Arthur Brooks – The road to freedom; Mark Liebovich – McCain’s cliches; Daniel Henninger – Prozac presidency; George Will – Executive discretion; Ann Coulter – Dems & MH Laws.
DUCK STORM: Hollywood Reporter – Robertson hiatus; kipling – Christian handwringing.
NATIONAL: Allahpundit – Christie & illegals tuition; Rubin – War among the Jews; Chumley – crack sentences commuted; Adams – Holder pushed for misconduct; Richardson – Armed response, not gun laws; Erickson – Ryan-Murray; Wehner – our next messiah; Gallup – Govt the big threat; Nicholson – Warrants for anticipated crimes; Munro – Iowa opposes amnesty; Boyle – Cruz:
Amnesty > Reid keeps Senate.
HEALTH CARE: Levinson – Another individual mandate.
NSA: Putin envies Obama.
PA: Mike’s Memo; Foster – Court strikes Marcellus rule; Knepper – A moral; Staub – Property rights & PA budget.
END NOTES: Charles Adams – Abraham Obama.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: http://www.deadcatsandclippings.com/?page ID=2348
Saturday – the days begin to lengthen and winter starts to die on the day it is born.
“It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.” Gov. Bobby Jindal
1606: The Jamestown settlers set sail from England for Virginia.
1790: The first successful American cotton mill began operating at Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
1803: The Louisiana Purchase was formally completed in New Orleans.
1860: South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.
1951: An experimental reactor near Arco, Idaho, produced the first electricity ever generated by atomic power. (Bennett & Cribb, 2010)
Arthur Brooks, AEI: “The Road to Freedom”
Environments direct genes but genes also make environments. True for coral, crickets, spiders, bees, and worms. True even for liberals …
“Most Americans believe our country is on the wrong track. Government spending is out of control and shows no signs of relenting. A record-high 8 in 10 citizens are dissatisfied with the way our government is operating. An ever-increasing share of Americans is disengaged from the political process. Corporate cronyism is eating away at our free enterprise system from within.
“America stands at a crossroads. We face a critical choice today: accept the march toward big government and European-style statism or renew our Founders’ vision of freedom.
“The solution is a return to free enterprise.
“Only free enterprise encourages and allows each of us to define our destiny and earn our success. Only free enterprise encourages true fairness based on merit and opportunity. And free enterprise is the only system that can lift up the vulnerable and those who have fallen on hard times by the millions—by rewarding entrepreneurship and encouraging charity.
“These three principles — earned success, true fairness and helping those in need — are the foundation of the moral case for free enterprise.
“The Road to Freedom is the blueprint for defending free enterprise against the powerful forces of big government. This site will take your learning beyond the book so you can join us on the front lines of this critical movement.
“The time to take back America is now.”
Mark Leibovich, NYT: “How John McCain Turned His Clichés into Meaning”
“When I walk into John McCain’s office a week before Thanksgiving, he is not at all happy — and seems to be enjoying it quite a bit.
“He is sampling none of the usual flavors of upset we tend to associate with the Arizona senator: not the ‘McCain is bitter’ or ‘get off my yard’ varieties, not even the ‘deeply troubled’ umbrage that politicians of all stripes love to assume. Here is a man, instead, who is gleefully seizing an opportunity for outrage.
“‘I am very angry,’ McCain says through a smiling grimace. He hands me a photocopied compilation of old quotes from the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, from back when Democrats were in the minority and Republicans were threatening to enact a rule — the so-called nuclear option — that would require only a 51-vote majority to confirm most presidential and judicial nominations. Turns out Reid believed this was a bad idea when the Republicans were in charge but was a good one now, and McCain is packing bullet points.
““I’m going to go kick the crap out of Harry Reid,” he keeps announcing as we walk from his office to the Capitol. Once on the Senate floor, McCain approaches Reid, puts his hands on the majority leader’s shoulders, smiles and says something I can’t make out from the visitors’ gallery above. Reid smiles back, says a few words in reply and places his hands on McCain’s sides. It looks as if they are dancing. . .”
Daniel Henninger, WSJ: “Obama’s Prozac Presidency”
“. . . The president’s thoughts on income inequality deserve comment for a reason other than the substance of the issue itself. The speech said a lot, a whole lot, about Mr. Obama’s idea of America itself.
“The speech, by my reading, was an odd wallow in presidential pessimism. Mr. Obama believes that the deck in America has been irredeemably stacked against individuals. Those are his words: “It’s rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them.” Before America can move forward, Mr. Obama thinks its people must be reeducated to believe they inhabit a country that is fallen and unfair. . .”
George Will, WaPo: “Obama’s extreme use of executive discretion”
“To contend that the obligation imposed on the president to see the laws faithfully executed implies a power to forbid their execution is a novel construction of the Constitution, and is entirely inadmissible.”
— U.S. Supreme Court, 1838
“Congressional Republicans’ long-simmering dismay about Barack Obama’s offenses against the separation of powers became acute when events compelled him to agree with them that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could not be implemented as written. But even before he decreed alterations of key ACA provisions — delaying enforcement of certain requirements for health insurance and enforcement of employers’ coverage obligations — he had effectively altered congressionally mandated policy by altering work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform; and compliance requirements of the No Child Left Behind education law; and some enforcement concerning marijuana possession; and the prosecution of drug crimes entailing mandatory minimum sentences; and the enforcement of immigration laws pertaining to some young people.
“Republicans tend to regard Obama’s aggressive assertion of enforcement discretion as idiosyncratic — an anti-constitutional impatience arising from his vanity. This interpretation is encouraged by his many assertions that he “can’t wait” for our system of separated powers to ratify his policy preferences. Still, to understand not only the extravagance of Obama’s exercises of executive discretion but also how such discretion necessarily grows as government does, read Zachary S. Price’s “Enforcement Discretion and Executive Duty” forthcoming in the Vanderbilt Law Review. Price, a visiting professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, demonstrates that the Constitution’s “text, history, and normative underpinnings” do not justify the permissive reading Obama gives to its take care clause, which says the president ‘shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’. . .”
Zachary Price, “Enforcement Discretion and Executive Duty”
“Through close examination of the text, history, and normative underpinnings of the Constitution, as well as relevant historical practice, the article demonstrates that there is indeed a constitutional authority of enforcement discretion — but it is both limited and defeasible. Presidents may properly decline enforcement of civil and criminal prohibitions in particular cases, notwithstanding their obligation under the Take Care Clause to ensure that “the Laws be faithfully executed.” But this authority does not extend to prospective licensing of prohibited conduct, nor to policy-based non-enforcement of federal laws for entire categories of offenders. Presuming such forms of executive discretion would collide with another deeply rooted constitutional tradition: the principle that American Presidents, unlike English Kings, lack authority to suspend statutes or dispense with their application to particular individuals. This framework not only clarifies the proper executive duty with respect to enforcement of federal statutes, but also points the way to proper resolution of other recurrent separation-of-powers issues.”
Number of Pages in PDF File: 83
Ann Coulter, Townhall: Mental Health Laws are Trouble for Democrats
“. . . Mental illness was blindingly clear in the cases of Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech), Maj. Nidal Hasan (Fort Hood), Jared Loughner (Arizona shopping mall), James Holmes (Colorado movie theater), and a dozen other mass shootings in the past few decades.
“But in every instance, Democrats’ response was: Let’s ban high-capacity magazines! Let’s limit private gun sales! Let’s publish the names of everyone who owns a registered gun!
“Mass shootings don’t correlate with any of these things. They correlate with not locking up crazy people. We’re not worried about school kids being systematically gunned down by angry husbands, gang members or antique gun collectors. We’re worried about a psychotic showing up in a public place and shooting everyone in sight.
“There’s absolutely no point in making it more difficult to buy firearms at gun shows — unless gun dealers have no trouble getting files on the mentally ill. Until we do that, we’re wasting our time. . .”
“. . . If someone was brought back from the 1950s to today, he’d tell us: ‘I couldn’t help but notice that all the people who committed mass shootings were batsh*t crazy. Why were they not locked up or forced to take medication?’
“We’d have to say, ‘Because some people — we call them ‘liberals’ — get a warm feeling of self-righteousness by defending the right of the deranged to crap in a shoebox, carefully label it and put it in a closet.’
“Democrats absolutely will not address the one thing that was screaming out from all of the mass shootings: a crazy person committing the crime. We can’t medicate them and we can’t lock them up because the ACLU has handcuffed society’s ability to deal rationally with the mentally disturbed.
“Not only will Democrats refuse to address the problem of the mentally ill on their own, but they will fight to the last ditch to protect any crazy person’s right not to take his medication. . .”
Hollywood Reporter: “’Duck Dynasty’s’ Phil Robertson on Indefinite Hiatus Following Anti-Gay Remarks”
Actually, the libs need a distractor . . . Robertson was convenient. PETITION at http://istandwithphil.com/ . . . 103,266 signatures at 6:30am.
“UPDATED: The news comes after the reality star compared gay to bestiality, drawing ire from LGBT groups including GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign.
“A&E has placed Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson on indefinite hiatus following anti-gay remarks he made in a recent profile in GQ.
“‘We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty,’ A&E said in a statement. ‘His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.’
“The news comes after Robertson compared homosexuality to bestiality in an interview with the magazine. He’ll likely appear in season four, which bows Jan. 15, since production is largely wrapped.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,’ Robertson says in the January issue of the men’s magazine. . .”
kipling, Red State: “Cue Faux “Christian” Handwringing
“No Christian Should Apologize for Phil Robertson or What He Said
“We are just into the first full day of the A&E / Duck Commander controversy and already weak-kneed “Christian leaders” are lining up to apologize for Phil Robertson and what he said. These perfectly manicured, soft-spoken, self-appointed Christian spokesmen – often with hair that can withstand gale force winds – are only too happy to jump in front of a camera or on the radio waves to soften the plainspoken Word of God. These well-groomed and often academically titled men almost seem offended that a mere rustic – more resembling of John the Baptist or an Old Testament prophet than the hipster pastors and bloggers of today – would dare to boldly proclaim the Word of God to the liberal media complex. Thus, instead of supporting Mr. Robertson and boldly proclaiming the Word of God, they scuttle about and curry favor with the press by attacking the messenger, the message, or both. It is worth taking a look at some of their arguments because we need more boldness, not less.
“First, there are those who think that Mr. Robertson went too far by using words like ‘vagina’ and ‘anus.’ . . .
“A second line of argument against Mr. Robertson is that he should not have been so direct and confrontational about sin and the need for repentance. . .
“The third line of attack on Mr. Robertson argues that he should have never given the interview to GQ in the first place. . .”
“Mr. Robertson should be commended and not subjected to a bunch of little yapping dogs who snap at ‘the heels of someone who speaks the Word of God boldly. Godspeed, Phil Robertson. May your tribe increase.’”
Drudge Report (12/19/13)
'My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ'...
FLASHBACK: Vowed to Quit A&E if Network Banned Talk of God or Guns...
A&E Tried to Cut 'Jesus' from Family Prayers...
Will Air Marathon Despite Suspension...
No. 1-rated in cable history...
CRUZ: 'Represents the America Usually Ignored or Mocked by Liberal Elites'...
JINDAL: 'Messed Up Situation When Miley Cyrus Gets a Laugh, and Phil Robertson Gets Suspended'...
GAY WRITER: Fiasco says more about our bigotry than Phil's...
'Boycott A&E' FACEBOOK Page Gets 500k 'Likes' in Hours...
Administrator BANNED For Generating Too Much Support...
Show Sponsor Backs Robertson...
NATIONAL . . .
Allahpundit, Hot Air: “Video: Christie reaches agreement with New Jersey Democrats on in-state tuition for illegal immigrants”
“Of course it’s a higher priority for illegals and sympathetic groups to end deportations than it is to expand avenues to citizenship. Most illegals come here to work, not to vote. In theory, as Benjy Sarlin says, that’s the makings of a grand compromise on immigration law: Grant legal status to illegals but bar them from becoming citizens. They can stay, they’ll earn better money than they would at home, and Republican fears of being overwhelmed by millions of new Democratic-leaning voters will be assuaged. Everybody wins! Except, er, Democrats, who insist on citizenship precisely because they want those millions of Democratic-leaning voters on the rolls. There may be a near-term compromise on this question, where Congress passes something that grants legalization/easily renewable work visas but omits any citizenship provisions. But that’s only the near term; by 2015, Democrats and immigration activists will sneer that legalization amounts to “crumbs” and they’ll pound the table for a path to citizenship. Republicans, terrified at alienating Latino voters again before another presidential election, will be torn apart about whether to do it or not. Which side, do you suppose, will Chris Christie take?. . .”
Barry Rubin, PJM: “The War among the Jews”
“A great number of Middle Eastern Arabs and Muslims — perhaps 85% — who think about this issue at all want to destroy Israel. This is far more than even the percentage of Germans who wanted to kill the Jews in 1932.
“American public opinion, Christians, and absolutely shocked congressional Democrats (and Republicans) who don’t feel comfortable with Obama and Kerry’s policies are the main supporters of Israel. It will be interesting to see if and when the Democrats have to choose between Israel and real dangers to Israel. However, a large number of the pro-Obama and radical or even anti-Israel cadre are Jews themselves — an incredible proportion. It is surprising, but also not so surprising. Yet it must be confronted; and it must not be answered by more words but by political movements and pressure.
“Why are Jews so far to the left in general? Historically, it is no mystery. The Jews in the nineteenth century were modernists, supporters of change and development, because traditional society did not have a place for them. Then, the Democratic Party made a serious effort to get the immigrant and other urban ethnic votes.
“The New Deal was very good for Jews and was strongly supported by them; many government agencies were first staffed by Jews at that time. Also many academics, journalists, and other service professions and trade unions were working government-created jobs. And the fight against fascism was led by the Democratic Party in that era.
“You would think that the Democratic view is out of date, but of course it is not. It is just unfashionable to be Republican, whereas liberal Democratic politics are associated with all that is smart, good, and stylish. . .”
Also: Podhoretz, Norman (2009) Why are Jews liberals? Wall Street Journal, September 10. Http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203440104574402591116901498.html# Also, he’s written a book with the same title . . .
Cheryl Chumley, Washington Times: “Obama to commute sentences for 8 crack dealers, users due to ‘unfair system’”
“If you like your crack dealer, you can keep him” – Michael Savage.
“President Obama announced Thursday his intent to commute the federal prison sentences of eight who were convicted of crack cocaine crimes.
“All of the eight – six of whom were sentenced to life — have been behind bars for at least 15 years, The New York Times reported.
“In a prepared statement reported by the New York Times, Mr. Obama said the eight men and women he’s freeing were actually sentenced under what he termed an ‘unfair system’ marked by too-strict sentencing guidelines. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2011, he said, rectified what he called were unfair disparities between crack and cocaine crimes — with users and sellers of the former receiving harsher penalties.
“Those who objected to the now-changed mandatory sentencing guidelines that set penalties higher for crack crimes than powder cocaine violations said those standards unfairly targeted minorities and lower-income individuals, and was racist. . .”
J. Christian Adams, PJM: “Justice Department Inspector General Pushes Holder on Misconduct Reported by PJ Media”
“Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz has published a memorandum to Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole about “challenges” facing the Justice Department. Among the list of challenges: misconduct and malfeasance by DOJ employees and units which PJ Media has been reporting about for years.
That these instances of misconduct were included in Horowitz’s report infers that Holder’s Department has either taken inadequate action to address the behavior, or has taken no action at all. Based on what sources inside DOJ are saying, I suspect the latter.
“The report provides material which senators on the Judiciary Committee — such as Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) — may use to probe Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights nominee Debo Adegbile in his confirmation hearing. Below, three of the issues raised in the report:
1. Partisan Enforcement of Voting Laws . . .
2. Purge and Harassment of Conservative and Christian Employees at Civil Rights . . .
3. Lies and Perjury by DOJ Officials . . .
Valerie Richardson, Washington Times: “Armed response, not restrictive gun laws, brought swift end to school shooting”
“CENTENNIAL, Colo. — It’s a stark fact that is fueling an already intense debate about gun rights in this state: It was an armed deputy who stopped the Arapahoe High School gunman last week from unleashing a deadly massacre, not the expansive new gun control laws approved by Colorado Democrats in March in reaction to two mass shootings.
That is the increasingly inescapable takeaway as details emerge from the school shooting Friday, when the 18-year-old gunman injured another student at random before turning the gun on himself in the school library as the armed deputy was closing in on him.
“The gun control laws didn’t make a difference,” said state Sen. Greg Brophy, a Republican who is seeking his party’s nomination for governor next year. “What made a difference was a person in the building who was armed and who rushed to end the threat.”
Even Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Democrat who signed three gun control bills in March at considerable political risk, acknowledged on CBS‘ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the laws “in this specific case aren’t going to make a difference at all.”
The governor and others have credited Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Deputy James Englert, who was assigned to the school, with forcing the gunman’s hand by rushing toward the library, shouting at bystanders to get back, and identifying himself as law enforcement.
Eighty seconds after entering the school, the shooter killed himself. The deputy’s response “was a critical element in the shooter’s decision to take his own life,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson. . .”
Erick Erickson, Red State: “Ryan-Murray and the Fundamental Lack of Seriousness in Washington”
“Yesterday, Republicans in the Senate blamed Harry Reid for cutting veterans’ pensions.
“But the House of Representatives passed the legislation first. The GOP could have fixed it there had Speaker Boehner spent more time reading his legislation than attacking conservatives.
“Once passed, the House of Representatives headed home for Christmas.
“Had Harry Reid let the amendment through on Ryan-Murray, the Senate would have had to pass the legislation and the House of Representatives would have had to scramble back to Washington to repass the legislation they could have fixed the first time.
“But the Republicans were not really interested in fixing the legislation. They just wanted to blame Harry Reid and play gotcha with the lives of veterans. In fact, Paul Ryan claimed the legislation would not affect veterans disabled in war, but that claim was not true. Paul Ryan and John Boehner attacked conservatives for criticizing the legislation without knowing what was in it while they claimed things were in the legislation that were not there.
“In the meantime, veterans are pawns to the parties. But wait — once people pointed out the GOP could have prevented these cuts if they really wanted to, suddenly the GOP said they were not really cuts, just reductions in the rate of growth.
“So why blame Harry Reid then? Why accuse him of these cuts?
“There were plenty of things the GOP could have blamed on Harry Reid, but instead they blamed him for something the GOP itself did and could have stopped. Again, though the plan was bipartisan in drafting, the Republican majority in the House got first dibs on the vote.
“The Republican Leaders in Washington are fundamentally not serious. But wait … there’s more.
“Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have any intention of keeping these cuts. . .”
Peter Wehner, Commentary: “We Thought That [Obama] Was Going to Be the Next Messiah”
“In an interview Barbara Walters did with CNN’s Piers Morgan, this exchange took place:
‘MORGAN: You have interviewed every president of my lifetime. Why is Obama facing so much opposition now? Why is he struggling so much to really fulfill the great flame of ambition and excitement that he was elected on originally in 2009?
‘WALTERS: Well, you’ve touched on it to a degree. He made so many promises. We thought that he was going to be – I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime, but – the next messiah. And the whole ObamaCare, or whatever you want to call it, the Affordable Health Act, it just hasn’t worked for him, and he’s stumbled around on it, and people feel very disappointed because they expected more.
“Ms. Walters is right to say it might not be quite appropriate to say around Christmastime that Mr. Obama had been widely thought to be “the next messiah,” though I’d recommend that be expanded to include anytime, not just Christmastime.
“What’s revealing, of course, is that Ms. Walters ever thought that is what Obama would be. And note the use of the pronoun “we”–as if we, all of us, had messianic expectations for Mr. Obama. Actually, many of us did not, though I think it’s fair to say some of Ms. Walters’ colleagues in the media and other members of the political class did. . .”
Jeffrey Jones, Gallup: “Record High in U.S. Say Big Government Greatest Threat”
“Now 72% say it is greater threat than big business or big labor
“PRINCETON, NJ — Seventy-two percent of Americans say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than is big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question. “The prior high for big government was 65% in 1999 and 2000. Big government has always topped big business and big labor, including in the initial asking in 1965, but just 35% named it at that time.
“The latest update comes from a Dec. 5-8 poll. Gallup has documented a steady increase in concern about big government since 2009, rising from 55% in March 2009 to 64% in November 2011 and 72% today. This suggests that government policies specific to the period, such as the Affordable Care Act — perhaps coupled with recent revelations of government spying tactics by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — may be factors.
“Currently, 21% name big business as the greatest threat, while 5%, a record low, say big labor. The high point for big labor was 29% in 1965. No more than 11% of Americans have chosen big labor since 1995, clearly reflecting the decline of the labor movement in the United States in recent decades. . .”
Eric Nicholson, DallasObserver: “Judge: In Texas, Search Warrants Can Now Be Based on a “Prediction of a Future Crime”
“Police in Parker County had been watching Michael Fred Wehrenberg’s home for a month when, late in the summer of 2010, they received a tip from a confidential informant that Wehrenberg and several others were “fixing to” cook meth. Hours later, after midnight, officers walked through the front door, rounded up the people inside, and kept them in handcuffs in the front yard for an hour and a half.
“The only potential problem, at least from a constitutional standpoint, was that the cops didn’t have a search warrant. They got one later, before they seized the boxes of pseudoephedrine, stripped lithium batteries, and other meth-making materials, while the alleged meth cooks waited around in handcuffs, but by then they’d already waltzed through the home uninvited. They neglected to mention this on their warrant application, identifying a confidential informant as their only source of information.
“Wehrenberg’s lawyers argued during materials that the seized materials had been taken illegally and shouldn’t be allowed as evidence. The motion was denied — the trial court cited federal “independent source doctrine,” which allows illegally seized evidence a third party told them about beforehand — and Wehrenberg pleaded guilty to one count of possession and one count of intent to manufacture, getting five years in prison.”
Neil Munro, Daily Caller: “Iowa’s swing voters oppose pro-amnesty candidates”
“A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that independent voters and the GOP’s base sharply disagree with the business-backed push for increased immigration.
“Forty-eight percent of independent voters in Iowa are less likely to back a politician who supports a ‘path to citizenship’ for illegal immigrants, according to the poll conducted from Dec. 10 to Dec. 15.
“Only 16 percent of independents said they would be more likely support a pro-legalization candidate for the Senate. Thirty-one percent of the independent voters said the issue would not make a difference in their vote. . .”
Matthew Boyle, Big Govt: “Ted Cruz: If House Republicans Pass Amnesty, Harry Reid Will Keep Senate”
“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) predicted Thursday that House Republicans pushing for passage of any amnesty package in 2014 will ensure Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid maintain control of the Senate.
“Not only that, but Cruz argued that all House Republican engaged in passage of any amnesty should put a ‘Harry Reid for Majority Leader’ bumper sticker on their cars.
“‘I think we’ve got an incredible opportunity to retake the Senate in 2014, to retire Harry Reid as Majority Leader, and the number one thing Republicans could do to mess that up is to refuse to stand for principle,’ Cruz said on Texas-based Michael Berry’s radio program.
“‘And if the House turns around and passes a giant amnesty deal that doesn’t secure the border and grants amnesty, they might as well go and put “Harry Reid for Majority Leader” bumper stickers on the backs of their cars because it would be kicking conservatives, kicking the Tea Party, kicking millions of Americans in the teeth to make that same mistake again, so I hope they don’t do it.
“House Speaker John Boehner is actively working, along with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), to pass some kind of amnesty is 2014. . .”
HEALTH CARE . . .
Alexis Levinson, Daily Caller: “White House to offer ANOTHER individual mandate exemption”
“The White House will create another exemption to Obamacare’s individual mandate, the Washington Post reported.
“People who had their insurance plan cancelled as a result of the new healthcare law and who are unable to find a comparably priced plan on the federal or state exchanges will be allowed to claim a ‘hardship exemption,’ and will not face fines for not purchasing insurance. Those persons will also have the option of buying a healthcare plan that does not meet the minimum coverage requirements under Obamacare — known as a ‘catastrophe plan’ — without any penalty.
“The change, which Politico reports will be announced tomorrow, comes just four days before the deadline for individuals to purchase insurance. It is the latest alteration to the law prompted by the dysfunctional enrollment website and complaints from many people who discovered that even though they liked their plan, they could not keep it. . .”
NSA . . .
CBS-DC: “Putin: I Envy Obama In Light Of NSA Revelations ‘Because He Can Get Away With It’”
“Putin’s comments at a Thursday news conference reflected support for the NSA surveillance as a necessary tool to fight terrorism, but added that government rules should “limit the appetite” of the data-collecting agency, CBS News reports.
“The 16-year KGB veteran and former head of Russia’s primary espionage agency said that the American spy program ‘isn’t a cause for joy, it’s not a cause for repentance either.’ He added that ‘on a political level, it’s necessary to limit the appetite of special services with certain rules.’
“Russia granted former NSA contractor and leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum in June, despite U.S. efforts for his return to America to face espionage and theft of government property charges.
“Earlier this week, a U.S. federal judge ruled that the NSA’s mass collection of phone records is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s ban of unreasonable searches, and a government appeal is likely to be issued in the near future. . .”
PA . . .
Senator Folmer’s Memo
On behalf of my staff, and my family, I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and best wishes for a healthy and safe New Year.
My Senate offices will be closed December 24-26, and December 31, as well as January 1 and 2.
Mike’s Memo will publish again on January 6, 2014.
State Tax Revenue Up Slightly in November
Last month Pennsylvania collected $1.7 billion in General Fund revenue, which was $800,000 more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $9.9 billion, which is 0.4 percent above estimate.
Other highlights of November collections:
Sales tax receipts totaled $723.1 million, $10.6 million below estimate. Year-to-date sales tax collections are 0.4 percent more than anticipated;
Personal income tax (PIT) revenue was $688.9 million, $10.7 million below estimate. Year-to-date PIT collections are 0.1 percent below estimate; and
Corporation tax revenue of $51.8 million was $5.3 million above estimate. Year-to-date corporation tax collections are 2 percent above estimate.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
The application deadline for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is Tuesday, Dec. 31. The program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older.
The income limit is $35,000 per year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters, and half of Social Security income is excluded.
For more information visit the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
2014 Dog Licenses
Need a last minute Christmas gift for your dog? Dog Licenses for 2014 are available at county treasurers’ offices. State law requires all dogs three months and older to be licensed by January 1 of each year.
Please feel free to contact me at any time on state-related issues that are of concern to you. I may be reached through my website or my Lebanon or Harrisburg offices.
When contacting my office by e-mail, mail, or telephone, please be sure to share your e-mail, telephone number, and address so that we can follow up with you in a timely manner. Many inquiries can be handled with a phone call or email.
Brittany Foster, Politics PA: “PA Supreme Court Strikes Key Part of Marcellus Law”
“Portions of Act 13 were thrown out by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Thursday.
“Act 13 is the legislation that allowed the state government to supersede local control and mandate local ordinance changes to accommodate natural gas extraction in the state.
“Chief Justice Castille, a Republican, was the swing vote in the 4-2 decision. He delivered the majority opinion along with Justices Max Baer, Debra Todd and Seamus McCaffery joined. Justices Thomas Saylor and Michael Eakin wrote dissenting opinions.
“‘Act 13’s primary stated purpose is not to effectuate the constitutional obligation to protect and preserve Pennsylvania’s natural environment,’ the majority decision read. ‘Rather, the purpose of the statute is to provide a maximally favorable environment for industry operators to exploit Pennsylvania’s oil and natural gas resources, including those in the Marcellus Shale Formation. . .’”
Leo Knepper, CAP: “There is a Moral to the Story”
“. . . According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
‘A longtime Baldwin-Whitehall school board member has become one of the district’s highest-paid employees.
‘Martin Michael Schmotzer, 57, of Whitehall started on Wednesday in a new position that pays $120,000 a year, the third-highest salary in the district. His title: supervisor of projects for the school directors and special assistant to the superintendent.
‘No other public school in the state has an employee with that title, but there are six special assistants to superintendents, and 50 assistants to superintendents particular to instruction, Pennsylvania Department of Education records show for 2011-12.
‘Moments after he quit the board on Tuesday night, his colleagues hired Schmotzer in a 7-1 vote, giving him a five-year contract.”
“Make no mistake; this is not the part where the taxpayers won. Although very dubious, this action was perfectly legal (at least according to the folks quoted in the article).
The taxpayer victory came at the next school board meeting, when Mr. Schmotzer resigned from his newly created post. The taxpayers of Baldwin-Whitehall were rightly outraged. They made their feelings known. Then lo-and-behold the situation was remedied.
“Back to that moral. . .”
Andrew Staub, PA Independent: “Property rights, Pennsylvania budget needs could collide”
“Some Pennsylvania lawmakers want to rummage through the state’s financial lost-and-found box to help balance next year’s budget.
“As part of a $1-billion revenue and savings package announced earlier this month, state Senate Democrats proposed changing the state’s unclaimed property program to grab a one-time cash infusion from inactive bank accounts, abandoned safety deposit boxes and uncashed checks.
“Under state rules, Pennsylvania can collect inactive assets from banks, insurance companies and other institutions after the account has been dormant for five years. Lawmakers have proposed shortening that to three years to scoop up more assets next year.
“That expected $150-million surge could prove a vital considering Budget Secretary Charles Zogby on Wednesday said the state could be looking at an upcoming budget deficit as high as $1.4 billion.
“While it could be an attractive alternative to raising taxes, one lawyer warned that going deeper into the unclaimed property “rabbit hole” raises serious questions about property rights. . .”
END NOTES . . .
Charles Adams, When in the course of human events: Arguing the case for Southern secession, pp. 39-40.
“After calling forth the militia, within less than a week after Sumter, Lincoln ordered the blockade of Southern ports. A blockade is an act of war, requiring Congressional resolution. On April 21, he ordered the navy to buy five warships, an appropriations act requiring Congressional approval. On April 27, he started suspending the privilege of habeas corpus, in effect just about nullifying every civil liberty of every citizen. Soon thereafter he started shutting down newspapers that were not supportive of the war on the South. On May 3, he called for more troops, this time for three years, again a prerogative of the Congress.
“He directed the Treasury Department, at this time, to pay $2,000,000 to a private firm in New York to start buying military equipment, also an appropriations act that required Congressional approval – before the fact.
“When he finally got around to calling Congress to meet in July, he was already laying plans to invade Virginia to make a quick knockout blow and end the war. He went ahead with those plans, with the battle cry, ‘On to Richmond.’
“When Congress convened in July, it went along with all that Lincoln had done: the time for any debate had passed and any expressions of doubt about all these extraconstitutional acts would have put one in danger of being arrested by a military officer, tried for treasonable speech, and then locked up for who knows how long. . .”
Adams, Charles (2000) When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession. Lanham, Maryland: Roman & Littlefield.