Wednesday, March 27, 2013


TheBlaze


Conservatives Continue to Accuse Facebook of Unfairly Blocking Them — Three New Cases Reported

Only a couple months after Facebook threatened to shut down “Chicks on the Right” for what the conservative fan page’s administrators said were posts critical of the Obama administration (Facebook later apologized), a few other Facebook accounts have been visited by the so-called “Facebook police” for what some users think are politically charged reasons.

One of these people is conservative blogger Diane Sori. Sori’s story was picked up Craig Andresen writing for the blog the National Patriot and was also written about by Joe Newby, who, according to his profile for the Spokane Conservative Examiner, identifies himself as a conservative.

Sori recounted the events that led up to what she told The Blaze is an unjust 30-day ban from Facebook.

As she explained the situation to TheBlaze, she was made an administrator for the group Barracuda Brigade for Our American Girl! 2012, which is a fan page for Sarah Palin, so she could upload links to her blog posts –The Patriot Factor – without having to go through an approval system.

A comment was made earlier this month on the fan page that violated Facebook’s terms and conditions and then resulted in several administrators from the group being banned.

Sori — who is no stranger to being blocked by Facebook as this is the sixth time her account has been frozen — said Facebook informed them as administrators it was their responsibility to police comments for content in violation of Facebook’s policy. But Sori also said she wasn’t online any time when the comment was posted, nor was it ever her responsibility to monitor comments.

“There is no justification for my banning whatsoever,” Sori said.

We looked into Facebook’s policies and found a chart describing the different roles administrators can be given to help run a page, as the responsibilities differ:

Conservative Blogger Claims Facebook Blocked Her for Not Justifiable Reason
(Image: Facebook)

In Facebook’s Page Terms, it states that administrators are “required to restrict access to Pages (through our gating functionality) as necessary to comply with applicable laws and Facebook policies, including our Advertising Guidelines and Community Standards.” The Community Standards include the various restrictions on what is considered content forbidden on the site.

Sori said she reached out to Facebook several times — even spoke with a representative from Facebook, Katie Harbath, at a blogging event in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Here was Harbath’s response to Sori, according to the Examiner:
“Looked into this and our policies are to hold all admins accountable for what is posted to a page so we won’t remove the ban. Let me know if you have any additional questions,” she told Sori in an email.
According to Facebook’s terms then, it could be that Sori was given an administrative position, unintentionally, that would have designated her as one of the people who should moderate comments.
But Sori did add that she is the only administrator of the group that remained ban and she continues her 30-day sentence.

Things became even more questionable when Newby with the Examiner said he was blocked from Facebook for a day after writing about Sori’s case. He claims he wasn’t told by Facebook why the 24-hour freeze on his account was instituted.

Being banned from Facebook matters to Sori because she is trying to inform people about her thoughts posted on her blog. But even more so, she said she sees it as censorship of conservative speech on the site.

“I am doing this for conservatives because if our voices are shut out, then it’s over,” Sori said.

Earlier this month, a Texas man too claimed his account was blocked for simply saying “seizing the day with baby obama,” the radio show KYGL reported (via Examiner). The station recounted Dustin Ford of Longview having a Facebook conversation with a friend about the president the day before this comment was posted.

Here’s what Ford told KLDV News (via KYGL):
Our constitutional rights are being taken from us very slowly, however small this may be. I could understand if they wanted to censor something that could be viewed as violent, but this is not slamming the president. I was just likening my friend to a liberal. If you type the president’s name, are you automatically flagged to be reviewed? There’s something scary about that.”
Conservative Blogger Claims Facebook Blocked Her for Not Justifiable Reason

Message from Facebook explaining why Ford’s account was frozen. (Image via KYGL)

The Chicks on the Right page was told they were “incorrectly warned” about their political post in January. But a similar excuse came from Facebook last year when a radio host’s ads were denied supposedly using the word “hate,” Facebook again apologized saying the initial refusal of the ad was made “in error.”

Let us know what you think of the alleged unfair bans conservatives are claiming by taking our poll:

 

Facebook Censoring Conservatives?

Do you think Facebook is purposefully blocking conservatives?
  • Yes, they're unfairly targeting conservative posts.
    69%
  • No, they are following their policies.
    10%
  • It might be accidentally flagging posts thought to be violation.
    21%
Related:

Guantanamo Bay: Which Side Is Obama On?

by / Personal Liberty Digest

Guantanamo Bay: Which Side Is Obama On?
UPI FILE
It has been four years since President Barack Obama promised to close down the military prison in Guantanamo Bay.
Once more, Barack Obama has shown himself to be a pathetic President. The latest disgrace of the vaulted liberal leader is his failure to stand by his conviction to shut down Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo).

It has been four years since Obama promised to close down the military prison. Now, he wants to provide $196 million in renovations and new construction as requested by his new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. Obama has decided keeping enemies of the United States comfortable is more important than meting out justice.

General John F. Kelly, the chief of the U.S. Southern Command, testified before Congress last week that repairs and upgrades are needed at Gitmo, including two new barracks and a new mess hall.

It is ironic that up to 100 “detainees” are on a hunger strike.

Rolling Stone reported: “Eight of the hunger strikers are being force-fed through a tube, a process the United Nations has previously classified as torture. Two hunger strikers have been hospitalized for dehydration.”

I am a libertarian through and through. I say if they want to starve themselves to death, let them — especially if these individuals want to inflict terror against Americans.

What does our President want? He wants to spend money America cannot afford to keep “detainees,” doublespeak for prisoners of war, more comfortable.

Regarding Gitmo, the Obama Administration is dead wrong. It is a classic case of Obama’s wanting his cake and eating it, too.

Obama should either:
  • Choose a speedy trial, a basic right to defendants which would also give closure to the victims of those atrocities.
  • Or deal decisively with Gitmo prisoners if they remain a clear and present danger to the United States.
Last month, The Daily Beast summed up America’s blundering President regarding Gitmo:
The Obama administration insists it’s doing everything possible to fulfill the president’s pledge. “We are absolutely still committed to closing Gitmo,” National Security Council spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said in an interview. He put the blame elsewhere, saying, “The unfortunate reality is that Congress has gone out of its way to prevent us from doing so, but we still believe closing the facility is in our national security interest.”
Yet experts say the chances of Gitmo closing, at least before Obama’s out of office in 2016, are exceptionally slim.
“Guantanamo is not going to close any time soon,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a right-leaning think tank. “There are too many problems to solve. There are still Yemenis who can’t be repatriated to their home country, there are detainees too dangerous to transfer anywhere and quite a few prisoners who the administration says they cannot try in an open court.”
There is another irony about the President. Last Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it will begin closing 149 air traffic control towers starting on April 7. The Transportation Security Administration also claimed sequester-caused airport security delays are on the horizon. That means more time at the airport and compromises safe travel.

Meanwhile, Obama is cutting defense spending as part of his $85 billion in automatic spending reductions.

Obama wants to slash spending on the very mechanisms that would prevent another attack against American civilians. Whose side is the President on?

Kill ’Em Or Clear ’Em

I love World War II history. I am proud of my Canadian roots and my American citizenship. I take extraordinary pride that during World War II, the Black Watch of Canada and the U.S. Airborne dealt decisively with the fanatical SS troops that they fought against — fanatics like the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend who refused to take Allied prisoners. They executed hundreds of Allied soldiers outright. In some cases, they even crucified them against trees and buildings. That terror was met in kind by our fathers and grandfathers who mostly accepted the surrender of Wehrmacht soldiers but had no dealings with the SS.

In an article in the Daily Mail, Antony Beevor, a noted historian and writer of World War II, summed up the allied actions of Normandy against the Germans:
With revenge on their minds and nerves still taut after the jump, the American paratroopers-blood was up. A trooper in the 82nd remembered his instructions only too clearly: ‘Take no prisoners because they will slow you down.’
Stories about German soldiers mutilating paratroopers inflamed the Americans still further. A soldier in the 101st recounted how after they had come across two dead paratroopers ‘with their privates cut off and stuck into their mouths’, the captain with them gave the order:
‘Don’t you guys dare take any prisoners! Shoot the bastards!’
Fast-forward six decades and we have Obama who not only wants to hold terrorists but also wants to save them from self-starvation and provide them better living conditions.

Are we at war or are we not? If we are, Obama needs to find some resolve and deal with our enemies. If not, he needs to send these Gitmo prisoners to trial.

Of course, Obama won’t do either. He lacks the gumption to take a stand on Gitmo, just as he lacks it with regard to almost everything else.

Love their politics or hate them, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his top World War II commander in Europe and future President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, dealt with America’s enemies expeditiously. Obama refuses to stand against them. He stands for higher taxes and greater entitlements. That makes him not only an ineffective leader but also a dangerous one.

Yours in good times and bad,

U.S. Muslim calls for restrictions on free speech at event hosted by Obama appointee

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer


Qasim Rashid, an extraordinarily arrogant man who is deeply contemptuous of any opponent of the Islamic supremacist agenda, joins his fellow Ahmadi Harris Zafar in calling for restrictions on the freedom of speech. That is a recipe for tyranny, and it bodes ill that an Obama appointee was involved.

"Obama’s Religious Freedom Appointee Involved in Muslim Event Calling for Limiting Freedom of Speech," by Elizabeth Harrington for CNS News, March 26 (thanks to David):
(CNSNews.com) – America’s free-speech model is in desperate need of an update, says an American-Muslim human rights activist who recently spoke at an event linked to an Obama administration appointee. 
Dr. Qasim Rashid argued that cyber-bullying laws could be used to limit freedom of expression – such as the burning of Korans -- in war time:
“When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in times of peace are a hindrance to this effort,” Rashid said on March 19 at Howard University. “And their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and…no court can regard them as protected by any constitutional right.”
Rashid began his remarks by personally thanking Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in June 2011. Al-Hibri founded Karamah, a group devoted to the rights of Muslim women, and it was this group that invited Rashid to speak.
“I do want to start by thanking Karamah,” Rashid said. “I was fortunate enough to have several constitutional scholars look at this paper and provide feedback. Dr. al-Hibri, of course…”
The topic of the March 19 event at Howard University was titled, “The Limits of Free Speech in a Global Era: Does America’s Free Speech Model Endanger Muslim Americans?”
“Our understanding of free speech today is not some long-held 227- or 235-year understanding,” said Rashid, a member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America, who presented a paper titled “In Harm’s Way: The Desperate Need to Update America’s Current Free Speech Model.”
Rashid quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who in 2011 said, “Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war.”
Advances in technology that allow videos and messages to cross the world in an instant require a “revised speech model,” Rashid said.
“Most, if not all of you are familiar with the 2011 case where Terry Jones, a pastor from Florida, burned a Koran on March 20, 2011, and this event itself provides a prime example of the gap that advanced technology caused in America's free speech model,” Rashid said.
“So in addition to placing a big sign on his church lawn that said Islam is the devil, Jones burned the Koran, screened it live on the Internet and put in layman's translations so that people in war-torn [areas] in particular can see what he's doing,” he continued. “Now like the hypothetical KKK member who might burn a cross on his black neighbor’s lawn to target him specifically, Jones did the exact same thing by burning the Koran -- broadcast it and targeted Muslims in a war- torn country…to target them specifically.”
Rashid noted that government officials warned Jones that his actions might provoke violence, and while Jones said he knew it, he burned the Koran anyway, sparking deadly protests in Afghanistan and a condemnation by Pakistan’s government.
Using the Koran burning as an example, Rashid said that cyber-bullying legislation could be used to prosecute individuals for their speech on a case-by-case basis.
“My argument is that we already have legislation, right?” he said. “I mean, we already have a cyber-bullying policy in all 50 states that even without the threat of violence – even without violence occurring, we're already holding individuals responsible for this intentional infliction of harm on others.”

We're Plummeting Into Bankruptcy and Congress is On Its Spring Break

By: Donald Lambro / Townhall Columnist
We're Plummeting Into Bankruptcy and Congress is On Its Spring Break

WASHINGTON - The budget deficit will be nearly $1 trillion this year, our debt is headed toward $17 trillion, Congress's approval polls are at 13 percent, and our lawmakers are on a two-week Spring Break.

A very wise observer of government once said that "No man's life, liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session." If that's true, the longer our lawmakers are out of town, the better off we'll be.

When an irate Boston constituent once complained at a town hall meeting that members of Congress don't seem to work very hard, the late House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill joked, "It beats heavy lifting."

According to the work schedule released by House GOP leaders in January, lawmakers, who are paid $174,000 a year plus generous health and pension benefits, will be in session for a grand total of 126 days this year.

That's pretty good money for a part-time job that's often relieved by recesses, two week seasonal breaks that are now described as "district work periods," and a string of other holidays that can last for a week or more. For the average, 40-hour-a-week worker, the idea of taking off the month of August seems, well, a bit excessive.

Especially when vacationing lawmakers leave behind a pile of unfinished work on which life, liberty and prosperity, and, indeed, our country's future, depends.

We still haven't gotten a firm handle on the government's monster $1 trillion budget deficit -- the fifth one in a row for President Obama who never met a spending bill he didn't like. We've been borrowing that much or more every year in order to pay the bills for national security, entitlements, food stamps, unemployment benefits and hundreds of other programs both large and small.

This adds to the government's ballooning debt that has risen by $6 trillion since Obama took office, and will likely leap to $20 trillion by the time he leaves office in January 2017.

There's been some modest progress of late. Budgets for fiscal 2014 were not only passed in both chambers of Congress, this was the Senate's first budget in four years. It was getting to be a great deal harder for the Democrats to blame Republicans for the budget impasse when they refused to produce one of their own.

Unfortunately, the competing spending blueprints they produced are about as far apart as Earth is from Neptune.

The House bill, shaped by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, would end the deficits and balance the budget through $5 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years. It would reform entitlements to bring their costs in line with future beneficiary growth, block grant Medicaid to the states and repeal Obamacare.

The Senate budget makes relatively few spending cuts, raises taxes by $1 trillion, barely touches entitlements, and doesn't balance the budget. Instead, it adds trillions of dollars to the debt. Four Democrats voted against it, and one Democrat didn't vote at all. It squeaked through with 50 votes, hardly a strong vote of confidence for their soak the rich fiscal policies.

The budget process calls for the two chambers to hash out their differences in a conference committee, but it's hard to see how they'll be able to bridge the policy gulf that separates them. "At this point in time, I don't know how we go forward," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters.

Throw in immigration reform, which hasn't even reached the formal proposal stages yet, though it's drawing support from some of Congress's staunchest conservatives. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky -- who's picked up the libertarian banner from his father, Ron Paul -- is the latest senator to offer a plan that offers a path to legalizing an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

The gun control debate now seems all-but-stalled after Majority Leader Harry Reid declared he cannot find more than 40 Democratic votes in a chamber his party controls.

But for all those who fear we are forever saddled with a hopelessly dysfunctional government that is incapable of dealing with these and other challenges, consider what happened just before lawmakers left for their spring break.

The short-term funding measure that was due to expire at the end of this month, threatening a government shut-down, didn't happen because both sides got together and hammered out a compromise.

House Republicans stood their ground and agreed to a a 2012 budget bill sent over by the Senate that will keep the government funded through the end of this fiscal year which ends Sept. 30.

What happened is that the White House and the Senate Democrats effectively threw in the towel on the sequester cuts that Obama wanted eliminated or changed, charging they would plunge the country into poverty and pestilence.

The bill locked the $85 billion in sequester spending reductions that Republicans demanded, though it allows the Pentagon and other agencies new flexibility to choose where the cuts will fall.

That threw the president into an uncomfortable situation where he was boxed into signing the budget bill that will make deep cuts in the very programs he championed and ran on in 2012: still more infrastructure spending for roads, bridges and railways, early childhood education, lots more green energy loans and grants, and bigger research and development budgets.

Thus, Obama will have to swallow hard when he signs the budget bill that will cut into his highest priorities.

"With his signature this week, President Obama will lock into place deep spending cuts that threaten to undermine his second-term economic vision just four months after he won reelection," the Washington Post bemoaned in a front page story.

The ice-cold political reality that greeted Obama on his return from his Middle East trip is that none of his second-term policies "have come close to being enacted," the Post said. His signature nails down sequestration budget cuts he has called "dumb" and that the Post bluntly says "undermines many of the goals he laid out in the 2012 campaign."

Score a big one for both the GOP and the taxpayers, and zero for Obama. Maybe at least some our lawmakers deserved that spring break after all.

Challenge to the House GOP: Kill the Medical Device Tax, Now

Challenge to the House GOP: Kill the Medical Device Tax, Now

By: Hugh Hewitt / Townhall Columnist
Of all the many awful features of the Affordable Care Act --"Obamacare"-- the medical device tax ("MDT") is the most obviously ruinous of a particular sector of the economy.

More than 8,000 firms in the United States are at work on such devices, from artificial hearts to sight-saving eye technologies to low tech bandages and surgical screws. More than a half million people work directly in this sector, in great jobs that value engineering and other high-skills sets and which produce annually thousands and thousands of patents that lead to worldwide innovation in health care and in cost savings in the prevention and treatment of disease.

The average time it takes for an idea to become a licensed-to-sell device in the U.S. is 12.4 years. That average path to market requires an investment of about $100 million. The inventors and investors hope that when the revenues arrive they can, under the protection of patent, make back that revenue and more so that profit can be made and new innovation begun.

The MDT slapped a 2.3% excise tax on this industry's revenues -- not profits -- a tax that kicked in this year, a tax that targets research and development dollars with particular zeal. Many of the devices are price controlled and cannot pass on the cost to the customer while others simply exist in an environment where price increases are not an accepted practice. The prices of medical devices tend to decline year-to-year, not to increase. Only innovations really allow for price increases.

But the tax must be paid and thus it is paid from the only place where discretionary dollars can be found, typically, a research and development budget, which in most established companies is between 5% and 10% of total revenue. (Nearly all of the budget for start-ups which relay on venture capital of one sort or another for their funding can be termed R&D.) Since about half of the R&D for established companies must go simply to maintenance of the existing product line, the dollars available to launching new products is between 2.5% and 5% of a company’s revenues. The MDT simply drains huge chunks of that from the big companies while sitting like a vulture atop any revenue stream the start-up eventually generates, long before the start-up dreams of turning a profit.

I repeat: The tax is on revenue, not profits. It is a company and job killer. It is no wonder why the Prime Minister of Ireland was in the Silicon Valley last week urging medical device entrepreneurs to come set-up their shops in Eire. It is hard to be a worse place to do business than the U.S. if you are a start-up in the medical device world.

The law is so bad that a test vote last week in the Senate yielded a tally of 79-20 for repeal. Even liberal senators like Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Dick Durbin of Illinois voted for repeal. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts voted for repeal!

I held a "teach in" on my radio show Monday to try and bring attention to this tax, to the Senate's symbolic vote, and to the very real choice facing the GOP House Leadership.

In studio I was joined by Robert Grant, the leader of a very successful investment fund, Strathspey Crown, LLC, focused on a segment of the medical device world; Thomas Loarie, the executive chairman of Mercator MedSystems, and Gary Wolensky, one of my law partners and a trial lawyer who has spent more than 25 years defending medical device companies in and out of court.

To this panel I added a stream of GOP House members, each one of whom is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee: Diane Black of Tennessee, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, and Peter Roskam of Illinois.

To each of these Representatives my guests and I directed pretty much the same question: Could the MDT be repealed and if so how soon? Answers differed on the timing, but all believed repeal could be accomplished this year. Congressman Roskam was perhaps the most optimistic on timing. The transcript of his interview is here. The key answer from Congressman Roskam: "So in direct answer to your question, Hugh, if there’s a decision that gets made, it can happen in a matter of weeks or months."

The problem for some of the others would be finding a "pay for," or waiting for "comprehensive tax reform." A "pay for" is an off-setting increase in revenue to replace the $30 billion the MDT is expected to claw back out of the industry over the next decade, and comprehensive tax reform is just that, a complete overhaul of the tax code. Some Republicans won't do anything to add to the deficit, even repeal a ruinous tax, while others want to wait for the "big deal" to arrive and fix it then.

Both approaches forfeit the momentum of the Senate vote last week, and no one is more aware of that than the two senators who also joined us on yesterday's program: GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Marco Rubio. The conversation we had with them was very focused and very encouraging to the friends of repeal, and that transcript is here. Both Senators McConnell and Rubio stressed how committed to repeal many key Democrats were and how lopsided the sentiment for killing the job-killing tax.

"I think if the House sent us a stand-alone medical device tax, it’s going to be really fascinating to see all these liberal Democrats figure out how they’re going to deal with it," Senator McConnell said. "And I think the House now, the Senate having voted the way it did, should send us a bill to do precisely that very soon."

Very. Soon. Like perhaps the week of April 9 when the House returns?

This will require a House GOP not known for being nimble to in fact turn from their plans and sprint to the Ways and Means Committee demanding a clean -- a very clean -- bill on repeal. Forget the "pay for" and rush a pure repeal to the Senate for Leader McConnell to attach to whatever he thinks it should be attached to.

It would be motive enough to prove that excise taxes on revenues are crazy, but here the stakes are real jobs and real brain and innovation drain from the country that is occurring in real time. Capital for start-ups is drying up, and the best kind of jobs are finding permanent homes abroad. The House GOP has everything to gain by moving fast and with a huge majority to volley back at the Senate a bill that embodies the Senate's very fresh vote. Republican activists should plead with them not to miss this obvious opportunity.

In this post is a list of every member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the link to their website. Take a moment to send this column with these links to your friends in this or related industry. Tell them now is the time for them to act and not merely complain. The MDT can be repealed, but enough House GOP members must hear enough constituents and voters say "Right now" and mean it.

The joke that is Obamacare


Millions to Be Priced Out of Obamacare 
Newsmax.com

  • 2
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Millions of Americans will be priced out of health insurance under President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul because of a glitch in the law that adversely affects people with modest incomes who cannot afford family coverage offered by their employers, a leading healthcare advocacy group said on Tuesday.

Tax credits are a key component of the law and the White House has said the credits, averaging about $4,000 apiece, will help about 18 million individuals and families pay for health insurance once the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, beginning in January 2014.

The tax credits are geared toward low and middle-income Americans who do not have access to affordable health insurance coverage through an employer. The law specifies that employer-sponsored insurance is affordable so long as a worker's share of the premium does not exceed 9.5 percent of the worker's household income.

In its rule making, or final interpretation of the law, the IRS said affordability should be based strictly on individual coverage costs, however.

That means that, even if family coverage through an employer-based plan far exceeds the 9.5 percent cutoff, workers would not be eligible for the tax credits to help buy insurance for children or non-working dependents.

"It's an issue. It needs to be fixed," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, an influential healthcare advocacy group said on Tuesday, referring to what he called "the family glitch problem."

He spoke on a teleconference calling attention to a report, released by his organization on Tuesday, that said more than 1.7 million Floridians will be eligible for the new premium tax credits next year.

'TEA PARTY INFUSION'

"The tax credit subsidies are a game changer. They will help make health coverage affordable for huge numbers of uninsured families in Florida who would have been priced out of the health coverage and care they need," Pollack said.

He had no estimate for the number of people in Florida affected by the affordability question and IRS policy. But he said there was little hope for a legislative fix in Congress, where the House is controlled by Republicans still bent on repealing Obamacare.

The problem comes on top of another more contentious healthcare issue in Florida, where the state legislature has opposed Republican Governor Rick Scott's endorsement of an expansion of Medicaid.

Without the expansion, envisioned under Obama's 2010 reforms, Pollack said about 1.8 million Floridians would be left without healthcare coverage.

"It would mean that the poorest of the poor really would be left out in the cold," he said.

Pollack was joined on the teleconference by Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a congressional champion of healthcare reform who also chairs the Democratic National Committee.

"I think one only has to look at the budget the Republicans crammed through the House last week, with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act attached to it, to know that the odds of adding coverage and improving coverage in Obamacare in this Tea Party-infused House of Representatives is very unlikely," she said.

"The way to improve this law and to address concerns that have come up with it is not to repeal it, not to throw it out, but to simply make modifications to it. It would be wonderful if we had Republican colleagues in our chamber, on the other side of the aisle, who were willing to sit down and do that."

Speaking after the call, Families USA health policy director Kathleen Stoll told Reuters recent studies showed that anywhere between 2 million and 4 million people across the United States would be adversely affected by the federal rule limiting aid and the IRS interpretation of whether an employer's health plan is affordable.

"We'd like to see it fixed because it clearly doesn't reflect what Congress intended," Stoll said.

"It could mean the difference between being able to move in to purchasing private insurance and not purchasing private insurance. Hopefully within the next couple of years there will be room to fix it."
 
Op-ed:
Gay marriage...the issue de jour
By: Diane Sori

A hot button topic...a social controversy I NEVER wanted to get involved in or speak about but am being forced to by recent developments in the news.

The issue of gay marriage (same sex marriage) has been pushed front and center as the Supreme Court just heard a case involving Proposition 8 that could drastically change how the states and the federal government deal with this divisive hot button issue.

This battle is a fairly recent forefront issue that came in with Obama's catering and pandering to ubber vocal gay radicals for votes. An issue that is best left up to the people involved and their God, or at least left up to the individual states to decide, is now dividing our country and pitting those on the same conservative political side against each other...people like Carl Rove who thinks the Republican Party should accept gay marriage versus Mike Huckabee who says if they do that Evangelical Christians will leave the party.

Obama has cleverly succeeding in splitting our party once again.

But let's start with the word at the crux of this issue...marriage. Legally, to date, marriage is a sanctioned social union or legal contract between a man and a woman that establishes rights and obligations between the spouses, between the spouses and their children, and between the spouses and their in-laws. The definition of marriage might differ somewhat amongst different cultures, but it is primarily recognized by all as an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged.

In our country, to be legally married, a man and woman does NOT have to have a religious ceremony.

However, a couple is only married in the eyes of God after they have participated in a formal religious wedding ceremony and after having gone through the legal process as well...one cannot be married religiously in our country without also being married legally.

And herein lies the crux of the problem...the religious feel being gay goes against the teachings of the Bible, while more liberal thinkers say one cannot control whom they fall in love with. The religious feel being gay is a sin, an abomination against God, that will force those 'who lay with man' (or woman in the case of lesbians) to spend eternity in hell. The more liberal thinkers say one's sexual preferences cannot be controlled, that one is born either heterosexual or homosexual and has NOTHING to do with their religious leanings or lack thereof whatsoever.

Both groups are right in their eyes and both groups are wrong in the other groups eyes...and so the battle rages on with the touch point issue of children being at the center of the differences between the two sides.

As an example, The American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics all agree that there is NO scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation, and that lesbian and gay parents are just as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive, healthy, and loving environments for their children.

The religious feel that children do NOT belong in same-sex households for it goes against specific teachings of the Bible. The first chapter of Genesis speaks of the creation of man and woman and includes the commandment, 'be fruitful and multiply.' But gay couples cannot multiply through sexual relations as straight couples do, and this is critical to the religious.

And then the religious will bring up the words of the second chapter where it says it's not good for a man to be alone so God created woman from his flesh. “This is now bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman for she was taken out of Man. That is why a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh.”

As in man clings to a woman NOT to another man.

But all this applies to religious interpretation alone...for more liberal thinkers, both on the right and on the left of the political spectrum, believe the issue of gay marriage to be simply an issue of equality under the law, under secular law, with equality meaning nothing more than treating ALL people alike...as in affording ALL people the same rights and privileges under the law...NO special treatment just equal treatment.

And herein lies the true crux of the battle as the religious jump in and say those who can produce children and those who can't are not alike under God's laws, case closed.

And the fundamental battle rages on and always will.

But if we look at this battle in strictly secular terms, and take the religious component completely off the table, what is it that committed gay couples really want...is it to be married with the dress, the tux, the flowers, the party...or is to have legal allowances made and put into law so that they can be with their partner as a family member in all legal matters just like that which is afforded to a traditional husband and wife...I believe this is what most committed gay couples want.

And as to my own personal beliefs on this issue...YES, I believe committed gay couples should have ALL legal protections afforded straight couples under the law but...and this is critical...DO NOT CALL IT MARRIAGE. Call it domestic partnerships...call it civil unions...call it committed partnerships...call it anything but marriage for our Judeo/Christian society defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman NOT a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

And if we are to be truly 'one nation under God'...something the vast majority of conservatives want us to be...I believe we have to separate the secular legalities of the gay marriage issue from the prejudice and judgmental attitudes some of the religious feel towards gays (God is the judge NOT us)...and we have to afford committed gay couples the same legal rights (NO more NO less) that ALL straight couples enjoy but we have to temper it with the Judeo/Christian tenets of our society by NOT calling gay unions marriage.