Politics

Court Issues Devastating Ruling Against Obamacare

By on 7.22.14 | 11:49AM

In a highly anticipated decision, this morning the D.C. Circuit Court ruled on the Halbig v. Burwell case argued back in March. The decision, which had court-watchers on edge for a better part of a month, was closely watched because of its potential impact on Obamacare subsidies and the power the IRS had to distribute those subsidies. In short, the text of Obamacare only provides for subsidies to be used in state exchanges. The lawsuit argued that this made federal exchanges, established when thirty-six states refused to set up their own exchanges, ineligible for subsidies. 

The ruling was a 2-1 decision against the government, with a concurring decision and a dissent. It mostly examined the idea of textualism versus intent by members of Congress. In the concurring opinion, Judge Randolph gets to the heart of the issue by quoting former Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis in another case:

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The Obama Watch

The Gang That Couldn’t Speak Straight

By 7.22.14

Great piece by former colleague Alyssa Mastromonaco who defines smart, savvy and fashionable.

Thus began a tweet on Thursday by Jen Psaki, the execrable State Department spokeswoman who thought it would be a good idea to depart from that day’s shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 over the Ukraine by Russian separatists, if not actual Russian military operators, using a SA-11 missile system.

It was the second Psaki gaffe of the day, as she had already opened her daily briefing not with reaction to the downing of the plane, but rather a series of minutiae so insignificant that Fox News’s Shepard Smith angrily denounced her as “highly inappropriate” for wasting airtime.

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A Big Victory for Property Rights in Virginia

By on 7.21.14 | 3:44PM

Property rights took a significant step forward in Virginia earlier this month when the “Boneta Bill,” which protects farmers and other residents from heavy-handed zoning policies, officially became law. The bill grew out of a dispute between Martha Boneta, who owns and operates the sixty-four-acre “Liberty Farm” in Paris, Virginia, and local government officials. Liberty Farm is about an hour car ride from Washington, D.C.

The case, which has attracted national attention, reached a critical turning point in August 2012 when the Fauquier County Zoning Board of Appeals voted to uphold a series of $15,000 per day fines against Boneta based on amendments made to the county’s zoning ordinance. The fines, which have never been enforced, were issued against Boneta for hosting a birthday party for eight ten-year-old girls and for advertising pumpkin carvings, according to a press release from the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

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Polls Give a Nod to Non-Interventionists

By on 7.21.14 | 3:12PM

As politicians across the country continue to fight amongst themselves over wedge issues that the average voter does not care about—specifically birth control—Ukraine, Iraq, Israel, and several other countries are on fire. As foreign policy continues to come to the forefront, a debate is raging over what involvement the United States should have in helping settle these crises. One thing, however, is clear: the McCains and Grahams of the Senate are losing popularity.

According to a poll done by Politico, while Republicans have a seven-point advantage on foreign policy, the hawks are losing their edge by a wide margin:

In the big picture, two-thirds of respondents agreed with the statement that U.S. military actions should be “limited to direct threats to our national security.” Only 22 percent agreed with the statement that as a “moral leader,” the United States “has a responsibility to use its military to protect democracy around the globe."

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Another IRS Hearing Leaves Questions Unanswered

By on 7.17.14 | 3:31PM

In another House Oversight Committee hearing today, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole was subpoenaed to testify. Cole was specifically asked to answer questions about the investigation of the IRS by the Department of Justice.

Congressman Jim Jordan, who was chairing the hearing, opened with a strong statement condemning the DOJ’s lack of response to the allegations against the IRS:

Four days after the IRS leaked they were targeting conservatives, the DOJ under Holder said they were outraged and were going to investigate. That was last May and we have heard nothing more. How much more will it take for the administration to appoint a special prosecutor?

The ranking member, Elijah Cummings, said Republicans were only being zealous because they were looking for an opportunity to attack the administration and find a conspiracy theory:

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Passenger Jet Shot Down in Eastern Ukraine

By on 7.17.14 | 1:48PM

Malaysia Airlines lost a plane in Ukrainian airspace near the Ukraine-Russia border Thursday. The company’s official Twitter page posted at 11:36 a.m. EST that it had “lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam." Reuters reported that all 295 people aboard are dead. The jet came down over Donetsk, a pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist stronghold, crashing some twenty-five miles from the Russian border. The Russian news source Interfax reportedly broke the story citing Russian aviation officials. Its website was inaccessible as the story broke. The Associated Press reports that Anton Gerashenko, Ukraine’s interior minister, wrote on his Facebook profile that it was shot down by a Buk missile system.

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Karl Rove’s Chief of Staff Replies

By on 7.17.14 | 1:20PM

Yesterday, I ran a short post that quoted a June 4th Washington Post story on the role of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads in the Mississippi Senate runoff. The Post reported:

American Crossroads, a GOP establishment organization, has decided to shift its political focus almost entirely to the general election and will not be spending money in the likely runoff election to decide the Mississippi Senate nomination that was virtually deadlocked after Tuesday night. […]

“Other than Alaska, we have completed our work on Senate primaries this cycle and are now focused on general elections. With the Chamber, the NRSC, and a local super PAC already backing Cochran, this is not our fight,” Paul Lindsay, spokesman for Crossroads, said in a statement. 

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The Psychology of Climate Change

By on 7.17.14 | 10:54AM

"The Population Bomb: While You Are Reading These Words Four People Will Have Died of Starvation, Most of Them Children,” read the title of Paul R. Ehrlich’s 1968 book. In 1975, Newsweek’s Peter Gwynne wrote an article called “The Cooling World,” which argued that the earth was cooling and “the resulting famines could be catastrophic.” These days, you can’t drop your child off at pre-school or go to the grocery store without hearing about the latest Malthusian uproar, climate change.  

The doomsayers have run into no trouble reaching the otherwise tone-deaf executive branch. Yesterday, President Obama said, "climate change poses a direct threat to the infrastructure of America," before unleashing a number of new climate change initiatives.

To be clear, it does seem like the earth is warming and that human beings have an effect on it. That much is apparent. But the rate at which the earth is warming, the amount of influence that humans have on the climate, and the proper solutions are certainly up for debate.

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Politics

Showdown in Las Vegas

By 7.17.14

The letter was polite. A simple request for dialogue — a “productive conversation” — with the NAACP at its upcoming 105th convention in Las Vegas. Dialogue between black conservatives and representatives of the historic group that was once a beacon in the fight for civil rights.

The March letter went to Lorraine C. Miller, the interim president of the group, and was signed by Deneen Borelli, the prominent black conservative, on behalf of empower.org and FreedomWorks. Borelli cited the national black unemployment rate in February (12 percent) and noted it was double that for whites. The unemployment rate for black teens between ages 16 and 19 — a particularly mindboggling set of statistic, 32.4 percent — was cited. Last but not least was the drop in black homeownership from 50 percent to 43 percent, a sharp contrast to a rise of 73 percent in white homeownership.

The suggestion was made to have a panel on economic empowerment with representatives of the NAACP and a group of black conservatives including Borelli and the Reverend C.L. Bryant. Along with the inevitable booth, a staple of these kind of gatherings.

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Darrell Issa, Subpoenas, and Political Theater

By on 7.16.14 | 4:06PM

Congressman Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, issued a subpoena to White House senior adviser David Simas, compelling him to testify at a Wednesday morning hearing exhaustively titled, “White House Office of Political Affairs: Is Supporting Candidates and Campaign Fund-Raising an Appropriate Use of a Government Office?”

White House counsel Neil Eggleston pushed back against the subpoena in a letter, describing it as a violation of the separation of powers, as it “threatens longstanding interests of the executive branch in preserving the president’s independence and autonomy, as well as his ability to obtain candid advice and counsel to aid him in the discharge of his duties,” the Washington Post reported. Issa insisted the subpoena remain in place.

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