business relationship with the state universities from carrying guns on campus property. That would include students, employees, contractors and visitors who buy tickets to university-sponsored events.

That leaves almost nobody eligible, except visitors with no financial connection to the system’s seven state universities. The board agreed to make exceptions for campus police, students in military programs such as the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, residents in non-campus housing, and those in hunting or shooting clubs.

“This new policy recognizes the need to maintain this conducive environment for students and the campus community, while recognizing legal and other requirements at the same time,” the board said in a statement.

While the strategy appears to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the concealed-carry rulings, at least one court has upheld the approach.

In January, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld George Mason University’s ban on handguns in buildings and events. However, a Virginia state law, not a university policy, prohibits the concealed carrying on campus.

Under Wisconsin’s 2011 law allowing concealed carry, universities may prohibit permit holders from bringing firearms into campus buildings or events.

The next front in the battle over concealed carry on campus is Colorado, where the state Supreme Court ruled Monday that the University of Colorado’s policy banning guns on its four campuses violated state law.

The university’s Board of Regents is expected to discuss the ruling at its meeting next week.

“This is one of the discussions that I think they would have,” university spokesman Ken McConnellogue said. “We have a ruling, now what does this mean for our campuses?”

Obama hybrid car breaks down in Consumer Reports test

Bad Karma: Our Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid breaks down
Thu, Mar 8, 2012

Our Fisker Karma cost us $107,850. It is super sleek, high-tech—and now it’s broken.

We have owned our car for just a few days; it has less than 200 miles on its odometer. While doing speedometer calibration runs on our test track (a procedure we do for every test car before putting it in service by driving the car at a constant 65 mph between two measured points), the dashboard flashed a message and sounded a “bing“ showing a major fault. Our technician got the car off the track and put it into Park to go through the owner’s manual to interpret the warning. At that point, the transmission went into Neutral and wouldn’t engage any gear through its electronic shifter except Park and Neutral.

We let the car sit for about an hour and restarted it. We could now engage Drive and the same error message disappeared. After moving it only a few feet the error message reappeared and when we tried to engage Reverse the transmission went straight to Park and again no motion gear could be engaged. After calling the dealer, which is about 100 miles away, they promptly sent a flatbed tow truck to haul away the disabled Fisker.

We buy about 80 cars a year and this is the first time in memory that we have had a car that is undriveable before it has finished our check-in process.

Building an all-new car company from the ground up is a monumental challenge, especially for a car with innovative drivetrain technology like the Karma. Designing, engineering, certification, manufacturing, and distributing an all-new car pose giant hurtles for a start-up company.

We encountered other problems with a Karma press car that visited the track for a few hours, and we have heard of problems at press events. In addition, we see that some owners are experiencing a variety of issues, as evidenced by forums such as

Couple sues over 'wrongful birth' of Down syndrome child

Portland-area couple sues Legacy Health for $3 million for 'wrongful birth' after child born with Down syndrome
Published: Thursday, March 08, 2012, 9:06 PM
Updated: Friday, March 09, 2012, 12:31 PM
By Aimee Green, The Oregonian

On the June 2007 day their daughter was born, Ariel and Deborah Levy were overcome with excitement, then shock when hospital staff told them their daughter looked like she had Down syndrome.

A doctor asked Deborah Levy if she'd had a prenatal test -- a chorionic villus sampling, or CVS for short -- and Levy said yes, the results showed they'd have a normal, healthy child.

Within days of her birth, however, a blood test confirmed that the little girl, Kalanit, had Down syndrome.

The Levys filed suit against Legacy Health, claiming that Deborah Levy would have aborted her pregnancy had she known her daughter had the chromosomal abnormality. The lawsuit blames Legacy's Center for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in North Portland and a Legacy lab for allegedly botching the test. The Levys -- who dearly love their daughter, now 4 -- want Legacy to pay for the extra life-time costs of caring for her. That is estimated at about $3 million.

This afternoon, after nine days of trial in a downtown Portland courtroom, 12 jurors began deliberating in a case that gets to the core of how we view and value a life, and asks who should have to pay when that life is less than optimal. Experts say such "wrongful birth" cases are extraordinarily rare nationwide, for one, because prenatal tests such as the CVS are as much as 99.7 percent accurate and when they fail, few parents are willing to endure the scrutiny of a legal challenge. But wrongful birth lawsuits may be becoming more common as technology advances, more women in their late 30s or 40s give birth and millions of expectant mothers come to rely on genetic screenings.

Internet commenters have assailed the couple as heartless. The Levys' attorney, David K. Miller, said the couple has received death threats.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Karin Immergut banned courtroom photos of the couple for safety reasons.

Several studies show that more than 89 percent of women who learn they will give birth to a child with Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies.

Miller, the Levy's attorney, contends that Dr. Thomas Jenkins removed maternal tissue -- not fetal tissue --from Deborah Levy's womb. The suit faults Jenkins and lab workers for not recognizing that the tissue was from the mother. The suit also faults Legacy for reassuring her that her baby didn't have an extra 21st chromosome even though two ultrasounds allegedly raised red flags by showing traits of Down syndrome.

Legacy's attorney said Jenkins and other staff followed proper procedures and weren't at fault. Attorney Robert Keating said the CVS found only normal cells because Kalanit has mosiac Down syndrome -- meaning a significant number of her cells don't contain an extra 21st chromosome. Keating pointed to an analysis of Kalanit's cells -- taken after birth -- that showed nearly 31 percent are normal.

But the Levys' attorney told jurors they should discredit that analysis because it had been done by a Legacy lab looking to defend its legal position. Miller argued that 100 percent of the cells analyzed in the CVS were normal because they were Deborah Levy's cells. Meanwhile, other samples of tissue taken from Kalanit after she was born show an insignificant number of normal cells, less than one or two percent.

The attorneys called upon a series of medical experts with each side criticizing the others' experts as ill-informed.

Ariel Levy, 39, is a civil engineer. Deborah Levy, also 39, is a dental hygienist.

The two met in preschool, went to Wilson High School, and later, to a Boston-area college. They started dating in 1996, and in 2000, they married. A few years later, Deborah Levy gave birth to a boy, now a third grader. He was followed by another boy, now a kindergartner. The Levys considered their family complete and were surprised in November 2006 to learn that Deborah Levy was pregnant again.

Because she was 34, she and her husband were concerned about the possibility of genetic disorders. Experts testified that about 1 in 250 women that age give birth to a child with Down syndrome. A first-trimester screening showed Deborah Levy's chances were estimated to be higher than average, at about 1 in 130.

So when Deborah Levy was 13 weeks pregnant, she underwent the CVS.

Ariel Levy told jurors he remembers feeling happy when he and his wife were told the results were normal.

"We were told that we had nothing to worry about," he said.

Deborah Levy testified that after their daughter was born at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Northwest Portland, a doctor told her not to worry about the way the child looked because the results of the CVS were normal. One week after her daughter's birth, she said she arrived at the pediatrician's office eager to "show off my daughter." That's when she learned the blood tests showed her daughter had Down syndrome.

"It was devastating," Deborah Levy recalled.

The Levys said their sons are healthy, strong and bright. The oldest is a competitive chess player and has placed in the 99th percentile on standardized tests.

Their experience with their daughter has been much different. Her parents say they worry about future medical problems, her ability to interact with others and whether she will receive the extra therapy and attention she will need in school. Experts have told the Levys that she likely won't be able to live on her own, or support herself. The Levys worry about who will care for their daughter once they are gone.

Kalanit speaks in two word sentences, and few other than her mother and father understand. Like many of those with Down syndrome, she doesn't like brushing her teeth.

"I literally have to pin her down with my legs while she's screaming," Deborah Levy said.

Despite all of this, the Levys say they have the same expectations for their daughter as they do for their sons: They want to help her reach her full potential. Deborah Levy said Karen Gaffney has been a role model. Gaffney -- a Portland area woman who has Down syndrome -- graduated from high school with a regular diploma, earned a Portland Community College degree and travels the nation speaking about overcoming limitations.

One expert estimated that a child with Kalanit's condition is likely to live into her mid-50s. The additional lifetime costs of caring for her --above and beyond that of a child without Down syndrome -- is nearly $3 million.

The jury continues deliberating Friday.

The Secret War no one should warn you about

Texas alert angers Mexican ambassador

By James Morrison
The Washington Times
Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Mexican ambassador this week accused Texas of playing politics by urging college students to avoid Mexico on spring break because of a dramatic rise in violence.

“Mexico strongly disagrees with the assessment made by Texas officials regarding travel to Mexico,” Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said in a statement posted on the Mexican Embassy’s website.

He added that Texas authorities “should be able to more objectively evaluate facts, providing nuance and context, and, in doing so, dispel the notion that their motivation is a clear-cut political agenda.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety this week issued a travel warning to students because of “continued violence throughout” Mexico.

Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw noted that his department has a responsibility to alert Texas residents to the dangers of visiting Mexico, where drug wars and other crimes claimed more than 13,000 lives last year.

The number of Americans killed increased to 120 last year from 35 in 2010, he said.

Mexican criminals also are targeting tourists, even in resorts that were once considered safe. Last month, thieves robbed 22 passengers from a Carnival cruise ship who were on a bus returning from a nature hike outside the port city of Puerto Vallarta.

Rape and other sexual assault against women “continue to be serious problems” in resort areas, Mr. McCraw said. He noted that some nightclubs and bars in tourist cities such as Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas and Cancun are now “havens for drug dealers and petty criminals.”

American tourists account for about 60 percent of the foreigners who visit Mexico each year. Tourism represents the third-largest source of income for Mexico, behind oil and remittances from Mexicans living out of the country.

“Many crimes against Americans in Mexico go unpunished,” Mr. McCraw said. “Based on the unpredictable nature of cartel violence and other criminal elements, we are urging individuals to avoid travel to Mexico at this time.”


Pakistani Ambassador Sherry Rehman has no illusions about the violence and discriminations women face in her country, especially in rural villages where men treat wives and daughters like property.

“I know the ground realities,” Ms. Rehman told visitors this week to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, where they marked International Women’s Day.

The ambassador, a former two-term member of the Pakistani legislature, said her country has passed many laws to combat wife-beating, honor-killing and other violence against women.

“Our own human rights commission is vigilant in showing us the … victims of gender brutality, which is the antithesis of what our politics and our religion stand for,” she said.

“Acid attacks, honor killings, forced marriages, rape and domestic violence - this is not acceptable to any government in Pakistan.”

Ms. Rehman said the government of President Asif Ali Zardari is dedicated to women’s rights.

Mr. Zardari is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister who was assassinated in 2007. Mr. Zardari this week signed a bill to allow the National Commission on the Status of Women to operate as an independent voice to advocate for women’s rights.

“The Pakistan story you hear in Washington is often only about the country that fights the front lines of terror and extremism,” Ms. Rehman said.

“I want to take the opportunity to say that we are not just about bombs and bullets. Pakistan is also about women who lead the way forward.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in celebration of International Womens Day, we must demand the fundamental right to be judged by who we are and what we have accomplished, not defined by our fathers and husbands, but defined by ourselves.”

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email The column is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

'1984' vs. 'Brave New World'

In October of 1949, a few months after the release of George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, he received a fascinating letter from fellow author Aldous Huxley — a man who, 17 years previous, had seen his own nightmarish vision of society published, in the form of Brave New World. What begins as a letter of praise soon becomes a brief comparison of the two novels, and an explanation as to why Huxley believes his own, earlier work to be a more realistic prediction.


Trivia: In 1917, long before he wrote this letter, Aldous Huxley briefly taught Orwell French at Eton.

(Source: Letters of Aldous Huxley; Image: George Orwell (via) & Aldous Huxley (via).)

Wrightwood. Cal.
21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals — the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World. I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred and fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.

Partly because of the prevailing materialism and partly because of prevailing respectability, nineteenth-century philosophers and men of science were not willing to investigate the odder facts of psychology for practical men, such as politicians, soldiers and policemen, to apply in the field of government. Thanks to the voluntary ignorance of our fathers, the advent of the ultimate revolution was delayed for five or six generations. Another lucky accident was Freud's inability to hypnotize successfully and his consequent disparagement of hypnotism. This delayed the general application of hypnotism to psychiatry for at least forty years. But now psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been made easy and indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.

Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency. Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large scale biological and atomic war — in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds.

Thank you once again for the book.

Yours sincerely,

Aldous Huxley


President Obama Personally Lobbied to Kill Keystone Pipeline Amendment

by Kevin L. Martin

President Obama's allies vote down the Keystone amendment.

On Thursday, President Obama’s Senate Allies killed off amendment added to the highway bill that would have fast tracked the Keystone XL Pipeline.

President Obama was reported have made phone calls to several Senate Democrats to ensure that the amendment did not receive the 60 votes need to advance. The final vote was 56-42, with 11 Democrats crossing party lines (it should be noted that Senators Kirk (R-Ill.) and Thune (R-SD) were absent.

The amendment was sponsored by Senator Hoeven states that President Obama would have no role in such cross border permitting decisions since the pipeline starts in Canada. Senator Hoeven noted after the final vote that the measure received 11 crossover votes and would have received 58 votes, if all Republicans had been present to vote.

Speaker Boehner reacts to the Senate voting down the Keystone Amendment

President Obama has accused Republicans of playing politics with the pipeline, which is opposed by environmentalists and the president has called for more studies before rendering any final decisions.

The 11 Democrat Senators crossing party lines were Baucus, Begich, Casey, Conrad, Hagan, Landrieu, Manchin, McCaskill, Pryor, Tester and Webb.

The vote comes the same day that CBS release a poll showing that more than 3 out of 4 Super Tuesday voters say that raising gas prices were a very important factor in who and how they voted. Just the day before President Obama dismissed, “oil as the fuel of the past,” as he continues to push alternative fuel as a way to bring down rising gas prices.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hit back later Wednesday after in stating, “While the President has called for the end subsidies to oil companies, he is also directing the government to help, so called green companies, some which have political ties to the administration.”

Several solar panel companies that donated to the President’s 2008 Campaign, then received government approved loans that were passed on as bonus to executives before those companies went bankrupt.

Experts have predicted that tensions in the Middle East coupled with rising demand in India, China and developing nations could push gas price as high as $4.25 nationally before the Easter Holidays and over $5 before the Memorial Day Holiday. Other experts are predicting that gas prices could go as high as $8-$10 dollars in some regions, if one or more major hurricanes disrupt oil and refinery production in the Gulf regions over the summer.

Barack Obama Accused By Two Men of Inappropriate Gay Behavior at Havard


During Barack Obama’s tenure as the president of the Harvard Law Review in the late 1980s, at least two male student editors complained to colleagues and senior university officials about inappropriate behavior by Obama, ultimately leaving their positions at the journal, multiple sources confirm to THE KANSAS CITIAN.

The men complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Obama that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the university that gave them financial payouts to leave the journal. The agreements also included language that bars the men from talking about their departures.

In a series of comments over the past 10 days, Obama and his administration repeatedly declined to respond directly about whether he ever faced allegations of sexual harassment at the journal. They have also declined to address questions about specific reporting confirming that there were financial settlements in two cases in which men leveled complaints.

THE KANSAS CITIAN has confirmed the identities of the two male journal editors who complained about Obama but, for privacy concerns, is not publishing their names.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told THE KANSAS CITIAN the president indicated to White House staff that he was “vaguely familiar” with the charges and that the university’s general counsel had resolved the matter.

Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review from late-1988 to mid-1989. THE KANSAS CITIAN learned of the allegations against him, and over the course of several weeks, has put together accounts of what happened by talking to a lengthy roster of former university officials, current and past students and others familiar with the workings of the journal at the time Obama was there.

In one case, THE KANSAS CITIAN has seen documentation describing the allegations and showing that the university formally resolved the matter. Both men received separation packages that were in the five-figure range.

On the details of Obama’s allegedly inappropriate behavior with the two men, THE KANSAS CITIAN has a half-dozen sources shedding light on different aspects of the complaints.

The sources — including the recollections of close associates and other documentation — describe episodes that left the men upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned journal events and at the journal’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made men who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.

UPDATE: Third man comes forward to AP.

The AP:

A third former editor says he considered filing a workplace complaint over what he considered aggressive and unwanted behavior by Barack Obama when he worked under the president in the 1991 at the University of Chicago. He says the behavior included a private invitation to his apartment.

He worked for the University of Chicago when he was a Visiting Law and Government Fellow. He told The Associated Press that Obama made sexually suggestive remarks or gestures about the same time that the two editors of the Harvard Law Review had settled separate harassment complaints against him. The employee described situations in which he said Obama told him he had confided to colleagues how attractive he was and invited him to his apartment outside work. He spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he feared retaliation. The White House declined to comment.

SOURCE: The Obama Hustle

SC Lt. Gov Ard resigns, is indicted, gets probation

Lieutenant governor indicted in corruption case, resigns, is sentenced – all in one day


The state’s biggest ethics offender – racking up 106 violations in one political campaign – will not serve time behind bars.

Lt. Gov Ken Ard will remain free under a sentence of five years probation, a $5,000 fine and 300 hours of community service. Circuit Judge G. Thomas Cooper Jr. decided Ard’s punishment Friday after listening for 50 minutes to character witnesses and pleas for mercy, including from Ard himself.

“I stand here humble, apologetic,” Ard said after pleading guilty to seven charges just a few hours after he resigned the job that had him first in the line of succession to become governor. “Your honor, I can’t undo anything. All I can do is say I’m sorry.

“I wish it would go away. But I made this mess. I hope you will accept my apology, because this is from the bottom of my heart.”

After an eight-month investigation, the state grand jury ended the public speculation Friday. Ard was indicted, resigned and was sentenced – all in one day.

Ard already had paid a civil fine for spending campaign donations for his personal use.

But S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said Ard also ran a scheme of “phantom contributions” intended to make it appear that Ard’s candidacy had a groundswell of support as well as to intimidate anyone who might seek to challenge him.

Ard funneled at least $75,000 of his own money to others so they could give donations back to him in their names, Wilson said. Ard also spent $87,500 giving himself donations in the names of 27 people who were unaware they were being listed as contributors.

If Ard, 48, violates the conditions of his probation, he faces one year in prison and the $5,000 fine, Cooper said, adding, “I think you’ve suffered and will continue to suffer.” The maximum penalty Ard faced was seven years and a $35,000 fine.

He was indicted Friday morning in a corruption investigation by the state grand jury, which opened the probe in July after the State Ethics Commission charged Ard with 69 counts of spending campaign money for his personal use and 23 counts of failing to disclose campaign expenses as part of his race to become lieutenant governor.

He was indicted on seven counts of ethics violations over his mishandling of money during that 2010 race, including converting campaign funds for tickets to the SEC championship football game in Atlanta, buying clothes and a flat-screen TV and having a confidant dole out $100 bills from a paper bag.

The phantom contribution scheme is unique in S.C. politics, Wilson said.

“To our knowledge, the creation of such a fictitious campaign has never been criminally charged before in this state’s history,” Wilson said in announcing the indictment.

Ard acknowledged he used the $75,000 to get four friends, relatives and associates to recruit others to submit the money as genuine donations from political supporters. Those phony contributors were then reimbursed from Ard’s own funds.

Ard also took one genuine contribution of $2,000 and reported it as $3,500, the maximum allowable from an individual donor.

Ard and his five-man defense team repeatedly said in a Richland County courtroom that he did not know or understand the state’s ethics laws that control campaign contributions, the reporting of donations and that falsifying the reports are all illegal. Several times, his lawyers said what Ard had done was unintentional and “mistakes.”

Defense attorney Johnny Gasser asked the judge to consider that Ard misused only his own money. “All the money that was used was his personal money … not other people’s money,” the former state and federal prosecutor said.

“He was and should have been held to a higher standard,” Gasser admitted in court. “This was not an election for a small-time city council seat. He … should have known what the rules are.”

Still, Ard is a good husband, father and person, witnesses for him testified.

Eddie Floyd, a USC board member and a political powerbroker in the Pee Dee, where Ard is from, said he was the person who told Ard he didn’t need campaign professionals advising him in the race for lieutenant governor.

“I betrayed this young man, who ruined his career by the advice I gave him,” Floyd said, choking with emotion.

Ken Jackson, Ard’s partner in a real estate business, said Ard never was good with details. “He’s not very organized in his business and personal paperwork,” Jackson said.

Attorney General Wilson took strong exception to that characterization that Ard had made mistakes. “We would not have pursued the prosecution of a mistake,” the fellow Republican said after the plea hearing.

Before Ard, the state grand jury had never investigated a sitting state constitutional officer. Federal grand juries, however, have indicted two state constitutional officers in recent years, forcing them from office. Each pleaded guilty to criminal charges and spent time in federal prison.

Ard was one of the state Republican Party’s rising political stars before his career began to crumble under successive investigations. His rise to lieutenant governor from Florence County Council was not impeded by a history of earlier ethics violations dating to 2004.

Ard’s lawyer during the most recent ethics investigation said Ard had used $2,543 in campaign money to go on an official trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with Sen. Lindsey Graham’s staff.

But Graham’s staff said there was no meeting. In fact, investigators found, the $2,543 went for airfare for Ard, his wife and three children, meals and limousine service.

Ethics investigators also found $3,056 that his lawyer said was spent for office equipment to be used in the campaign. It was actually used to buy things like a $335 PlayStation, a $975 flat-screen television and two $600 iPads.

Among Ard’s questionable expenses were football tickets to the Southeastern Conference championship game and a $799 dress for his wife to wear to the inauguration.

In June, Ard settled the civil ethics investigation from the 2010 campaign by agreeing to pay $48,400 in fines for 106 ethics violations and reimbursing his campaign $12,121.35.

The next month, Wilson’s office and SLED opened a criminal investigation through the state grand jury. The results of that probe were announced Friday.

Cathy Hazelwood, the chief attorney for the State Ethics Commission, said Friday that Ard’s 106 violations is the most she could find from a single civil complaint in the agency’s records.

A Charleston City Council member was charged with 88 in one civil complaint before he was prosecuted and the commission dismissed its complaint. Former Gov. Mark Sanford, who paid a $74,000 fine plus $36,500 to cover investigation and other commission costs and $29,700 to reimburse state agencies and his campaign travel and personal expenses – the biggest fine in commission history – had 36 ethics counts against him. Sanford was not charged criminally.

Wilson, a fellow Republican, said he knows, likes and sought political support from Ard. Wilson, who was elected in the same campaign, said he did not accept a contribution from Ard.

“I entered this day with a heavy heart,” Wilson said. “I leave it with a heavy heart.”

Wilson said he believes the sentence of probation will be a deterrent to other elected officials. He would not say whether he believes state ethics laws should be strengthened.

The Attorney General’s Office, the State Law Enforcement Division, and Ard’s legal team worked together to bring the charges, arrive at a guilty plea and effect Ard’s resignation all in one day, Wilson said.

That was done in part to help the state Senate, which is not in session on Fridays, continue its work “without drama,” the attorney general said.

Gasser, one of Ard’s lawyers, told the judge his client “should get credit” for not dragging out the case.

Wilson said the investigation is closed.

Staff writer John Monk contributed to this article

Derrick Bell and Eric Holder's 'Nation of Cowards'

by Joel B. Pollak


The revelation of the relationship between President Barack Obama and the late Critical Race Theory professor Derrick Bell sheds light not only on Obama’s past beliefs, but his present governing philosophy, particularly at the Department of Justice.

It is interesting, for example, to reconsider Attorney General Eric Holder’s incendiary statement in 2009 that America is a “nation of cowards” with a view towards the influence of Bell’s ideas on Obama's cohort of left-wing legal minds.

In his speech, Holder expressed a brazen skepticism of the concept of America as a “melting pot,” seeing that as a form of self-deception. Despite the achievements of the civil rights struggle, Holder argued, racism and segregation had in some ways increased:

Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated.

Holder’s contradictory ideas—celebrating “positive” race consciousness while decrying continued segregation—are a tempered though familiar version of Bell’s radical idea that the civil rights movement had, in many ways, entrenched white supremacy in America.

To Bell, racial equality—whether in the law or the academy—was a myth. The civil rights movement had been largely futile, because racism was deeply ingrained in American institutions. The answer—though not the solution—was continued resistance.

Bell therefore celebrated those, like Louis Farrakhan, who were “willing and able to ‘tell it like it is’ regarding who is responsible for racism in this country.”

Holder appeared to echo Bell’s rhetorical posture in his provocative challenge to a “nation of cowards,” confronting the very legal system he had just been appointed to manage and defend. And Holder has displayed similar skepticism towards civil rights laws by enforcing them unequally, often treating black civil rights violators differently than white ones.

The most famous instance of such discrimination is the New Black Panther voter intimidation case, which was dropped by Holder despite the fact that it was an open-and-shut case involving serious violations of voting rights.


Venezuela's Chavez might be on his way out

By Steve LeVine - Foreign Policy

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez's disclosure that his cancer has recurred raises hard questions about his ability to campaign for re-election in October. If he lacks the stamina or is incapacitated, what happens next - will fair elections proceed, or will his ruling circle frustrate any potential transfer of power?

In short, if there is new leadership, can one imagine a shift in which Venezuela stops using its oil wealth to support a violent Colombian guerrilla movement? And will Venezuela lift constraints on oil production, and become a tipping point in the fast-changing geopolitics of oil?

The evidence to date is that Chavez, who has led Venezuela for 13 years, has prepared a tough strategy "to defend the revolution," says Stephen Johnson, director of the America's Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The most recent datapoint came Monday, when a congressman's son was injured in a shooting by red-shirted Chavez supporters at a rally for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.

The 39-year-old Radonski, who is governor of Miranda state, appears to represent a serious popular threat to Chavez. He was elected as the united opposition candidate by a resounding majority last month. Among his platforms is a new day for the Venezuelan economy, fueled by a modern export oil industry pumping out far more crude.

Quite apart from the greater economic diversity that Radonski plans at home, the geopolitical impact could be considerable. Combined with petro-events already in motion in Canada, North Dakota and the Gulf of Mexico, a Venezuelan bonanza could tip the balance and make the region awash in oil.

The buildup of the North and South American oil supply is a new dimension in a changing energy picture in which the Middle East's global economic centrality is becoming less fixed. Instead, the Middle East is becoming one of a clutch of energy hubs that include Australia and Africa, in addition to the Western Hemisphere.

Venezuela has the largest official reserves on the planet - 296 billion barrels of oil. Much of this is locked up in goopy heavy oil in the Orinoco Basin that would cost a bundle to produce and transport to market. But like the region's other so-called "unconventional oil" reserves - the Alberta sands, the Bakken shale oil and the deepwater Gulf - these volumes are next door to the United States, by far the world's largest market for gasoline.

Venezuela currently produces a bit over 2 million barrels of oil a day. The question is whether oilmen can work more freely in the Orinoco, and add another million barrels a day or more of production, said David Pumphrey, deputy energy director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Venezuela "could be another of the unconventionals that change the dynamics of global markets," Pumphrey told me.

Radonski has attempted to prepare for any official effort to undermine his campaign. He has worked to marginalize the more extremist members of Chavez's circle by suggesting that he will be "sensitive to the feelings and desires of the more mainstream Chavistas," Johnson said.

Yet military appointments by Chavez suggest that he is prepared to pull around the wagons to keep power within his structure.

In January, Chavez elevated a highly controversial general - Henry Rangel Silva - as defense minister. In 2010, Silva said in an interview that he would not support any opposition figure who won the 2012 elections. In terms of biography, Silva is on a U.S. "Foreign Narcotics Kingpins" list for alleged involvement in cocaine trafficking, one of four members of Chavez's ruling circle listed.

Says Johnson:

"Guys like that have a reason to stay in power. He and others would be likely to defend the regime in order to save their own hides."
Steve LeVine is the author of Foreign Policy's "The Oil and the Glory" blog and a longtime foreign correspondent.

Christian Pop Culture

Friday, March 9, 2012
Christian Pop Culture

I've observed Christian pop culture for the last seven years. I say "observed" because I don't participate in or consume anything that could be considered Christian media. I just don't identify with the mindset behind it. One of the most alienating traits is the tendency to recreate the conversion experience.

The moment of accepting Jesus Christ as one's personal Lord and Savior is the backbone of evangelical Christianity. Once saved, the convert has reached a critical threshold from which it is impossible to slip. While attending services at an evangelical mega church, I noticed that the messaging operated on a dual track. The unsaved were told how much better their lives would become once they accept Christ, and the saved were reminded of just how empty their lives were before salvation.

It wouldn't be fair to say the church instilled complacency in its congregants because the parishioners were more active than at any other church I've seen. Nevertheless, I couldn't shake the feeling that the primary goal they worked towards (converting others) fostered a sense of spiritual complacency. If accepting Christ as your personal savior is the pinnacle of your spiritual life, where do you go from there? Rather than looking forward towards continued growth, evangelicals are called to look backwards and remember that indelible moment of grace in order to help others experience it. There's definitely kindness in wanting/helping others to experience the same joy you have, but I think it comes at a cost. Many of the evangelicals I encountered were so focused thinking about who they were that they didn't have time to think about who they wanted to become.

This mindset is a common theme in Christian pop culture. Take this Kirk Cameron movie for instance:

At work, inside burning buildings, Capt. Caleb Holt lives by the old firefighter's adage: Never leave your partner behind. At home, in the cooling embers of his marriage, he lives by his own rules.

As the couple prepares to enter divorce proceedings, Caleb's father challenges his son to commit to a 40-day experiment: "The Love Dare." Wondering if it's even worth the effort, Caleb agrees-for his father's sake more than for his marriage. When Caleb discovers the book's daily challenges are tied into his parents' newfound faith, his already limited interest is further dampened.

While trying to stay true to his promise, Caleb becomes frustrated time and again. He finally asks his father, "How am I supposed to show love to somebody who constantly rejects me?

When his father explains that this is the love Christ shows to us, Caleb makes a life-changing commitment to love God. And with God's help he begins to understand what it means to truly love his wife.

This movie presents no challenge to the already saved. The character who is called upon to change is the one who has not yet found God. The film's usefulness as a tool for evangelizing is clear: Have a troubled marriage? Accept Christ as your personal savior and all will end well. But the film also operates on the same dual tracks I saw at the mega church. The message it directs towards believers doesn't inspire them to behave any differently. It simply reaffirms a choice they have already made.

Scott Nehring complained of this dynamic in a 2010 piece called Why Are Christian Movies So Bad:

Rather than developing organically, the average Christian film is more pushy and sanctimonious than the global-warming agenda movies... By movie’s end, everyone is converted with no residual issues. Life is reduced to an after-school special with prayer thrown in for good measure. For me, this is where the dry heaving begins.

From a Catholic (and more specifically Jesuit) background, I have a difficult time identifying with a tradition that places so much emphasis on a single fixed point in time. Faith is a journey and it changes as we change. As a Catholic, I find an immeasurable degree of comfort in the repetitious nature of the Sacraments. The pinnacle event of Catholicism isn't something that happens once. The Eucharist takes place every week (technically daily or even hourly, I suppose). It follows you throughout your life and its meaning deepens and grows with you as you change. Similarly, the Jesuit tradition is one of constant reflection with an eye towards who we should become based on who we are at any given moment.

I don't mean any ill will towards people who enjoy Christian pop culture, it's just something I can never really feel comfortable with because of its over emphasis on an event I have never experienced and its lack of a challenging message for believers. I still find Christian media endlessly fascinating and happily remain an observer.

HHS Secretary Sebelius may bypass Texas Gov direct federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

HHS secretary: No waiver for women's health program in Texas
By Jeannie Kever
Updated 11:06 p.m., Friday, March 9, 2012

Two weeks after state officials announced plans to effectively ban Planned Parenthood from a health program for low-income women, the secretary of Health and Human Services confirmed Friday in Houston that federal funding for the program in Texas will end.

"The waiver will not be extended," Kathleen Sebelius said during a tour of Ben Taub General Hospital. "We've put them on notice."

The federal government, which covers 90 percent of the cost of the Medicaid Women's Health Program, will wind down the program over several months, she said.

The announcement came a day after Gov. Rick Perry said the state will use state money to continue the program, which covers birth control and basic health screenings for about 130,000 women. He did not provide details.

Sebelius also said direct federal funding for Planned Parenthood is under consideration.

Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, who accompanied Sebelius on the tour, said the federal government could bypass the state altogether.

"We're going to be looking at this on the legislative side," he said.

Sebelius was in town to view the electronic records system at Ben Taub General Hospital, as well as to discuss other programs offered by the Harris County Hospital District.

She also addressed students gathered in Houston for the annual meeting of the American Medical Student Association, praising the hospital district's innovations and telling the students that reforms promised by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 will help them change the way medicine is practiced.

Legislators in 2005 approved a law denying participation in the Women's Health Program to any clinic affiliated with an abortion provider. They delayed enforcement due to concerns that the law violates federal regulations requiring Medicaid programs to be open to any qualified provider.

The state will begin enforcing the law on Wednesday.

Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortions in Texas are legally separate from those that offer other services, but they are affiliated. The law affects only Planned Parenthood.

A spokeswoman for Perry said the decision on federal funding was anticipated.

"We are still very disappointed this (Obama) administration is choosing to side with abortion providers … instead of 130,000 Texas women," Catherine Frazier said.

But Sebelius said the abortion issue is a false premise.

"It is illegal to spend any federal money on abortion," she said. "This has nothing to do with abortion."

The killing of American soldiers for burning the quran

An American citizen Sings About Afghanistan

Occupy Wall Street in New York running low on cash

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Occupy Wall Street group in New York is running low on money and on pace to run out by the end of the month, raising questions about the future of the movement that sparked a wave of nationwide protests against economic injustice six months ago.

Donations to the group, which raised about $500,000 within weeks of setting up camp in a park near Wall Street on September 17, have slowed and with plans for an American Spring of protests it has set aside a remaining $90,000 into a fund established to bail arrested protesters out of jail.

A report by Occupy Wall Street's accounting group for the week ending March 2 showed it had $44,828 in a general fund in addition to the bail fund and warned that "at our current rate of expenditure, we will be out of money in THREE WEEKS."

The report - posted on the group's website http:// - showed $1,556 had been raised that week, while $14,942 had been spent on the group's kitchen, street medics, New York City bus and subway passes, and printing costs.

Critics say the Occupy movement lacks demands and direction and has lost momentum. Occupy protest crowds in New York and other U.S. cities have tended to number in the hundreds rather than thousands, despite the group's social media savvy.

"The success of the movement has never depended on money," Occupy Wall Street spokesman Ed Needham said.

"Occupy Wall Street is about our abundant human resources - the creative talent, dedication and sweat equity of people here and elsewhere that have decided to stand up against a corrupt and unjust society run by a powerful elite few," he said.

Since Occupy Wall Street began it has received more than $730,000 in donations, according to the accounting group. It has a fiscal sponsor, the Tucson-based Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ), which allows donations to be tax exempt.

Inspired by the pro-democracy Arab Spring and Spain's "Indignados" movement, Occupy sparked a national debate about economic injustice and has influenced the political conversation leading up to the presidential election in November.

The movement, which prides itself on being leaderless, has also grabbed headlines for clashes with police during protests and has struggled to grow beyond the initial park protests camps that sustained it.


More than a thousand people have been arrested during protests in New York City. Christine Crowther, of the Occupy Wall Street Accounting group, said the bail fund would allow them to keep taking to the streets to protest.

"While we give the dire warning so that people will be conscious and considerate of how we're spending our money, we are still going to be able to take care of our people in the way that really matters - making sure that their bail and their court fees are paid," Crowther said.

After two months camping in New York's Zuccotti Park - and sparking similar so-called occupations of public spaces around the United States - Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted by authorities and have since been scattered around the city.

Some churches offered a place to stay to some of the several hundred people who had traveled to New York to join the protest, while the group has appealed online for more people to "host an occupier in your home and help sustain the movement."

As a result it has been spending several thousand dollars a week on transit passes so protesters can travel to an office space the group has been using in Lower Manhattan and a public atrium of a Wall Street skyscraper that it uses for meetings.

Funding had also been used for a "people's kitchen" that feeds protesters and the homeless in Zuccotti Park most days and for street medics, who treat people injured during protests.

"We also do have a lot planned for the spring and we fully expect the money will start flowing in again," she said.

A March 17 march is planned to mark the group's six-month anniversary, and Needham said there would also be "Occupy the Fundraisers" protests against money in politics, a March 24 protest against the fossil fuel industry's spending on lobbyists and an April 25 protest against U.S. student debt hitting $1 trillion.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta)

The New Louisiana Purchase: 'Obamacare's' $4.3 Billion Boondoggle


Do you remember the Louisiana Purchase? I don't mean Thomas Jefferson's acquisition of land from Napoleon, but rather Democrats' acquisition of support from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Landrieu, critics believe, pledged her vote in exchange for gaining $200 million additional federal funds for Louisiana's Medicaid program. Except that, due to a drafting error, the law ended up giving Louisiana $4.3 billion in extra Medicaid funds -- more than twenty times the assigned amount. How this happened, and how Congress failed to fully fix it, is a microcosm of our new health law's many flaws.

Our story begins in the fall of 2009, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was trying to cobble together the necessary 60 votes to pass the Affordable Care Act. He needed every Democrat on board in order to do this, which gave waffling senators a great deal of leverage. In Landrieu's case, this involved gaining some extra funding for the state's Medicaid program, something that Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal also sought (though he opposed its attachment to the bill).

Medicaid, America's government health care program for the poor, is jointly funded by the states and the federal government. The federal government chips in at different levels to different states, using a formula called Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, or FMAP. FMAP is determined by several factors, such as a state's per capita income and the state's own Medicaid spending. (FMAP has come under a lot of criticism from policy types, who point out that its structure incentivizes state politicians to spend more on Medicaid, knowing that taxpayers in other states will foot most of the bill.) The Medicaid law specifies that the feds will contribute no less than 50 percent of a state's Medicaid costs; the national average prior to the Obama administration was about 57 percent.

Louisiana had received a ton of additional Medicaid assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and Landrieu's goal was to continue that assistance, so as to more gradually wean the state off of its additional subsidies.

Section 2006 of the health care act, a "Special Adjustment to FMAP Determination for Certain States Recovering from a Major Disaster," was designed to temporarily increase the federal government's FMAP contribution to Louisiana to the tune of around $200 million. It contains extremely complicated legislative language, whose main purpose is to ensure that only Louisiana benefits from the specified FMAP increase. See if you can make heads or tails out of it:


Section 1905 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1396d), as amended by sections 2001(a)(3) and 2001(b)(2), is amended--

(1) in subsection (b), in the first sentence, by striking ''subsection (y)'' and inserting ''subsections (y) and (aa)''; and

(2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

''(aa)(1) Notwithstanding subsection (b), beginning January 1, 2011, the Federal medical assistance percentage for a fiscal year for a disaster-recovery FMAP adjustment State shall be equal to the following:

''(A) In the case of the first fiscal year (or part of a fiscal year) for which this subsection applies to the State, the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection, subsection (y), subsection (z), and section 10202 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, increased by 50 percent of the number of percentage points by which the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection and subsection (y), is less than the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the preceding fiscal year after the application of only subsection (a) of section 5001 of Public Law 111-5 (if applicable to the preceding fiscal year) and without regard to this sub- section, subsection (y), and subsections (b) and (c) of section 5001 of Public Law 111-5.

''(B) In the case of the second or any succeeding fiscal year for which this subsection applies to the State, the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the preceding fiscal year under this subsection for the State, increased by 25 percent of the number of percentage points by which the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection, subsection (y), subsection (z), and section 10202 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is less than the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the preceding fiscal year under this subsection.

''(2) In this subsection, the term 'disaster-recovery FMAP adjustment State' means a State that is one of the 50 States or the District of Columbia, for which, at any time during the preceding 7 fiscal years, the President has declared a major disaster under section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and determined as a result of such disaster that every county or parish in the State warrant individual and public assistance or public assistance from the Federal Government under such Act and for which--

''(A) in the case of the first fiscal year (or part of a fiscal year) for which this subsection applies to the State, the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection, subsection (y), subsection (z), and section 10202 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is less than the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the preceding fiscal year after the application of only subsection (a) of section 5001 of Public Law 111-5 (if applicable to the preceding fiscal year) and without regard to this subsection, subsection (y), and subsections (b) and (c) of section 5001 of Public Law 111-5, by at least 3 percentage points; and

''(B) in the case of the second or any succeeding fiscal year for which this subsection applies to the State, the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the fiscal year without regard to this subsection, subsection (y), subsection (z), and section 10202 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is less than the Federal medical assistance percentage determined for the State for the preceding fiscal year under this subsection by at least 3 percentage points.

''(3) The Federal medical assistance percentage determined for a disaster-recovery FMAP adjustment State under paragraph (1) shall apply for purposes of this title (other than with respect to dis- proportionate share hospital payments described in section 1923 and payments under this title that are based on the enhanced FMAP described in 2105(b)) and shall not apply with respect to payments under title IV (other than under part E of title IV) or payments under title XXI.''.

On March 20, 2010, hours before the final vote on the health care bill in the House of Representatives, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation issued their fiscal scoring of the bill. According to their analysis, this "Louisiana Purchase" would cost about $100 million in 2011 and about $100 million in 2012, with no additional spending thereafter for a total of approximately $200 million.

Republicans were angry, as were many voters. But while President Obama voiced some opposition to the special deals cut in Congress in support of his signature legislation, he made an exception for the Louisiana Medicaid adjustment, incorrectly asserting that the language also applied to Hawaii:

Something that was called a special deal was for Louisiana. It was said that there were billions--millions of dollars going to Louisiana, this was a special deal. Well, in fact, that provision, which I think should remain in, said that if a state has been affected by a natural catastrophe, that has created a special health care emergency in that state, they should get help. Louisiana, obviously, went through Katrina, and they're still trying to deal with the enormous challenges that were faced because of that.... That also--I'm giving you an example of one that I consider important. It also affects Hawaii, which went through an earthquake. So that's not just a Louisiana provision. That is a provision that affects every state that is going through a natural catastrophe.

However, in November 2011, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) tried to make sense of the legislation, they came up with a much larger number: $4.3 billion. This was, in part, because the text of the law didn't phase out the adjustment in two years, as originally intended, but rather increased the federal subsidy in out-years.

The language in Section 2006, wrote CMS, "results in increased, rather than phased down, financial assistance to [Louisiana] each year, and allows [the state] to continue to qualify for assistance after their underlying FMAP has stabilized. The resulting assistance will be higher than initially projected."

You can say that again. In fiscal 2012 alone, the federal government sent about $700 million in supplemental funds to Louisiana's Medicaid program, with another $3.6 billion to be spent in fiscal years 2013-2015. In fiscal 2013, the law changed the feds' share of Louisiana Medicaid spending from 61 percent to 72 percent—a billion-dollar adjustment for the Bayou State.

In Louisiana French, lagniappe means "something given as a bonus or extra gift," like a 13th doughnut. When Republicans took over the House in 2011, they added Landrieu's "Louisiana Lagniappe" to their list of the health act's provisions slated for repeal. Indeed, the latest payroll-tax extension deal between Republicans and Democrats does contain some language addressing the FMAP adjustment. Section 3204 of this new bill, Republicans claim, "eliminates funding for the 'Louisiana Purchase' contained in ObamaCare beginning in FY2014. CBO estimates this provision would reduce spending by $2.5 billion." In other words, the bill keeps the fiscal 2013 spending intact, sending another $1.1 billion in error to Louisiana's Medicaid coffers.

Even this compromise -- which allowed Louisiana to keep $1.6 billion in erroneously spent federal dollars -- was unpopular among Louisiana's congressional delegation, including some Republicans. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., one of the GOP's rising stars on health care issues, and a likely challenger to Landrieu in 2014, was foremost among opponents of the fix. "Why, with all the false, misleading assumptions in President Obama's health care law, is only this one singled out?" he asked in a recent blog post. "Why aren't we revising the entire bill, rooting out every instance where it was poorly drafted and/or will cost more than it was billed as costing?"

Cassidy's complaint, however parochial, has a point. It would be easy to dismiss the Louisiana Lagniappe as a trivial issue: After all, $4.3 billion in a trillion-dollar health care law is a rounding error. But the haste and carelessness with which Landrieu's provision was drafted is endemic of the legislation, more broadly.

Allow me to pick a few examples out of a hat. The CLASS Act, a new entitlement for long-term care, was suspended by Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, because she couldn't come up with a way to ensure its long-term solvency. The law's high-risk pools, designed to cover people with preexisting conditions, are spending twice as much per beneficiary as originally projected. And the White House has quietly increased its budget for the law's insurance subsidies by $111 billion from 2014 to 2021.

I could go on, but you get the point. The Affordable Care Act's supporters believe the law to be a thoughtfully conceived, fiscally responsible program that will cover more people while reducing the deficit. There are a lot of reasons to doubt their optimism.

Airbus says China blocking orders to protest Europe's carbon tax

Move is the latest challenge to the programme aimed at fighting global warming
Published: 00:00 March 10, 2012

Paris China is blocking orders for at least $12 billion (Dh44 billion) worth of Airbus jets to protest the European Union's emissions trading fees, in a new challenge to the programme aimed at fighting global warming, the aircraft maker said Thursday.

With some analysts warning of a brewing trade war, Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said his company is seeing "retaliation threats" from 26 countries, "in particular from China."

He said 35 orders by Chinese airlines for A330 planes are on hold because China's government is refusing to approve them. He said orders for another 10 A380 superjumbos are also under threat, and that the combined list prices of the aircraft is $12 billion.

"The economic impact is real," he said.

Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Paris could not be reached for comment.

EU officials defended the emissions system. Asked about the Airbus complaint at the daily midday briefing, EU spokesman Isaac Valero Ladron said: "I'm not in a position to make any comments about possible trade decisions. I think it's in everybody's interest to reduce greenhouse gases."

The emissions trading system went into effect at the start of the year as part of European efforts to reduce global warming.

Airlines flying to or from Europe must obtain certificates for carbon dioxide emissions. They will get free credits to cover most flights this year but must buy or trade for credits to cover the rest. The US, China, Russia, India and many other countries are opposed and say the bloc cannot impose taxes on flights outside its own airspace.

Unilateral action

EU officials have said they acted unilaterally because of a doubling of aviation carbon emissions in Europe between 1990 and 2006 and the inability of governments to forge a global deal on reducing emissions.

Schaffrath insisted Airbus is working to reduce emissions but argued a Europe-only measure creates trade imbalances.

Airbus made its warnings on the same day its parent company EADS NV reported its annual earnings.

Democrat Operative Reverses Plea; Guilty of Stealing Iowa Secretary of State’s Identity

March 10th, 2012

The Iowa Republican:

Democrat operative Zach Edwards changed his initial not guilty plea to guilty and received a light sentence for stealing Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s identity. The plea was officially filed by Iowa Courts on Thursday. He pled guilty to identity theft, a simple misdemeanor.

Edwards received a deferred sentence of one year probation, 20 hours of community service within 120 days and a $65 fine. If he completes probation successfully, the simple misdemeanor charge is dismissed without a conviction being entered on his record. Edwards was originally charged with an aggravated misdemeanor and faced a maximum of two years in prison and a $6,250 fine. He was represented by prominent Republican attorney Matt Whitaker.

Zach Edwards was the Iowa Director of New Media for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. At the time of his arrest, he served in a similar capacity for Link Strategies, a Democrat consultant group closely aligned with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and several prominent Democrats around the country.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said Edwards tried to use the identities of Secretary of State Matt Schultz, and/or his brother Thomas, with the intent to falsely implicate Secretary Schultz in illegal or unethical behavior. The Secretary of State’s office discovered the crime and reported it to authorities. Edwards was fired from his position at Link Strategies following the arrest.

Zach Edwards’ crime took place in the midst of a coordinated effort by the Iowa Democratic Party to tear down the Republican Secretary of State. On June 24, the same day he tried to steal Schultz’ identity, a blog connected to Iowa Democrats launched a three-part series of articles critical of Matt Schultz. That same month, the Iowa Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint against Schultz. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board dismissed the complaint on July 19.

UPDATE: The story has been revised to note that Edwards was originally charged with an aggravated misdemeanor, but the charges were revised to a simple misdemeanor.

Gingrich disputes accuracy of latest jobless numbers

by Joy Lin
March 09, 2012


GULFPORT, Miss. – Reacting to the latest jobs report, Newt Gingrich suggested Friday that the Labor Department fudged its calculation of February unemployment.

“If we had the same level of participation in the labor force we had the day Obama was sworn in, it would be 10.8 percent,” Gingrich said, disputing the calculation released Friday that unemployment hovered at 8.3 percent for a second straight month.

The candidate was basing his statement on analysis by James Pethokoukis of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, who said that if the size of the labor force as a share of the total population was the same as it was when President Obama took office, then the unemployment number would be 10.8 percent.

Gingrich slammed President Obama’s handling of the economy, saying “his achievement has not been creating jobs, his achievement has been driving people out of the workforce. That's not progress, that's going backwards and it makes him the best food stamp president in American history.”

It was a particularly feisty speech for Gingrich, who showed up over an hour late for his appearance at Gulfport High School. He apologized to the audience of over 200 people for his tardiness, explaining he was late because he made an impromptu decision to record a video after learning there was a drilling rig along the way to Gulfport.

The campaign video, described by Gingrich as part of his “Educate Barack Obama Tour,” shows Gingrich grandstanding in front of an oil rig with a message for the White House: “I just wanted to point out Mr. President that this is how they get natural gas. This is drilling. They don’t get natural gas from algae. They don’t get it from electric batteries, they get it by drilling.”

“I want to invite the president to come down to Mississippi and maybe spend part of Monday with me and we can go to a couple of natural gas drilling rigs and he can see for himself, it actually works,” he told the Gulfport audience. “It’s actually worked historically. It’s actually working right this minute.”

And while Gingrich may say that Mitt Romney likes to fire people, he indicated no hesitation in calling for a third member of President Obama’s cabinet to resign.

“I have been told that the Secretary of Defense has suggested that international agreements override the Congress,” Gingrich said, drawing boos from the audience. “If he believes that, he should resign tonight!” The audience cheered.

“Let me be clear, Leon Panetta needs to learn we do not have a United Nations secretary of defense, we have a United States secretary of defense,” he said. On the campaign trail, Gingrich has also called for the resignations for Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Gingrich’s castigation of Panetta was based on remarks the defense secretary made before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. Pushing back against fresh calls for the U.S. to act unilaterally in Syria, Panetta said the administration would “seek permission” from the United Nations to intervene.

The remarks came after Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., criticized the White House for bypassing Congress when it decided to participate in the NATO coalition in Libya.

"We spend our time worrying about the U.N., the Arab League, NATO and too little time, in my opinion, worrying about the elected representatives of the United States. As you go forward, will you consult with the United States Congress?” Sessions asked.

Panetta replied, "You know, our goal would be to seek international permission. And we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this, whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress."

Defense officials have reportedly said Panetta wasn’t ceding U.S. authority to an international governing organization but emphasizing the need for an international mandate.

Rush Limbaugh Spurns Plea By Ex-Advertiser To Be Accepted Back

By Mark Whittington
Yahoo! Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The imbroglio over Rush Limbaugh, his unfortunate remarks about a student activist, and his advertisers took a bizarre turn when one advertiser who publicly denounced Limbaugh last week and pulled its ads, begged to be taken back.

The advertiser in question is Sleep Train, a mattress company. According to the Los Angeles Times, Limbaugh has turned down its request to be reinstated as a voiced advertiser, which involved the host himself endorsing the company. The reason was that Sleep Train's action had angered Limbaugh's many millions of listeners so the show could not in good conscience accept the company back.

Meanwhile, a new startup by conservative media personality Michelle Malkin,, has announced that it is a new advertiser on the Rush Limbaugh program. is a service that groups messages on Twitter by subject. The buying of ad space on the radio talk show is as much a political statement in support of Limbaugh as it is a play to advertise for more subscribers.

The dust up over Sleep Train, along with the blowback suffered by Carbonite over that company's public denunciation of Limbaugh, demonstrates that the iconic radio talk show host is dealing from a position of strength in the campaign to deprive him of advertisers. One tends to prosper when one advertises on Limbaugh's show. But cross him, and one will suffer.

The one overwhelming fact is that Limbaugh commands many millions of listeners. There is no evidence that any of them have stopped listening because of the kerfuffle with Sandra Fluke. Indeed, one suspects that Limbaugh has gained listeners, curious about what the fuss is all about. As long as the show maintains its listener base, it does not matter if any advertisers bail on Limbaugh for political reasons. There will always be others who will want to take their place, because it is good business to advertise on the most listened to radio talk show on the planet.

The situation demonstrates the power of the marketplace over politically inspired efforts to drive an iconic conservative radio voice off the air. Once again Limbaugh has defeated his enemies and has humbled them into the dust.


Friday, March 9, 2012

No Jobs Shortage For Obama Bundlers

“About 80% of those who collected more than $500,000 for Obama took ‘key administration posts’ as defined by the White House.”

I can no longer consider myself a conservative. What is there left to conserve?

Real Rebels and the Counter RevolutioN

The Bill of Rights, Revised Edition [Dan from NY]

Dan from NY:

Making the rounds. Pass it on.

Vetting Obama: Leftists Take Steps To Prevent You From Learning Anything


In partial fulfillment of Andrew Breitbart's promise to "vet" the President this time, the team posted a video of President Barack Obama as a law student at Harvard. It also ran on Hannity tonight. The video shows the young Obama asking his fellow law students to "Open up your hearts and your minds to the words of Professor Derrick Bell."

Professor Derrick Bell, the object of young Obama's adoration, was an associate of Reverend Jeremiah Wright and a committed radical. Bell was a proponent of Critical Race Theory, which views virtually all relationships through a lens of perceived race-based oppression.

As Ben Shapiro wrote on about Bell:

"This is a close associate of Jeremiah Wright, a man who was quoted by Jeremiah Wright regularly. This is a man who posited that the civil rights movement was too moderate because it accepted the status quo, and believed that the entire legal and constitutional system had to be transformed in radical fashion. This is a man so extreme that, as we’ve reported, he wrote a story in 1993 in which he posited that white Americans would sell black Americans into slavery to aliens to relieve the national debt, and that Jews would go along with it."

(That story became a video, complete with former President Ronald Reagan as the slave trading alien.)

An edited version of the video - minus the section in which Obama heaps praise on Professor Bell - was posted earlier on the Leftists and Obama apologists dismissed the video as inconsequential and racist. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America tweeted:

"look @mmfa has been saying this for 2+ yrs: the Breitbart crew = complete clowns. tonight more 'n more pple are figuring that out; #good"

Boehlert can't argue with the video's content; after all, it documents actual events. Instead, he resorts to the standard Alinsky tactic of ridiculing the messenger. He doesn't begin to address whether Obama's association with Bell should have been revealed before the 2008 election.

Shapiro reports what Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, a close associate to the Obama campaign, had to say about hiding the tape during the 2008 campaign: "We hid this throughout the 2008 campaign. I don’t care if they find it now."

Isn't watchdog Boehlert curious about why a tape would be hidden by the campaign? Exactly what does interest a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America?

The liberal website couldn't wait to recycle the Racer script. Slade Shomer, whose column is predictably entitled 'What's the Right-Wing End Game of This 'Racist Obama' College Days Video?' lacks even the slightest curiosity about Obama's association with Bell and why the '08 Obama campaign wanted it hidden. Instead, keeping with true intellectually dishonest tradition, Shomer plays the race card: (emphasis mine)

While everyone fights this out in partisan terms via Twitter and their websites, we’ll instead ask a more pragmatic question: What is the end game here? Let’s even say there’s more footage that shows Obama standing there in a shirt that reads “Kill Whitey.” Let’s say he professes his deep hatred of Caucasians and says Jeremiah Wright didn’t go far enough. What then? Hasn’t this man been President of the United States for more than three years and white people as we know them are still hangin’ around?

What was Breitbart, and now (editor-in-chief Joel) Pollak and Shapiro, trying to prove exactly? How does digging up 20-year-old video change anything? There’s only one goal here, and that’s to stoke white fear. It’s almost as if the people promoting a “damning” video and the people who want to believe it most are legitimately scared that a racist, classist Barack H. Obama will wipe white people off the map … in his second term.

Certainly we all acknowledge that class warfare is a major component of Obama's re-election campaign strategy. It's not scary, just dishonest and destructive. But how does the release of this video stoke white fear? The assertion is as ludicrous as it is ignorant (assuming Mr. Shomer actually believes his bizarre allegations).

Try as they might, the video is out and the conversation is being had. Just exactly what do we know about President Obama? Does this video change our minds about him leading up to Election Day? If there is one video, are there others? Who is Derrick Bell, and what do we know about him?

These are just some of the legitimate questions that Eric Boehlert and Shomer, and their fellow Leftists and Apologists, will never ask, and would prefer you didn't either.

ShePAC Ad: “Bill Maher: Obama’s Million Dollar Man”

There are growing calls for President Barack Obama’s super PAC, Priorities USA, to return a million-dollar donation from comedian Bill Maher. Why? Because president Obama has blasted Rush Limbaugh for his degrading comments about a Georgetown law student — he even called her to console her — but Bill Maher night after night uses filthy language to degrade women.

Today ShePAC released a video demanding Obama’s super PAC to return Bill Maher’s $1 million donation.

North Carolina judge releases jihad terror beheading plot suspect

What could go wrong?

Hypocrisy Meter Shatters: Obama Says Oil a 'Fuel of the Past' As He Jets From Fundraiser to Golf to Fundraiser

Does it get any more ridiculous than this?

As rising gas prices become a key issue on the campaign trail, the president argued that using less oil is an important part of the solution... "...We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks, in our buildings, in our factories. That’s the only solution to the challenge, because as we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down,” the president told workers at the Daimler Trucks manufacturing plant in Mount Holly, N.C.

Yet in the same speech he call[ed] oil “the fuel of the past”. MORE

The Democrats’ Hedge Fund Shakedown

Former White House Communications Director sells protection to industry she used to beat up, documents show

Soledad O’Brien Beclowns Herself on National TV

Story + Video here

Obama is judge, jury and executioner

Obama is judge, jury and executioner

Oregon Library Faces Lawsuit for Banning Christian Group

Oregon Library Faces Lawsuit for Banning Christian Group

A Day’s Work in the House of Lords

A Day’s Work in the House of Lords

Bell: USA Must Admit We're Permanently Racist

Bell: USA Must Admit We're Permanently Racist VIDEO HERE

Govt. sets record deficit in February

‘This Spring, We‘ll See Action’: Piven Issues Dark Prediction on Occupy Wall Street

‘This Spring, We‘ll See Action’: Piven Issues Dark Prediction on Occupy Wall Street

Derrick Bell: They Give “White Boys” Tenure

Why Obama has just a 34.7% chance of being reelected

Why Obama has just a 34.7% chance of being reelected

By James Pethokoukis
March 8, 2012, 11:48 am

“Food Justice” Has Arrived

There is nothing in the world that prevents any American, rich or poor, from purchasing fresh ingredients in order to prepare wholesome foods

The "Evil Empire" Speech, Twenty-Nine Years Ago This Day

On March 8, 1983, Ronald Reagan warned the National Association of Evangelicals to beware the temptation

to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.


Illegal Immigrant Allowed To Collect Winning $750,000 Lottery Ticket

March 8, 2012 1:50 PM

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) — An illegal immigrant from Guatemala will be able to collect $750,000 he won from a lottery ticket he purchased in 2010.

A Houston County Superior Court jury ruled in 27-year-old Tony Cua-Toc’s favor Thursday that he was the rightful owner of the Jingle Jumbo Bucks lottery ticket, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Cua-Toc, who entered the country illegally in 2000, claimed that the business owner he worked for, Erick Cervantes, claimed the winning lottery ticket for him and ended up keeping the money, according to the paper.

Cervantes said in court that he was the rightful owner of the ticket because he gave Cua-Toc $20 to purchase it for him.

The Macon Telegraph also reports that the jury awarded Cua-Toc $207,000 in attorney’s fees and is also entitled to punitive damages.

Sebelius: 'No idea' if Obamacare adds to deficit

Has she read the bill?

BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
March 8, 2012 10:46 am

Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius appeared flummoxed by questioning from Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) at a hearing on the new health care law Wednesday.

Johnson challenged Sebelius over a number of the Obama administration’s claims about the new health care law, namely that it will reduce the deficit and allow individuals to keep their current healthcare plans.

On several occasions, Sebelius professed to have “no idea” what Johnson was talking about.

Johnson cited a McKinsey Group study that estimated 30 to 50 percent of employers would drop their employee coverage once the new law is fully implement, the effect of which could be hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, added to the federal deficit.

President Obama has repeatedly claimed that, under the new law, individuals who are satisfied with their current health insurance plans will be able to keep them.

“First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan,” he said in July 2009. “Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”

Sebelius could not say with confidence how many employers would drop coverage, or how many would have been forced to drop coverage if not for the thousands of waivers the administration has issued.

“The bottom line here is, the cost of this healthcare law is so uncertain, don’t you think we ought to put the brakes on it?” Johnson asked. “You know, Nancy Pelosi said, ‘We have to pass this law to figure out what’s in it.’ What I don’t want to see is that we have to implement it to figure out how it’s going to bust a hole in our already horribly broken budget.”

SEBELIUS: The original estimate, yes. I think that’s–

JOHNSON: Right. So, the original estimate for deficit reduction–

SEBELIUS: I’m assuming–

JOHNSON: The original estimate for deficit reduction in the first 10 years was $143 billion, correct?


JOHNSON: So now we, we’ve reduced that $143 billion by $86 billion – by not getting revenue from the CLASS Act – and now $111 billion because we’ve increased the mandatory costs of the exchanges, correct?

SEBELIUS: I’m assuming the numbers are correct. I’m sorry I don’t have them.

JOHNSON: So, when you add those together, that’s $197 billion added to the first 10-year cost estimate of Obamacare, so now we are instead of saving $143 billion, we are adding $54 billion to our deficit, correct?


JOHNSON: We’ll submit that to the record. But, that’s basically true. So instead of saving $143 billion, by this administration’s own figures and budget, we’re now adding $54 billion to our deficit in the first 10 years. To me, that would be the first broken promise. It is true that the President said that by enacting this healthcare law, every family would save $2500 per year, in their family insurance plan – correct?

SEBELIUS: He said that once the exchanges are up and running, and you have an affordable marketplace, the insurance estimates were that the rates would go down by about $2500, yes– that has not occurred yet.

JOHNSON: The Kaiser Family Foundation has already released a study saying that average costs of family healthcare plans is up $2200, correct?

SEBELIUS: Again, there is no new marketplace yet for insurance policies.

JOHNSON: But the costs are already up. We’re already different by $4700; it’s going to be hard to get us down to $2500 cost savings. I would consider that broken promise number two.

It’s also true, that President Obama very famously said, ‘if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.’ Period. ‘If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan.’ Period. No one will take it away, no matter what. Now, we’ve granted quite a few waivers – about 1,200 to 1,700 waivers – on about 4 million Americans, correct?

SEBELIUS: I’ve no idea what waivers you’re talking about or–

JOHNSON: Well, those are waivers–

SEBELIUS: On doctors and health plans, is that…I–

JOHNSON: Just waivers from having to implement portions of the healthcare law that probably would have allowed those – or forced those workers – off their employer-sponsored care.

SEBELIUS: Again, I’d be happy to answer these questions, but I have no idea what waivers you’re talking about–

JOHNSON: The waivers that HHS has granted to employers not–

SEBELIUS: Which do what?

JOHNSON: Not having implemented sections of the healthcare law.

SEBELIUS: There have been waivers granted to employers, yes.

JOHNSON: And had those waivers not been granted, chances are, those employees probably would have lost their employer-sponsored care, correct?

SEBELIUS: I have no idea. I mean, I’m happy to answer those one at a time and look at the waivers and see what–

JOHNSON: Unfortunately, I’m pretty short on time.