Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review go through the many factors that contributed to Ken Cuccinelli’s narrow defeat in the Virginia governor’s race with a focus on whether the national GOP did all it could to help pull out a win. We also discuss how the Obamacare implosion nearly cost Terry McAuliffe the win in Virginia and sets an ominous stage for Democrats in 2014. And we react to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitting that he smoked crack cocaine, probably during one of his drunken stupors.
Archives for November 2013
Utah Sen. Mike Lee has no regrets about the push he led to defund Obamacare, rejects accusations from the left and right that his group was responsible for the shutdown and says the past few weeks perfectly illustrate why he and other conservatives worked so hard to starve the law of money.
“It was not Republicans who caused this shutdown. It was the president and the Senate Democrats who refused the government or any part of it to be funded unless everything, including Obamacare’s implementation, was also simultaneously funded. That’s not fair. That’s not a good faith compromise effort,” said Lee.
“I understand the shutdown was unpopular. The shutdown was also unnecessary. It was never what I wanted. I went out of my way to make avoiding the shutdown a possibility. The shutdown was made a reality by virtue of the fact that the president and Harry Reid refused to negotiate and refused to allow us to fund anything in government unless we were willing to fund everything in government, including a law that they knew would be harming Americans as it now is,” said Lee.
Lee says he and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others knew the defunding effort was an uphill climb given the balance of power in Congress, but he says there was no other choice than to fight as hard as possible against a law that he says has already been proven to be a nightmare.
“We fought this, not because we were certain that we could win but because e knew that the consequences of Obamacare taking effect uninhibited, with the president free to rewrite it unconstitutionally and without statutory authorization, would be so dire that we couldn’t let that happen without at least trying to stop it,” said Lee.
He says Republicans are unified in opposition to Obamacare and a month filled with exchange “glitches”, Americans being dropped from plans they like and sticker shock on new health care premiums only validate what he, Cruz and other conservatives were trying to prevent.
“We take no pleasure in being proven right, but at the very least the American people now know who is singularly responsible for making the health care system throughout America more expensive, complex and unfair than it was before. That’s the president of the United States, who stands defiantly behind this law, notwithstanding the fact it’s hurting people,” said Lee.
So while the initial verdict in opinion polls showed conservatives taking a big chunk of the blame for the shutdown, Lee believes more and more people will see that he and his allies were the ones truly standing up for the American people.
“Ultimately, the verdict on what we did to resist it will be one that vindicates what we did. It vindicates that we had good reason to try to resist it, notwithstanding the fact we knew that victory was far from certain,” he said.
Many Republicans publicly and privately castigated Lee and Cruz as being responsible for a strategy that could not win and cost the party standing with the voters. Some reports even suggest establishment GOP figures in and out of the Utah GOP are trying to recruit a challenger to run again Lee in 2016.
“First of all, that’s not true about the Utah Republican Party. The Utah Republican Party stands behind me. Those who are suggesting otherwise are simply mistaken or they’re lying,” said Lee.
The deal that ended the partial government shutdown and dodged a breaching of the debt ceiling only funds the government until January and staves off a debt ceiling showdown until February. So will we see this debate replayed in the next couple of months? Probably not.
Lee says even if the individual mandate were delayed a year, people would still be dealing with a loss of coverage they liked, a major threat to their privacy security and exchanges that show no sign of being functional anytime soon. In short, he believes the showdown in October was the last best chance to derail Obamacare.
“It’s difficult to say exactly what we could do at this point. I still think that legislation just suspending the entire thing for a year at a minimum would be in order, but we’ve now lost our leverage to pass such a thing,” said Lee.
“Unless there is a big change of heart among a lot of members of the House and Senate, it looks like this law is going to take effect. That’s really bad news for the American people, who continue to lose their jobs, lose their health care and have their wages and hours cut because of this law,” he said.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review share their stories of short lines at the polls and Greg shares the answers he got from GOP and Democratic election volunteers as to why their candidates deserve to win. They also discuss voting problems in a key Virginia county and reports that the Libertarian candidate for governor is bankrolled by a high-profile Obama bundler. And they discuss the revelation that Jon Huntsman’s campaign was behind shady 2012 allegations ranging from Mitt Romney’s tax returns to Mitch Daniels’ marriage to Herman Cain’s supposed infidelities.
While U.S. military action is over in Iraq and is scheduled to end in Afghanistan in 2014, a major battle continues to rage for countless veterans as they battle Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
On Sunday, the Military Channel will host a four-hour telethon designed to raise awareness about these conditions and money to help provide treatment. The event will run from 7-11 p.m. Eastern Time. Actors Joe Mantegna and Alan Alda will co-host the event.
Mantegna, who has long been active in causes to help active duty forces and veterans, says this issue has plagued generations of service members but only now are we learning more about what they are dealing with.
“Back in World War II, they used to call it ‘shell shock’. These guys would come back from combat and obviously things weren’t right about what was going on mentally with them. Now we found that 30 percent of our vets from Vietnam have had various degrees of it, which explained why we had so much homelessness, alcohol problems and drug abuse and all that among our returning vets,” said Mantegna.
He says the recent emphasis on proper diagnosis and treatment for concussions in football is a drop in the bucket compared to what returning veterans are confronting.
“Extend this to people who have been in warfare. People ride around in Humvees that get blown up with bombs and people have suffered these kinds of traumatic injuries. You can start to understand that the brain, being the delicate thing that it is, has suffered in ways that we’re only now beginning to understand the magnitude of it,” said Mantegna, who says the grim numbers involving veterans with PTSC and TBI illustrate how serious these conditions are.
“All you have to do is look at the statistics. It’s not an accident why the suicide rate is going up among our returning military, to where it exceeds the deaths that are caused by direct action,” he said.
But it’s not just data that motivates Mantegna. He knows from his interactions with veterans that they desperately need therapy.
“All I can tell you is with my direct contact with the vets that I’ve had over the years, I’ve seen first hand just how pervasive and how horrible this can be, to drive these people to where suicide seems to be their only kind of outlet. This is not something that’s just going to slip away in the night or just something you can gloss over and say, ‘Well, they’ll get over it,'” said Mantegna.
In addition to Mantegna and Alda, the telethon will feature appearances from celebrities such as Connie Francis, Trace Adkins, Mark Harmon as well as some government officials.
Mantegna urges Americans to devote just a few minutes to the telethon.
“Do what you normally do on a Sunday. Enjoy your family, go to church, get ready for the workday on Monday. But tune into the telethon, even if it’s for five minutes. See what it’s about and support if you can. And know that you’ve done something really good,” said Mantegna.
For more information on the telethon, PTSD and TBI, Mantegna urges Americans to visit homewardboundtelethon.org.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Betsy Woodruff of National Review discuss the odd likelihood that the GOP will cruise to victory in New Jersey tomorrow but winning in Virginia will be an uphill climb. They also cringe as a Stage 4 cancer survivors loses her coverage and doctor thanks to Obamacare and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel tells Chris Wallace that he does know better than Americans what they need in a health care plan. And they react to a new book that quotes President Obama as telling aides he’s really good at killing people through drone strikes.
The U.S. Senate will vote Monday on the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act”, legislation which supporters say offers basic workplace protections for homosexuals and transgendered Americans but critics warn will force businesses to cater to bizarre behaviors and force anyone who disagrees with those lifestyles to keep their mouths shut.
The legislation, also known as ENDA, would forbid employers from firing or refusing to hire anyone because of their sexual orientation or for asserting a different “gender identity” than their anatomy suggests. Supporters say protections in those areas are no different than longstanding bans on employment decisions made on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity, religion or disability.
However, critics contend there is a vast difference between judging a person on their skin color versus their sexual behavior.
“There’s a reason why we don’t allow discrimination based on race, which is that it’s a characteristic which is inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous and in the Constitution,” said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow in policy studies at the Family Research Council. “All of those criteria apply to race. None of them applies to the choice to engage in homosexual conduct or in cross-dressing behavior, which is what gender identity deals with.”
Sprigg further asserts that ENDA would result in unwarranted government meddling into the freedom business owners ought to have in selecting their employees.
“The general assumption should be that employers know best what is a relevant qualification for their employees. So any expansion of a list of restrictions like this constitutes further federal government intrusion into what normally is a free market decision. We need to approach the whole issue from that perspective,” said Sprigg.
Supporters of ENDA fiercely disagree with Sprigg’s assertion that the legislation seeks to protect behaviors rather than immutable characteristics since they also claim sexual orientation is immutable. Sprigg says even if that were true, there’s a huge difference.
“I’m not saying that people choose to experience same-sex attractions but they do choose to engage in homosexual conduct. The bill makes no distinction between attractions and conduct in terms of the protection that it offers,” said Sprigg, who says proclivities of prospective employees are important to faith-based employers as well as secular businesses that deal with children and other sensitive situations.
As intense as the debate over homosexuality has become, Sprigg says accommodating the gender identity issue is far more complicated since sexual orientation is often imperceptible but transgender employees are quite obvious. He says Democrats wouldn’t even touch transgender issues a decade ago but are moving full speed ahead since they believe national opinion has shifted in their direction. He also says that boldness is reflected in more aggressive policies in the bill.
“It used to be that they put in an exemption for facilities in which appearing unclothed is unavoidable. in other words, for facilities like showers and locker rooms that you might find in some workplaces. But that exemption has been removed from the current version of ENDA,” said Sprigg. “Because they don’t require any sex change surgery to change your gender identity, a man who is biologically male but identifies as female would be allowed to appear nude before other females in the locker room or shower. That is perhaps a most extreme application of this, but there’s nothing to prevent that in ENDA.”
So is this debate in the theoretical stage or are there jurisdictions that have already pursued these policies and have definable results? Sprigg says we do have enough data to spot a troubling pattern.
“We see that these laws result in a form of reverse discrimination. When the homosexuals come out of the closet at work, the Christians are driven into the closet. People have been overtly punished, even fired, merely for exercising their free speech rights to express their personal opinion that it would be best to abstain from homosexual conduct or best not to redefine marriage as something other than the union of a man and a woman,” said Sprigg.
“This kind of reverse discrimination is one of the things you won’t find in the text of ENDA but it’s one of the inevitable implications of it,” said Sprigg.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill Monday night. The dramatic vote will be to cut off debate and proceed to a final vote. That requires 60 votes. Sprigg says supporters may have 59 votes right now so anyone concerned about the legislation need to contact their senator. House passage would be unlikely, but Sprigg fears Senate passage could build momentum and backers might even try to mount a discharge petition, which would bring the Senate bill to a House vote without committee consideration or the consent of GOP House leaders.
It’s been another week of tough questions and limited answers at the White House, as the Obamacare controversy grew from a malfunctioning website to broken promises about keeping insurance and more allegations of NSA spying abound. This time the NSA is in the news for spying on friendly foreign leaders rather than American citizens. That prompted the Capitol Steps to roll out their recent NSA parody, “I’ll Be Watching You.” Our guest is Steps star and co-founder Elaina Newport.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are amused by Hillary Clinton’s strategy of taking some shots at President Obama under the assumption he will be a liability in 2016. They also unload on former IRS official Lois Lerner after reports show she illegally shared Tea Party information with the White House. And they react to Obamacare enrolling a mere six people on the first day the exchanges were open.