Not-So-Smooth Operator

Obama increasingly comes across as devious and dishonest.

Something’s happening to President Obama’s relationship with those who are inclined not to like his policies. They are now inclined not to like him. His supporters would say, “Nothing new there,” but actually I think there is. I’m referring to the broad, stable, nonradical, non-birther right. Among them the level of dislike for the president has ratcheted up sharply the past few months.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Justices signal possible trouble for health insurance mandate

Reporting from Washington— The Supreme Court’s conservative justices Tuesday laid into the requirement in the Obama administration’s healthcare law that Americans have health insurance, as the court began a much-anticipated second day of arguments on the controversial legislation.

Even before the administration’s top lawyer could get three minutes into his defense of the mandate, some justices accused the government of pushing for excessive authority to require Americans to buy anything.

“Are there any limits,” asked Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of three conservative justices whose votes are seen as crucial to the fate of the unprecedented insurance mandate.

PHOTOS: Demonstrations outside Supreme Court

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that the government might require Americans to buy cellphones to be ready for emergencies. And Justice Antonin Scalia asked if the government might require Americans to buy broccoli or automobiles.

“If the government can do this, what else can it … do?” Scalia asked.

The tough questioning of the administration’s lawyer is no sure sign of how the justices will rule when they hand down their decision in the case, Department of Health and Human Services, et al., vs. State of Florida, et al., likely in June.

But Tuesday’s arguments may signal trouble for the mandate, widely seen as a cornerstone of the law’s program for achieving universal healthcare coverage for the first time in the nation’s history.

With the court’s four liberal justices expected to vote to uphold the sweeping law, the administration will have to win over at least one of the five justices on the court’s conservative wing.

Few believe Justices Clarence Thomas or Samuel A. Alito Jr. will support the mandate. That has made Scalia, Kennedy and Roberts the focus of intense speculation for months.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. tried to argue that the insurance mandate would not open the door to other requirements to buy products because healthcare is unique.

“Virtually everyone in society is in this market,” said Verrilli, who was prodded on by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other liberal justices. That means that if someone elects not to get health insurance but then gets sick, as everyone will, that person will pass along costs to everyone else, Verrilli explained.

To prevent that, the administration has argued that that Congress can use its authority under the commerce clause of the Constitution to impose the mandate as a means to regulate health insurance.

The Constitution says Congress has the power to “regulate commerce” and to impose taxes to promote the general welfare. The court has in the past upheld federal laws regulating all manner of business — from agriculture and aviation to who can be served at the corner coffee shop — and Roberts, Scalia and Kennedy have in other cases supported the government’s broad authority in that area.

But Tuesday, the three — and Alito — repeatedly criticized the requirement to buy health insurance as forcing people to enter a market, which they said was a new and troubling use of federal power.

“That changes the relationship of the individual to the federal government,” Kennedy said.

The architects of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act included an insurance requirement after years of experience with insurance markets suggested that it is very difficult to guarantee health insurance to everyone, including people with preexisting medical conditions, without a way to induce younger, healthier people to get covered. That offsets the cost of insuring older, sicker ones.

Under the law, most Americans, starting in 2014, will have to get a health insurance plan that meets a basic set of standards or pay a tax penalty that will rise from $95 in 2014 to $695 in 2016. (The penalty for a family will be up to $2,085 in 2016.)

Health policy experts warn that without some incentive to get insurance, people could wait until they got seriously ill and then sign up for coverage, pushing up premiums for everyone.

The mandate was once embraced by both political parties. But more recently, it has been seized on by conservative critics of the healthcare law as an egregious example of government overreach. And it became the crux of lawsuits challenging the healthcare law by 26 states and plaintiffs represented by the conservative National Federation of Independent Business.

Over the last two years, federal courts across the country have issued conflicting rulings on the insurance requirement, though only one appellate court has backed the constitutional challenge to the law. Two high-profile conservative judges have supported the mandate.

EXECUTIVE-ORDER PANIC: MARTIAL LAW IN U.S.?

White House quietly releases document that creates widespread worry

The White House’s late-week release of an executive order has sent the online community into an uproar, worried that President Obama had secretly provided himself means to institute martial law in America.

In the common practice of dumping government documents on a Friday afternoon, just as the news cycle is wrapping up for the week – a move critics say allows the administration to avoid widespread coverage of embarrassing actions – the White House released an executive order on “National Defense Resources Preparedness.”

Filled with language about “government-owned equipment” and a “defense executive reserve,” among other vague statements, rumors began to spread that the executive order expanded the president’s power to do everything from seizing whole industries to drafting private armies.

A Canada Free Press article titled “Obama Executive Order: Peacetime Martial Law!” spread concerns of gasoline ration cards; while an Examiner article declared the order would “nationalize everything” and “allow for a civilian draft.” Facebook, email and Twitter were suddenly abuzz, and even the extremely popular Drudge Report posted a link to the White House release under the title “Martial Law? Obama Issues Executive Order.”

Continue reading

Obama to Iran and Israel: ‘As President of the United States, I Don’t Bluff’

Dismissing a strategy of “containment,” the president tells me it’s “unacceptable” for the Islamic Republic to have a nuclear weapon.

At the White House on Monday, President Obama will seek to persuade the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to postpone whatever plans he may have to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities in the coming months. Obama will argue that under his leadership, the United States “has Israel’s back,” and that he will order the U.S. military to destroy Iran’s nuclear program if economic sanctions fail to compel Tehran to shelve its nuclear ambitions.

In the most extensive interview he has given about the looming Iran crisis, Obama told me earlier this week that both Iran and Israel should take seriously the possibility of American action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff.” He went on, “I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”

Continue reading

MEDIA FINALLY PAYING ATTENTION TO ELIGIBILITY?

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Poll after poll in recent months has indicated that Americans have a high level of concern over Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president, with one poll showing fully half of the nation wants Congress to investigate the question.

But reporters for the traditional media – networks, major newspapers, major news corporations and conglomerates – mostly have giggled when talk turns to the serious question of just what the U.S. Constitution requires of presidents.

The event is tomorrow at 1 p.m. Mountain Standard Time in Phoenix, 3 p.m. Eastern, and will be live-streamed by WND.

The topic of discussion will be an investigation by Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse into concerns about Obama’s eligibility. It’s the first time an official law enforcement report has addressed many of the allegations about the presumptive 2012 Democratic nominee for president.

The issues include Obama’s eligibility under the U.S. Constitution’s requirements, questions about his use of a Connecticut Social Security number and the image of his purported birth certificate from Hawaii.

Continue reading

Stupid’ and Oil Prices, Obama’s Forrest Gump analysis of rising gas prices.

‘The American people aren’t stupid,” thundered President Obama yesterday in Miami, ridiculing Republicans who are blaming him for rising gasoline prices. Let’s hope he’s right, because not even Forrest Gump could believe the logic of what Mr. Obama is trying to sell.

To wit, that a) gasoline prices are beyond his control, but b) to the extent oil and gas production is rising in America, his energy policies deserve all the credit, and c) higher prices are one more reason to raise taxes on oil and gas drillers while handing even more subsidies to his friends in green energy. Where to begin?

It’s true enough that oil prices can’t be commanded from the Oval Office, so in that sense Mr. Obama’s disavowal of blame is a rare show of humility in the face of market forces. Would that he showed similar modesty in trying to command the tides of home prices, car sales (“cash for clunkers”), or the production of electric batteries.

The oil price surge has several likely sources. One is the turmoil in the Middle East, especially new fears of a supply shock from a conflict with Iran. But it’s worth recalling that Mr. Obama also blamed the last oil-price surge, in spring 2011, on the Libyan uprising. Moammar Gadhafi is now gone and Libyan oil production is coming back on stream, yet oil prices dipped only briefly below $90 a barrel and have been rising since October. Something else must be going on.

Mr. Obama yesterday blamed rising demand from the likes of Brazil and China, and there is something to that as well. But this energy demand is also not new, and if anything Chinese and Brazilian economic growth has been slowing in recent months.

Continue reading

Obama: Use ‘algae’ as substitute for oil

President Obama admitted today that he does not have a “silver bullet” solution for skyrocketing gas prices, but he proposed alternative energy sources such as “a plant-like substance, algae” as a way of cutting dependence on oil by 17 percent.

“We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance, algae — you’ve got a bunch of algae out here,” Obama said at the University of Miami today. “If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we’ll be doing alright. Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in America.”

The Department of Energy (DOE) currently spends about $85 million on 30 research projects “to develop algal biofuels,” according to the White House, which announced that Obama is committing another $14 million to the idea.

Continue reading

Don’t blame me for these gas prices.

President Obama does not “accept responsibility” for high gas prices, his spokesman indicated today, arguing that Obama has done everything he could to bring down the price of oil and blaming the high gas prices on oil price increases caused by global factors.

“The president accepts the responsibility that he identified the next president should accept, back in 2008, which is the need to develop a comprehensive energy policy,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today when asked if Obama “accept[s] responsibility” for the high price of oil and gas. “If you’re suggesting that there is responsibility for a rise in the global price of oil, it’s certainly not because of anything he hasn’t done to expand domestic oil and gas production,” Carney added.

Asked if he believes it is fair for Americans to blame the president, Carney noted that gas price hikes are “a recurrent problem.” He added that domestic oil production is at a record high right now and that Obama has opened “millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico” to drilling.

The conversation today stemmed from yesterday, when Carney was asked about the Keystone XL pipeline. He said that “the president did not turn down the Keystone pipeline,” arguing that Republicans prevented a full environmental review from taking place.

Time: Catholic Bishops Should Go to Jail If They Want to Protest Obamacare Mandates

By: Tim Graham | February 22, 2012 | 13:22

On the Time Ideas blog, Harvard administrator Erika Christakis dismissed all the “hysteria with a fever pitch” about religious liberty, insisting that if the Catholic bishops don’t like the Obama administration making them pay for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations, they could do the MLK/Mandela thing and go to prison in an act of civil disobedience. That’s the way liberals say “put up or shut up.”

“Let’s see what our society would look like if we all had the luxury of imposing our unfettered will,” Christakis lectured, as if that’s not what Obama is doing. “At a minimum, the Catholic bishops and employers resisting contraceptive coverage should be willing to pay for the care of all those unwanted children. Or perhaps they’d be willing to spend some time in jail in protest. At my taxpaying expense, of course.”