Part 2: The Decline and Fall Of The Democratic Party Under Liar In Chief Obama — Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump in 2016 Presidential Election — Two Party Tyranny — What Difference Does It Make? — Donor Class Wins No Matter Who Wins — Make America Great Again! –Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 561: October 26, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 560: October 23, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 559: October 22, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 558: October 21, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 557: October 20, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 556: October 19, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 555: October 16, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 554: October 15, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 553: October 14, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 552: October 13, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 551: October 12, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 550: October 9, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 549: October 8, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 548: October 7, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 547: October 5, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 546: October 2, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 545: October 1, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 544: September 30, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 543: September 29, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 542: September 28, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 541: September 25, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 540: September 24, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 539: September 23, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 538: September 22, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 537: September 21, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 536: September 18, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 535: September 17, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 534: September 16, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 533: September 15, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 532: September 14, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 531: September 11, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 530: September 10, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 529: September 9, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 528: September 8, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 527: September 4, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 526: September 3, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 525: September 2, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 524: August 31, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 523: August 27, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 522: August 26, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 521: August 25, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 520: August 24, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 519: August 21, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 518: August 20, 2015  

Pronk Pops Show 517: August 19, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 516: August 18, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 515: August 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 514: August 14, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 513: August 13, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 512: August 12, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 511: August 11, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 510: August 10, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 509: July 24, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 508: July 20, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 507: July 17, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 506: July 16, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 505: July 15, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 504: July 14, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 503: July 13, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 502: July 10, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 501: July 9, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 500: July 8, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 499: July 6, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 498: July 2, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 497: July 1, 2015

Story 1: Part 2: The Decline and Fall Of The Democratic Party Under Liar In Chief Obama — Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump in 2016 Presidential Election — Two Party Tyranny — What Difference Does It Make? — Donor Class Wins No Matter Who Wins — Make America Great Again! –Videos

Obama-is-pathological-liar  liars four americans diedBenghaziDied

epa03398098 US President Barack Obama (2-L) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (3-R) take part in the Transfer of Remains Ceremony marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya, at Joint Base Andrews in Washington DC, USA, 14 September 2012. Gunmen attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, killing of US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three embassy staffs. EPA/MOLLY RILEY / POOL

obama lied


laughing-h-600-li

Inside Hillary Clinton’s measured Benghazi testimony

Ray: A public servant who has a track record of not telling the truth

Judge Napolitano What if the two party system is a sham? – Fox Business

Donald Trump on GOP competition, Benghazi hearing

Kurtz: Paul Ryan, insufficiently conservative?

Pro-Amnesty Rep. Gutiérrez Supports Paul Ryan For Speaker Of The House

Save Us From Paul Ryan

Ann Coulter, “¡Adios America!”

Ann Coulter argues that immigration is the greatest issue facing the United States today. She contends that America’s immigration policy is deeply flawed and that amnesty will lead to a greater influx of liberal voters, who according to the author, will hurt the economy as well as the country’s public and foreign policy.

Ann Coulter slaughters pro Immigration advocates

Rush Limbaugh: GOP donors installed Paul Ryan as House Speaker

Limbaugh: Donor/RINO Class Pushing Hard For Paul Ryan As Speaker Of The House

Limbaugh: Donor/RINO Class Pushing Hard For Paul Ryan As Speaker Of The House

Pro-Amnesty Paul Ryan … what the GOP’s big donors want (Limbaugh)

Rush Limbaugh (10/23/15): “Here’s the dream, from the Republican donor side. The Republican donor side is that Jeb Bush or, if not Jeb, somebody else acceptable to the Republican establishment, gets elected president, Paul Ryan is Speaker of the House, and the donor class thinks that if they can make that happen, that within 12 to 18 months their entire agenda will be implemented.”

Both Parties Fear the Tea Party (Limbaugh)

Mark Levin on Paul Ryan’s radical pro Amnesty ideology

UN-led Mass Migration Destroying U.S. Nationhood

Understanding the Impact of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Would Paul Ryan Be a Good Choice for House Speaker?

What We Can Expect If Congress Passes TPP

The Nuances Behind the Republican Presidential Debate

How Trump’s Attack on McCain Didn’t Go Far Enough

Iran Deal Courtesy of CFR New World Order Crowd

‘2030 Agenda’: Latest UN Plan for World Government

‘Two-party system an illusion, both funded from same source’

“MORE AND MORE PEOPLE “FED UP WITH THIS “RIGGED TWO-PARTY SYSTEM”!

The Two-Party System is Making America Ungovernable- Intelligence Squared U.S.

Andrew Horning on Breaking the Two Party System 1 18 2014

Reagan Warned Us About Obama

Mark Steyn on Racism, Slavery, and the Democratic Party

Rush To Beck: “We May Be Looking At Barack Obama Destroying The Democrat Party”

Mark Krikorian Intro to Panelists – Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants

Robert Rector – Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants

Panel Press Release: http://cis.org/Announcements/Immigran…
Welfare Use by Immigrant and Native Households: http://cis.org/Welfare-Use-Immigrant-…
Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrant Households: http://cis.org/Welfare-Use-Legal-Ille…
Panel Video: Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants: http://cis.org/Videos/Immigrant-Welfa…
Panel Transcript: Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants: http://cis.org/PanelTranscripts/Immig…

The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a discussion at the National Press Club focusing on two reports on immigration and welfare. The Center’s first report focuses on welfare use by immigrant and native-born housholds, the second report separates welfare use by legal and illegal households. Two nationally recognized policy experts, along with the Center’s director of research and author of the report, discussed immigrant welfare use at the panel.

Q and A Welfare – Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants

Panel Clip: Jobs Americans Won’t Do?

Panel Clip: Do Immigrants Create More Jobs?

Steven Camarota – Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants

Panel Clip: Welfare Restrictions on Immigrants?

Panel Clip: U.S. Family Immigration vs. Other Countries

Mark Krikorian Intro – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later

Philip Martin – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later

Jerry Kammer – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later

Peggy Orchowski – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later

Q and A – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later

Panel Clip: Was JFK a Restrictionist?

Stop Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants – Expert Reveals the True Cost of Amnesty

Alan Keyes: Stop Illegal Immigration, No Amnesty!

Mind blowing speech by Robert Welch in 1958 predicting Insiders plans to destroy America

Ron Paul – Judge Napolitano What if the two party system is a sham? – Fox Business

ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 1 of 3

Art Thompson, CEO of The John Birch Society, takes you into the new healthcare law. He identifies a pattern of government broken promises, revealing that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Find out what’s really in the new law and what you can expect long term.

ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 2 of 3

ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 3 of 3

John Birch Society: Oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

William F. Jasper, Senior Editor for The New American magazine, explains how President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an “an all-out assault on our national sovereignty,” and how It would unconstitutionally transfer legislative powers from the U.S. Congress, our state legislatures, and our city and county governments to multi-national corporations and unaccountable international bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization, or WTO. Incredibly, it also would transfer judicial powers from our federal and state courts — which are bad enough — to globalist TPP judges at regional tribunals and the WTO.

DECLINE of EMPIRES: The Signs of Decay

Archie Bunker on Democrats

Archie Bunker predicts conditions under Obama

George Carlin – It’s a big club and you ain’t in it

Obama Job Approval Steady in 27th Quarter at 45.9%

Obama Job Approval Steady in 27th Quarter at 45.9%
by Jeffrey M. Jones

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Average 45.9% approval similar to 46.1% in prior quarter
  • Obama has been under 50% approval for most of his presidency
  • Approval midrange compared with other presidents’ 27th quarters

PRINCETON, N.J. — President Barack Obama’s job approval rating in his 27th quarter in office, from July 20 to Oct. 19, averaged 45.9%, essentially unchanged from his 46.1% average for the prior quarter.

President Barack Obama's Quarterly Job Approval Averages

Obama’s daily approval ratings also varied little within his most recent quarter, averaging 46% nearly every week during the quarter. There were just two modest but notable exceptions. In late August, as U.S. stocks fell in response to concerns about problems in the Chinese economy, his weekly approval rating dipped to 44%. And in late September it rose to 48% during the week of Pope Francis’ U.S. trip, which included a widely covered visit with Obama at the White House.

Since he became president nearly seven years ago, Obama has averaged 47% job approval. There have been only five quarters when he had majority approval, with four of those occurring during the first year of his presidency, the so-called “honeymoon phase” when new presidents tend to be rated positively. The only other time Obama’s quarterly approval exceeded 50% was perhaps the most consequential one — the 16th quarter, in which he was re-elected.

Obama’s 27th Quarter Midrange Compared With Other Presidents

Obama is the sixth post-World War II president to serve a 27th quarter in office. Two of these — Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton — were rated quite positively at this stage in their presidencies, with average approval ratings of 65.3% and 59.7%, respectively.

In contrast, Harry Truman (23.0%) and George W. Bush (33.2%) were decidedly unpopular at the same point of their presidencies. Truman’s 27th quarter average is the worst quarterly average for any president in Gallup’s polling history.

Obama’s 27th quarter average, along with Ronald Reagan’s, is between these two extremes. Reagan averaged 47.0% approval, slightly better than Obama’s 45.9%.

Job Approval Averages for Presidents During Their 27th Quarter in Office

After presidents have served nearly seven years in office, Americans’ opinions of them are pretty well-established and unlikely to change unless a major international or domestic crisis occurs. Clinton’s and Bush’s approval ratings did not change between their 27th and 28thquarters. Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan saw modest improvements of a few percentage points.

Implications

Americans’ opinions of Obama have been steady this year, holding near 46%. If his approval ratings do not improve dramatically during the remainder of his presidency, his full-term approval rating average, currently 47%, will rank among the lowest for post-World War II presidents, tied with Gerald Ford’s and better than only Truman’s (45.4%) and Jimmy Carter’s (45.5%).

Obama’s relatively low approval ratings may be as much a function of the era in which he is governing as it is a reflection on his leadership, management and decision-making. There have been relatively few international crises that helped to boost his public support, as the 9/11 attacks and Iraq War did for Bush, and as similar crises have done for other presidents. Arguably the only “rally event” in Obama’s presidency was the capture of Osama bin Laden. Obama also took office during the Great Recession, and the economic recovery since it ended has been slow and uneven.

But Obama is also governing in a time of extreme partisan polarization. In Congress, that has meant political gridlock since Democrats lost control of the U.S. House in the 2010 midterm elections. In the American public, it is evident in his historically low support from the opposition party. Obama’s average 13% approval rating among Republicans is on pace to be the lowest job approval rating from the opposition party by a full 10 percentage points, behind Bush’s average 23% approval rating among Democrats. By comparison, Clinton averaged 27% approval among Republicans, and presidents before Clinton averaged 40% approval from the opposition.

These data are available inGallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 20-Oct. 19, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 45,663 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/186335/obama-job-approval-steady-27th-quarter.aspx?g_source=Politics&g_medium=newsfeed&g_campaign=tiles

In U.S., New Record 43% Are Political Independents

by Jeffrey M. Jones

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Record 43% of Americans are political independents
  • Democrats maintain edge among those with a party preference
  • Democratic advantage smaller in 2014 than in 2013

PRINCETON, N.J. — An average 43% of Americans identified politically as independents in 2014, establishing a new high in Gallup telephone poll trends back to 1988. In terms of national identification with the two major parties, Democrats continued to hold a modest edge over Republicans, 30% to 26%.

U.S. Party Identification, Yearly Averages, 1988-2014

Since 2008, the percentage of political independents — those who identify as such before their leanings to the two major parties are taken into account — has steadily climbed from 35% to the current 43%, exceeding 40% each of the last four years. Prior to 2011, the high in independent identification was 39% in 1995 and 1999.

The recent rise in political independence has come at the expense of both parties, but more among Democrats than among Republicans. Over the last six years, Democratic identification has fallen from 36% — the highest in the last 25 years — to 30%. Meanwhile, Republican identification is down from 28% in 2008 to 26% last year.

The latest results are based on aggregated data from 15 separate Gallup telephone polls conducted throughout 2014.

These changes have left both parties at or near low points in the percentage who identify themselves as core supporters of the party. Although the party identification data compiled in telephone polls since 1988 are not directly comparable to the in-person polling Gallup collected before then, the percentages identifying as Democrats prior to 1988 were so high that it is safe to say the average 30% identifying as Democrats last year is the lowest since at least the 1950s.

Republican identification, at 26%, is a shade higher than the 25% in 2013. Not since 1983, the year before Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election victory, have fewer Americans identified as Republicans.

The decline in identification with both parties in recent years comes as dissatisfaction with government has emerged as one of the most important problems facing the country, according to Americans. This is likely due to the partisan gridlock that has come from divided party control of the federal government. Trust in the government to handle problems more generally is the lowest Gallup has measured to date, and Americans’ favorable ratings of both parties are at or near historical lows. Thus, the rise in U.S. political independence likely flows from the high level of frustration with the government and the political parties that control it.

Democrats’ Edge in Party Identification and Leaning Shrinks

Although independents claim no outright allegiance to either major party, it is well-known that they are not necessarily neutral when it comes to politics. When pressed, most independents will say they lean to one of the two major parties. For example, last year an average of 17% of Americans who initially identified as independents subsequently said they “leaned” Republican, 15% were independents who leaned Democratic, with the remaining 11% not expressing a leaning to either party.

Since partisan leaners often share similar attitudes to those who identify with a party outright, the relative proportions of identifiers plus leaners gives a sense of the relative electoral strength of the two political parties, since voting decisions almost always come down to a choice of the two major-party candidates. In 2014, an average 45% of Americans identified as Democrats or said they were Democratic-leaning independents, while 42% identified as Republicans or were Republican-leaning independents.

That the three-point Democratic edge was down from six points in 2013, and among Democrats’ smaller advantages the past 25 years. Democrats usually hold an advantage in this combined measure of party affiliation. In fact, the only year Republicans held a notable edge since Gallup began tracking independents’ political leanings was in 1991, the year Republican President George H.W. Bush’s approval ratings soared after the United States’ victory in the Persian Gulf War. Democrats’ high point came in 2008, in the final year of George W. Bush’s administration and the year Barack Obama was first elected president.

U.S. Party Identification (Including Independent Leanings), Annual Averages, Gallup Polls, 1991-2014

However, the three-point Democratic advantage for all of 2014 obscures the change that occurred during the year. On a quarterly basis, Democrats started out 2014 with a five-point edge, similar to their advantage in 2013. That dipped to two points by the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, likely in response to Republicans’ success in the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans held a slight advantage of one point.

Party Identification (Including Independent Leanings), Quarterly Averages, 2014

Implications

Since 2008, Americans have been increasingly reluctant to identify with either the Republican or Democratic Party, and now a record 43% claimed political independence in 2014. Given historical trends, 2015 could bring a new record, as the percentage identifying as independents typically increases in the year before a presidential election, averaging a 2.5-point increase in the last six such years.

Although Democrats typically have an advantage in partisanship, that edge shrunk in 2014 and in the last months of the year the parties were essentially on equal footing. With each party controlling part of the federal government — Democrats the presidency and Republicans the Congress — they each will have a say in how the nation addresses its major challenges in the coming year. However, in recent years divided control of government has more often than not resulted in partisan gridlock, and Americans’ frustration with the frequent political stalemate is evident. Continued frustration with the government would likely encourage more Americans to identify as independents this year.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted January-December 2014, with a combined random sample of 16,479 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/180440/new-record-political-independents.aspx

New Emails Reveal Obama White House Worked on Concocting Benghazi Lie DURING the Attacks

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said on Thursday that the Obama White House was contacting YouTube owner Google during the Benghazi terrorist attacks, working on the false narrative even before Americans were out of harm’s way and before the intelligence community examined available evidence.

The still classified Obama State Department email, according to Issa, shows that the Obama White House rushed to settle on the false narrative of the anti-Islamic YouTube video instigating the attacks, which was completely at odds with the conclusions reached by reports from the ground.

This new evidence destroys the Obama White House claims, communicated by Obama spokesman Jay Carney, that the White House obtained the false narrative from CIA talking points, since, according to Congressman Issa, the communication with YouTube was conducted by the Obama White House before  any CIA talking points were concocted.

The subject line of the email, ironically sent at 9:11 p.m. (the attacks took place on 9/11/12) on the night of the attack, was “Update on Response to actions – Libya,” hours before  the attack had ended.

“The e-mail shows the White House had hurried to settle on a false narrative — one at odds with the conclusions reached by those on the ground — before Americans were even out of harm’s way or the intelligence community had made an impartial examination of available evidence,” Issa said.

Issa has called for the Obama White House to declassify the email.

According to Issa, one of the items noted in the email stated, “White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advise ramifications of the posting of the Pastor Jon video.”

Issa scolded current Secretary of State, Democrat John Kerry, for just now turning over a classified version of the email, some 20 months after the attack, while calling on the regime to release a unclassified copy.

“Unfortunately, Secretary Kerry and the State Department continue to try to keep this information from the public, only turning this document over to Congress last month. While the information I have cited from this email is clearly unclassified, the State Department has attempted to obstruct its disclosure by not providing Congress with an unclassified copy of this document that redacted only classified portions outlining what the Department of Defense and the Secretary of State were doing in response to the attack in Benghazi that night.”

“This tactic prevents the release of the email itself,” said Issa.

http://www.tpnn.com/2014/05/23/new-emails-reveal-obama-white-house-worked-on-concocting-benghazi-lie-during-the-attacks/#ixzz3pQkPlr1D

Paul Ryan officially declares candidacy for House speaker

The Most Likely Next President Is Hillary Clinton

And Republicans are in denial about it.

A virulent strain of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, which scientists and Republicans thought had been wiped out at the end of the last century, is now afflicting millions of conservative Americans. Some Republicans so detest Hillary Clinton they are badly underestimating how likely she is, at this point in the campaign, to be America’s 45thpresident. Their denial is just as strong now as it was a month ago, before Clinton began a run of political victories that have enhanced her prospects, all while the roller derby/demolition derby that is the Republican nomination contest has continued to harm the GOP’s chances of winning back the White House.

To be sure, nothing ever happens in a linear or tidy fashion with the Clintons; she is certain to add more chapters to the Perils of Hillary saga before Election Day 2016. Bernie Sanders could still upend her in Iowa, New Hampshire, or both, which could throw the nomination battle into unadulterated bedlam. Even if Clinton is nominated, a strong Republican candidate could absolutely defeat her next November, with victory as simple as the party putting forth a nominee who is more likeable to voters and better on television. Indeed, many elite and grassroots Republicans believe Clinton’s personality, which they can’t stand, will keep her out of the Oval Office no matter what.

But October has been good to Clinton: a glittering debate performance, the decision of potential rival Joe Biden not to run (greatly simplifying her path to the nomination), the vanquishing of Republicans during her daylong Benghazi hearing, and a solid turn at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night. All have improved Clinton’s odds of cruising into the White House twelve months hence, and have thrown into sharper relief some of the advantages she has had all along.

To state the obvious, Clinton faces two tasks to become commander-in-chief: get enough delegates to beat Sanders and then sew up 270 electoral votes. The more easily she can complete her first mission (especially compared to the wooly nomination battle of her eventual Republican opponent), the more easily achievable will be her second goal.

Here, then, are some of the advantages the Democratic frontrunner has now, many of which have been ignored or discounted by the people who want to beat her so badly they can’t think straight:

Hillary has shown she can handle Bernie Sanders, despite his plucky persona, raw grassroots appeal, and authentic authenticity. The Vegas debate and Clinton’s improved poll standing has given her and her team a revived notion that Sanders will end up a nuisance rather than a real threat. She has confidence she can face him down in the three debates remaining before Iowa. Without Biden in the race, Clinton is not going to have to play three-dimensional chess and can focus her energies on Sanders alone.

Bernie has shown he doesn’t quite understand how to play big moments in the big leagues. First the debate and now the Jefferson-Jackson dinner—Sanders prepared more for both evenings than the organic Vermonter normally would for any political event, but even his advisers concede that neither occasion represented the kind of performance that Sanders will eventually have to present if he is going to stop the prohibitive front-runner. He was very strong Saturday night but aides say they are still having trouble fully convincing him that not all campaign events are created equal.

Hillary Clinton speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. 
Hillary Clinton speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Hillary is getting better at managing (and shaking off) the personal pang of her likability deficit.  At the J-J dinner, in her recent television interviews, and in her Benghazi testimony, she is showing more of her real self (even the all-too-human tetchy, the airily dismissive, the lordly—without knee-jerk defensiveness or wide-eyed guile), and not getting tied in knots over how she is coming off.  While this version of Hillary is still nails-on-a-chalkboard to her conservative critics, it is a huge improvement over the recent past and probably enough to win under the right circumstances.

Biden’s withdrawal means Clinton will lock up even more commitments from the Democratic establishment, giving her even more super delegates and making it easier to bounce back if Sanders wins Iowa, New Hampshire, or both.  I reported in August that Clinton’s camp already had in hand private commitments from enough of the elected and party officials who are automatic delegates to the national convention next summer (so-called super delegates) that she was one fifth of her way to the nomination. That number has increased significantly in recent weeks and will go up now that Biden has passed on the race. This allows Team Clinton to make a robust argument about her inevitability and gives it a squadron of surrogates from the left, center, and right of the Democratic Party to wound Sanders, buck her up if she stumbles, and, eventually, argue that the senator should get out of the competition if she wins early.

Hillary has massive support from labor unions. The party’s most important constituency group in terms of ground troops and campaign resources is now moving decisively towards Clinton, also giving her more working-class cred and undermining one of Sanders’ strongest rhetorical plays—that she is out of touch with the economic grassroots. And long-invested unions will provide her important foot soldiers in the general election battlegrounds, as they have since time began for Democratic presidential nominees.

Hillary could be the de facto Democratic nominee by Feb. 8. Her team privately believes that, given the way expectations have been set up, even narrow wins in the two first-voting contests would not be discounted. Clinton has robust field operations in both states and could diligently grind her way to victories. Even Sanders’ top aides acknowledge that, barring other factors, it could be game, set, match if Hillary starts the voting year with twin wins, giving Brooklyn ample incentive to go all in there and try to put it away early.

Hillary Clinton waves to supporters with husband Bill Clinton, former U.S. president, at the conclusion of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. 
Hillary Clinton waves to supporters with husband Bill Clinton, former U.S. president, at the conclusion of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Hillary’s husband now seems fired up and ready to go. Although a little rusty over the weekend in Iowa in his 2015 campaign trail debut, accounts from aides to both Clintons suggest the former president has learned lessons from his performance eight years ago, when he arguably hurt his wife’s chances as much as he helped her. He has been kept in the loop on the campaign’s thinking, receives polling information on a regular basis, and has participated in some strategy discussions with the team. The campaign seems happy with him, and he seems happy with the campaign, and that is a big change from 2008. Both campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook have good and confident relationships with the FPOTUS, who seems less ambivalent than last time about becoming the First Lad.

Hillary’s campaign is much less tense and fractious than was the 2008 team. There are fraught moments in Brooklyn, as in any campaign, and Clinton’s donors can get restive awfully quick, but this year’s model is one of relative peace and tranquility. Zen masters Podesta, Mook, and communications chief Jennifer Palmieri set the “been there, done that, seen that, dealt with that” sensibility.

Hillary’s team at last is convincing rich Democrats to come around to the super-PAC game. Clinton loyalist Guy Cecil is now topping Priorities USA and he has brought in a new cast of folks to supplement holdovers such as Paul Begala, Jim Messina, and Harold Ickes, all of whom have experience rubbing shoulders with the mega-wealthy and prying seven-figure checks out of their hands. Cecil knows how to leverage hot buttons like the Koch brothers and the threat of more conservative Supreme Court justices and unified GOP control of Washington to maintain momentum and encourage the participation of those previously reluctant to muck about in the big money world that many liberals despise and disdain.

Hillary has a first-class opposition research team that is saving nuggets to use once Republicans pick their nominee. Oppo veteran Christina Reynolds heads an operation that can afford to play a long game, teasing out incremental research in conjunction with allies such as the Democratic National Committee but knowing full well that holding back powerful tidbits until the late spring or summer, when the eventual Republican nominee will be most vulnerable, is supremely smart. The research operations of the Republican presidential campaigns, on the other hand, are currently focused on each other (although the independent group America Rising is hoping to make up the gap).

The Republican nominee is more likely to emerge bloodied, broke, and behind. A nominating calendar and delegate rules designed to avoid the kind of extended intra-party fight that crippled Mitt Romney’s general election effort will almost certainly be no match for a fifteen candidate field, a number of whom can make a decent argument that they’ll win the prize. The ferociousness and deep pockets of gladiators Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and the possibility that the party establishment will end up intervening with tens of millions of dollars in negative TV spots means a long, gory slog that might not find resolution until after the national convention in Cleveland in mid-July. (Of course, if Trump is ultimately the nomination victor, then “broke” should not be a factor.)

As the nominee, Hillary will effectively control the DNC and will exercise free rein over the convention. Even with Sanders a remaining foe, Hillaryland is coordinating fundraising with the national and state parties, strategizing about installing allies at the party headquarters in DC, and gaming out what the Philly convention will look like. If Clinton is the standard bearer, make no mistake: Brooklyn will convert the DNC into its wholly owned subsidiary and will take over every jot and tittle of convention planning and execution. This type of control typically leads to less friction and a smoother running enterprise, including on-message convention speakers.

Republicans are erroneously convinced they can beat Clinton solely with talk of Benghazi, e-mails, and other controversies that have nothing to do with the economy and the real lives of real people. Nowhere does the Fox News-Rush Limbaugh echo chamber more hurt Republican chances of beating Clinton than in the politics of scandal and controversy. To paraphrase the famous line attributed to Pauline Kael: everyone who conservatives know think the Clintons should be in prison. The problem is that swing voters don’t share that view in sufficient numbers to actually warrant banking a victory on placing those arguments front and center. Kevin McCarthy’s acknowledgement that the Benghazi committee was set up to damage Clinton politically has not just polluted the select committee’s efforts; it also means that one of the most effectively tried-and-true Team Clinton defenses (that any controversy that swirls around her is a ginned up political attack because Republicans don’t want to talk about real issues) has got legs straight through next November.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waits to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 22, 2015.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waits to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 22, 2015.
Photographer: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary is ready for the debates. She won’t have as many debates in which to hone her skills as the eventual GOP nominee, but she has many other edges, including her 2008 experience; the fact that going forward she will face only one or two opponents—rather than nine or so—on the debate stage (much closer to the dynamics in a general election); her professionalized and experienced debate prep team (many of whom worked the same gig for Barack Obama); and her own fearsome, dogged, and scrupulous preparation.

Hillary’s pollster knows how to find issues that test 80-20 or 70-30, and the candidate knows how to translate them on the stump. While Republican presidential candidates thrash around competing to see who can be the most anti-immigrant, pro-tax cuts for the wealthy, anti-abortion and gay marriage, and pro-climate change-denying, Clinton’s pollster and strategist Joel Benenson is busy finding topics she can talk about in a general election that garner overwhelming support from the public across the political spectrum and will put the GOP nominee on the defensive. Nothing makes a Clinton running for president more confident and effective than having mainstream boldface issues to use as a cudgel.

Obama’s approval rating is holding at a level that would make Clinton’s path much easier. Yes, the economy is not going gangbusters. Yes, ObamaCare is not universally popular (to say the least). Yes, the world is filled with dangerous hot spots and looming, chilling threats. But barring some major change in his fortune, Obama’s current approval rating of around 46% is likely to sustain through Election Day, a high enough figure, history suggests, to keep him from being a drag on his party’s nominee and chosen successor.

Hillary’s team is already thinking about general election targeting. One of the pages Brooklyn has taken from the Obama playbook is to start thinking about the general election early. That includes using contests in caucuses and primaries states that will be battlegrounds next November to build up a team, target data, establish media relationships, and keep it all humming after the nominating contest and throughout the duration. It also includes living by the dictum “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours let’s negotiate over,” hawkishly protecting the nearly 250 electoral votes and voting groups Democrats have won consistently over the last several cycles while looking to expand the targeting efforts demographically and geographically.

Hillary would inherit a considerable demographic edge in a general election. Republicans have done next to nothing, and clearly much more harm than good since Mitt Romney lost in 2012, to make in-roads with the so-called coalition of the ascendant. Clinton would almost certainly have an overwhelming edge with African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, LGBT voters, young people, and single women, and the future contours of the Republican nomination fight are not likely to make the party’s challenge with these groups any easier.

Hillary would also inherit a considerable Electoral College edge in a general election. The Democrats don’t have quite the Electoral College “lock” that the GOP had in the ‘70s and ‘80s but it is pretty close. A strong Republican nominee could make Clinton play defense in states such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Colorado.  But the safe Democrat states would give her a huge leg up, and demographic changes mean Clinton could be playing offense in places such as Georgia and Arizona under the right circumstances. Political pros in both parties believe some of the leading Republican contenders would give Clinton a chance to surpass her husband’s 1992 electoral vote total of 370 if they are her eventual competition.

Clinton advisers are well aware of these many advantages. They are staying largely mum for now, preferring to let the candidate’s recent positive media coverage speak for itself and not relinquish any tactical advantage of surprise.

They also know the FBI probe into her e-mails, Bill Clinton’s portfolio, or something new and super controversial could upend her standing at any time. And the raucous Republican nomination process could yet yield a strong general election opponent for her. This list is not meant to gloss over the considerable challenges Clinton is sure to face even if everything goes as planned on her side—not to mention if things start to go south. And a few savvy Republican operatives are ringing the alarm bell in private strategy sessions, urging the party to try to address as many of these deficits as soon as possible.

But don’t be surprised if reports soon surface mirroring what happened almost exactly eight years ago, when Clinton asked top advisers to secretly begin planning her vice presidential selection process—and her presidential transition. Republicans would surely see those steps as wildly premature, but given all of Clinton’s advantages now, she may consider it simply prudent planning.

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-10-26/the-most-likely-next-president-is-hillary-clinton

O’Malley: ‘Clinton Has Changed Her Position on Virtually Every Defining Issue’

BY DANIEL HALPER

“I think this race has changed in many, many ways just over the last week … the differences that I am going to be able to make now between two candidates who have been in Washington for about 40 years now – neither one of whom have gotten much done – and another candidate representing a new perspective and a new generation of leadership who’s actually gotten difficult things done,” O’Malley said.

Later O’Malley added, “A weathervane shifts its positions in the wind. Effective leaders do not. I am clear about my principles I know where I stand. I was against the Trans Pacific Partnership 8 months ago. Hillary Clinton has changed her position on virtually every defining issue in this race – except for one, and that’s to protect the big banks on Wall Street and go about with business as usual. I don’t think that’s what the people of our country are looking for. I have the independence, I have the backbone, to stand up for what our nation needs. That’s what people are going to see now that it’s down to a three person race.”

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Part 1: The Decline and Fall Of The Democratic Party Under Liar In Chief Obama — Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump in 2016 Presidential Election — Two Party Tyranny — What Difference Does It Make? — Donor Class Wins No Matter Who Wins — Make America Great Again! –Videos

Posted on November 1, 2015. Filed under: Agriculture, American History, Articles, Babies, Blogroll, Books, British History, Business, College, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Documentary, Economics, Education, Energy, European History, Faith, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, history, Immigration, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Middle East, Money, National Security Agency (NSA), Natural Gas, Non-Fiction, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Political Correctness, Politics, Radio, Rants, Raves, Religious, Speech, Strategy, Tax Policy, Television, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Part 1: The Decline and Fall Of The Democratic Party Under Liar In Chief Obama — Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump in 2016 Presidential Election — Two Party Tyranny — What Difference Does It Make? — Donor Class Wins No Matter Who Wins — Make America Great Again! –Videos

Obama-is-pathological-liar  liars four americans diedBenghaziDied

epa03398098 US President Barack Obama (2-L) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (3-R) take part in the Transfer of Remains Ceremony marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya, at Joint Base Andrews in Washington DC, USA, 14 September 2012. Gunmen attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, killing of US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three embassy staffs. EPA/MOLLY RILEY / POOL

obama lied


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ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 1 of 3

Art Thompson, CEO of The John Birch Society, takes you into the new healthcare law. He identifies a pattern of government broken promises, revealing that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Find out what’s really in the new law and what you can expect long term.

ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 2 of 3

ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 3 of 3

John Birch Society: Oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

William F. Jasper, Senior Editor for The New American magazine, explains how President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an “an all-out assault on our national sovereignty,” and how It would unconstitutionally transfer legislative powers from the U.S. Congress, our state legislatures, and our city and county governments to multi-national corporations and unaccountable international bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization, or WTO. Incredibly, it also would transfer judicial powers from our federal and state courts — which are bad enough — to globalist TPP judges at regional tribunals and the WTO.

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Obama Job Approval Steady in 27th Quarter at 45.9%

Obama Job Approval Steady in 27th Quarter at 45.9%
by Jeffrey M. Jones

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Average 45.9% approval similar to 46.1% in prior quarter
  • Obama has been under 50% approval for most of his presidency
  • Approval midrange compared with other presidents’ 27th quarters

PRINCETON, N.J. — President Barack Obama’s job approval rating in his 27th quarter in office, from July 20 to Oct. 19, averaged 45.9%, essentially unchanged from his 46.1% average for the prior quarter.

President Barack Obama's Quarterly Job Approval Averages

Obama’s daily approval ratings also varied little within his most recent quarter, averaging 46% nearly every week during the quarter. There were just two modest but notable exceptions. In late August, as U.S. stocks fell in response to concerns about problems in the Chinese economy, his weekly approval rating dipped to 44%. And in late September it rose to 48% during the week of Pope Francis’ U.S. trip, which included a widely covered visit with Obama at the White House.

Since he became president nearly seven years ago, Obama has averaged 47% job approval. There have been only five quarters when he had majority approval, with four of those occurring during the first year of his presidency, the so-called “honeymoon phase” when new presidents tend to be rated positively. The only other time Obama’s quarterly approval exceeded 50% was perhaps the most consequential one — the 16th quarter, in which he was re-elected.

Obama’s 27th Quarter Midrange Compared With Other Presidents

Obama is the sixth post-World War II president to serve a 27th quarter in office. Two of these — Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton — were rated quite positively at this stage in their presidencies, with average approval ratings of 65.3% and 59.7%, respectively.

In contrast, Harry Truman (23.0%) and George W. Bush (33.2%) were decidedly unpopular at the same point of their presidencies. Truman’s 27th quarter average is the worst quarterly average for any president in Gallup’s polling history.

Obama’s 27th quarter average, along with Ronald Reagan’s, is between these two extremes. Reagan averaged 47.0% approval, slightly better than Obama’s 45.9%.

Job Approval Averages for Presidents During Their 27th Quarter in Office

After presidents have served nearly seven years in office, Americans’ opinions of them are pretty well-established and unlikely to change unless a major international or domestic crisis occurs. Clinton’s and Bush’s approval ratings did not change between their 27th and 28thquarters. Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan saw modest improvements of a few percentage points.

Implications

Americans’ opinions of Obama have been steady this year, holding near 46%. If his approval ratings do not improve dramatically during the remainder of his presidency, his full-term approval rating average, currently 47%, will rank among the lowest for post-World War II presidents, tied with Gerald Ford’s and better than only Truman’s (45.4%) and Jimmy Carter’s (45.5%).

Obama’s relatively low approval ratings may be as much a function of the era in which he is governing as it is a reflection on his leadership, management and decision-making. There have been relatively few international crises that helped to boost his public support, as the 9/11 attacks and Iraq War did for Bush, and as similar crises have done for other presidents. Arguably the only “rally event” in Obama’s presidency was the capture of Osama bin Laden. Obama also took office during the Great Recession, and the economic recovery since it ended has been slow and uneven.

But Obama is also governing in a time of extreme partisan polarization. In Congress, that has meant political gridlock since Democrats lost control of the U.S. House in the 2010 midterm elections. In the American public, it is evident in his historically low support from the opposition party. Obama’s average 13% approval rating among Republicans is on pace to be the lowest job approval rating from the opposition party by a full 10 percentage points, behind Bush’s average 23% approval rating among Democrats. By comparison, Clinton averaged 27% approval among Republicans, and presidents before Clinton averaged 40% approval from the opposition.

These data are available inGallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 20-Oct. 19, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 45,663 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/186335/obama-job-approval-steady-27th-quarter.aspx?g_source=Politics&g_medium=newsfeed&g_campaign=tiles

In U.S., New Record 43% Are Political Independents

by Jeffrey M. Jones

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Record 43% of Americans are political independents
  • Democrats maintain edge among those with a party preference
  • Democratic advantage smaller in 2014 than in 2013

PRINCETON, N.J. — An average 43% of Americans identified politically as independents in 2014, establishing a new high in Gallup telephone poll trends back to 1988. In terms of national identification with the two major parties, Democrats continued to hold a modest edge over Republicans, 30% to 26%.

U.S. Party Identification, Yearly Averages, 1988-2014

Since 2008, the percentage of political independents — those who identify as such before their leanings to the two major parties are taken into account — has steadily climbed from 35% to the current 43%, exceeding 40% each of the last four years. Prior to 2011, the high in independent identification was 39% in 1995 and 1999.

The recent rise in political independence has come at the expense of both parties, but more among Democrats than among Republicans. Over the last six years, Democratic identification has fallen from 36% — the highest in the last 25 years — to 30%. Meanwhile, Republican identification is down from 28% in 2008 to 26% last year.

The latest results are based on aggregated data from 15 separate Gallup telephone polls conducted throughout 2014.

These changes have left both parties at or near low points in the percentage who identify themselves as core supporters of the party. Although the party identification data compiled in telephone polls since 1988 are not directly comparable to the in-person polling Gallup collected before then, the percentages identifying as Democrats prior to 1988 were so high that it is safe to say the average 30% identifying as Democrats last year is the lowest since at least the 1950s.

Republican identification, at 26%, is a shade higher than the 25% in 2013. Not since 1983, the year before Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election victory, have fewer Americans identified as Republicans.

The decline in identification with both parties in recent years comes as dissatisfaction with government has emerged as one of the most important problems facing the country, according to Americans. This is likely due to the partisan gridlock that has come from divided party control of the federal government. Trust in the government to handle problems more generally is the lowest Gallup has measured to date, and Americans’ favorable ratings of both parties are at or near historical lows. Thus, the rise in U.S. political independence likely flows from the high level of frustration with the government and the political parties that control it.

Democrats’ Edge in Party Identification and Leaning Shrinks

Although independents claim no outright allegiance to either major party, it is well-known that they are not necessarily neutral when it comes to politics. When pressed, most independents will say they lean to one of the two major parties. For example, last year an average of 17% of Americans who initially identified as independents subsequently said they “leaned” Republican, 15% were independents who leaned Democratic, with the remaining 11% not expressing a leaning to either party.

Since partisan leaners often share similar attitudes to those who identify with a party outright, the relative proportions of identifiers plus leaners gives a sense of the relative electoral strength of the two political parties, since voting decisions almost always come down to a choice of the two major-party candidates. In 2014, an average 45% of Americans identified as Democrats or said they were Democratic-leaning independents, while 42% identified as Republicans or were Republican-leaning independents.

That the three-point Democratic edge was down from six points in 2013, and among Democrats’ smaller advantages the past 25 years. Democrats usually hold an advantage in this combined measure of party affiliation. In fact, the only year Republicans held a notable edge since Gallup began tracking independents’ political leanings was in 1991, the year Republican President George H.W. Bush’s approval ratings soared after the United States’ victory in the Persian Gulf War. Democrats’ high point came in 2008, in the final year of George W. Bush’s administration and the year Barack Obama was first elected president.

U.S. Party Identification (Including Independent Leanings), Annual Averages, Gallup Polls, 1991-2014

However, the three-point Democratic advantage for all of 2014 obscures the change that occurred during the year. On a quarterly basis, Democrats started out 2014 with a five-point edge, similar to their advantage in 2013. That dipped to two points by the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, likely in response to Republicans’ success in the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans held a slight advantage of one point.

Party Identification (Including Independent Leanings), Quarterly Averages, 2014

Implications

Since 2008, Americans have been increasingly reluctant to identify with either the Republican or Democratic Party, and now a record 43% claimed political independence in 2014. Given historical trends, 2015 could bring a new record, as the percentage identifying as independents typically increases in the year before a presidential election, averaging a 2.5-point increase in the last six such years.

Although Democrats typically have an advantage in partisanship, that edge shrunk in 2014 and in the last months of the year the parties were essentially on equal footing. With each party controlling part of the federal government — Democrats the presidency and Republicans the Congress — they each will have a say in how the nation addresses its major challenges in the coming year. However, in recent years divided control of government has more often than not resulted in partisan gridlock, and Americans’ frustration with the frequent political stalemate is evident. Continued frustration with the government would likely encourage more Americans to identify as independents this year.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted January-December 2014, with a combined random sample of 16,479 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/180440/new-record-political-independents.aspx

New Emails Reveal Obama White House Worked on Concocting Benghazi Lie DURING the Attacks

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said on Thursday that the Obama White House was contacting YouTube owner Google during the Benghazi terrorist attacks, working on the false narrative even before Americans were out of harm’s way and before the intelligence community examined available evidence.

The still classified Obama State Department email, according to Issa, shows that the Obama White House rushed to settle on the false narrative of the anti-Islamic YouTube video instigating the attacks, which was completely at odds with the conclusions reached by reports from the ground.

This new evidence destroys the Obama White House claims, communicated by Obama spokesman Jay Carney, that the White House obtained the false narrative from CIA talking points, since, according to Congressman Issa, the communication with YouTube was conducted by the Obama White House before  any CIA talking points were concocted.

The subject line of the email, ironically sent at 9:11 p.m. (the attacks took place on 9/11/12) on the night of the attack, was “Update on Response to actions – Libya,” hours before  the attack had ended.

“The e-mail shows the White House had hurried to settle on a false narrative — one at odds with the conclusions reached by those on the ground — before Americans were even out of harm’s way or the intelligence community had made an impartial examination of available evidence,” Issa said.

Issa has called for the Obama White House to declassify the email.

According to Issa, one of the items noted in the email stated, “White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advise ramifications of the posting of the Pastor Jon video.”

Issa scolded current Secretary of State, Democrat John Kerry, for just now turning over a classified version of the email, some 20 months after the attack, while calling on the regime to release a unclassified copy.

“Unfortunately, Secretary Kerry and the State Department continue to try to keep this information from the public, only turning this document over to Congress last month. While the information I have cited from this email is clearly unclassified, the State Department has attempted to obstruct its disclosure by not providing Congress with an unclassified copy of this document that redacted only classified portions outlining what the Department of Defense and the Secretary of State were doing in response to the attack in Benghazi that night.”

“This tactic prevents the release of the email itself,” said Issa.

http://www.tpnn.com/2014/05/23/new-emails-reveal-obama-white-house-worked-on-concocting-benghazi-lie-during-the-attacks/#ixzz3pQkPlr1D

Paul Ryan officially declares candidacy for House speaker

The Most Likely Next President Is Hillary Clinton

And Republicans are in denial about it.

A virulent strain of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, which scientists and Republicans thought had been wiped out at the end of the last century, is now afflicting millions of conservative Americans. Some Republicans so detest Hillary Clinton they are badly underestimating how likely she is, at this point in the campaign, to be America’s 45thpresident. Their denial is just as strong now as it was a month ago, before Clinton began a run of political victories that have enhanced her prospects, all while the roller derby/demolition derby that is the Republican nomination contest has continued to harm the GOP’s chances of winning back the White House.

To be sure, nothing ever happens in a linear or tidy fashion with the Clintons; she is certain to add more chapters to the Perils of Hillary saga before Election Day 2016. Bernie Sanders could still upend her in Iowa, New Hampshire, or both, which could throw the nomination battle into unadulterated bedlam. Even if Clinton is nominated, a strong Republican candidate could absolutely defeat her next November, with victory as simple as the party putting forth a nominee who is more likeable to voters and better on television. Indeed, many elite and grassroots Republicans believe Clinton’s personality, which they can’t stand, will keep her out of the Oval Office no matter what.

But October has been good to Clinton: a glittering debate performance, the decision of potential rival Joe Biden not to run (greatly simplifying her path to the nomination), the vanquishing of Republicans during her daylong Benghazi hearing, and a solid turn at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night. All have improved Clinton’s odds of cruising into the White House twelve months hence, and have thrown into sharper relief some of the advantages she has had all along.

To state the obvious, Clinton faces two tasks to become commander-in-chief: get enough delegates to beat Sanders and then sew up 270 electoral votes. The more easily she can complete her first mission (especially compared to the wooly nomination battle of her eventual Republican opponent), the more easily achievable will be her second goal.

Here, then, are some of the advantages the Democratic frontrunner has now, many of which have been ignored or discounted by the people who want to beat her so badly they can’t think straight:

Hillary has shown she can handle Bernie Sanders, despite his plucky persona, raw grassroots appeal, and authentic authenticity. The Vegas debate and Clinton’s improved poll standing has given her and her team a revived notion that Sanders will end up a nuisance rather than a real threat. She has confidence she can face him down in the three debates remaining before Iowa. Without Biden in the race, Clinton is not going to have to play three-dimensional chess and can focus her energies on Sanders alone.

Bernie has shown he doesn’t quite understand how to play big moments in the big leagues. First the debate and now the Jefferson-Jackson dinner—Sanders prepared more for both evenings than the organic Vermonter normally would for any political event, but even his advisers concede that neither occasion represented the kind of performance that Sanders will eventually have to present if he is going to stop the prohibitive front-runner. He was very strong Saturday night but aides say they are still having trouble fully convincing him that not all campaign events are created equal.

Hillary Clinton speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. 
Hillary Clinton speaks at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Hillary is getting better at managing (and shaking off) the personal pang of her likability deficit.  At the J-J dinner, in her recent television interviews, and in her Benghazi testimony, she is showing more of her real self (even the all-too-human tetchy, the airily dismissive, the lordly—without knee-jerk defensiveness or wide-eyed guile), and not getting tied in knots over how she is coming off.  While this version of Hillary is still nails-on-a-chalkboard to her conservative critics, it is a huge improvement over the recent past and probably enough to win under the right circumstances.

Biden’s withdrawal means Clinton will lock up even more commitments from the Democratic establishment, giving her even more super delegates and making it easier to bounce back if Sanders wins Iowa, New Hampshire, or both.  I reported in August that Clinton’s camp already had in hand private commitments from enough of the elected and party officials who are automatic delegates to the national convention next summer (so-called super delegates) that she was one fifth of her way to the nomination. That number has increased significantly in recent weeks and will go up now that Biden has passed on the race. This allows Team Clinton to make a robust argument about her inevitability and gives it a squadron of surrogates from the left, center, and right of the Democratic Party to wound Sanders, buck her up if she stumbles, and, eventually, argue that the senator should get out of the competition if she wins early.

Hillary has massive support from labor unions. The party’s most important constituency group in terms of ground troops and campaign resources is now moving decisively towards Clinton, also giving her more working-class cred and undermining one of Sanders’ strongest rhetorical plays—that she is out of touch with the economic grassroots. And long-invested unions will provide her important foot soldiers in the general election battlegrounds, as they have since time began for Democratic presidential nominees.

Hillary could be the de facto Democratic nominee by Feb. 8. Her team privately believes that, given the way expectations have been set up, even narrow wins in the two first-voting contests would not be discounted. Clinton has robust field operations in both states and could diligently grind her way to victories. Even Sanders’ top aides acknowledge that, barring other factors, it could be game, set, match if Hillary starts the voting year with twin wins, giving Brooklyn ample incentive to go all in there and try to put it away early.

Hillary Clinton waves to supporters with husband Bill Clinton, former U.S. president, at the conclusion of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. 
Hillary Clinton waves to supporters with husband Bill Clinton, former U.S. president, at the conclusion of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Hillary’s husband now seems fired up and ready to go. Although a little rusty over the weekend in Iowa in his 2015 campaign trail debut, accounts from aides to both Clintons suggest the former president has learned lessons from his performance eight years ago, when he arguably hurt his wife’s chances as much as he helped her. He has been kept in the loop on the campaign’s thinking, receives polling information on a regular basis, and has participated in some strategy discussions with the team. The campaign seems happy with him, and he seems happy with the campaign, and that is a big change from 2008. Both campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook have good and confident relationships with the FPOTUS, who seems less ambivalent than last time about becoming the First Lad.

Hillary’s campaign is much less tense and fractious than was the 2008 team. There are fraught moments in Brooklyn, as in any campaign, and Clinton’s donors can get restive awfully quick, but this year’s model is one of relative peace and tranquility. Zen masters Podesta, Mook, and communications chief Jennifer Palmieri set the “been there, done that, seen that, dealt with that” sensibility.

Hillary’s team at last is convincing rich Democrats to come around to the super-PAC game. Clinton loyalist Guy Cecil is now topping Priorities USA and he has brought in a new cast of folks to supplement holdovers such as Paul Begala, Jim Messina, and Harold Ickes, all of whom have experience rubbing shoulders with the mega-wealthy and prying seven-figure checks out of their hands. Cecil knows how to leverage hot buttons like the Koch brothers and the threat of more conservative Supreme Court justices and unified GOP control of Washington to maintain momentum and encourage the participation of those previously reluctant to muck about in the big money world that many liberals despise and disdain.

Hillary has a first-class opposition research team that is saving nuggets to use once Republicans pick their nominee. Oppo veteran Christina Reynolds heads an operation that can afford to play a long game, teasing out incremental research in conjunction with allies such as the Democratic National Committee but knowing full well that holding back powerful tidbits until the late spring or summer, when the eventual Republican nominee will be most vulnerable, is supremely smart. The research operations of the Republican presidential campaigns, on the other hand, are currently focused on each other (although the independent group America Rising is hoping to make up the gap).

The Republican nominee is more likely to emerge bloodied, broke, and behind. A nominating calendar and delegate rules designed to avoid the kind of extended intra-party fight that crippled Mitt Romney’s general election effort will almost certainly be no match for a fifteen candidate field, a number of whom can make a decent argument that they’ll win the prize. The ferociousness and deep pockets of gladiators Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and the possibility that the party establishment will end up intervening with tens of millions of dollars in negative TV spots means a long, gory slog that might not find resolution until after the national convention in Cleveland in mid-July. (Of course, if Trump is ultimately the nomination victor, then “broke” should not be a factor.)

As the nominee, Hillary will effectively control the DNC and will exercise free rein over the convention. Even with Sanders a remaining foe, Hillaryland is coordinating fundraising with the national and state parties, strategizing about installing allies at the party headquarters in DC, and gaming out what the Philly convention will look like. If Clinton is the standard bearer, make no mistake: Brooklyn will convert the DNC into its wholly owned subsidiary and will take over every jot and tittle of convention planning and execution. This type of control typically leads to less friction and a smoother running enterprise, including on-message convention speakers.

Republicans are erroneously convinced they can beat Clinton solely with talk of Benghazi, e-mails, and other controversies that have nothing to do with the economy and the real lives of real people. Nowhere does the Fox News-Rush Limbaugh echo chamber more hurt Republican chances of beating Clinton than in the politics of scandal and controversy. To paraphrase the famous line attributed to Pauline Kael: everyone who conservatives know think the Clintons should be in prison. The problem is that swing voters don’t share that view in sufficient numbers to actually warrant banking a victory on placing those arguments front and center. Kevin McCarthy’s acknowledgement that the Benghazi committee was set up to damage Clinton politically has not just polluted the select committee’s efforts; it also means that one of the most effectively tried-and-true Team Clinton defenses (that any controversy that swirls around her is a ginned up political attack because Republicans don’t want to talk about real issues) has got legs straight through next November.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waits to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 22, 2015.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waits to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 22, 2015.
Photographer: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary is ready for the debates. She won’t have as many debates in which to hone her skills as the eventual GOP nominee, but she has many other edges, including her 2008 experience; the fact that going forward she will face only one or two opponents—rather than nine or so—on the debate stage (much closer to the dynamics in a general election); her professionalized and experienced debate prep team (many of whom worked the same gig for Barack Obama); and her own fearsome, dogged, and scrupulous preparation.

Hillary’s pollster knows how to find issues that test 80-20 or 70-30, and the candidate knows how to translate them on the stump. While Republican presidential candidates thrash around competing to see who can be the most anti-immigrant, pro-tax cuts for the wealthy, anti-abortion and gay marriage, and pro-climate change-denying, Clinton’s pollster and strategist Joel Benenson is busy finding topics she can talk about in a general election that garner overwhelming support from the public across the political spectrum and will put the GOP nominee on the defensive. Nothing makes a Clinton running for president more confident and effective than having mainstream boldface issues to use as a cudgel.

Obama’s approval rating is holding at a level that would make Clinton’s path much easier. Yes, the economy is not going gangbusters. Yes, ObamaCare is not universally popular (to say the least). Yes, the world is filled with dangerous hot spots and looming, chilling threats. But barring some major change in his fortune, Obama’s current approval rating of around 46% is likely to sustain through Election Day, a high enough figure, history suggests, to keep him from being a drag on his party’s nominee and chosen successor.

Hillary’s team is already thinking about general election targeting. One of the pages Brooklyn has taken from the Obama playbook is to start thinking about the general election early. That includes using contests in caucuses and primaries states that will be battlegrounds next November to build up a team, target data, establish media relationships, and keep it all humming after the nominating contest and throughout the duration. It also includes living by the dictum “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours let’s negotiate over,” hawkishly protecting the nearly 250 electoral votes and voting groups Democrats have won consistently over the last several cycles while looking to expand the targeting efforts demographically and geographically.

Hillary would inherit a considerable demographic edge in a general election. Republicans have done next to nothing, and clearly much more harm than good since Mitt Romney lost in 2012, to make in-roads with the so-called coalition of the ascendant. Clinton would almost certainly have an overwhelming edge with African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, LGBT voters, young people, and single women, and the future contours of the Republican nomination fight are not likely to make the party’s challenge with these groups any easier.

Hillary would also inherit a considerable Electoral College edge in a general election. The Democrats don’t have quite the Electoral College “lock” that the GOP had in the ‘70s and ‘80s but it is pretty close. A strong Republican nominee could make Clinton play defense in states such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Colorado.  But the safe Democrat states would give her a huge leg up, and demographic changes mean Clinton could be playing offense in places such as Georgia and Arizona under the right circumstances. Political pros in both parties believe some of the leading Republican contenders would give Clinton a chance to surpass her husband’s 1992 electoral vote total of 370 if they are her eventual competition.

Clinton advisers are well aware of these many advantages. They are staying largely mum for now, preferring to let the candidate’s recent positive media coverage speak for itself and not relinquish any tactical advantage of surprise.

They also know the FBI probe into her e-mails, Bill Clinton’s portfolio, or something new and super controversial could upend her standing at any time. And the raucous Republican nomination process could yet yield a strong general election opponent for her. This list is not meant to gloss over the considerable challenges Clinton is sure to face even if everything goes as planned on her side—not to mention if things start to go south. And a few savvy Republican operatives are ringing the alarm bell in private strategy sessions, urging the party to try to address as many of these deficits as soon as possible.

But don’t be surprised if reports soon surface mirroring what happened almost exactly eight years ago, when Clinton asked top advisers to secretly begin planning her vice presidential selection process—and her presidential transition. Republicans would surely see those steps as wildly premature, but given all of Clinton’s advantages now, she may consider it simply prudent planning.

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-10-26/the-most-likely-next-president-is-hillary-clinton

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

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Mark Steyn — America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It — Videos

Posted on May 27, 2015. Filed under: Babies, Blogroll, Books, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Demographics, Diasters, Documentary, Education, Employment, Federal Government, Non-Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The End of the World as We Know It, with Mark Steyn

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Lying Lunatic Left Democratic Party’s War on People of Faith By Opposing Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Law — 19 Other States Have Similar Laws — Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 — Does Not Discriminate Against Any One Including Gays and Lesbians– Videos

Posted on April 3, 2015. Filed under: American History, Articles, Babies, Blogroll, Business, Catholic Church, College, Communications, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Culture, Demographics, Documentary, Economics, Education, Employment, Faith, Family, Farming, Federal Government, Freedom, Friends, government, government spending, history, Investments, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Private Sector, Radio, Radio, Religion, Resources, Space, Strategy, Talk Radio, Unemployment, Unions, Video, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 437: March 30, 2015 

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Story 3: Lying Lunatic Left Democratic Party’s  War on People of Faith By Opposing Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Law — 19 Other States Have Similar Laws — Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 — Does Not Discriminate Against Any One Including Gays and Lesbians– Videos

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Indiana legislators pledge to ‘fix’ controversial religious freedom law

Pence signs Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Religious Freedom Restoration Act Bill Draws Criticism, Support

Indiana lawmakers discuss the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

WFB’s Liz Harrington Discusses Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law on Real Story

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Says Religious Freedom Law ‘Absolutely Not’ a Mistake

Religious Freedom Act backlash continues in South Bend, across the US

What Does The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Ruling Mean?

The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Decision Explained

History and Impact of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Mark Steyn On The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993

Swarens: Gov. Mike Pence to push for clarification of ‘religious freedom’ law

Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.

“I support religious liberty, and I support this law,” Pence said in an exclusive interview. “But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”

The governor, although not ready to provide details on what the new bill will say, said he expects the legislation to be introduced into the General Assembly this coming week.

Asked if that legislation might include making gay and lesbian Hoosiers a protected legal class, Pence said, “That’s not on my agenda.”

Amid the deepest crisis of his political career, Pence said repeatedly that the intense blowback against the new law is the result of a “misunderstanding driven by misinformation.”

He adamantly insisted that RFRA will not open the door to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. But he did acknowledge that Indiana’s image — and potentially its economic health — has been hurt badly by the controversy.

I spoke with Pence on the same day that thousands of people rallied at the Statehouse in opposition to the law. And the same day that Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle announced that his company will abandon a deal with the state and city to expand the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis because of RFRA’s passage.

Oesterle’s statement is a telling sign that the outrage over RFRA isn’t limited only to the political left. Oesterle directed Republican Mitch Daniels’ 2004 campaign for governor. And it’s a signal that the damage from the RFRA debacle could be extensive.

Behind the scenes, Pence and his team have been scrambling to mitigate that damage — both to the state and to the governor’s political career.

Pence said, for example, that he had a “cordial and productive” conversation with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who announced shortly after Pence signed the RFRA legislation on Thursday that the company will cancel all corporate-related travel to Indiana. That conversation, however, has not led to a reversal of the Salesforce decision.

I asked the governor if he had anticipated the strongly negative reaction set off by the bill’s passage. His response made it clear that he and his team didn’t see it coming.

“I just can’t account for the hostility that’s been directed at our state,” he said. “I’ve been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill.”

In defense of the legislation, he noted that 19 other states and the federal government have adopted RFRA laws similar to Indiana’s. And he pointed out that President Barack Obama voted for Illinois’ version of RFRA as a state senator.

The governor also criticized the news media’s coverage of the legislation. “Despite the irresponsible headlines that have appeared in the national media, this law is not about discrimination,” he said. “If it was, I would have vetoed it.”

Yet, those justifications, cited repeatedly by the governor’s supporters in recent days, have done little to quell the controversy.

Which is why the proposal to clarify the law’s intent with a new bill has gained traction among Pence’s advisers in the past couple of days.

Pence also plans to fight back in the state and national media. He’s scheduled, for instance, to defend the law Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. “I’m not going to take it (the criticism) lying down,” he said.

As we wrapped up the conversation, I asked Pence: What answer do you have for the many gays and lesbians — and their friends and families — who’ve asked this past week if they are still welcome in Indiana?

“First, this law is not about discrimination. It’s about protecting religious liberty and giving people full access to the judicial system,” he said. “But, yes, Hoosier hospitality is about making all people feel welcome in our state. We did that with the Super Bowl and with many other events, and with bringing businesses here. We will continue to do that.”

Whether Pence can get that message across — whether he still has the credibility to get people to believe it — will help determine the extent of RFRA’s damage. First, and most important, for the state. But also for Mike Pence’s political future and legacy.

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg

Argued March 25, 2014
Decided June 30, 2014Full case nameSylvia Burwell, Secretary ofHealth and Human Services, et al., Petitioners v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., Mardel, Inc., David Green, Barbara Green, Steve Green, Mart Green, and Darsee Lett; Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, et al., Petitioners v. Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al.Docket nos.13-354
13-356Citations573 U.S. ___ (more)

134 S.Ct. 2751, WL 2921709, 2014 U.S. LEXIS 4505, 123 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 621

HoldingAs applied to closely held for-profit corporations, the Health and Human Services(HHS) regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion under the RFRA. The Court assumes that guaranteeing cost-free access to the four challenged contraceptive methods is a compelling governmental interest, but the Government has failed to show that the mandate is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest.Court membership

Case opinionsMajorityAlito, joined by Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, ThomasConcurrenceKennedyDissentGinsburg, joined by Sotomayor; Breyer, Kagan (all but part III-C-1)DissentBreyer and KaganLaws applied

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ___ (2014), is a landmark decision[1][2] by the United States Supreme Courtallowing closely held for-profit corporations to be exempt from a law its owners religiously object to if there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law’s interest. It is the first time that the court has recognized a for-profit corporation’s claim of religious belief,[3] but it is limited to closely held corporations.[a] The decision is an interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and does not address whether such corporations are protected by the free-exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

For such companies, the Court’s majority directly struck down the contraceptive mandate, a regulation adopted by theUS Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring employers to cover certain contraceptives for their female employees, by a 5-4 vote.[4] The court said that the mandate was not the least restrictive way to ensure access to contraceptive care, noting that a less restrictive alternative was being provided for religious non-profits, until the Court issued an injunction 3 days later, effectively ending said alternative, leaving no employer-sponsored alternative for any female employees of closely held corporations that do not wish to provide birth control.[5]

The ruling could have widespread impact, allowing corporations to claim religious exemptions from federal laws.[6][7]

Background

Federal law

Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The United States Supreme Court ruled in Employment Division v. Smith (1990) that a person may not defy neutral laws of general applicability[b] even as an expression of religious belief. “To permit this,” wrote Justice Scalia, “would make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” He wrote that generally applicable laws do not have to meet the standard of strict scrutiny, because such a requirement would create “a private right to ignore generally applicable laws”. Strict scrutiny would require a law to be the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest.

In 1993, the US Congress responded by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), requiring strict scrutiny when a neutral law of general applicability “substantially burden[s] a person’s[c] exercise of religion”.[8] The RFRA was amended in 2000 by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to redefine exercise of religion as any exercise of religion, “whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief”, which is to be “construed in favor of a broad protection of religious exercise, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this chapter and the Constitution”. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the RFRA as applied to federal statutes in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita in 2006.

Affordable Care Act

Most Americans are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. In 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which relies on the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to specify what kinds of preventive care for women should be covered in certain employer-based health plans. HHS exempted religious employers (churches and their integrated auxiliaries, associations of churches, and any religious order), non-profit organizations that object to any required contraception,[9] employers providing grandfathered plans (that have not had specific changes before March 23, 2010), and employers with fewer than 50 employees. The HRSA decided that all twenty contraceptives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should be covered.[10] Companies that refuse are fined $100 per individual per day,[11] or they can replace their health coverage with higher wages and a calibrated tax.

Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties

Hobby Lobby is an arts and crafts company founded by self-made billionaire[12] David Green and owned by the Evangelical Christian Green family with about 21,000 employees.[11] It provided the contraceptives Plan-B and Ella until it dropped its coverage in 2012, the year it filed its lawsuit.[13][14] It is the largest funder of theNational Christian Charitable Foundation that uses its billion-dollar endowment to fund a network of political groups including the Alliance Defending Freedom, which recently supported the Arizona SB 1062 bill that attracted national controversy.[15] The Hobby Lobby case also involved Mardel Christian and Educational Supply, which is owned by Mart Green, one of David’s sons.

Hobby Lobby’s case was consolidated with another case by Conestoga Wood Specialties, a furniture company owned by the Mennonite Hahn family that has about 1,000 employees. They were being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.[16]

Specific contraceptives contested by plaintiffs

The Green and Hahn families believe that life begins at conception which they equate to fertilization, and object to their closely held for-profit corporations providing health insurance coverage to their female employees of four FDA-approved contraceptives that the Green and Hahn families believe may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg (many doctors and scientists disagree), which the Green and Hahn families believe constitutes an abortion.[17][18][19][20]

Lower court history

In September 2012, Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against enforcement of the contraception rule based on the RFRA and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The district court denied Hobby Lobby’s request for a preliminary injunction. In March 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit granted a hearing of the case. In June, the appeals court ruled that Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is a person who has religious freedom.[6] The court ordered the government to stop enforcement of the contraception rule on Hobby Lobby and sent the case back to the district court, which granted preliminary injunction in July. In September, the government appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.[21]

Two other federal appeals courts ruled against the contraception coverage rule, while another two upheld it.[11]

The case was previously titled Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. Sylvia Burwell was automatically substituted as petitioner when she was approved by the United States Senate as the Secretary of Health and Human Services after being nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Kathleen Sebelius following Sibelius’ resignation on April 10, 2014.

U.S. Supreme Court consideration

Acceptance and briefs

On November 26, the Supreme Court accepted and consolidated the case with Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. Two dozen amicus briefs support the government, and five dozen support the companies. American Freedom Law Center‘s brief argues that birth control harms women because men will only want them “for the satisfaction of [their] own desires.”[22] Another brief argues that the contraception rule leads to “the maximization of sexual activity”.[7] Two of the briefs oppose each other on the constitutionality of the RFRA. Two briefs that do not formally take sides oppose each other on whether the right to religion applies to corporations.[23] One of those briefs argues that if shareholders are separated by the corporate veil from corporate liabilities, then their religious values are also separate from the corporation. It mentions the ruling in Domino’s Pizza, Inc. v. McDonald made against the African American owner of JWM Investments whose contracts were breached due to racial discrimination. The brief argues that if JWM Investments could not suffer discrimination through its owner, then Hobby Lobby could not suffer religious burden through its owner.[24][25] Two briefs were filed by LGBT groups concerned that future anti-discrimination laws would be pre-emptively harmed if employers could claim to be religiously exempt.[26][27][28]

Argument and deliberation

Oral arguments were held on March 25, 2014 for 30 minutes more than the usual one hour.[8] The three women in the court focused their questioning on Hobby Lobby’s lawyer, Paul D. Clement, while the men focused on the administration’s lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr.[29] Justice Sotomayor quoted the ruling from United States v. Lee (1982) saying that an employer can’t deprive employees of a statutory right because of religious beliefs. Clement replied that Lee does not apply because it was a challenge against a tax rather than against a significant burden. Sotomayor said that instead of paying the burden of the penalty, Hobby Lobby could replace its health care with the equivalent expense of higher wages and a calibrated tax, which the government would use to pay for the employees’ health care.[30][31] Near the end of Clement’s argument, Justice Kennedy expressed concern for the rights of the employees who may not agree with the religious beliefs of their employers.[32] When Verrilli argued that the ruling in Cutter v. Wilkinson requires the court to weigh the impact on third parties in every RFRA case, Justice Scalia said that the RFRA does not require the court to balance the interest of the religious objector to the interest of other individuals. Verilli returned to Lee,saying that granting an exemption to an employer should not impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.[30][33]

Opinion of the Court

Majority opinion

On June 30, 2014, Associate Justice Samuel Alito delivered the judgment of the court. Four justices (Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas) joined him to strike down the HHS mandate, as applied to closely held corporations with religious objections, and to prevent the plaintiffs from being compelled to provide contraception under their healthcare plans. The ruling was reached on statutory grounds, citing the RFRA, because the mandate was not the “least restrictive” method of implementing the government’s interest. The ruling did not address Hobby Lobby’s claims under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.[34]

The court argued that the purpose of extending rights to corporations is to protect the rights of shareholders, officers, and employees.[35] It said that “allowing Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, and Mardel to assert RFRA claims protects the religious liberty of the Greens and the Hahns.”[36] The court found that for-profit corporations could be considered persons under the RFRA. It noted that the HHS treats nonprofit corporations as persons within the meaning of RFRA. The court stated, “no conceivable definition of the term includes natural persons and nonprofit corporations, but not for-profit corporations.”[37] Responding to lower court judges’ suggestion that the purpose of for-profit corporations “is simply to make money”, the court said, “For-profit corporations, with ownership approval, support a wide variety of charitable causes, and it is not at all uncommon for such corporations to further humanitarian and other altruistic objectives.”[38] The court rejected the contention that “the Nation lacks a tradition of exempting for-profit corporations from generally applicable laws,” pointing to a federal statute from 1993 that exempted any covered health care entity from engaging in “certain activities related to abortion”.[39]

The court held that the HHS contraception mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion, rejecting an argument that the $2,000-per-employee penalty for dropping insurance coverage is less than the average cost of health insurance. Responding to HHS’s argument that the provision of coverage does not itself result in destruction of embryos, the Court asserted that the argument dodges the substantial burden question that the Court is supposed to address. The Court added, citing Jesuit moral manuals, that the argument is also the religious question of the morality of enabling the immoral acts of others, to which HHS had provided “a binding national answer”. The Court argued that federal courts should not answer religious questions because they would in effect be deciding whether certain beliefs are flawed.[40][41] The court argued that “companies would face a competitive disadvantage in retaining and attracting skilled workers,” that increased wages for employees to buy individual coverage would be more costly than group health insurance, that any raise in wages would have to take income taxes into account, and that employers cannot deduct the penalty.[42]

The court found it unnecessary to adjudicate on whether the HHS contraceptive mandate furthers a compelling government interest and held that HHS has not shown that the mandate is “the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling interest”.[43] The court argued that the most straightforward alternative would be “for the Government to assume the cost…” and that HHS has not shown that it is not “a viable alternative”.[44] The court said that the RFRA can “require creation of entirely new programs”.[45] The court also pointed out that HHS already exempts any nonprofit organization from paying for any required contraception by allowing it to certify its religious objection to its insurance issuer, which must “[p]rovide separate payments for any contraceptive services required to be covered”.[46] However, the court said the approach might not necessarily be the least restrictive alternative for all religious claims.[47]

The court concluded by addressing “the possibility that discrimination in hiring, for example on the basis of race, might be cloaked as religious practice to escape legal sanction”. The court said that their decision “provides no such shield”, and that “prohibitions on racial discrimination are precisely tailored to achieve that critical goal.”[48] The court also said that the requirement to pay taxes despite any religious objection is different from the contraceptive mandate because “there simply is no less restrictive alternative to the categorical requirement to pay taxes.”[49] The court acknowledged the dissent’s “worries about forcing the federal courts to apply RFRA to a host of claims made by litigants seeking a religious exemption from generally applicable laws…”, noting that this point was “made forcefully by the Court in Smith“. The court responded by saying, “Congress, in enacting RFRA, took the position that ‘the compelling interest test as set forth in prior Federal court rulings is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing prior governmental interests’…The wisdom of Congress’s judgment on this matter is not our concern. Our responsibility is to enforce RFRA as written, and under the standard that RFRA prescribes, the HHS contraceptive mandate is unlawful.”[50]

Concurring opinion

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion, responding to the “respectful and powerful dissent”, by emphasizing the limited nature of the ruling and saying that the government “makes the case that the mandate serves the Government’s compelling interest in providing insurance coverage that is necessary to protect the health of female employees”, but that the RFRA’s least-restrictive way requirement is not met because “there is an existing, recognized, workable, and already-implemented framework to provide coverage,” the one that HHS has devised for non-profit corporations with religious objections. “RFRA requires the Government to use this less restrictive means. As the Court explains, this existing model, designed precisely for this problem, might well suffice to distinguish the instant cases from many others in which it is more difficult and expensive to accommodate a governmental program to countless religious claims based on an alleged statutory right of free exercise.” (Kennedy, J., concurring, p. 3, 4)

Dissenting opinions

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the primary dissent, which was joined by Justice Sotomayor in full and by Justices Breyer and Kagan as to all but Part III–C–1[51] on “whether a corporation qualifies as a ‘person’ capable of exercising religion”.[52] Ginsburg began, “In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs. … Compelling governmental interests in uniform compliance with the law, and disadvantages that religion-based opt-outs impose on others, hold no sway, the Court decides, at least when there is a ‘less restrictive alternative.’ And such an alternative, the Court suggests, there always will be whenever, in lieu of tolling an enterprise claiming a religion-based exemption, the government, i.e., the general public, can pick up the tab.”[53]

She challenged the majority’s unprecedented view of for-profit religion saying “Until this litigation, no decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law, whether under the Free Exercise Clause or RFRA. The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities[54]…Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”[55] Responding to the majority’s argument that the government should “assume the cost” of contraceptives, Ginsburg said that “the nation’s only dedicated source of federal funding for safety net family planning services…” is not designed to absorb the unmet needs of those already insured. She noted that “a less restrictive alternative” has not been written into law by Congress.[56] Ginsburg warns, “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield…”[57]

Justices Breyer and Kagan wrote a one-paragraph dissenting opinion, saying that “the plaintiffs’ challenge to the contraceptive coverage requirement fails on the merits” and that they “need not and do not decide whether either for-profit corporations or their owners may bring claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.”[58]

Reactions

Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby, said “Today, the nation’s highest court has reaffirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country’s founding principles. The court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith.”[59]

Conestoga CEO Anthony Hahn said, “Americans don’t have to surrender their freedom when they open a family business.”[59]

Organizations

Conservative and pro-life groups praised the ruling. The National Review said that the Supreme Court ruling “[led] Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Bowman to call Hobby Lobby an ‘inclusive decision’ that advances everyone’s freedom.”[60] Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said, “This is a great victory for religious liberty – the bedrock of our founding. In living out our religious convictions, there are certain things we must not do. This is why we are at a watershed moment. Religious people will no longer be ordered to take action that our religion says we must not take.”[61] Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, “The Supreme Court has delivered one of the most significant victories for religious freedom in our generation. We are thankful the Supreme Court agreed that the government went too far by mandating that family businesses owners must violate their consciences under threat of crippling fines.”[61] The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said, “We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to recognize that Americans can continue to follow their faith when they run a family business…Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom.”[62]

Pro-choice and civil-liberties groups criticized the ruling. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said, “Today, the Supreme Court ruled against American women and families, giving bosses the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage. This is a deeply disappointing and troubling ruling that will prevent some women, especially those working hourly-wage jobs and struggling to make ends meet, from getting birth control.”[63] Deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union Louise Melling said, “This is a deeply troubling decision. For the first time, the highest court in the country has said that business owners can use their religious beliefs to deny their employees a benefit that they are guaranteed by law.”[64]

In an editorial, the New England Journal of Medicine called the decision “a setback for both the ACA’s foundational goal of access to universal health care and for women’s health care specifically”, voicing concern that “in assessing the competing claims about abortion and birth control, the Court’s majority focused on the religious claims of the corporations without discussing scientific or medical opinions.”[65] In JAMA Internal Medicine, Alta Charo wrote that “consistent with a disturbing trend among courts and legislatures to misstate or misuse scientific information in the context of women’s reproductive rights and health, the Supreme Court’s decision ignored the well-accepted distinction between contraception and abortion.”[66] The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, representing 90% of U.S. board-certified gynecologists, supported a bill to overturn the Hobby Lobby ruling.[67]

Government

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “Congress needs to take action to solve this problem that’s been created and the administration stands ready to work with them to do so. President Obama believes that women should make personal health care decisions for themselves, rather than their bosses deciding for them. Today’s decision jeopardizes the health of women that are employed by these companies.”[64]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, “If the Supreme Court will not protect women’s access to health care, then Democrats will. We will continue to fight to preserve women’s access to contraceptive coverage and keep bosses out of the examination room.”[3]

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “[T]he Obama administration cannot trample on the religious freedoms that Americans hold dear.”[3]

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), who introduced the RFRA in 1993, said his law “was not intended to extend the same protection to for-profit corporations, whose very purpose is to profit from the open market.”[68]

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “The mandate overturned today would have required for-profit companies to choose between violating their constitutionally-protected faith or paying crippling fines, which would have forced them to lay off employees or close their doors.”[69]

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “Although the Court restricted their ruling to ‘closely-held’ companies, this ruling will immediately affect the lives of millions of women across the country. Over 90 percent of America’s businesses are ‘closely-held,’ including such large employers as Koch Industries and Bechtel.[69]Women should not be forced to jump through extra hoops to secure the fundamental health care they need. Allowing employers and CEOs to limit the health care available to employees is a gross violation of their workers’ religious rights. It’s just not her boss’ business.”[64]

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said, “Today’s victory in the Hobby Lobby case is terrific news—but now is no time to rest. We cannot rely on the courts alone to defend our religious liberty.”[61]

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said, “I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to protect the religious freedom of all Americans, both individually and collectively. The notion that religious freedom belongs only to some, and even then only in private, defies our nation’s traditions, our laws, and our Constitution. And as the Supreme Court rightfully said today, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could not have been clearer in saying religious liberty of all Americans must be equally protected and not unnecessarily burdened.”[61]

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) said, “I am extremely encouraged by today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the religious liberty rights of the Green family of Hobby Lobby.”[61]

Aftermath

Cases following SCOTUS ruling

Forbes reported that following the ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, “the Supreme Court vacated the judgment against Eden Foods and sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for further consideration.”[70]

Wheaton College order

On July 3, 2014, the Supreme Court granted a temporary exemption to the approach it suggested as a less restrictive alternative in Hobby Lobby, where the plaintiffs would send a form (EBSA Form 700)[71] to its insurance issuer, which would pay for the contraception. In an unsigned emergency injunction for Wheaton College in Illinois, the court said that instead of notifying its insurance issuer, Wheaton can notify the government. Once notified, the government should notify the issuer. Wheaton believed that by transferring the obligation to cover contraceptives to its insurance issuer, it was triggering that obligation. The emergency injunction does not constitute a ruling on the merits of Wheaton’s religious objection. The court said “Nothing in this interim order affects the ability of the applicant’s employees and students to obtain, without cost, the full range of FDA approved contraceptives.”[72]

In a 15-page dissent joined by the other two women on the court, Justice Sotomayor criticized the majority’s reasoning: “Wheaton’s application comes nowhere near the high bar necessary to warrant an emergency injunction from this court…The court’s actions in this case create unnecessary costs and layers of bureaucracy, and they ignore a simple truth: The government must be allowed to handle the basic tasks of public administration in a manner that comports with common sense.”[73]

In January, the Supreme Court granted a similar temporary injunction to the Little Sisters of the Poor.[74][75][76]

In dueling commentaries between regular SCOTUSblog contributor Marty Lederman and co-founder Tom Goldstein, Lederman argued that only Form 700 can require an insurance provider to pay for contraception coverage. Goldstein argued that an existing regulation allows the government to specify an alternative to Form 700. He pointed out that “the Court didn’t accept Wheaton’s most aggressive argument” that it cannot be required to do anything. He said that Justice Kennedy’s concurrence is controlling and makes clear that the RFRA is not violated by requiring Wheaton to notify the government.[77][78]

Implications

Religious exemption from laws that apply to the general public

Although the court stated clearly that the decision is limited to the contraceptive mandate (Syllabus p. 4-5), the ruling is seen to have consequences extending far beyond contraception. Walter Dellinger, former acting solicitor general said, “for the first time, commercial enterprises could successfully claim religious exemptions from laws that govern everyone else.” Fifteen states had filed a brief arguing that businesses would be able to deny coverage for transfusions, stem cell treatments, and psychiatric care.[6] In line with the dissenting opinion, The American Prospect asked, “[W]ill the taxpayers have to send a check to employees if employers feel that minimum wage laws violate their religious beliefs?”[79] Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that objections to paying health benefits for same-sex spouses will get traction.[80] The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLT) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights withdrew their support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed by the Senate, saying that its religious exemptions would allow companies to fire or refuse to hire LGBT workers in light of the Hobby Lobby ruling. NGLT executive director Rea Carey said, “We do not take this move lightly. We’ve been pushing for this bill for 20 years.”[81]

Such concerns are focused on the court’s application of the federal RFRA law and were driven by national controversy over a state RFRA amendment bill in Arizona. Douglas Laycock, law professor at the University of Virginia, said, “The whole secular left has decided” that RFRA laws “are very dangerous because they care so much more about the contraception cases and gay rights.” He said RFRA laws are mischaracterized because they do not dictate outcomes favoring religious objectors, they only require courts to use the highest standard of scrutiny on any law challenged.[6] Mark Kernes, Senior Editor and Chief Legal Analyst forAVN magazine stated in an op-ed piece, “If the Hobby Lobby decision supports the ‘right’ of companies not to make available birth control that will prevent women from “catching” a pregnancy, what’s to keep those same religious companies from arguing that providing access to PrEP drugs like Truvada, which help prevent gays (and, admittedly, everyone) from catching HIV shouldn’t similarly be excluded from their health plans?”[82]

Imposition of religious beliefs onto others

Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, said that the Supreme Court has never ruled that companies have religious beliefs and that “it has never held that religious exercise provides a license to harm others, or violate the rights of third parties.” Louise Melling, ACLU deputy legal director, said religious freedom “gives us all the right to hold our beliefs, but it doesn’t give you the right to impose your beliefs on others, to discriminate against others.”[7] The editorial board of The New York Times wrote that the decision “swept aside accepted principles of corporate law and religious liberty to grant owners of closely held, for-profit companies an unprecedented right to impose their religious views on employees.”[83] A Fox News columnist wrote, “[W]ith all of the debate about the religious beliefs of the Hobby Lobby owners, what about the religious beliefs of their employees? They are just as important, and should not be trampled upon.”[84]The director of the United Church of Christ’s Washington, D.C. office, said that the ruling “may embolden private employers to claim religious objections to particular health care services, in effect forcing their own religious views upon their employees.”[85] Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “It’s the first time that our court has said that a closely-held corporation has the rights of a person when it comes to religious freedom, which means that the…corporation’s employers can impose their religious beliefs on their employees.”[86] The Center for American Progress said that the ruling “moves in the direction this court has been moving already, which is talking about corporate personhood—really treating corporations like people, saying that the corporation has a religion itself and that should be imposed on its employees.”[80] Interfaith Alliance leader Rev. Welton Gaddy said, “The First Amendment is at its best when it is used to protect the rights of minorities from the whims of the powerful. Today’s decision, which gives the powerful the right to force their religious beliefs on those around them, is a far cry from the best traditions of religious freedom.”[62]

Scholars on the other side (including some on the left) disagree, arguing that companies owned and run by liberals will likewise benefit from the freedom to operate according to their conscience or values – which has not been viewed as “imposing” views, because people routinely choose whom to associate with based on philosophical compatibility.[87] This debate reflects a larger recurring ideological issue over what constitutes “coercion” or “imposing” – e.g., whether burdens imposed by law onto employers are better or worse than burdens imposed by employers on employees.[88]

Corporate liability

The New York Times editor Dorothy J. Samuels wrote, “If owners indicate that they are not entirely separate from their corporation—by denying corporation employees’ birth control coverage based on their personal religious beliefs—the case could be made in future state-court litigation that they have waived their right to be shielded from responsibility for corporate financial liabilities.”[89] The dean of the UC Irvine School of Law Erwin Chemerinsky said, “The liabilities of the corporation are not attributed to the owners, so why should the owners be able to attribute their beliefs to the company?”[90] Samuels leaves her readers with an adage: “Be careful what you wish for.”[89] Several legal scholars wrote an amicus brief to the Supreme Court for this case arguing this danger, while scholars on the other side counter that incorporated non-profit organizations enjoy liability protection despite their activities based on religious or other values/conscience-based causes.[91]

See also

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burwell_v._Hobby_Lobby_Stores,_Inc.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For state versions of the RFRA, see State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.
For the Indiana legislation, see Indiana SB 101.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act to protect the free exercise of religion.
Acronyms(colloquial) RFRA
Enacted by the 103rd United States Congress
Effective November 16, 1993
Citations
Public Law 103-141
Statutes at Large 107 Stat. 1488
Codification
Titles amended 42 U.S.C.: Public Health and Social Welfare
U.S.C. sections created 42 U.S.C. ch. 21B § 2000bb et seq.
Legislative history
United States Supreme Court cases
City of Boerne v. Flores
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-141, 107 Stat. 1488 (November 16, 1993), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb through 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-4 (also known as RFRA), is a 1993 United States federal law aimed at preventing laws that “substantially burden” a person’s free exercise of religion. The bill was introduced by Congressman Chuck Schumer (DNY) on March 11, 1993 and passed by a unanimous U.S. House and a near unanimous U.S. Senate with three dissenting votes[1] and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The RFRA was held unconstitutional as applied to the states in the City of Boerne v. Flores decision in 1997, which ruled that the RFRA is not a proper exercise of Congress’s enforcement power. However, it continues to be applied to the federal government—for instance, in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal—because Congress has broad authority to carve out exemptions from federal laws and regulations that it itself has authorized. In response to City of Boerne v. Flores, some individual states passed State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that apply to state governments and local municipalities.

Provisions

This law reinstated the Sherbert Test, which was set forth by Sherbert v. Verner, and Wisconsin v. Yoder, mandating that strict scrutiny be used when determining whether the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing religious freedom, has been violated. In the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Congress states in its findings that a religiously neutral law can burden a religion just as much as one that was intended to interfere with religion;[2] therefore the Act states that the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”[3]

The law provided an exception if two conditions are both met. First, the burden must be necessary for the “furtherance of a compelling government interest.”[3] Under strict scrutiny, a government interest is compelling when it is more than routine and does more than simply improve government efficiency. A compelling interest relates directly with core constitutional issues.[4] The second condition is that the rule must be the least restrictive way in which to further the government interest.

Background and passage

This tipi is used for Peyote ceremonies in the Native American Church, one of the main religions affected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to all religions, but is most pertinent[dubious ] to Native American religions that are burdened by increasing expansion of government projects onto sacred land. In Native American religion the land they worship on is very important. Often the particular ceremonies can only take place in certain locations because these locations have special significance.[5] This, along with peyote use, are the main parts of Native American religions that are often left unprotected.

The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment states that Congress shall not pass laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion. In the 1960s, the Supreme Court interpreted this as banning laws that burdened a person’s exercise of religion (e.g.Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963); Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972)). But in the 1980s the Court began to allow legislation that incidentally prohibited religiously mandatory activities as long as the ban was “generally applicable” to all citizens. Also, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, intended to protect the freedoms of tribal religions, was lacking enforcement. This led to the key cases leading up to the RFRA, which were Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association (1988) and Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990). In Lyng, the Court was unfavorable to sacred land rights. Members of the Yurok, Tolowa and Karok tribes tried to use the First Amendment to prevent a road from being built by the U.S. Forest Service through sacred land. The land that the road would go through consisted of gathering sites for natural resources used in ceremonies and praying sites. The Supreme Court ruled that this was not an adequate legal burden because the government was not coercing or punishing them for their religious beliefs.[6] In Smith the Court upheld the state of Oregon‘s refusal to give unemployment benefits to two Native Americans fired from their jobs at a rehab clinic after testing positive for mescaline, the main psychoactive compound in the peyote cactus, which they used in a religious ceremony. Peyote use has been a common practice in Native American tribes for centuries. It was integrated with Christianity into what is now known as the Native American Church.[7]

The Smith decision outraged the public. Many groups came together. Both liberal (like the American Civil Liberties Union) and conservative groups (like theTraditional Values Coalition) as well as other groups such as the Christian Legal Society, the American Jewish Congress, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and the National Association of Evangelicals joined forces to support RFRA, which would reinstate the Sherbert Test, overturning laws if they burden a religion.[8] The act, which was Congress’s reaction to the Lyng and Smith cases, passed the House unanimously and the Senate 97 to 3 and was signed into law byU.S. President Bill Clinton.

Applicability

The RFRA applies “to all Federal law, and the implementation of that law, whether statutory or otherwise”, including any Federal statutory law adopted after the RFRA’s date of signing “unless such law explicitly excludes such application.”[9]

Challenges and weaknesses

The Peyote cactus, the source of the peyote used by Native Americans in religious ceremonies.

In 1997, part of this act was overturned by the United States Supreme Court. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antoniowanted to enlarge a church in Boerne, Texas. But a Boerne ordinance protected the building as a historic landmark and did not permit it to be torn down. The church sued, citing RFRA, and in the resulting case, City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507(1997), the Supreme Court struck down the RFRA with respect to its applicability to States (but not Federally), stating that Congress had stepped beyond their power of enforcement provided in the Fourteenth Amendment.[8] In response to the Boerneruling, Congress passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) in 2000, which grants special privileges to religious land owners.[10]

The Act was amended in 2003 to only include the federal government and its entities, such as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.[11] A number of states have passed state RFRAs, applying the rule to the laws of their own state, but the Smith case remains the authority in these matters in many states.[12]

The constitutionality of RFRA as applied to the federal government was confirmed on February 21, 2006, as the Supreme Court ruled against the government inGonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), which involved the use of an otherwise illegal substance in a religious ceremony, stating that the federal government must show a compelling state interest in restricting religious conduct.

Post-Smith, many members of the Native American Church still had issues using peyote in their ceremonies. This led to the Religious Freedom Act Amendments in 1994, which state, “the use, possession, or transportation of peyote by an Indian for bona fide traditional ceremony purposes in connection with the practice of a traditional Indian religion is lawful, and shall not be prohibited by the United States or any state. No Indian shall be penalized or discriminated against on the basis of such use, possession or transportation.”[3]

Applications and effects

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act holds the federal government responsible for accepting additional obligations to protect religious exercise. In O’Bryan v. Bureau of Prisons it was found that the RFRA governs the actions of federal officers and agencies and that the RFRA can be applied to “internal operations of the federal government.”[13] RFRA, in conjunction with President Bill Clinton‘s Executive Order in 1996, provided more security for sacred sites for Native American religious rites.[3]

As of 1996, the year before the RFRA was found unconstitutional as applied to states, 337 cases had cited RFRA in its three year time range.[14] It was also found that Jewish, Muslim, and Native American religions, which make up only three percent of religious membership in the U.S., make up 18 percent of the cases involving the free exercise of religion.[14] The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was a cornerstone for tribes challenging the National Forest Service’s plans to permit upgrades to Snow Bowl Ski Resort. Six tribes were involved, including the Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, and Hualapai. The tribes objected on religious grounds to the plans to use reclaimed water. They felt that this risked infecting the tribal members with “ghost sickness” as the water would be from mortuaries and hospitals. They also felt that the reclaimed water would contaminate the plant life used in ceremonies. In August 2008, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their RFRA claim.[15][16]

In the case of Adams v. Commissioner, the United States Tax Court rejected the argument of Priscilla M. Lippincott Adams, who was a devout Quaker. She tried to argue that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, she was exempt from federal income taxes. The U.S. Tax Court rejected her argument and ruled that she was not exempt. The Court stated: “…while petitioner’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened by payment of taxes that fund military expenditures, the Supreme Court has established that uniform, mandatory participation in the Federal income tax system, irrespective of religious belief, is a compelling governmental interest.”[17] In the case of Miller v. Commissioner, the taxpayers objected to the use of social security numbers, arguing that such numbers related to the “mark of the beast” from the Bible. In its decision, the U.S. Court discussed the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, but ruled against the taxpayers.[18]

The RFRA figured prominently in oral arguments in the case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, heard by the Supreme Court on March 25, 2014.[19] In a 5-4 decision, Justice Alito stated, that the RFRA did not just restore the law as before Smith but contains a new regulation that allows to opt out of federal law based on religious beliefs.[20]

20th anniversary

A day-long symposium was held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7, 2013, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “Restored or Endangered? The State of the Free Exercise of Religion in America” featured three panel discussions and two keynote addresses.

The first keynote address was from Oliver S. Thomas, the former general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the chair of the diverse “Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion” in the 1990s that worked for the passage of RFRA. The second was from Douglas Laycock, who was an author of RFRA. His address traced the legal history of RFRA and discussed its impact on current debates, including the contraception mandate and same-sex marriage laws.

The panel discussions covered the history and impact of RFRA, religious freedom and the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act, and current and future challenges to the free exercise of religion in a diverse society. The addresses and panel discussions are all available online, as well as a special downloadable resource with more on RFRA, published by the Baptist Joint Committee.[21]

See also

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Freedom_Restoration_Act

First Amendment to the United States Constitution

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on thefreedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights was originally proposed as a measure to assuage Anti-Federalist opposition to Constitutional ratification. Initially, the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by the Congress, and many of its provisions were interpreted more narrowly than they are today. Beginning with Gitlow v. New York (1925), the Supreme Courtapplied the First Amendment to states—a process known as incorporation—through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the Court drew on Founding Father Thomas Jefferson‘s correspondence to call for “a wall of separation between church and State”, though the precise boundary of this separation remains in dispute. Speech rights were expanded significantly in a series of 20th and 21st-century court decisions which protected various forms of political speech, anonymous speech, campaign financing, pornography, and school speech; these rulings also defined a series of exceptions to First Amendment protections. The Supreme Court overturned English common law precedent to increase the burden of proof for defamation and libel suits, most notably in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964). Commercial speech, however, is less protected by the First Amendment than political speech, and is therefore subject to greater regulation.

The Free Press Clause protects publication of information and opinions, and applies to a wide variety of media. In Near v. Minnesota (1931) and New York Times v. United States (1971), the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected against prior restraint—pre-publication censorship—in almost all cases. The Petition Clause protects the right to petition all branches and agencies of government for action. In addition to the right of assembly guaranteed by this clause, the Court has also ruled that the amendment implicitly protects freedom of association.

Text

The Bill of Rights in theNational Archives

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.[1]

Background

Main article: Anti-Federalism

In 1776, the second year of the American Revolutionary War, the Virginia colonial legislature passed a Declaration of Rights that included the sentence “The freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic Governments.” Eight of the other thirteen states made similar pledges. However, these declarations were generally considered “mere admonitions to state legislatures”, rather than enforceable provisions.[2]

James Madison, drafter of the Bill of Rights

After several years of comparatively weak government under the Articles of Confederation, a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia proposed a new constitution on September 17, 1787, featuring among other changes a stronger chief executive. George Mason, a Constitutional Convention delegate and the drafter of Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, proposed that the Constitution include a bill of rights listing and guaranteeing civil liberties. Other delegates—including future Bill of Rights drafter James Madison—disagreed, arguing that existing state guarantees of civil liberties were sufficient and that any attempt to enumerate individual rights risked the implication that other, unnamed rights were unprotected. After a brief debate, Mason’s proposal was defeated by a unanimous vote of the state delegations.[3]

For the constitution to be ratified, however, nine of the thirteen states were required to approve it in state conventions. Opposition to ratification (“Anti-Federalism”) was partly based on the Constitution’s lack of adequate guarantees for civil liberties. Supporters of the Constitution in states where popular sentiment was against ratification (including Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York) successfully proposed that their state conventions both ratify the Constitution and call for the addition of a bill of rights. The U.S. Constitution was eventually ratified by all thirteen states. In the 1st United States Congress, following the state legislatures’ request, James Madison proposed twenty constitutional amendments, which were then condensed to twelve and forwarded to the states. Ten of these were ratified and became the Bill of Rights.[4] The First Amendment passed the House and Senate with almost no recorded debate, complicating future discussion of the Amendment’s intent.[5][6] The First Amendment (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights) was submitted to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789, and adopted on December 15, 1791.[7][8]

Establishment of religion

Main article: Establishment Clause

Thomas Jefferson wrote with respect to the First Amendment and its restriction on the legislative branch of the federal government in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists (a religious minority concerned about the dominant position of the Congregationalist church in Connecticut):

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.[9]

In Reynolds v. United States (1878) the Supreme Court used these words to declare that “it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere [religious] opinion, but was left free to reach [only those religious] actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.” Quoting from Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom the court stated further in Reynolds:

In the preamble of this act […] religious freedom is defined; and after a recital ‘that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty,’ it is declared ‘that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere [only] when [religious] principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.’ In these two sentences is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the church and what to the State.

Originally, the First Amendment applied only to the federal government, and some states continued official state religions after ratification. Massachusetts, for example, was officially Congregationalist until the 1830s.[10] In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the U.S. Supreme Court incorporated the Establishment Clause (i.e., made it apply against the states). In the majority decision, Justice Hugo Black wrote:

The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another … in the words of Jefferson, the [First Amendment] clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State’ … That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.[11]

In Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution prohibits states and the federal government from requiring any kind of religious test for public office. In the Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet (1994),[12] Justice David Souter, writing for the majority, concluded that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion.”[13] In a series of cases in the first decade of the 2000s—Van Orden v. Perry (2005),McCreary County v. ACLU (2005), and Salazar v. Buono (2010)—the Court considered the issue of religious monuments on federal lands without reaching a majority reasoning on the subject.[14]

Separationists

U.S. President Thomas Jeffersonwrote in his correspondence of “a wall of separation between church and State”.

Everson used the metaphor of a wall of separation between church and state, derived from the correspondence of PresidentThomas Jefferson. It had been long established in the decisions of the Supreme Court, beginning with Reynolds v. United States in 1879, when the Court reviewed the history of the early Republic in deciding the extent of the liberties of Mormons. Chief Justice Morrison Waite, who consulted the historian George Bancroft, also discussed at some length the Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments by James Madison, who drafted the First Amendment; Madison used the metaphor of a “great barrier.”[15]

Justice Hugo Black adopted Jefferson’s words in the voice of the Court.[16] The Court has affirmed it often, with majority, but not unanimous, support. Warren Nord, in Does God Make a Difference?, characterized the general tendency of the dissents as a weaker reading of the First Amendment; the dissents tend to be “less concerned about the dangers of establishment and less concerned to protect free exercise rights, particularly of religious minorities.”[17]

Beginning with Everson, which permitted New Jersey school boards to pay for transportation to parochial schools, the Court has used various tests to determine when the wall of separation has been breached. Everson laid down the test that establishment existed when aid was given to religion, but that the transportation was justifiable because the benefit to the children was more important. In the school prayer cases of the early 1960s, (Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp), aid seemed irrelevant; the Court ruled on the basis that a legitimate action both served a secular purpose and did not primarily assist religion. In Walz v. Tax Commission (1970), the Court ruled that a legitimate action could not entangle government with religion; in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), these points were combined into the Lemon test, declaring that an action was an establishment if:[18]

  1. the statute (or practice) lacked a secular purpose;
  2. its principal or primary effect advanced nor inhibited religion; or
  3. it fostered an excessive government entanglement with religion.

The Lemon test has been criticized by justices and legal scholars, but it remains the predominant means by which the Court enforces the Establishment Clause.[19]In Agostini v. Felton (1997), the entanglement prong of the Lemon test was demoted to simply being a factor in determining the effect of the challenged statute or practice.[20] In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002), the opinion of the Court considered secular purpose and the absence of primary effect; a concurring opinion saw both cases as having treated entanglement as part of the primary purpose test.[19] Further tests, such as the endorsement test and coercion test, have been developed to determine the whether a government action violated the Establishment Clause.[21][22]

In Lemon the Court stated that that the separation of church and state could never be absolute: “Our prior holdings do not call for total separation between church and state; total separation is not possible in an absolute sense. Some relationship between government and religious organizations is inevitable,” the court wrote. “Judicial caveats against entanglement must recognize that the line of separation, far from being a “wall,” is a blurred, indistinct, and variable barrier depending on all the circumstances of a particular relationship.”[23]

Accommodationists

Accommodationists, in contrast, argue along with Justice William O. Douglas that “[w]e are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being”.[24]This group holds that the Lemon test should be applied selectively.[24] As such, for many conservatives, the Establishment Clause solely prevents the establishment of a state church, not public acknowledgements of God nor “developing policies that encourage general religious beliefs that do not favor a particular sect and are consistent with the secular government’s goals.”[25][26]

Free exercise of religion

Main article: Free Exercise Clause

“Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order,” In Reynolds v. United States (1878), the Supreme Court found that while laws cannot interfere with religious belief and opinions, laws can be made to regulate some religious practices (e.g., human sacrifices, and the Hindu practice of suttee). The Court stated that to rule otherwise, “would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government would exist only in name under such circumstances.”[27] In Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940), the Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applied the Free Exercise Clause to the states. While the right to have religious beliefs is absolute, the freedom to act on such beliefs is not absolute.[28]

In Sherbert v. Verner (1963),[29] the Supreme Court required states to meet the “strict scrutiny” standard when refusing to accommodate religiously motivated conduct. This meant that a government needed to have a “compelling interest” regarding such a refusal. The case involved Adele Sherbert, who was denied unemployment benefits by South Carolina because she refused to work on Saturdays, something forbidden by her Seventh-day Adventist faith.[30] In Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972), the Court ruled that a law that “unduly burdens the practice of religion” without a compelling interest, even though it might be “neutral on its face,” would be unconstitutional.[31][32]

The need for a compelling interest was narrowed in Employment Division v. Smith (1990),[33] which held no such interest was required under the Free Exercise Clause regarding a law that does not target a particular religious practice.[34] In Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (1993),[35] the Supreme Court ruled Hialeah had passed an ordinance banning ritual slaughter, a practice central to the Santería religion, while providing exceptions for some practices such as thekosher slaughter. Since the ordinance was not “generally applicable,” the Court ruled that it needed to have a compelling interest, which it failed to have, and so was declared unconstitutional.[36]

In 1993, the Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), seeking to restore the compelling interest requirement applied in Sherbert andYoder. In City of Boerne v. Flores (1997),[37] the Court struck down the provisions of RFRA that forced state and local governments to provide protections exceeding those required by the First Amendment, on the grounds that while the Congress could enforce the Supreme Court’s interpretation of a constitutional right, the Congress could not impose its own interpretation on states and localities.[38] According to the court’s ruling in Gonzales v. UDV (2006),[39] RFRA remains applicable to federal laws and so those laws must still have a “compelling interest”.[40]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

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Please Mr. Customs Man, Don’t Take My Kinder Surprise Away–No Wonder The National Debt Exceeds $16,900 Billion!–Videos

Posted on April 28, 2011. Filed under: Agriculture, Banking, Blogroll, Business, Communications, Economics, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, government, government spending, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Monetary Policy, Money, People, Philosophy, Politics, Raves, Talk Radio, Taxes, Video, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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21 Surprise Eggs, Kinder Surprise Cars 2 Thomas Spongebob Disney Pixar

Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise away
Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise away
Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise away

Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise
Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise
Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise away

Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise
Leave your boy so far from home Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise away Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise

Mama don’t take my Kinder Surprise away

Ms Swan at Customs

50 x Kinder Überraschung … [ Unboxing ] [ Star Wars Twistheads Edition ] [Kinder Surprise]

Choc and Awe

By  Mark Steyn

I am looking this bright Easter morn at a Department of Homeland Security “Custody Receipt for Seized Property and Evidence.” Late last night, crossing the Quebec/Vermont border, my children had two boxes of “Kinder Eggs” (“Est. Dom. Value $7.50″) confiscated by Customs & Border Protection.

Don’t worry, it’s for their own safety. I had no idea that the United States is the only nation on the planet (well, okay, excepting North Korea and Saudi Arabia and one or two others) to ban Kinder Eggs. According to the CBP:

Kinder Chocolate Eggs are hollow milk chocolate eggs about the size of a large hen’s egg usually packaged in a colorful foil wrapper. They are a popular treat and collector’s item during holiday periods in various countries around the world, including those in Europe, South America and even Canada. A toy within the egg is contained in an oval-shaped plastic capsule. The toy requires assembly and each egg contains a different toy. Many of the toys that have been tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the past were determined to present a choking hazard for young children.

And yet oddly enough generations of European and Latin American children remain unchoked. Gotta love that “even Canada,” by the way: Is that an implied threat that Kinder Egg consumption is incompatible with participation in NORAD or membership of NAFTA?

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an import alert for Kinder Eggs, because they are a confectionery product with a non-nutritive object imbedded in it. As in years past, CBP, the Food and Drug Administration and CPSC work in close collaboration to ensure the safety of imported goods by examining, sampling and testing products that may present such import safety hazards. Last year, CBP officers discovered more than 25,000 of these banned chocolate eggs. More than 2,000 separate seizures were made of this product.

Let’s see — CBP, FDA, CPSC. I’m impressed it takes a mere three agencies from the vast alphabet soup of federal regulation to keep us safe from the menace of confectionery products with non-nutritive embeds.

As Janet Napolitano would say, the system worked. I hope America’s chocolate soldiers are enjoying their seized eggs this Easter.

Bonus prediction: What’s the betting that the first jihadist to weaponize a Kinder Egg makes it on to the plane?

PS My kids asked the CBP seizure squad if they could eat the chocolate in front of the border guards while the border guards held on to the toys to prevent any choking hazard — and then, having safely consumed the chocolate, take the toys home as a separate item. This request was denied. Could have been worse. Could have been a $300 fine, plus a $250 fee for seized-egg storage.

PPS The real choking hazard is the vise-like grip of government.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/265505/choc-and-awe-mark-steyn

Reminder from CBP: Kinder Eggs Banned From Import Into U.S.

“…As the Easter holiday approaches, U.S. Customs and Border Protection would like to remind the traveling public that Kinder Eggs, a popular chocolate treat, is banned from being imported into the U.S.

In fiscal year 2010, CBP seized nearly 25,000 Kinder Eggs in 1,700 separate incidents. While there are some commercial-sized seizures that occur, most Kinder Eggs are seized in personal baggage or at mail and express consignment facilities.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an import alert for Kinder Eggs, because they are a confectionery product with a non-nutritive object imbedded in it. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission considers the toys within the eggs as presently imported and sold to violate CPSC’s small parts regulation with respect to children under three. ( Import Alert 34-02 )

CBP works in close collaboration with the CPSC and the FDA to ensure the safety of imported goods by examining, sampling and testing products that may present import safety hazards. These partner agencies are now working along-side one another at the Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center to streamline and enhance federal efforts to address import safety issues, such as the illegal importation of Kinder Eggs.

CBP’s CTAC combines the resources and manpower from various government agencies to protect the American public from harm caused by unsafe imported products by improving communication and information-sharing and reducing redundant inspection activities. The CTAC reflects the three core principles announced by the President’s Food Safety Working Group: Prevention, Surveillance and Response.

Travelers are encouraged to visit the CBP website for useful information and publications such as Know Before You Go ( Know Before You Go ) …”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/national/04212011_2.xml

ChocoTreasure Easter

Kinder Surprise knockoff: Choco Treasure

“…The theory in my world is: You don’t see KinderSurprise eggs much in America is because American kids don’t realize they’re not supposed to eat the prize. Okay, and some of the you-build-it surprises inside have tiny parts. Wikipedia confirms my suspicion: “Kinder Eggs are sold all over the world excluding the United States, where the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits embedding “non-nutritive items” in confections. … Kinder Egg-like confections are available, but only in a plastic form filled with small candies and/or stickers. There are some stores in the United States that sell genuine Kinder Eggs, often in conjunction with other imported British or other European sweets, although their import is illegal due to the 1938 law and 1997 recall.”

And so this brings us to what’s on the shelf of a major NW supermarket, ChocoTreasure, made in China but distributed by a company in Jersey City, New Jersey. …”

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thedamnmushroom/4475677154/

 Kinder Surprise

“…Kinder Surprise, also known as a Kinder Egg or, in the original Italian, Kinder Sorpresa,[1] is a confection manufactured by Italian company Ferrero. Originally intended for children, it has the form of a chocolate egg containing a small toy, often requiring assembly.

Kinder Surprise originated in 1972 in Italy as Kinder Sorpresa. The German word “Kinder” in the name came about because in 1967, Ferrero’s German subsidiary introduced Kinder Chocolate (“Kinderschokolade”) to the German market, and in 1968 that product was introduced to Ferrero’s native Italy, establishing the “Kinder” brand there, prior to the introduction of the Kinder Sorpresa chocolate eggs. Kinder Surprise eggs were introduced to the German market in 1974, and for many years this was the largest market for the product.

The toys are designed by both inside designers and external freelancers (for example the French artist André Roche based in Munich) and manufactured by many companies worldwide, such as Produzioni Editoriali Aprile, a small company based in Turin, Italy, run and founded by two brothers, Ruggero and Valerio Aprile.

Kinder Eggs are sold all over the world excluding the United States, where the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits embedding “non-nutritive items” in confections. Additionally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall on the eggs in 1997 (mostly via import shops).

Speculation that this recall was the result of lobbying by Nestlé to eliminate a competitor has been fomented by previous versions of this very Wikipedia article, which stated that the recall was “likely as a consequence of the introduction of the rival Nestlé Wonderball product featuring Disney characters”. However, the New York Times article cited as proof of this discusses only Nestle’s decision to withdraw its own similar product from the market subsequently, and the only lobbying it refers to is that by Nestlé in an attempt to “write new regulations allowing them to sell the product.”.[2] Nestlé’s lobbying at that point, if successful, would have had the effect of legalizing its products as well as the Kinder Egg. Similar confections are presently available, but only in a plastic form filled with small candies and/or stickers. There are some stores in the United States that sell genuine Kinder Eggs, often in conjunction with other imported British or other European sweets, although their import is illegal due to the 1938 law and 1997 recall.[3]

In Europe, their popularity has spread beyond their intended market, and they have become a minor cult phenomenon among adults. There is even a thriving collector’s market for the toys. This is especially true in Germany, where the manufacturer includes higher-quality toys than those available elsewhere (more details below). There are many types of toys available, but some of the most popular with collectors include the ever-changing series of small hand-painted figures (some have to be assembled), which are said to be in every seventh egg (ad slogan: “Jetzt in jedem siebten Ei”); cartoon characters (sometimes called “stick figures”, which is a mistranslation of the German “Steckfiguren”); metal figures and jigsaw puzzles. Seasonal eggs are introduced around the holidays, such as the limited-edition creche collections (featuring such characters as the three kings, baby Jesus, and assorted barnyard animals) found around Christmas, and the huge ones found at Easter (extremely popular in Italy).

A relatively new innovation, triggered by the advent of the Internet, is the introduction of “Internet surprises”. Accompanying the toy is a small slip of paper containing a “Magicode”. This code gives access to games at the Magic Kinder website, some for downloading, some for playing online. …”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinder_Surprise

U.S National Debt Clock

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Background Articles and Videos

Kinder Surprise 2010 Ad

Kinder Surprise commercial – kinderæg

Paul Simon – Kodachrome + lyrics

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all
And though my lack of edu—cation
Hasn’t hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall

Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

If you took all the girls I knew
When I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I know they’d never match
my sweet imagination
everything looks WORSE in black and white

Kodachrome
They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away
Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away
Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

Mama don’t take my Kodachrome
Mama don’t take my Kodachrome
Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

Mama don’t take my Kodachrome
Leave your boy so far from home
Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away
Mama don’t take my Kodachrome

Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

Ms swan at the DMV

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Mark Steyn–America Alone: The End of The World As We Know It–Videos

Posted on May 3, 2010. Filed under: Blogroll, Communications, Culture, Demographics, Economics, Education, Foreign Policy, government, history, Immigration, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Rants, Raves, Security, Talk Radio, Taxes, Technology, Transportation, Video, War, Wisdom | Tags: , |

 

Mark Steyn on “America Alone” 1/2

Mark Steyn on “America Alone” 2/2

Mark Steyn – America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It – Part 1 of 4

 

Mark Steyn – America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It – Part 2 of 4

Mark Steyn – America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It – Part 3 of 4

Mark Steyn – America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It – Part 4 of 4

Background Articles and Videos

Mark Steyn and Islamophobia 1/5

Mark Steyn and Islamophobia 2/5

Mark Steyn and Islamophobia 3/5

Mark Steyn and Islamophobia 4/5

Mark Steyn and Islamophobia 5/5

Conversations with History: Mark Steyn

The Fall of Europe and Coming of Eurabia – Mark Steyn (1 of 4)

The Fall of Europe and Coming of Eurabia – Mark Steyn (2 of 4)

The Fall of Europe and Coming of Eurabia – Mark Steyn (3 of 4)

The Fall of Europe and Coming of Eurabia – Mark Steyn (4 of 4)

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 1 of 5

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 2 of 5

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 3of 5

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 4of 5

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 5 of 5

Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn (born December 8, 1959) is a Canadian[1] writer, political commentator and cultural critic. He has written five books, including America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, a New York Times bestseller. He is published in newspapers and magazines, and also appears on shows such as those of Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt and Sean Hannity.

Steyn, a Canadian citizen, now resides mainly in New Hampshire in the United States. He is married with three children.[2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mark_Steyn.jpg 

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Melanie Phillips–Londonistan–Videos

Posted on May 3, 2010. Filed under: Blogroll, Books, College, Crime, Culture, Demographics, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, government, government spending, history, Immigration, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Monetary Policy, People, Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Raves, Regulations, Religion, Reviews, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Technology, Transportation, Video, War, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

“…Synopsis

The suicide bombings carried out in London in 2005 by British Muslims revealed an enormous fifth column of Islamist terrorists and their sympathizers. Under the noses of British intelligence, London has become the European hub for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic terror and extremism – so much so that it has been mockingly dubbed Londonistan. In this ground-breaking book Melanie Phillips pieces together the story of how Londonistan developed as a result of the collapse of traditional English identity and accommodation of a particularly virulent form of multiculturalism. Londonistan has become a country within the country and not only threatens Britain but its special relationship with the U.S. as well.

…”
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Londonistan/Melanie-Phillips/e/9781594031977 

Melanie Phillips (1/5)

Melanie Phillips (2/5)

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Folly of embracing U.N. trans-nationalism: Melanie Philips on the Left’s psychological warfare

Londonistan – Melanie Phillips

Londonistan

Lecture by Londonistan-writer, Melanie Phillips, on Islam in the UK – part 1

Lecture by Londonistan-writer, Melanie Phillips, on Islam in the UK – part 2

Background Articles and Videos

 Melanie Phillips–The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power–Video

Melanie Phillips: Obama Abandons Israel

Melanie Phillips

Melanie Phillips (born 4 June 1951) is an Orwell Prize winning British journalist and author. Her articles appear mainly in the Daily Mail newspaper and cover political and social issues from a conservative perspective; she has also written for The Guardian, and is a regular panelist on the BBC Radio 4 programme The Moral Maze and BBC One’s Question Time. She has authored four books, including most recently World Turned Upside Down in 2010. In 2003, The Guardian wrote of her that her “trademarks of social concern, pessimism about modern Britain and seemingly absolute certainty have made her – against stiff competition – arguably the most high-profile and prolific British pundit on moral and political matters.”[1]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanie_Phillips

Book review of ‘Londonistan’ by Melanie Phillips — Conclusion

“…Phillips correctly points out that the Tube bombings in 2005 shook the nation, surely instilling in them increased fear, yet when television coverage aired of Londoners after the tragedy, Londoners appeared remarkably resolute. Still, one can easily imagine their vexation as they had to take that next bus or train, and would not one wish for security in that situation, rather than wish to stir the pot, so to speak? And so we find, once again in a historical context, a policy of appeasement. Let us not anger or offend anyone seemed to be the resulting mentality. Phillips declares that Britons wound up blaming the United States in general, and George W. Bush in particular, for their woes.

Which brings readers to another repeated theme in Londonistan, and that is that the wholly unpopular Iraq War, and Britain’s ultimate support via their then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, for the U.S.-led invasion, is believed to be by many in England as the cause of their dilemma. They appear to see the problem not as radical ideology based on religious fanaticism, but rather something the Britons brought upon themselves due to their support for the United States’ foreign policy, and woe be to the United States and George W. Bush for bringing this spate of terrorism to the peace-loving folks of England. Britain, the very one that give birth to the ideals of democracy and the rule of law, has now found herself a victim of her own mentality, according to Phillips.
    

After all, if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq, the Muslims would not be so angry, and would therefore have no need for revenge, i.e. terrorist attacks. Thus Londoners, Phillips declares, erroneously seemed to conclude that the subway bombings were the fault of the United States, and they neglected to place the fault where it rightly belongs—on radical Muslims who simply needed a platform from which to launch their religiously inspired assault, a scapegoat if you will. To say that Muslim-inspired aggression is not based on religion is ludicrous, given their own mission statements and publicly stated goals of instituting Sharia law, or strict Islamic law, in all facets of life, and in all countries, from personal to government. (It’s interesting to note here that they received a concession of sorts just this past year [2008] from no less that the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, when he said it was “unavoidable” that British law would have to accommodate Muslim practices.) …”

http://www.examiner.com/x-12971-Houston-Legal-Issues-Examiner~y2009m7d20-Book-review-of-Londonistan-by-Melanie-Phillips–Conclusion

The Fall of Europe and Coming of Eurabia – Mark Steyn (1 of 4)

The Fall of Europe and Coming of Eurabia – Mark Steyn (2 of 4)

The Fall of Europe and Coming of Eurabia – Mark Steyn (3 of 4)

The Fall of Europe and Coming of Eurabia – Mark Steyn (4 of 4)


 

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Mark Steyn–Videos

Posted on August 18, 2009. Filed under: Art, Babies, Blogroll, Books, Demographics, Economics, Education, Immigration, Life, Links, media, People, Politics, Quotations, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Religion, Resources, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Taxes, Technology, Video, War, Wisdom | Tags: , , , |

 

 Conversations with History: Mark Steyn

 

Mark Stein Vists Goldwater Institute

Mark Steyn on The Michael Coren Show – Part 1

Mark Steyn on The Michael Coren Show – Part 2

Mark Steyn on The Michael Coren Show – Part 3

Mark Steyn on The Michael Coren Show – Part 4

Mark Steyn on The Michael Coren Show – Part 5

 

Dennis Miller interviews Mark Steyn, June 16, 2009. Part 1/2

 

Dennis Miller interviews Mark Steyn, June 16, 2009. Part 1/2

 

Mark Steyn – America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It – Part 1 of 4

 

Mark Steyn – America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It – Part 2 of 4

 

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Mark Steyn on America, Europe and Islam (1 of 4)

 

Mark Steyn on America, Europe and Islam (2 of 4)

 

Mark Steyn on America, Europe and Islam (3 of 4)

 

Mark Steyn on America, Europe and Islam (4 of 4)

 

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 1 of 5

 

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 2 of 5

 

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 3 of 5

 

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 4 of 5

 

Mark Steyn Speech at CPAC – Part 5 of 5

Mark Steyn Video

TVO – Agenda with Steve Paikin – Mark Steyn Part 1 of 2

TVO – Agenda with Steve Paikin – Mark Steyn Part 1 of 2

TVO – The Agenda – Maclean’s & Islamophobia Part 1 of 5

TVO – The Agenda – Maclean’s & Islamophobia Part 2 of 5

TVO – The Agenda – Maclean’s & Islamophobia Part 5 of 5

Mark Steyn on Multiculturalism

 

Background Articles and Videos  

Mark Steyn

“…Mark Steyn (born 1959) is a Canadian writer, political commentator and cultural critic. He has written five books, including America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, a New York Times bestseller. He

United States. He is married with three children.[1] …”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Steyn

 

Steyn Online

http://www.steynonline.com/

 

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