Saturday, June 30, 2012

Atheist clubs springing up in high schools with help from the 'Secular Student Alliance'.


Atheists Club 
Posted: Updated: 06/30/2012 3:31 pm
With help from the Secular Student Alliance -- a national organization of more than 300 college-based clubs for freethinking students -- high school atheists clubs are springing up across the country, the Religion News Service reports.
JT Eberhard, director of SSA’s high school program, says he hopes that both atheist and religious students having clubs will help foster a dialogue.
“I also hope it will let the atheist students know that you can be an atheist and its okay," Eberhard told Religion News Service. "You are still a good person. We want to say: Here is a place where you can feel that."
There were about a dozen clubs of this ilk at the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year -- a number that increased to 39 in 17 states by the start of summer break. The clubs are student-led, and SSA only provides information and guidance upon a student’s request.
Some clubs exist in states that have large numbers of people who claim no religious affiliation, such as New York, Washington and California. Others are located in more religion-centered states, with North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas all claiming at least one high school with a club for atheists. Since January of this year, students representing 73 different high schools have requested “starter kits,” according to SSA.
Some students have no issue launching an atheist club assuming they meet their school’s criteria, which usually entails obtaining a faculty sponsor and demonstrating student interest.
Others are met with administrative resistance, like at Melbourne High School in Melbourne, Fla., where administrators rejected an atheist club on the basis that it was “too controversial.” Students at another Florida high school were told that no religious clubs were permitted, even though there was a school Christian club in existence. The principal of Houston’s La Porte High School denied students the use of the word “atheist” due to the fact “it could disrupt the educational process.”
In such instances, Eberhard usually intervenes, reminding administrators that the Equal Access Act grants students the right to form a club.
Earlier this month, Chelsea Stanton, a senior and atheist at Collingswood High School in New Jersey, also used the law to her advantage in defending her refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
“That’s the beauty of America -- that you don’t have to follow the same religion the majority does,” she said.
In Rhode Island, Cranston High School West student Jessica Ahlquist objected to a prayer banner the school had on display. The 16-year-old brought the case to court, receiving a January mandate for the school prayer banner to be brought down because it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Ahlquist has also received a $40,000 scholarship fund from the American Humanist Association.
Ahlquist was also honored with the Humanist Pioneer Award at this year's annual American Humanist Association in New Orleans, the Christian Post reported.
Also on HuffPost:

NAPOLITANO: John Roberts unleashes vast federal power -- on us.

Verne Strickland / Blogmaster / USA DOT COM / June 30, 2012

Basis for high court ruling not found in Constitution

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
-The Beatles in “The Taxman”

By Andrew P. Napolitano

 Among the 17 lawyers who have served as chief jus- tice of the United States, John Marshall - the fourth chief justice - has come to be known as the “great” chief justice. The folks who have given him that title are the progressives who largely have written the history we have all been taught in government schools. They revere him because he is the intellectual progenitor of federal power. His opinions over a 34-year period during the nation’s infancy - expanding federal power at the expense of personal freedom and the sovereignty of the states - set a pattern for federal control of our lives and actually invited Congress to regulate areas of human behavior nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. He was Thomas Jefferson’s cousin, but they rarely spoke. No chief justice in history has so pronouncedly and creatively offered the feds power on a platter as much as he.
Now he has a rival.
No one can know the true motivations for the idiosyncratic rationale in the health care decision written by John Marshall’s current successor, Chief Justice G. John Roberts Jr. Often, five-member majorities on the court are fragile, and bizarre compromises are necessary to keep a five-member majority from becoming a four-member minority. Perhaps Justice Roberts really means what he wrote - that congressional power to tax is without constitutional limit - and his opinion is a faithful reflection of that view, without a political, legal or intracourt agenda. But that view finds no support in the Constitution or our history. It even contradicts the most famous of John Marshall’s big-government aphorisms: The power to tax is the power to destroy.
The reasoning underlying the 5-4 majority opinion is the court’s unprecedented pronouncement that Congress‘ power to tax is unlimited. The majority held that the extraction of thousands of dollars per year by the Internal Revenue Service from individuals who do not have health insurance is not a fine, not a punishment, not a payment for government-provided health insurance, not a shared responsibility - all of which the statute says it is - but rather is an inducement in the form of a tax. The majority likened this tax to the federal taxes on tobacco or gasoline, which, it held, are imposed not only to generate revenue but also to discourage smoking and driving. The statute is more than 2,700 pages in length; it establishes the federal micromanagement of about 16 percent of the national economy, and the court justified it constitutionally by calling it a tax.
A 7-2 majority (which excluded two of the progressive justices who joined the chief justice in rewriting tax law and included the four dissenting justices who would have invalidated the entire statute as beyond the constitutional power of Congress) held that while Congress can regulate commerce, it cannot compel one to engage in commerce. The same majority ruled that Congress cannot force the states to expand Medicaid by establishing state insurance exchanges. It held that the congressional command to establish the exchanges combined with the congressional threat to withhold all Medicaid funds - not just those involved with the exchanges - for failure to establish them would be so harmful to the financial stability of state governments as to be tantamount to an assault on state sovereignty. This leaves the exchanges in limbo, and it is the first judicial recognition that state sovereignty apparently is at the tender mercies of the financial largesse of Congress.
The logic in the majority opinion is the jurisprudential equivalent of passing a camel through the eye of a needle. The logic is so tortured, unexpected and unprecedented that even the law’s most fervent supporters did not make or anticipate the court’s argument in its support. Under the Constitution, a tax must originate in the House, which this law did not, and it must be applied for doing something, like earning income or purchasing tobacco or fuel, not for doing nothing. In all the history of the court, it has never held that a penalty imposed for violating a federal law was really a tax. And it has never linguistically converted the congressional finding of penalty into the judicial declaration of tax, absent finding subterfuge on the part of congressional draftsmanship.
I wonder if the chief justice realized what he and the progressive wing of the court were doing to our freedom. If the feds can tax us for not doing as they have commanded, and if that which is commanded need not be grounded in the Constitution, then there is no constitutional limit to their power, and their ruling that the power to regulate commerce does not encompass the power to compel commerce is mere sophistry.
Even the Beatles understood this.
Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. He is the author of “It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom” (Thomas Nelson, 2011).

Friday, June 29, 2012

Justice Department won't prosecute Holder for contempt? Yes, it's true.

Verne Strickland USA DOT COM Blogmaster


Published June 29, 2012

The Justice Department declared Friday that Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to withhold information about a bungled gun-tracking operation from Congress does not constitute a crime and he won't be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.
The House voted Thursday afternoon to find Holder in criminal and civil contempt for refusing to turn over the documents. President Barack Obama invoked his executive privilege authority and ordered Holder not to turn over materials about executive branch deliberations and internal recommendations.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, the department said that it will not bring the congressional contempt citation against Holder to a federal grand jury and that it will take no other action to prosecute the attorney general. Dated Thursday, the letter was released Friday.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the decision is in line with long-standing Justice Department practice across administrations of both political parties.
"We will not prosecute an executive branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege," Cole wrote.
In its letter, the department relied in large part on a Justice Department legal opinion crafted during Republican Ronald Reagan's presidency.
Frederick Hill, the spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, said it is regrettable that "the political leadership of the Justice Department" is taking that position. Issa, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, is leading the effort to get the material related to Operation Fast and Furious.
Although the House voted Thursday to find Holder in criminal and civil contempt, Republicans probably are still a long way from obtaining documents they want for their inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-tracking investigation focused on Phoenix-area gun shops by Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The criminal path is now closed and the civil route through the courts would not be resolved anytime soon.
"This is pure politics," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"Remarkably the chairman of the committee involved here has asserted that he has no evidence that the attorney general knew of Operation Fast and Furious or did anything but take the right action when he learned of it.
"No evidence, so if you have no evidence as he has stated now about the White House and the attorney general, what else could this be but politics?"
More than 100 Democrats walked out of the House chamber to boycott the first of two contempt votes, saying Republicans were more interested in shameful election-year politics than documents.
Republicans demanded the documents for an ongoing investigation, but their arguments focused more on the need for closure for the family of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Two guns identified by the Fast and Furious tracking operation were found near his body after a shootout in Arizona.
Democrats promised closure as well, but said a less-partisan Republican investigation was the only way to get it.
Adding to the emotion of the day, the family of the slain agent issued a statement backing the Republicans.
"The Terry family takes no pleasure in the contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder. Such a vote should not have been necessary. The Justice Department should have released the documents related to Fast and Furious months ago," the statement said.
The contempt votes happened on the day that Obama's health care law survived in the Supreme Court, prompting some Democrats to speculate that the votes were scheduled to be overwhelmed by news stories about the ruling.
About five hours after the court ruled, with news sites flooded with information about the health care ruling, the House voted 255-67 to declare Holder in criminal contempt.
A second vote of 258-95 held Holder in civil contempt and authorized the House to file a lawsuit.
In past cases, courts have been reluctant to settle disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government.
The issue became more complicated when Obama invoked a broad form of executive privilege, a legal doctrine designed to keep private certain communications of executive branch agencies.
Issa's committee will consult with the House counsel's office about a court challenge to the administration's decision not to cooperate, spokesman Frederick Hill said.
The documents were written after Fast and Furious was shut down. The subpoena covered a 10-month period from February 2011, as the Justice Department expressed growing concern that the Fast and Furious operation had employed a risky investigative tactic known as "gun-walking." In early December 2011, the department finally acknowledged that the initial denial of gun-walking was in error.
Republicans said the contempt citations were necessary because Holder refused to hand over documents that could explain why the Obama administration took 10 months to acknowledge the gun-walking.
In Fast and Furious, ATF agents abandoned the agency's usual practice of intercepting all weapons they believed to be illicitly purchased, often as soon as they were taken out of gun shops. Instead, the goal of the tactic known as "gun-walking" was to track such weapons to high-level arms traffickers, who had long eluded prosecution, and to dismantle their networks.
Gun-walking long has been barred by Justice Department policy, but federal agents in Arizona experimented with it in at least two investigations during the George W. Bush administration before Operation Fast and Furious. These experiments came as the department was under widespread criticism that the old policy of arresting every suspected low-level "straw purchaser" was failing to stop tens of thousands of guns from reaching Mexico, more than 68,000 in the last five years. A straw purchaser conceals that he is buying guns for others.
Fast and Furious identified more than 2,000 weapons suspected of being illicitly purchased. But agents lost track of many of the guns. Some 1,400 of them have yet to be recovered.

Leaders respond to health care decision. Want partisan? You got it.

Posted: Jun 28, 2012 1:51 PM EDT Updated: Jun 28, 2012 8:44 PM EDT

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - We've been gathering reaction from our representatives on the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

Here's what many of our leaders have to say:

United States Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
"The Court has now fulfilled its obligation as final arbiter of the constitutionality of the President's health care law, and I thank them for their service.  While the Court has been reviewing this law for months, American families and businesses have been reviewing it for years, and they have rendered their verdict as well.  People on both sides of the health care debate will spend the days and weeks to come discussing the impact of today's ruling, but a few things remain clear: our health care system is broken, costs remain unchecked, and outcomes are not improving.  I remain committed to addressing these concerns and fulfilling our obligation to the American people to lower health care costs, expand coverage and choice, and build on the innovation that sets America apart from the rest of the world."

NC Governor Bev Perdue (D)
 "This morning's Supreme Court ruling will be welcome news for the approximately 95,000 young people ages 19 to 25 who will be able to stay on their family's health insurance plan because of this law. It's welcome news for the approximately 539,000 North Carolina children with preexisting medical conditions, because this law prevents insurance companies from denying these children coverage. And it's welcome news for women in North Carolina, who will get preventative health services, like cervical cancer screenings, mammograms, well-woman visits and domestic violence screenings; for seniors, who will benefit from a stronger Medicare and from more affordable prescription drugs; and for families, who will no longer have to worry constantly about having their coverage canceled or about being harmed by lifetime caps on patient care. I am committed to continuing to move forward, and to keep fighting to ensure that all North Carolinians have affordable, reliable health coverage that they can count on."

7th District Congressman Mike McIntyre (D)
"He (Chief Justice John Roberts, who cast a swing vote to uphold the law) said this amounts to a tax. As many people know I have always been against raising taxes and I did not favor this bill from the beginning, because I do not favor putting mandates and additional tax burdens on our businesses that are, as we all know, are trying to create jobs and save jobs or putting individual mandates on families when they have enough tax burdens on themselves already."
McIntyre said over the phone that Congress will be going through the bill to get rid of onerous positions in July, but also look at the positive aspects.  He includes the coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and coverage for people up to the age of 26 on their parent's insurance among the positive aspects.
McIntyre says he will vote for repeal again when Congress takes that up for consideration in July.

7th District Congressional Candidate David Rouzer (R)
"The Supreme Court's decision today strikes at the soul of America -- our freedom.  The door is now open for the federal government to control every aspect of our lives as long as any proposed legislation is a "tax".  Just because the law has been ruled constitutional doesn't mean it is good.  Obamacare is increasing the cost of healthcare and making it more difficult for many to receive quality care.  Many doctors are privately seeking their exit from the profession.  Businesses are not hiring because of the increased cost of health coverage under Obamacare. We need less government control in healthcare so that individuals and families can afford to receive quality care.  Only the free market produces the very best product for the lowest possible price."
NC Gubernatorial Candidate Pat McCrory (R)

"Today's decision by the Supreme Court is disappointing and upholds a law that I believe is the wrong approach for the people of North Carolina. This decision reaffirms what we already knew: the national healthcare law supported by Governor Perdue and Lt. Governor Dalton is a tax on North Carolinians. It greatly concerns me that I hear from small business owners in North Carolina that they will not hire more workers because of the costs of this healthcare plan. Our state has one of the worst economies in the country and the last thing our small businesses need is another major impediment to growing their businesses. I hope Congress and our next President can successfully overturn the law and replace it with healthcare reform that is less partisan, divisive, and doesn't put the federal government between doctors and patients."
3rd District Congressman Walter B. Jones (R)

"This is a sad day for liberty in America. Today a slim majority of the Supreme Court decreed that the federal government can use the power of taxation to force Americans to do whatever it wants.  That is outrageous. In fact, in his majority opinion Chief Justice John Roberts went so far as to state that the federal government also had the power to tax ‘every taxpayer who owns a house without energy efficient windows.' This should be a wake-up call for Americans.  Their freedoms are rapidly being stripped away by an increasingly socialist government.  We are headed down a dangerous path, and the only hope for reversing this course is through the ballot box in November." 
Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Soldier Shot Dead at Fort Bragg Army Base, Two Wounded

Thursday, 28 Jun 2012 09:37 PM



A U.S. soldier killed a member of his unit during a safety briefing at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on Thursday, then shot and injured himself, the Army base said in a statement.
The injured gunman is in custody, and Fort Bragg military police secured the scene within minutes, a spokesman for the base said. A third soldier was slightly injured by the gunfire. None of the soldiers was immediately identified.

NBC reports the dead soldier was a battalion commander. The victim is from the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade a unit that conducts reconnaissance and intelligence.

“This is a tragedy for our community,” Col. Kevin Arata, spokesman for Fort Bragg, said during a press conference. “We don’t yet know the reasons for the shooting, but are working with the unit and the affected families to help them through this difficult period.”

© 2012 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

House votes to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress. Obama "furious".

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

The vote was 255-67, with 17 Democrats breaking ranks to side with Republicans in favor of contempt.
The vote follows a roughly 16-month investigation by the chamber’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into the failed gun-running sting known as Fast and Furious -- run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a division of the Justice Department led by Holder.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., filed two subpoenas over that period requesting additional information. But he has more recently focused on information related to a February 2011 letter to Congress that falsely claimed the ATF was unaware the operation involved the underground sale of the assault weapons.
“Today, a bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for his continued refusal to produce relevant documents,” Issa said after the vote. “This was not the outcome I had sought and it could have been avoided had Attorney General Holder actually produced the subpoenaed documents he said he could provide.”
Congressional sources tell Fox News that House GOP leaders will now meet to decide the next steps, but the investigation is expected to go forward with more subpoenas being issued.
“Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided and politically motivated investigation during an election year,” Holder said afterward. “By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety.”
The vote, which holds the attorney general in criminal contempt, was followed by a second vote that held Holder in civil contempt of Congress. The civil contempt vote allows Congress to go to court to seek additional documents.
The criminal-contempt vote is supposed to direct a U.S. attorney to convene a grand jury to review the case and decide whether to indict Holder.
However, considering Holder would be investigated by his own employees, some analysts have said it's unlikely that would happen. If the case proceeds, though, Holder could face a maximum one year in jail if convicted.
The votes came on one of the busiest days in Washington in recent history, with the Supreme Court ruling 5-4 in the morning to uphold the president’s health care reform law.
Details about Fast and Furious emerged after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a December 2010 shootout  in which two of the assault weapons connected to operation were found at the scene.
“The Terry family takes no pleasure in the contempt vote,” according to a statement from the Brian Terry Foundation. “Such a vote should not have been necessary. The Department of Justice should have released the documents related to Fast and Furious months ago.”
Federal officials launched the operation in Arizona in an effort to get the weapons into the hands of arms dealers with the hope they would lead to organizers of Mexican drug cartels.
Others guns surfaced in crimes in Mexico, and roughly 2,000 remain missing.
Several meetings involving Obama administration officials and House Republicans, which involved negotiations about releasing additional documents, failed to stop the contempt votes.
White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer on Thursday called the vote a “political stunt."
“Despite the major economic challenges facing the country, they talked openly about devoting taxpayer-funded, congressional oversight resources to political purposes,” Pfeiffer said.
Among Democrats most opposed to the votes were members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who led more than 100 House party members in boycotting the vote and walking out of the chamber.
"Today, we are witnessing the great lengths to which Republican leadership will go in an attempt to discredit the Attorney General and embarrass the president,” said caucus Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. “Leadership’s actions are destructive, election-year politics.”
Prior to the vote, House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, “It’s important to remember how we got here. The Justice Department has not provided the facts and information we requested. … It’s our constitutional duty to find out.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi argued House Republicans were more politically motivated in attacking Holder than getting to the bottom of the failed operation.
“What is happening here is shameful," said Pelosi, D-Calif.
Lawmakers earlier voted against a proposal by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., to return the matter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

John Roberts Outrages Conservatives In Health Care Ruling. Fight May Have Just Begun

VERNE STRICKLAND BLOGMASTER: So another faceless moderate -- a wolf in sheep's clothing -- finally flies his true colors and commits a cowardly act that we will pay for until Obamacare is committed to an ignominious end. The "Affordable Care Act", which will be affordable to no one, outdoes the New Deal and the Great Society in its excesses -- unbridled spending and unconstitutional tenets. Conservatives vow they'll fight. I hope and pray they will. This travesty must not be given time to take a second breath.

Posted: Updated: 06/28/2012 2:05 pm
In his majority 5-4 opinion on Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the constitutionality of the signature domestic policy achievement of President Barack Obama's administration, the Affordable Care Act. In doing so, he and his court earned the ire of conservatives.
"This was an activist court that you saw today," Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told reporters. "Anytime the Supreme Court renders something constitutional that is clearly unconstitutional, that undermines the credibility of the Supreme Court. I do believe the court's credibility was undermined severely today," she said, later adding that Congress could now force you to buy Ikea furniture.
"The Supreme Court has abandoned us," Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said.
"Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of the United States is simply disappointing," Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) said. "I stand with Justice Kennedy that the entire act should have been held invalid."
Outrage over Roberts' decision also blew up online. Former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted, "I miss Justice Harriet Miers," referring to the nominee who withdrew after being questioned by conservatives. Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) tweeted that he was "truly disappointed in Justice Roberts and others who allowed this assault on the Republic stand" -- and later deleted the tweet. Conservative writer Ben Shapiro tweeted, "Chief Justice Roberts was the worst part of the Bush legacy."
The sentiment was mirrored in the press, with The Daily Caller splashing: "ROBERTS REVOLTS! Chief Justice Roberts swings left." Founder and president of the Media Research Center Brent Bozell told the conservative online publication: "His reputation is forever stained in the eyes of conservatives, and there will be no rehabilitating of it. He will be seen as a traitor to his philosophy.”
Roberts began serving on the court in 2005, after being nominated at the young age of 50 by President George W. Bush. His court has previously ruled to ease campaign contribution limits, strike down D.C.'s gun control law and allow evidence obtained from unlawful arrests to be used in court -- decisions that outraged liberals.
But Roberts did not abandon all conservative legal arguments. He defended the individual mandate as a tax, but did reject the Obama administration's defense of it under the commerce clause.
"The individual mandate, however, does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce," he wrote. "Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority."
He later remarked, adopting a line from Justice Antonin Scalia in oral arguments, "Under the Government’s theory, Congress could address the diet problem by ordering everyone to buy vegetables."
Ultimately, however, Roberts sided against conservatives and upheld Obama's foremost domestic policy.
Gregory Rosalsky contributed reporting.

U.S. Senator Burr issues statement on Supreme Court decision on Obama Health Care Law.

Verne Strickland/ Blogmaster USA DOT COM/ June 28, 2012

June 28, 2012, from Burr Press Office

Senator Richard Burr

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision on the President’s health care law:

“The Court has now fulfilled its obligation as final arbiter of the constitutionality of the President’s health care law, and I thank them for their service.  While the Court has been reviewing this law for months, American families and businesses have been reviewing it for years, and they have rendered their verdict as well.  People on both sides of the health care debate will spend the days and weeks to come discussing the impact of today’s ruling, but a few things remain clear: our health care system is broken, costs remain unchecked, and outcomes are not improving.  I remain committed to addressing these concerns and fulfilling our obligation to the American people to lower health care costs, expand coverage and choice, and build on the innovation that sets America apart from the rest of the world.”

Healthcare ruling a victory for Obama as he heads into tough election

By Amie Parnes - THE HILL   06/28/12 10:21 AM ET
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the healthcare law and rule President Obama’s controversial, landmark legislation as constitutional is an enormous victory for the White House ahead of a presidential election thought by many to be deadlocked.
Obama will speak about the ruling within the next few hours, a senior administration source told The Hill.
As the decision came down Thursday, White House staffers gathered in press secretary Jay Carney's office with the door closed in what aides quipped was their "war room." The press office was virtually deserted as people awaited word on the Supreme Court’s decision.
Obama had been scheduled to be in the Oval Office when the decision came down. But White House reporters were temporarily held near Carney's office as Obama apparently made his way from the residence to the West Wing.
White House aides, seemingly satisfied by the decision, said they wouldn't comment on the mood inside Carney's office at the time of the decision, preferring to let Obama speak first on the landmark ruling.

Thursday's ruling and the decision to keep the mandate — the crux of the law — intact is expected to invigorate Obama’s supporters and will surely boost morale on the president’s team at the White House and campaign headquarters in Chicago on the heels of a rocky month for Obama.

“We knew all along that the law was constitutional,” said one White House aide. “We said it then in the face of all the criticism we got. We’re saying it now. We never had any doubt.”A former senior administration official familiar with the president’s thinking said despite the constant controversy surrounding the law, Obama still sees the passage of the law as one of the most important — if not the most important — accomplishments of his time in office, “without question.”

That may be true but the healthcare law — the centerpiece of Obama’s domestic agenda for much of Obama’s first term — remains unpopular with the American public, with some Democrats accusing the White House of doing a bad job selling it. In recent months, as he’s begun to hit the campaign trail, Obama has only mentioned the law in passing, instead of highlighting it as one of his monumental achievements.

“It’s been very difficult for Obama to campaign on because polling behind it has been 2-to-1 [against it], and people have this sense that they don’t like it,” said Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.

But Jillson and other observers say the high court’s decision on Thursday could also motivate conservatives to hit the polls this fall to ensure Obama is no longer in office.

“The Republicans will make more use of it then the Democrats,” Jillson said. “They’ll use it to really rally their party.”

One healthcare strategist agreed with that premise: “It will definitely rev up some people at the margins,” the strategist said. “I’m sure it will inspire some on the right to campaign even harder for Mitt Romney.”

But Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said while the decision will likely provide an automatic boost to the Obama administration and a ratification of their policies, it leaves Democrats with little more.

“If the healthcare law was so popular, the president’s approval rating would be through the roof,” Bonjean said.

Now that the healthcare law is upheld, Obama’s opponents are expected to launch another round of lawsuits on other provisions — which some predict could take years.

Since the Supreme Court heard arguments on the law back in April, Obama expressed confidence that the law was a good one and that it would be upheld.

“Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” Obama told reporters at a press conference.

Even so, Jillson and other observers say the Supreme Court decision is indeed “a dodged bullet” for the Obama administration and Democrats.

And even with the high court victory, Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons predicted that Obama still wouldn’t spend more time campaigning on the issue.

“I haven’t seen any evidence that talking about health care reform will increase the president’s chances of being reelected,” he said. “The American people have already factored in healthcare. It’s baked in the cake.”
— This story was last updated at 10:53 a.m.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ron Paul supporters are not Republicans and should not attend the GOP convention!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / June 28, 2012 

Ron Paul supporters have no legitimate reason to be attending the National GOP Convention in Tampa. They are not Republicans| 

LOS ANGELES, June 26, 2011 – The idea of expressing policy views politely is lost on many of Ron Paul’s supporters. This is proven in reading the comments they leave to any article that veers from their narrow ideology tract.
This is not about making them mad. This is about policy, and only policy.
Paul supporters complain that a few bad apples discredit the entire movement and this may be true. They are not always wrong about this, but one charge against them that they freely admit to is disloyalty.
The following words accurately describe the overwhelming majority of Ron Paul supporters.
"I will not vote for anybody other than Ron Paul. Mitt Romney is the same as Barack Obama. No to Obamney. Ron Paul or nobody. Maybe Gary Johnson, but not Mitt Romney under any circumstances."
Ron Paul supporters have decided to hold a Libertarian lovefest in Tampa, Florida, on the days directly preceding the GOP Convention. They have every right to do this, and Republicans should have zero objections to them expressing themselves in the equivalent of the town square. This is what democracy is all about. If they have the permits in order, let them protest. If the GOP tries to shut this event down, well that would be morally wrong.
However, their event ends on August 26th. The GOP Convention begins on August 27th. The GOP Convention is a Republican Convention. It is a Mitt Romney Convention.
It is not a Ron Paul or Libertarian Convention.
Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable at this point to ban Ron Paul supporters from the GOP Convention.
That's right. An outright ban on their presence is the only way to prevent the event from turning into a debacle. There is no legitimate reason at this point for them to be there.
Conventions, for better or worse, are no longer nominating events. Nominees are chosen through the primaries. The conventions are coronations for the winners of the primaries. To the victor go the spoils.
In the real world, losing candidates accept whatever role the winner gives them. Ron Paul supporters live in a world where they continue to make demands.
Ron Paul supporters still do not understand why they lost the GOP nomination. It was not due to any conspiracy. The issue is ideological.
Paul supporters are Libertarians, not Republicans. The GOP nominee is a Republican, he is not a Libertarian.
The original Libertarians were fiscally conservative and socially liberal. They were too liberal on social issues for the Republican Party and too conservative on fiscal issues for the Democrats. They tried to split the difference.
While many people by nature actually were Libertarian, they didn't support the party with votes. Foreign policy issues were in the background.
The newer breed of Libertarians is slightly different. They are fiscally conservative and anti-war. Social issues are not agreed upon. Dr. Paul is pro-life while Gary Johnson is pro-choice. Again, the newer Libertarians are too conservative for the Democrats fiscally and far to the left of most Republicans on foreign policy.
They are trying to take over the Republican Party because their attempts to grow the Libertarian Party failed.
There are many arguments where Paul supporters claim to be "slurred," and "slandered," but calling someone a Libertarian should not be an insult.
It just means they are not Republicans.
This brings everything back to the convention. One ritual that no longer gets prime time attention is the roll call of the states. It is pomp and circumstance, but not news. The actual news comes from the speeches of the presidential and vice presidential nominees.
The delegates of all of the candidates can submit their votes any time between now and the convention. There is no need to do this on the convention floor.
Nobody other than Mitt Romney is entitled to any media coverage at the GOP Convention.
The purpose of the modern day convention is to unify the party. The Paul supporters are trying to blow it up. What do they think will happen? Do they think Ron Paul will be allowed to make a prime time speech advocating an anti-war platform?
The last time a Convention was spontaneous came in 1992 when President George Herbert Walker Bush allowed Pat Buchanan to blackmail him.
Mr. Buchanan gave a disastrous primetime speech. Mr. Bush looked weak and the Houston gathering was a disaster.
The Democrats in 1992 understood how to win the election (which is the actual goal). Bill Clinton treated Jerry Brown supporters as sub-human. Mr. Brown was given a terrible speaking slot, and his supporters showed up with tape over their mouths in protest.
Since then, losing candidates have been given the choice of shaping up or shipping out. Barack Obama made sure Hillary Clinton either stayed on message or said nothing.
Ron Paul could have run as a Libertarian. He could have held his own convention. Yet he decided to use the GOP infrastructure. In short, he tried to lead an insurgency while hiding behind the safe, comfortable cloak of the establishment.
His supporters are still an insurgency. They do not want to prop up what they see as a failed two-party system. Their goal is to tear it down.
They have every right to do this everywhere across this land, except at a private event for Republicans.
The final rationale they offer is that the GOP needs them to win in November. This is false. They are bluffing. Since they will not vote for Governor Romney under any circumstances, there is nothing for the GOP to lose.
Many Paul supporters actually want Mr. Romney to lose because that way they can take credit for any close loss. If Mr. Romney wins without them, they get absolutely nothing. They are marginalized forever, along with the Buchanan Brigades and the Lyndon Larouche supporters.
Jews do not get to give keynote speeches at Palestinian gatherings. White people do not get to lead NAACP dinners. White, male conservatives do not address attendees at the NOW gatherings. Big oil supporters are not welcomed with open arms at greeniac environmental conferences.
The Republicans made their choice. They chose Mitt Romney. Supporters of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum accepted this. Ron Paul supporters have not and they have zero loyalty to the GOP.
This is not about whether they are noble patriots or raving lunatics. This is not about whether they are intolerant zealots or the one true political faith.
They are simply square pegs trying to force their way into a round hole.
People who are not Republicans, don't like Republicans, detest the Republican Party, reject the Republican nominee, and want an agenda different from the current Republican agenda, all fall into one category.
They are non-Republicans.
Non-Republicans should be banned from the Republican Convention to prevent 1968-style Chicago riots. The time for arguments on the right has ended. It is time for strict iron-fisted party discipline. It is time for Republicans to be good soldiers and fall into line. Anti-war protesters from Occupy Wall Street to Code Pink are there solely to make trouble. Security escorts them out.
Ron Paul supporters can either put on Mitt Romney t-shirts and pledge loyalty to the GOP or find a place where Ron Paul is in charge. They made their choice, and now have their own festival.
Happy Festivus for the rest of them.
Those who refuse to pledge loyalty can attend the events the day before the convention in the park. Paulopalooza can accept everybody, or ban establishment Republicans from attending.
As for the Republican Party Convention, party-crashers are not welcome.

No Bath Salts, Only Marijuana, Found in Face-Eater Toxicology Tests

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / June 27, 2012

Posted:  Huffington Post

Rudy Eugene Toxicology Drug Tests No Bath Salts

It wasn't bath salts. It was pot.

According to a full toxicology report released Wednesday afternoon by the Miami-Dade medical examiner, the only drug detected in the lifeless body of infamous Miami face-chewer Rudy Eugene was marijuana.

"The department's toxicology laboratory has identified the active components of marijuana," the medical examiner said in a statement, according to NBC Miami. "The laboratory has tested for but not detected any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs...This includes cocaine, LSD, amphetamines (Extasy, Meth and others), phencyclidine (PCP or Angel Dust), heroin, oxycodone, Xanax, synthetic marijuana (Spice), and many other similar compounds."

CBS Miami reports that the medical examiner's office sought the assistance of an "outside forensic toxicology reference laboratory" to help confirm the absence of common ingredients of bath salts, a synthetic amphetamine cocktail blamed in several recent incidents that bear some similarity to Eugene's attack.

"Within the limits of current technology by both laboratories," read the report from Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Hyma, "marijuana is the only drug identified in the body of Mr. Rudy Eugene."

Eugene, 31, was widely speculated to have been on some form of synthetic drugs or suffering a drug-induced psychosis the afternoon of May 26 when he stripped naked and brutally attacked homeless resident Ronald Poppo in broad daylight along Miami's busy MacArthur Causeway, chewing and ripping off roughly half of the older man's face.

A police officer responding to multiple 911 calls shot and killed Eugene as he crouched over Poppo, reportedly refusing to stop the gruesome assault by growling at the officer with Poppo's flesh in his mouth. The 18-minute attack and its aftermath were captured on surveillance video from the Miami Herald's parking garage, but it is still unknown what prompted Eugene to commit such a horrific crime.

Records show the former North Miami Beach High football player had been arrested 8 times since the age of 16, including 4 instances involving marijuana. But though he was once accused of threatening to kill his mother, friends and family members alike say they never expected such violence from Eugene, who was participating in a Bible study, reading the Koran, and telling friends he wanted to stop smoking marijuana.

“Something happened out of the ordinary that day. I don’t want him to be labeled the Miami Zombie,” Eugene's girlfriend told the Herald. “He was a person. I don’t want him to go down like that.”
Poppo, meanwhile, is doing "well," according to doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center. The 65-year-old has lost one eye, is missing his nose, and faces a string of surgeries to repair his wounds and reconstruct his face.

"We have mental health professionals to help him with the coping, and he's coping remarkably well," said plastic surgeon Dr. Wrood Kassira.

Communist Party endorses Barack Obama for re-election.

via Verne Strickland Blogmaster USA DOT COM June 26, 2012


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Farm bill will face tough row to hoe in GOP-dominated House.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / June 26, 2012


Rep. Frank D. Lucas, Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has promised the House bill will cut at least $33 billion from the federal deficit — $10 billion more than the Senate version — with the cuts coming equally from food stamps and commodity programs.
The bill is likely to ignite fights along both regional and party lines.
Lawmakers from the corn- and bean-heavy Midwest tended to support the Senate version, which earned 16 Republican votes last week en route to passing 64-35. But Southerners have complained that the bill’s crop-insurance and risk-management programs aren’t as helpful to the rice and peanut farmers in their districts.
Complicating the fight, Democrats are opposed to cutting safety-net programs in the face of high unemployment, while House Republicans have already taken action to cut food stamps this year to reduce the deficit and avert automatic cuts in defense spending.
“It’s going to be very difficult for Chairman Lucas to walk that line and satisfy his deficit-reduction members but not alienate these Democrats they’ve typically relied on to pass this bill,” said Joshua Sewell, a policy analyst for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that opposes the Senate farm bill.
Senators said they did take some major steps toward reform, including voting to eliminate direct payments to farmers, who often pocketed sizable federal subsidies even if they didn’t plant any crops.
Instead of direct payments, the Senate bill would invest more in crop insurance and set up a new program to supplement it, where the government would pay farmers for their losses when their revenue falls below 89 percent of a benchmark based on five-year average prices and yields. For certain crops, this would guarantee a profit.
It would cost 2.3 percent less than the last farm bill with the shift to market-based subsidies, combined with cutting $4 billion in waste from the food-stamp program and consolidating conservation programs.
But that hasn’t quieted some Republicans who want to chop down the bill further and argue that the farm subsidies are still too cushy.
Mr. Lucas has indicated he supports a program that would reimburse farmers for some of the steeper losses crop insurance doesn’t cover, saying the Senate version provides for farmers when they suffer mild loses but would leave them hanging in a crisis.
“I want a real safety net,” Mr. Lucas told the Oklahoma Farm Report radio program last month. “Not just keep the good times the best, but if we have a free fall, I want something to catch us.”
Undergirding all the debate is lawmakers’ sense of urgency to agree on a bill before the current one expires at the end of September.
Republicans voted to cut the food-stamp program by $13.3 billion annually over the next decade as part of the House budget passed earlier this year. If they insist on similar cuts now, it could stall the farm bill, since Democrats have said cuts that deep are out of the question.
“The level that passed by the House in their budget resolution is absolutely unacceptable to me and the majority of those in the Senate,” Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, said after shepherding the Senate bill through the floor last week. “Certainly, that is not something I would support.”
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About the Author
Paige Winfield Cunningham

Paige Winfield Cunningham

Paige Winfield Cunningham reports on Congress and national politics for The Washington Times. She covered the Supreme Court hearing on the Affordable Care Act in March and specializes in writing about health care policy.