Showing posts with label President Obama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label President Obama. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Plan targets health care bias against transgender people

FILE - In this July 21, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks before signing executive orders to protect LGBT employees from federal workplace discrimination in the East Room of the White House in Washington.  The Obama administration has proposed to ban discrimination against transgender people throughout the health care system, carrying out anti-bias provisions in the president's health overhaul.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mirroring a shift in society, the Obama administration proposed Thursday to ban discrimination against transgender people throughout the health care system.
Once the proposed regulations are final, they should expand insurance coverage for gender transition and prohibit health care facilities from denying transgender people access to restrooms that match their individual gender identity.
The new protections are part of a broader rule from the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out anti-bias provisions of President Barack Obama's health care law. In a first, the law specified that sex discrimination is prohibited in health care, and the regulation carries it a step further, clarifying that "gender identity" is included under that protective umbrella.
"This is a huge step," said Michael Silverman, director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York. "It covers a lot of ground."
The new transgender policy comes as social attitudes about sexuality and gender are undergoing major changes. The Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry, and the gender transition of Olympian Bruce Jenner from male to female — Caitlyn — has brought new awareness about a group often ostracized by society.
The long-delayed rule amounts to a manual for carrying out the health law's prohibition against medical discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Those underlying provisions already are in effect.
Jocelyn Samuels, head of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said the rule does not explicitly require insurers to cover gender transition treatment, including surgery. But insurers could face questions if they deny medically necessary services related to gender transition by a man who identifies as a woman, or a woman who identifies as a man.
"It is basically a requirement that insurers use nondiscriminatory criteria," Samuels told reporters.
Advocates for transgender people note that insurers already pay for services such as hormone treatments and reconstructive surgery, but decline to cover them when they're part of a gender transition.
"What the rule says is they cannot exclude transgender people from the services that other people have," said Harper Jean Tobin, policy director for the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Currently, 10 states plus Washington, D.C., require private insurers to cover transgender health care, while six states plus the nation's capital cover such services through their Medicaid programs, according to advocates.
The new requirements would have impact throughout the health care system because service providers who accept federal dollars would have to comply.
Medicare and Medicaid are the cornerstone of hospital finances. That means transgender people could not be restricted from access to bathrooms or hospital wards consistent with the gender that they identify with, Samuels said.
Most doctors would be covered. Insurers that offer plans through would have to comply with the requirements in their plans off the health insurance exchange as well.
The regulation may not be final for many months. The public comment period extends through Nov. 6, and officials are seeking comment on a range of difficult issues, including religious conscience protections for service providers and whether sexual orientation — whether a person is a gay man or a lesbian — should also be protected.
Other advocates were disappointed with a separate section of the rule addressing discriminatory insurance benefits. That can happen, for example, when an insurer requires patients to pay a large share of the cost for all drugs used to treat a given condition.
The AIDS Institute and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said the regulation was not specific enough, and the final version needs to provide examples of benefit designs that would be considered discriminatory.

Monday, August 31, 2015

[VIDEO] CNN: DNC Not Backing Iran Deal ‘Big Embarrassment’ for Obama

President Obama suffered an “embarrassment” with the Democratic National Committee not passing a resolution over the weekend in support of his Iran nuclear deal, CNN panelists said Sunday.
According to the Washington Post, party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) blocked the resolution at the summer meeting in Minnesota.
“The Obama-controlled DNC could not pass a resolution this weekend expressing support for President Obama’s Iran deal,” New York Timesreporter Jonathan Martin said. “It’s a bit of an embarrassment for the administration seeing as it’s how his party, he appointed Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and it’s revived the sort-of latest round of eye-rolling among Democratic operatives about the state of the party.”
CNN host John King said Martin was being diplomatic, saying it was a “big embarrassment for the president.”

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Milwaukee County Sheriff Challenges Obama: 'Forego Your Secret Service Protection'

Milwaukee County Sheriff Challenges Obama: 'Forego Your Secret Service Protection'
( - "I am done asking people in my community to outsource their personal safety to the government," Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke told Fox News's Sean Hannity Thursday night.

The sheriff accuses Democrats of "exploiting misery and tragedy" to pursue a political, anti-gun agenda.

"But here's my challenge to the president of the United States, you think this is so easy. Forego your Secret Service protection, for you, for the first lady, and your children, and see what it is like to have to fend yourself.

"And then we'll sit down and have a conversation so you know what we here at ground level have to deal with on a daily base in terms of self-defense."

Clarke said the way to reduce "gun violence" and crime is to identify the bad guys, arrest them, adjudicate them, "and once they've convicted, you lock them up for the longest period allowed by law."

Clarke noted that President Obama is doing the opposite -- letting convicted felons "out the back door."

"He recently visited a federal prison and pardoned 46 federal prisoners, long time federal convicts. And he plans on doing more," Clarke said.

"So while the police and the community and the people are trying to get these individuals out of their community, he is pouring them back in. This was a chance for the president, Sean, to bring the country together, and once again the divider in chief goes out and further separates us."

Clarke said the Constitution does not prevent terrible things, such as this week's horrific murders near Roanoke, from happening.

"Well, look, Sean, as you know, terrible things happen in this world from time to time. We have to be a little more humble about our ability to prevent every horrific situation from happening.

"There are certain things we can do to reduce and prevent these sorts of things. Not messing with this document (the Constitution), no. But we can do things like better mental health screening, better background checks.

"The FBI allowed a guy to purchase a handgun that went down, we understand it, and committed a horrific act recently (in Charleston). So if we're trying to make this absolute, that none of these things will ever happen again, we're working on the wrong thing, because unfortunately the world we live in, with the evil that exists, it's going to happen."

Thanks to Judge Erickson for curtailing the EPA

President Obama's latest case of executive overreach has hit a wall: Judge Erickson.
A federal judge in North Dakota acted late on Thursday to block the Obama administration’s controversial water pollution rule, hours before it was due to take effect. 
Judge Ralph Erickson of the District Court for the District of North Dakota found that the 13 states suing to block the rule met the conditions necessary for a preliminary injunction, including that they would likely be harmed if courts didn't act and that they are likely to succeed when their underlying lawsuit against the rule is decided. 
The decision is a major roadblock for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, who were planning on Friday to begin enforcing the Waters of the United States rule, expanding federal jurisdiction over small waterways, like streams and wetlands.
The EPA has turned into President Obama's favorite agency.  The EPA is out of control, as many businessmen will tell you.

More important, the EPA is exhibit A of how President Obama goes around Congress or simply governs without Congress.

As with the immigration order halted by a Texas judge, President Obama is learning that it's tough to govern on a unilateral basis.  In other words, sooner or later you will run into a judge who understands the U.S. Constitution.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Obama Weekly Address: Meeting the Global Threat of Climate Change Saturday August 29, 2015

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at at 6:00 a.m. ET, August 29, 2015.

Friday, August 28, 2015

[COMMENTARY] Contentions Hillary Clinton Breaks Silence on Obama’s Decimation of the Democrats

If there was one clear takeaway from Hillary Clinton’s address to the party officials assembled in Minneapolis for the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting, it was they are certainly Ready for Hillary. Sure, her largest applause lines were for the accomplishments of President Barack Obama or her husband (the majority of which she is now on the record opposing). Still, her workmanlike speech accomplished its modest goal, and the crowd did appear warm to their party’s presidential frontrunner. But while much of Clinton’s address was unremarkable cheerleading for Team Blue, one aspect of her speech was particularly noteworthy. In a rare moment of tough love for her fellow Democrats, Clinton noted that their party has been utterly decimated at the state-level. What she declined to note, however, was that this condition would yield years of hardship when the Democratic Party looks to a farm team that doesn’t exist. A generation of Democrats that were to come of age in the next decade simply will not be there. What’s more, it was Barack Obama who presided over this culling.
“The first thing I would say is we need to elect more Democrats. Okay?” Clinton told a group of Democrats in Iowa earlier this week. “You can’t have a loss like having Tom Harkin retire, and not be really motivated to not get the other Democrats in there who will stand with me.” Apparently, you can. Harkin was just one of the Democrats who were replaced by a Republican in 2014 – in his case, freshman Senator Joni Ernst.
Clinton would not expand on the nature of the Democratic Party’s predicament. Perhaps it was simply too painful to do so. 2014 saw the Democrats lose nine U.S. Senate seats and resulted in a 54-seat GOP majority in the upper chamber. The Republicans confounded political observers who presumed that the party remained overextended in the House following their 2010 landslide victories. The Republicans entered 2015 with 247 seats, up from the 234-seat majority they had heading into last year’s midterms and the largest majority for the party since 1947. But the federal legislature is largely composed of politicians who cut their teeth in state-level legislative bodies, and it was on the local level that Democrats saw their influence contract dramatically.
When Barack Obama took office in 2008, he did so on the crest of a pro-Democratic wave – the second consecutive liberal electoral tsunami – that swept hundreds of Democratic politicians into office along with him. By 2009, Democrats controlled 62 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers. Come January of 2015, Republicans controlled 69 of 99 of state-level legislative houses – a handful of which were secured when state legislators, sensing the wind’s shifting direction, switched parties. At the gubernatorial level, the scale of the wave was most acutely felt. Republicans were expected to lose at least four executive mansions. Instead, they lost only one and picked up four new governorships for a total of 31. By 2015, 32 lieutenant governors and 29 secretaries of state all called themselves Republicans. In 23 states, Republicans controlled all the elected branches of government.
“It is not just enough to elect more members of the Senate and more members of the House in Washington,” Clinton told her fellow Democrats earlier this week. “We need more members in the state Senate. We need more members in the state house.” But the painful scope of this project is so staggering that even Hillary Clinton could not bear to be fully honest about it.
The former secretary of state revisited the themes of her Iowa address in Minneapolis on Friday. “I’m not taking a single primary voter or caucus-goer for granted. I’m building an organization in all 50 states and territories, with hundreds of thousands of volunteers who will help Democrats win races up and down the ticket. Not just the presidential campaign,” she said. “Look, in 2010, Republicans routed us on redistricting, not because they won Congress but because they won state legislatures.”
We can be charitable and presume that Clinton meant that, because of the GOP’s victories in 2010, the party went on to control much of the reapportionment process in 2011 – at least, in those states that continued to have partisan redistricting commissions. But the scale of the GOP’s victories in 2014 (you can’t gerrymander a state) are indicative of the truism that all the cleverly-drawn districts in the world cannot overcome a decisive mandate from a critical mass of voters.
Republicans were in a fortunate position when decennial reapportionment took place after the 2010 elections, and they took great advantage of their position. They did so, in fact, in the same way Democrats had for generations when their party commanded substantial state-level and federal legislative majorities for much of the 20th Century. But pro-GOP maps aren’t the only things keeping Democratic majorities down. By virtue of the “inefficient clustering” of Democratic voters, as Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman observed, Democrats are going to have trouble converting their popular vote share into a proportionate percentage of seats.
“The way that the districts are packed and the increasing tendency for like-minded people to cluster together means that Democrats have to win upwards of 55 percent of the overall House vote to come close to claiming a majority of the House seats,” theWashington Post’s Chris Cillizza summarized. Hillary Clinton might have coattails if she were to win the White House, but it’s extremely unlikely that the will be that long; particularly given the fact that she is seeking a historically atypical third consecutive term for her party. When the president governs as Barack Obama has, flouting the will of the electorate and enraging his opponents far more than he energized his base (the Affordable Care Act and his unilateral executive actions on immigration, to name two catalysts), it invites the kind of routs that the Democrats experienced in 2010 and 2014.
It may be comforting to contend that the game is rigged and Democrats would do better politically if only the winds of fate had prevented Republicans from controlling the redistricting process, but it’s a fable. Hillary Clinton is taking a step toward being honest about her party’s predicament with its members, but she cannot be entirely forthright about the scale of the problem without indicting Barack Obama’s approach to governance. That is not happening any time soon. Democrats appreciate Barack Obama’s aggressive style, and they have not yet come around to the realization that it has put their party in the worst position it has been in since prior to the New Deal. Hillary Clinton is taking the first steps toward diagnosing her party’s malady, but she cannot accurately prescribe a remedy without alienating the voters she needs to win the nomination.
There will be no emerging from the wilderness anytime soon.

Four Big Problems with the Obama Administration’s Climate Change Regulations

A few years ago, cap-and-trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions failed to reach President Barack Obama’s desk because constituents gave their Members an earful that cap and trade would amount to a massive energy tax. When the bill died in Congress, President Obama said that there was more than “one way of skinning a cat,” and here it is.[1]
The Obama Administration has finalized its climate regulations known as the Clean Power Plan. There are plenty of details to uncover in the 1,560-page regulation,[2] the 755-page federal implementation plan,[3] and the 343-page regulatory impact analysis.[4] To summarize, unelected bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are poised to do what America’s elected representatives refused: impose higher energy costs on American families and businesses for meaningless climate benefits.
The following are four early observations that should cause Members of Congress, state politicians, and the general public concern.

1. Higher Energy Prices, Lost Jobs, Weaker Economy

When running for office in 2008, President Obama famously remarked, “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”[5] Although that plan ultimately failed to become law, the White House tasked the EPA with creating the regulatory equivalent, placing strict greenhouse gas emissions limits on new power plants and drastic cuts on existing plants. The plan includes greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for each state except for Vermont, Alaska, and Hawaii in hopes of reducing overall power plant emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
The regulations will drastically shift the energy economy away from coal, which provides approximately 40 percent of America’s electricity.[6] Restricting the use of that affordable, reliable energy supply will raise electricity rates, and those higher prices will reverberate through the economy. Businesses will pass higher costs onto consumers, but if a company must absorb the higher costs, it will invest less and expand less. The combination of reduced production and consumption will result in fewer jobs and a weaker economy.[7]
Despite candidate Barack Obama’s admission that cap and trade will raise prices, the Administration is attempting to spin the regulations as a win for the economy. Proponents of the Clean Power Plan argue that as energy prices increase, families and businesses will invest in more energy-efficient products and innovative technologies that will save them money in the long run. Arguing that increasing energy prices with regulations will save money by forcing energy-efficient product purchases is equivalent to cutting employees’ salaries and telling them that they will save money by shopping at Target. Just as the option to save money at Target existed before the pay cut, families and businesses already have an incentive to purchase energy-efficient products. When the government mandates efficiency, it removes that choice and makes consumers worse off.

2. No Climate Benefit, Exaggerated Environmental Benefits

The climate impact of the Clean Power Plan will be meaningless. According to climatologist Paul Knappenberger, “Even if we implement the Clean Power Plan to perfection, the amount of climate change averted over the course of this century amounts to about 0.02 C. This is so small as to be scientifically undetectable and environmentally insignificant.”[8] Climatologist James Hansen, who wants the Administration to do much more to combat climate change, has stated that “the actions are practically worthless.”[9]
The monetized climate benefits the Administration is touting are equally worthless. The EPA says the rule will provide $34 billion to $54 billion in annual environmental benefits after 2030. Yet these numbers are misleading for two reasons.
Social Cost of Carbon. First, the Administration uses “the social cost of carbon” to calculate the climate benefit. The EPA is using three statistical models, known as integrated assessment models, to estimate the value of the social cost of carbon, which is defined as the economic damage that one ton of carbon dioxide emitted today will cause over the next 300 years. The EPA uses the average of the three models to estimate the social cost imposed by climate change—$40 in 2015 and $56 in 2030. However, the models arbitrarily derive a value for the social cost of carbon.[10] Subjecting the models to reasonable inputs for climate sensitivity and discount rates dramatically lowers the figure for the social cost of carbon.
People generally prefer benefits earlier instead of later and costs later instead of earlier. Hence, it is necessary to normalize costs and benefits to a common time. For example, if a 7 percent discount rate makes people indifferent to a benefit now versus a benefit later (e.g., $100 today versus $107 a year from now), then 7 percent is the appropriate discount rate to use. The Administration’s own analysis shows how sensitive the social cost of carbon is to the discount rate.[11] When changed from a 3 percent discount rate to a 5 percent discount rate, the EPA’s $20 billion in projected climate benefits decreases to $6.4 billion—less than the EPA’s egregiously low projection of $8.4 billion in compliance costs.
Co-benefits. The second problem is the EPA’s use of co-benefits in inflating the benefits. The EPA exaggerates the environmental benefits by including the estimated benefits from reducing particulates (co-benefits) that are already covered by existing regulations and federal health requirements. Of those benefits, $20 billion come from direct climate benefits, and $14 billion to $34 billion are air quality co-benefits. Co-benefits sound positive. Who would not want additional health and environmental benefits from regulations?
The problem is that these benefits are double-counted over and over again with each regulation the federal government imposes. In some instances the co-benefits have accounted for more than 99 percent of the EPA’s estimated environmental benefits. The agency even overestimates the co-benefits by using questionable assumptions about causality and simplistic methods to calculate the benefits.[12]

3. Overly Prescriptive EPA Picks Winners and Losers

The EPA has been arguing that the plan will provide the states with plenty of flexibility and options in meeting its goal. It proposed that states use a combination of “building blocks” to achieve emissions reductions, including improving the efficiency of existing coal-fired power plants, switching from coal-fired power plants to natural gas–fired power plants, and using less carbon-intensive generating power, such as renewable energy or nuclear power. The proposed plan contained a fourth building block, demand-side energy-efficiency measures, but the EPA excluded that building block in calculating the state emission reduction targets. However, states can still implement energy-efficiency measures as a compliance option. The EPA would also allow states to impose a carbon tax or participate in regional cap-and-trade programs.[13]
All of these options present a Sophie’s choice of economic pain, reduced choice, and regulatory engineering of America’s energy economy. Although the EPA does not explicitly direct the states which path to take, the federal government is clearly nudging them to choose expanded renewables and energy efficiency. If a state chooses to produce more renewable power or implement more stringent energy-efficient mandates for homes and businesses, it will receive extra credits toward meeting its emissions targets.
Coal is an obvious loser, but the final regulation also changed language that would have been beneficial for nuclear and natural gas. In the draft proposal, states would have received credit for prolonging the life of an existing nuclear reactor that was at risk of closing. In the final regulation, that is no longer the case. The White House also ignored the importance and increased use of natural gas, a reversal from highlighting the importance of natural gas in shifting away from coal.[14]
Rather than simply setting reduction targets, the Administration continues to favor its preferred energy sources while driving other sources out of production.

4. Federally Imposed Cap-and-Trade

States will have one year to develop and submit their compliance plans or to develop regional plans with other states, although the EPA will grant extension waivers as long as two years. If states choose not to submit a plan, as several state legislators, attorneys general, and governors have suggested, the EPA would impose its federal implementation plan. The 755-page proposed plan is cap and trade, and the EPA is considering two options.[15]
The EPA could set a cap on power plant emissions in a state and allow utilities to trade emissions permits with one another.[16] Alternatively, the EPA could implement a cap-and-trade plan that requires an average emissions rate for the state’s power sector. Environment & Energy Publishing explains,
A rate-based standard with trading could technically allow emissions to grow, as long as generators only emit a certain amount of carbon per megawatt-hour of power produced. A state with a rate around the same level as a natural gas plant could theoretically keep building more and more natural gas plants and stay in compliance.[17]
The EPA will decide on a final plan in the summer of 2016.

Congress and States Need to Take the Power Back

The threat of a federally imposed cap-and-trade plan should not scare states into concocting their own plans. Instead, Members of Congress and state governments should fight the regulation, rather than settling for a slightly more palatable version that will cause significant economic harm while producing no discernable climate or environmental benefits.
—Nicolas D. Loris is Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, of the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity, at The Heritage Foundation.


Fresh from his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard and a trip to Las Vegas, President Obama challenged Congressional Republicans to fund the government when they returned to Washington D.C., demanding that they send him a budget that he could approve.
He warned Republicans against shutting down the government calling it “irresponsible” especially if the budget included items that he would veto.
“You know eventually we’re going to do it anyway, so let’s just do it without too much drama,” Obama said lightly, referring to Congressional Republicans who caved to the White House every time budget season came around.
Obama alluded to some Republicans in Congress who expressed their desire to defund Planned Parenthood, even at the expense of a government shutdown.
“Let’s do it without another round of threats to shut down the government, let’s not introduce unrelated partisan issues,” Obama lectured. “Nobody gets to hold the American economy hostage over their own ideological demands.”
Obama also requested more spending on military, scientific research, infrastructure, education, and public health, warning that he would not sign a budget that included spending cuts that locked in the sequester.
He argued that it was up to Congressional Republicans to keep the “economic momentum” of his second term as president moving forward.
“Pass a budget, prevent a shutdown, don’t wait till the last minute … get it done,” he concluded.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

[COMMENTARY] Witnessing evolution of newspaper industry

Four years ago, most of us wouldn’t have predicted award-winning TV series would debut via online streaming on websites such as Netflix and Hulu and would never be aired on cable or network television. Likewise, just four years ago most of us wouldn’t believe we would get news updates on our watches.
During my four years as the CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, I have watched nearly every media industry shift dramatically in response to the ever-changing technology and consumption habits of our audiences.
The same holds true for newspapers. This industry has been around far longer than radio, television or telecommunications, and some critics have questioned how we will continue to remain relevant in today’s digital world.
But today’s numbers speak for themselves: In the United States, the newspaper digital audience is skyrocketing, reaching 176 million unique visitors across all platforms in March (comScore, 2015). Circulation revenue is also rising, both in the United States and around the world. According to the 2015 World Press Trends Survey, global newspaper circulation revenue exceeded advertising revenue for the first time ever.
The reason? Newspapers are leveraging technology and audience data more than ever to create new content, products and services that attract audiences and advertisers. The appetite for quality content and information is insatiable, and over the last few years, we have transformed into an industry that adopts and utilizes the latest developments in social, mobile, print and video to better reach consumers with interesting and engaging content.
Let’s look at a few of the ways the news industry has evolved:
Social media: Newspapers are successfully tapping into our desire to remain “plugged in” and up-to-date on the latest happenings. USA Today, for example, uses Snapchat to cover live sporting events through instantly-delivered photos and captions. Periscope, Twitter’s live-streaming service that debuted in the spring, is being leveraged by reporters and media outlets as a way to give viewers the inside look at breaking news, sports events,and even political press conferences. The New York Times even used WhatsApp, a messaging app that is incredibly popular outside the United States, to broadcast information about the Pope’s visit to South America to its international audience.
Apps: Newspapers have developed niche apps with customized content, such as the New York Times Cooking App and the Denver Post’s Colorado Ski Guide, to build on popular features and further engage specific audiences looking to more deeply explore their areas of interest.
Print special features: In response to readers’ desires for quality leisure-reading, newspapers have begun offering expanded Sunday sections, such as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s new lifestyle section, “Live, Life, Love.” Similarly, the Chicago Tribune has doubled its opinion pages, following the growing reader interest in local commentary.
New revenue streams: Advertisers are still taking notice of the growing audience and continued demand for newsworthy, useful content. This has inspired the recent interest in native advertising, or sponsored content, as a way to provide advertisements that don’t disrupt the reader experience and still provide valuable information. And today, advertising is just one part of a fully-diversified revenue stream, which includes event marketing, digital marketing services and increasing circulation content.
Much has changed in four years, and I can say with confidence that the newspaper industry is poised to continue evolving with new technologies and engaging content in the years to come. It’s been an honor to serve as CEO of NAA during the last four years and I look forward to cheering the industry’s continued success.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

[OPINION] Obama pressed to reverse legal opinion on religious freedom

(Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — More than a dozen Jewish organizations signed on to a letter urging President Barack Obama to instruct the Justice Department to reverse a legal opinion that allows religious organizations to avoid religious nondiscrimination laws in hiring.
The Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, Hadassah and B’nai B’rith International were among the 130 signatories of the letter sent Aug. 20 by civil rights, education and secular advocacy groups.
In the letter, the groups ask the president to instruct the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to “review and reconsider” a 2007 memorandum that has been used to promote “taxpayer-funded discrimination plain and simple,” as the American Civil Liberties Union put it.
The memorandum concludes that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, religious organizations seeking federal grants could not be compelled to follow religious nondiscrimination laws pertaining to hiring.
“The OLC Memo reaches the erroneous and dangerous conclusion that the religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) provides a blanket override of a statutory non-discrimination provision,” the letter reads in its opening.
Under the RFRA, which was introduced in the House by now-Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and in the Senate by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., the government cannot “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” except when the government can demonstrate that the burden is a “furtherance of a compelling governmental interest” and “is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
The signatories contend that the Office of Legal Counsel memo has been applied without any regard for the “government’s compelling interest in prohibiting [hiring] discrimination.”
Other Jewish groups that signed the letter are Bend the Arc, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Keshet, Jewish Women International, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union for Reform Judaism, Women of Reform Judaism and Nehirim.
Reminding Obama that he had pledged to end federally funded hiring discrimination, the signers warned that leaving the opinion in place would tarnish his legacy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Democrats: Too Old and Too White?

Leftwingers’ taunts in 2008 and 2012 have come back to haunt them. 

In the jubilation of the Obama election victories of 2008 and 2012, the Left warned Republicans that the party of McCain and Romney was now “too old, too white, too male — and too few.” Columnists between 2008 and 2012 ad nauseam berated Republicans on the grounds that their national candidates “no longer looked like America.” The New York Times stable crowed that the Republicans of 2008 were “all white and nearly all male” — not too long before McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running-mate. In reaction to the defeats of McCain and Romney, Salon and Harper’s ran stories on the “Grand Old White Party” and “Angry White Men.”

For Democratic progressives, Hawaiian Barack Obama could not be of mixed ancestry and decidedly middle class, but simply “black” or “African American” — as if he had shared the Jim Crow experience of Clarence Thomas. Nor was there any allowance that race itself had become hard to sort into neat categories in a nation of immigration, intermarriage, and assimilation, in which millions of Americans were one-half this and one-quarter that. Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King proved that well enough by successfully constructing themselves as white for quite a long time. 

Liberals had reversed the vision of Martin Luther King Jr.: The color of our skin, not the content of our character, is what matters. Superficial appearance, the ossified politics of the tribe — the curse of the world outside the United States, where corpses have piled up in the Balkans, Rwanda, and Iraq — alone mattered. Identity politics dictated that a shrinking white insular conservative party lacked the Democrats’ “inclusiveness” and “commitment to diversity.” Icons like Barack Obama were what mattered.

Monday, August 24, 2015

President who once called for a 'new era of civility' now calls opponents 'crazies'

Remember when, following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, President Obama sanctimoniously lectured the nation on the need for a “new era of civility”?  Speaking before thousands in an arena at the University of Arizona, he solemnly told us:
At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do ... it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.
Obviously, that was just so much hypocritical blather.  Yesterday, in Nevada before a Democratic fundraiser crowd, the self-described “feisty” president was not at all interested in healing a nation deeply divided on his deal with the Iranian mullahs.
Obama declared himself ready for the challenges he faces this fall in dealing with a Republican Congress that disagrees with him on the budget, energy policy, education and much more.
Obama said that as he'd ridden to the fundraiser with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, they'd done some reminiscing and spent some time “figuring out how we are going to deal with the crazies in terms of managing some problems.”
He didn't identify exactly who the two of them had defined as “crazies.
Multiplying the hypocrisy, the president pivoted from insulting his opponents to self-righteous invocation of higher principle:
But Obama spoke at length about his differences with the GOP Congress. And he lamented that “too often, our political debates are not about what's best for the country but what's best for the next election.”
So how is it possible for a serious man to be so fork-tongued as to insult those who disagree with him while donning the mantle of statesmanship and civility?  Actually, President Obama answered this question a couple of years ago: 
I actually believe my own bullshit.
Let’s hope that when the billion-dollar fundraising for his presidential library and related monuments is completed, that aphorism will be engraved in stone above the entrance.

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