Pizza Industry Vows to Continue Fight Against Obamacare’s Onerous Menu Labeling Regulation

It’s been a month since the Food and Drug Administration announced its final rule for menu labeling, a regulation that’s already proving to be a nightmare for the major chain restaurants and retail food establishments that must comply by Dec. 1, 2015, or face a stiff penalty.

“It got much worse in the final rule,” Lynn Liddle, chairperson of the American Pizza Community and executive VP of communications and investor relations for Domino’s Pizza, told Townhall. “I was surprised, disappointed, and befuddled because there’s all this new stuff in there where I go, ‘I don’t know how we’re gonna do this.’ … We’re gonna need a lot more time to untangle this mess, which I don’t think is viable or workable.”

While the regulation is bad for all industries, pizza has been hit particularly hard. For one, it’s a food industry unlike any other—90 percent of customers get their food delivered, making the idea of in-store displays of calorie information unnecessary and costly, not to mention extremely difficult since it’s such a customizable food.

Liddle said a concession was made on labeling by the slice rather than the whole pizza, but the rule is still disastrous for small businesses across America.

“[W]hat [FDA] did in these final rules is they expanded their definition of a menu and said ‘we’re gonna look at it and say anything a consumer will think of at that moment as a menu,’ so it’s very squishy right now because nobody really understands this thing because they’re saying if you have a picture or a name of a product, along with a price, were gonna call that a menu, so if you take it to the ridiculous that could include television advertising, because in the restaurant industry you always have a picture of product and a price, that’s how the restaurant industry advertises,” she explained.

“We went to [the FDA] with a proposed solution; we didn’t say ‘we want to get out of it,’ we said, ‘we have a better way’ … and that better way was primarily doing this electronically, which by the way we already do voluntarily, so it was a really workable solution … and basically they’ve ignored it,” she said.

While Domino’s is a major pizza chain across the country, the vast majority of stores are franchises, meaning the burden of implementation falls squarely on the backs of small business owners. And failure to have the appropriate signage or serving food that’s outside of the labeled calorie range can carry civil and criminal penalties, Liddle said, but specificity over how it will be policed and what the penalties are remains unclear.

Meanwhile, studies continue to show that menu labeling has little to no effect on consumers’ purchasing habits. In other words, despite the cost to small business owners across the country, menu labeling will have no significant impact on obesity in America, the purported benefit the FDA used to justify the law as part of the Affordable Care Act to begin with.

Liddle sees the rule as a way for its proponents to feel like they’ve done something that will be good for Americans. “I’ve seen a number of article and commentary from people … saying we need to tell people what to eat,” she said. “I think there’s this belief that … Americans can’t or won’t ever help themselves.”

“I don’t think slapping calorie ranges on a pizza menu board that no one looks at is gonna be any kind of a solution [for reducing obesity],” she continued.

It’s been a long road fighting against the rule since it first came out as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and Liddle says she isn’t done yet.

“I don’t think I have the luxury to stop fighting against this because it’s hurting my small business franchisees … and it’s hurting the [entire] pizza industry with an additional cost their customers haven’t asked for,” she said.

“We’re going to keep pushing for solutions we think are most viable, and we’re encouraged because we have nearly 100 members of Congress that have supported our past legislation, so I think we have a lot of people with a lot of common sense on our side.”

RedState: Our Christmas Wish For You and Yours

In the December issue of Townhall Magazine, where this article originally appeared, RedState’s Bryan Pruitt offers a few thoughts on the New Year.

As the year winds down and our focus turns toward time with family and friends, our thoughts at RedState are on you, our readers. Whether we reach you through this magazine, online at RedState.com, via Erick’s ubiquitous Morning Briefing, or on our Twitter feed or Facebook page, we value you and your interaction with us. RedState has one of the most dynamic, engaged readerships in the political world. We are only effective because you so often answer the call and hold your elected officials accountable throughout the year, and especially at the ballot box.

The following are some thoughts we have from this year and looking forward to the next. Happy Holidays.

Setbacks and steps forward

Anyone following politics knows the conservative movement has had a few setbacks in this election cycle. Be not afraid. Less covered in the media are our significant steps forward, the elections won with good strategy and great candidates. There will be more of this to come. Keep the faith and stay tuned.

RedState Gathering

Please give some serious thought to making time in your summer schedule to attend the RedState Gathering in Atlanta from August 6-9. If you are an alum of previous Gatherings and have already registered, we are deeply grateful. We anticipate most if not all of the 2016 presidential aspirants will attend. They want your early support and we are working to ensure they earn it.

2015…we mean 2016

Speaking of aspirants for that highest office, there are elements that are frustrating about the fact that our presidential politics begin so much earlier these days. President Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy less than a year before he was elected. President Obama declared almost two years prior. You can expect that candidates for the Republican nomination will begin announcing their intentions soon after the New Year, perhaps even immediately after the midterm election results are known.

There will be plenty of candidates in the field. This is a good thing. Do not believe the mainstream media and liberal pundits when they tell you that competition will weaken the eventual candidate against the Hillary Clinton coronation machine. Pay close attention to the candidates’ positions on issues. Use social media to promote the candidate who inspires you. If you happen to live in a state that doesn’t get a lot of media attention, anywhere outside Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, raise your voice even louder. Every state matters when electing a president.

Run, RedStater, run

There is an often-quoted line (used throughout the television show “The West Wing”), “Decisions are made by those who show up.”

This is usually interpreted to mean showing up to vote. Certainly being an informed voter is part of our civic duty. But as a RedState conservative, we also hope you will take the next step and consider running for office someday. Sure, our democracy can survive with leaders who stay in power for endless amounts of time. But it truly thrives when average citizens take that big step, throw their hat in the ring by putting their name on the ballot, and standing in front of their fellow citizens with fresh ideas and a new face for leadership.

Whether running for dogcatcher or Congress, you can make a difference. You never know when the right opportunity might present itself to challenge an old, entrenched incumbent dedicated only to their D.C. lobbyist friends. Representatives should always represent their constituents, not special interests.

And finally…the things that matter

We wish you the happiest of Christmas seasons. Have a great time! We never really cared for those conservative commentators who take to lecturing the public on the commercialization of a religious holiday. Kids love gifts and Santa Claus is kind of cool in a weird way.

But as they say, be sure to remembering in your own way the reason for the season. Donate anonymously to a charity, give support to those struggling, say a prayer of thanks for the abundant blessing that is the United States of America.

Our family tradition is to read the Christmas story (Luke 2: 1-20) before opening presents on Christmas morning. It’s the best way to start the day if you ask me.

God bless and Happy New Year, the future is bright.

New Documentary Puts You 'Beneath The Helmet' Of The Israeli Military

What’s it like to be in the Israeli military? For a nation with no strategic depth, the law requires that all Israeli citizens–men and women–to serve once they turn 18 years of age. A new documentary Beneath The Helmet, examines the lives of five members of the Israeli Defense Forces as they go from high-school student to soldiers serving in one of the best-trained militaries in the world.

The film is from the creators of the PBS documentary, Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference. According to their website, the film not only shows the training these young men and women experience in preparation for the defense of their country, it also delves into “the values of peace, equality, opportunity, democracy, religious tolerance and women’s rights.”

Israel is one of the few nations where women can serve in combat roles, sometimes alongside men. Israel has the mixed Caracal Battalion and is currently recruiting women for their second unisex “Lions of the Jordan” battalion, which will be responsible, amongst other things, for making sure the West Bank remains secure.

In a press release, First Lt. (Res.) Aviv Regev, who’s in the film, said, “Beneath the Helmet shows how young Israelis, serving in the army just out of high school, face enormous struggles with their identity and their responsibilities as soldiers.” It brings a face to a military that while praised, is also vilified and misunderstood by much of the world.

So, while you flock to see American Sniper on Christmas Day, make sure to check out Beneath The Helmet as well.

Bill Gates Plays Internet Secret Santa, Gives Charitable Gift

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world, joined over 200,000 members of the website "Reddit" to participate in their annual Secret Santa gift exchange. (Full disclosure: I also participated.) In Reddit's Secret Santa, participants are matched to a random "giftee," and the "gifter" can choose whether or not to share their identity. Gates was matched to a 25-year-old woman named Cali, and gave her a Loki helmet (from the movie Thor), a book of pictures of Africa, and a donation in her name to Shot@Life, a charity that provides vaccinations to children in poor countries.

From Business Insider:

For the last four years, thousands of Redditors have participated in a Reddit Secret Santa gift exchange. A whopping 212,894 users signed up this year, including — for the second year running — Bill Gates.

His gift ended up being incredibly thoughtful. User Calid7, a 25-year-old woman named Cali, writes that she was in shock when she discovered that Gates was her Santa.

Not only did he send her a Loki helmet she had listed as her "pie in the sky wish," but he also gifted her a book of gorgeous pictures of Africa (a place she says she desperately wants to visit), a stuffed polio virus microbe, and a donation in her name to Shot@Life, a program that provides vaccines to kids in poor countries who need them.

This is pretty cool, and it's a decently thoughtful gift from Gates. It's cool to see that even someone as rich and powerful as Gates would be willing to sign up to make a random stranger's Christmas, and at the same time help protect children from dangerous diseases. I just feel bad for the person who got Bill Gates as his giftee--what on earth could you possibly get him?!

Video: 'The 12 Days of Christmas'


I always enjoy sharing this performance by Indiana University's Straight No Chaser a cappella group around this time each year. Merry Christmas!


"Five golden rings!"

More And More Americans Are Choosing A Sunshine Christmas

As most of New York faces a possible Christmas snow storm this week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Tuesday that Florida has officially passed the Empire State as the country's third most populous state.

"By adding an average of 803 new residents each day between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014, Florida passed New York to become the nation’s third most populous state," a Census Bureau press release read.

California is still the nation's most populous state with 38.8 million residents, and Texas retained second on the list with 27 million. Six states actually lost population in 2014, and all of them have colder winters, including: Illinois, West Virginia, Connecticut, New Mexico, Alaska, and Vermont. 

North Carolina, a warmer southern state, also outgrew Michigan to take over the ninth spot on the most populous state list.

Also of interest, of the nine states with the fastest growing populations, all nine (North Dakota, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and South Carolina) have Republican governors.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.” --Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

The complete transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge is, perhaps like most readers, my favorite part of Charles Dickens’ classic novella. After spending a lifetime in isolation, accumulating wealth for its own sake, he realizes, in the end, what truly matters most: His relationships and friendships with other people.

Since it hit the streets of London, this classic work of fiction has reminded readers for generations that material pursuits and acts of selfishness are totally anathema to the spirit of Christmas, and ultimately unfulfilling, too. As his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, laments during his night-time visit:

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

These simple but oft-forgotten lines are why I try to read Dickens’ famous work every year. They remind me how I should strive to live my life, even if I fail or fall short. You are not, after all, defined by what you have, but instead by how you live your life and treat others; and as bad as you might have it, there is always something to be grateful for.

Think of poor Bob Cratchit, whose financial situation is exceedingly bleak, perhaps even perilous. But what he has, in a sense, cannot be measured in earthly terms: a beautiful, loving family with whom to share the joy of Christmas with.

So, my friends, with that being said, I wanted to wish you all a very blessed holiday season with your friends, family and loved ones this year, and a Merry Christmas.

As Tiny Tim might say: “God bless Us, Every One!”

The Presidency Can't Stop Obama's "Golf Tradition"

George W. Bush was frequently mocked for his leisure trips during his presidency, but President Obama may have taken it to a new level with his golfing trips.

As The Hill reports, President Obama's trip to Hawaii this year is a part of a vacation he's been taking since before he was President - and he hasn't discontinued that while having the office of perhaps the most prestigious, stressful job in the country:

He arrived on Tuesday morning at the golf course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, according to a pool report. He is playing with his high school friends Greg Orme and Bobby Titcomb, as well as staffer Joe Paulsen.

Titcomb and Orme are part of a group of Obama's friends who reunite in Hawaii every year, a practice that continued even after Obama became president.

Obama also made golf outings, which opponents have criticized throughout his presidency, on Saturday and Sunday, the first two days of the break.

This isn't to say that Presidents can or should never take vacations. But it's to point out that President Obama is almost never criticized for his own refusal to yield on vacations by the mainstream media, while it was a firestorm of controversy for his predecessor.

Obama's NLRB Threatens Decades of Precedent To Help Unions

NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin has brought complaints against McDonald's in response to employees alleging that they were unfairly retaliated against for discussing unionization.

The NLRB siding with a union against a corporate parent of a franchise would completely change how business is done in the United States - and tip the balance towards unions. As Diana Furchtgott-Roth explains:

In July Griffin stated (without offering a legal argument) that McDonald’s USA was a joint employer of those workers who are employed by local McDonald’s franchises, but he waited until last week to bring charges against the parent company. Before his appointment as general counsel, Griffin was one of the unconstitutional recess appointees to the NLRB, whose appointment was overturned by the Supreme Court.

This decision to charge both the McDonald’s franchise and the parent company with these violations overturns decades of precedent. For half a century, the local franchise was considered the only employer. The NLRB defined employers as those who controlled workers’ “essential terms of employment,” namely hiring, wage rates, firing, and job description. The franchises were the employers, not the owner of the franchise.

So the NLRB unilaterally changes the law without any notice or public comment, uses the change in the law to sue a major corporation, and tells the general public that the legal reasoning behind the change cannot be revealed. That’s Kafkaesque. And this from a president who stated in a memorandum on January 21, 2009, that “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.”

As Furchtgott-Roth notes, this would be yet another example of the executive branch stretching its authority to get an outcome it wants. It would transform McDonald's restaurants from small businesses into organizations that must negotiate with a union like a giant corporation. As Furchtgott-Roth notes, only one-half of one percent of all McDonald's restaurants have legitimate complaints - and Obama's NLRB is using that small gap to ram through a tank.

MRCTV: Jonathan Gruber For Secretary of Defense

Of course, this is absurd. Jonathan Gruber is one of Obamacare’s architects, who recently got a tongue-lashing by the House Oversight Committee over comments he made about American voters–he called them stupid–and for saying that this, along with a lack of transparency, were essential to getting Obamacare passed. House Republicans had some questions about his comments on transparency when they became known after a series of videos, featuring the MIT professor, became public.

MRCTV’s Dan Joseph decided to see if Gruber’s insanely condescending attitude towards the American electorate is true. Earlier this month, he ventured onto the hallowed grounds of George Mason University to ask students to support his “petition” to make Jonathan Gruber our country’s next Secretary of Defense.

“It’s like magic when he talks; he’s great at convincing people of things,” said Joseph to a student willing to hear him out on this outlandish proposal.

Joseph did get some signatures for the “Gruber for SecDef” campaign, which is tragic to say the least.

Yet, I’m inclined not to think that the American people are stupid, especially when the media barely mentioned him in the news when “Grubergate” was at its height. 

"Soldier's Christmas": How a Rock Band Is Raising Awareness For Military Families This Season

“Music with meaning.” It’s how rock band Madison Rising describes what they’re trying to accomplish, and this Christmas season, they’re putting their efforts to a good cause. They’ve released the song “Soldier’s Christmas,” which draws on lead singer David Bray’s experience as a member of the military and the band’s work with veterans’ groups to both raise awareness of what military families go through during the holidays and raise money directly for the families of the fallen.

“It’s to bring awareness to those families,” Bray tells Townhall, “to say that we are grateful for the sacrifice and what they’ve given. And not only that, but in a music form, it’s a way to get out to people who may not be affected by war, or who may not be in military families, for them to understand the amount of sacrifice people are putting into this.”

“It’s our war. It’s high time we, especially during the holiday season, we get around to these families and we really hold them close.”

Inspiration came for Bray from Karen Vaughn, whose son Aaron was a member of SEAL Team Six and was lost during “Extortion 17,” the bloodiest single event in the war in Afghanistan - when the Taliban attacked a helicopter and killed 30 Americans. The loss of Aaron Vaughn spurred the creation of Operation 300, a charity that supports children of fallen American soldiers. Proceeds from Madison Rising’s “Soldier’s Christmas” will go directly to benefit the children that Operation 300 supports.

“During our tour with Concerned Veterans for America, I’d watch Karen get up on stage and relive this painful memory to bring awareness to the real sacrifices at hand on a day-to-day basis,” Bray says. “After I finished writing the song, I took it to her and I said Karen, I want to write this song for the holidays and I want to do something special with it… I kind of needed her blessing. She is a gold star mother.”

“The reaction I got from her is that it’s a blessing. It’s the same reason she does what she does.”

The music video for the song was put together with the help of Operation 300 and Minus Red, Jim Hanon’s filmmaking outfit that also aims to bring important messages to the people. Madison Rising is also going to be continuing work with Operation 300 and Concerned Veterans for America in the coming months, hoping to bring awareness and raise money for important military causes. And the outreach they’ve received so far has been astonishing.

"We had a staff sergeant reach out the other day who was on the verge of suicide... she suffers from PTSD, horribly," Bray says. "She listened to this song, and one of her remarks was, 'I'm not sure you tried to do this or not, but this song has given me hope and given me reason to live, to continue on, because if I don't tell the story of what happened to my brothers and sisters who I've lost, then they're gone, and they're gone forever. And it's now my duty to go out and tell those stories.'"

"When you get a message like that from somebody, it'll drop your jaw," Bray says.

To learn more about Operation 300, click here. Bray says that Madison Rising will continue working with Operation 300 and Concerned Veterans for America in the future.

Watch the video here:

What Does Sheriff Joe's Amnesty Lawsuit Mean For The Texas Challenge?

A federal judge dismissed Arizona county Sheriff Joe Arpaio's lawsuit challenging President Obama's executive amnesty Tuesday, a decision that has absolutely no bearing on the suit filed by Texas and joined by more than two dozen other states.

Federal District Court Judge Beryl Howell, appointed to her current position on the District Court for the District of Columbia by President Obama just four years ago, found that Arpaio did not establish a "concrete and particularized injury" sufficient to establish the legal standing needed to sue in federal court.

"The plaintiff’s case raises important questions regarding the impact of illegal immigration on this Nation, but the questions amount to generalized grievances which are not proper for the Judiciary to address," Howell wrote.

Arpaio's complaint failed to mention if he was suing in his personal or official capacity, and the judge was forced to clarify the matter at oral arguments Monday. Howell found that even in his official capacity as sheriff, Arpaio failed to identify any harms that were not "largely speculative." No one joined Arpaio in his suit.

Separately, on Monday, Tennessee became the 25th state to join Texas' challenge to Obama's most recent executive amnesty. Texas's suit will be heard by U.S. Fifth Circuit District Judge Andrew Hanen, who not only was appointed by President Bush, but also called Obama's immigration policy a "criminal conspiracy" in a 2013 case that correctly predicted the 2014 illegal immigration border surge crisis.

Texas has filed for a preliminary injunction in their case, an order which could halt Obama's amnesty before the administration starts giving out work permits in May

If Obama's amnesty does go forward, not only will states that voted against giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants,  like Oregon, be forced to to do so, but federal taxpayers everywhere will be on the hook for billions in tax credits to amnestied immigrants and their families

The GOP's Christmas Gift to Obama: Coal

Santa deliverd the weekly Republican address on Friday. Don't worry, I'm not trying to claim the big red guy is politically affiliated. I'm actually referring to Rep. Mike Kelly's (R-Pa.) Christmas message for President Obama, when he used the opportunity to discuss America's need to tap into her vast energy reserves. Holding a piece of coal, Kelly described how it is one of the most significant materials in the world:

“You see, coal is our most abundant and valuable resource. It lights our homes, it keeps our electric bills low, and it puts food on the table for countless families.”

He then cut to the chase. Our president is not taking advantage of this precious resource:

“Instead of forcing our workers to live with less, the president should let us use our God-given resources and talents to help Americans get back to work and make our nation the energy superpower it can be and, quite frankly, that it needs to be."

There's no telling if the president will take a few minutes to watch Kelly's message this holiday season (only the Elf on the Shelf will know), but considering the congressman's address, maybe coal wouldn't be such a bad thing to find in your stocking this year.

Democrats: The Party of the Rich

Prominent Democrats used the 2014 election cycle to attack wealthy donors of Republican causes like the Koch brothers. But a new analysis shows that, in 2014, Democrats are the party that relies more on the rich to fund their electoral pursuits.

As the Associated Press reports:

Among the top 100 individual donors to political groups, more than half gave primarily to Democrats or their allies. Among groups that funneled more than $100,000 to allies, the top of the list tilted overwhelmingly toward Democrats — a group favoring the GOP doesn't appear on the list until No. 14.

The two biggest super PACs of 2014? Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC — both backing Democrats.

In all, the top 10 individual donors to outside groups injected almost $128 million into this year's elections. Democratic-leaning groups collected $91 million of it.

Among the 183 groups that wrote checks of $100,000 or more to another group, Democrats had a 3-to-1 cash advantage. The biggest player was the National Education Association, at $22 million. Not a single Republican-leaning group cracked the top 10 list of those transferring money to others.

This is well-known by those who pay close attention to the political process. Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer has been funding his pet causes for a long time now, but it's still the Koch brothers that the media is obsessed with.

Hopefully this will get the media to take notice. But we're not holding our breath here.

This Christmas, Good Economic News

This week, the Commerce Department released revised figures of the economy's performance, and in their estimation, the economy surged in the third quarter of 2014 - growing at a 5% clip, which is the best such estimate in more than a decade.

As Bloomberg reported:

Gross domestic product grew at a 5 percent annual rate from July through September, the biggest advance since the third quarter of 2003 and up from a previously estimated 3.9 percent, revised figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 75 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 4.3 percent increase in GDP.

This is a revised rate - the Commerce Department previously estimated that the economy had grown at a 3.9% rate in the third quarter.

This doesn't mean that the economy is healthy. Far from it. But the economy has continued rebounding - even after the stimulus' effects are long over, even after the sequester took a huge chunk out of federal spending. It's also doubtful the Commerce Department is intentionally "cooking the books" - this is a revised estimate, after an earlier, more pessimistic one, and one that's dropped right before the biggest holiday season of the year. It's not something that's going to dominate headlines at a politically-potent time.

So it's mild good news. Not jump-for-joy news, but good nonetheless.

Why Does Due Process Go Out The Window With Rape Cases?

Zerlina Maxwell wrote that we should "automatically" (see the URL for the original headline) believe rape victims.  That goes against everything our system of justice stands for, as we base cases on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. I’m not going down that rabbit hole–and neither should any American who believes in law and order. Dates, names, and physical evidence, need to be analyzed, cross-examined, and pieced together to build a case against the alleged perpetrator.

Again, you probably already know this, but some liberals seem to think otherwise. Why is that? Why is it that for other crimes they believe in the process, but when it comes to rape, it’s an automatic guilty verdict for the accused.

Right now, there seems to be this hysteria over sexual assault on campus. I’m not saying rape isn’t a serious issue, but its frequency may be overblown. We’ll get to that a little bit later.

Currently, the reforms and statues aimed at keeping campuses safe from sexual predators seem to be infringing on the civil rights of men. Emily Yoffe at Slate wrote a great long-from piece about the sexual assault epidemic that’s allegedly running rampant in higher education. She used the 2012 story of Drew Sterrett, an engineering student who used to attend the University of Michigan, as her foundation to delve into how college campuses have devolved into a clown circus when it comes to investigating sexual assaults.

Sterrett was a victim of this process; he engaged in what he says was a consensual sexual encounter with a female colleague at school. His roommate noted in a sworn affidavit that it was consensual, even mentioning his frustration that they were being too loud during the act, which was keeping him from sleeping.

Yoffe had a concise description of the legal fiasco that’s unfolding in American higher education:

Unfortunately, under the worthy mandate of protecting victims of sexual assault, procedures are being put in place at colleges that presume the guilt of the accused. Colleges, encouraged by federal officials, are instituting solutions to sexual violence against women that abrogate the civil rights of men. Schools that hold hearings to adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct allow the accuser and the accused to be accompanied by legal counsel. But as Judith Shulevitz noted in the New Republic in October, many schools ban lawyers from speaking to their clients (only notes can be passed). During these proceedings, the two parties are not supposed to question or cross examine each other, a prohibition recommended by the federal government in order to protect the accuser. And by federal requirement, students can be found guilty under the lowest standard of proof: preponderance of the evidence, meaning just a 51 percent certainty is all that’s needed for a finding that can permanently alter the life of the accused.

More than two dozen Harvard Law School professors recently wrote a statement protesting the university’s new rules for handling sexual assault claims. “Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” they wrote. The professors note that the new rules call for a Title IX compliance officer who will be in charge of “investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review.” Under the new system, there will be no hearing for the accused, and thus no opportunity to question witnesses and mount a defense. Harvard University, the professors wrote, is “jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.” But to push back against Department of Education edicts means potentially putting a school’s federal funding in jeopardy, and no college, not even Harvard, the country’s richest, is willing to do that.

As for Sterrett, the school found him guilty of sexual intercourse without the Complainant’s consent and was suspended until 2016; the year his alleged accuser graduates. All of this after Sterrett gave a thorough rebuttal, which didn’t suggest any sexual assault had occurred. His accuser’s roommate didn’t notice any behavioral shifts until her mother discovered her diary that “contained descriptions of romantic and sexual experiences, drug use, and drinking.” Obviously, this didn’t set well with the mother, who drove Sterrett’s accuser to campus to meet with the university’s conflict resolution official. Even Sterrett’s accuser’s roommate believes that a rape story could have been “manufactured” in response to the discovery of her diary and the alleged confrontation Sterrett’s accuser had with her mother over the summer of 2012. Oh, and the accuser’s roommate also mentioned in an affidavit that the mother called her repeatedly, told her not to talk to Sterrett, and take her daughter’s side in the proceedings.

Right now, Sterrett hopes to finish his education…someday. His lawsuit is pending.

Yoffe documents this tragic story in more detail, which also includes a lengthy deep-dive into the statistics as well. Spoiler alert: they’re not accurate.

Despite what feminists and liberal Democrats have been espousing for years regarding the rates of sexual assault, it’s a little dubious to say there’s a rape epidemic. The figures they give on rape and sexual assault rival that of the Congo in Africa, where it’s being used as a vehicle of war.

Additionally, there is a very wide range for actions that are considered sexual assault. In a study of over 5,000 female college students, they defined sexual assault as anything from non-consensual intercourse to “rubbing up against you in a sexual way, even if it is over your clothes.” Most importantly, Yoffe notes that we’re experiencing a great trend in this country: violent crime is down, including sexual assaults; they’re down by more than 60 percent since the mid-1990s:

The Sexual Victimization of College Women, a 2000 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice, is the basis for another widely cited statistic, even grimmer than the finding of CSA: that one in four college women will be raped. (An activist organization, One in Four, takes its name from the finding.) The study itself, however, found a completed rape rate among its respondents of 1.7 percent. How does a study that finds less than 2 percent of college women in a given year are raped become a 25 percent likelihood? In addition to the 1.7 percent of victims of completed rape, the survey found that another 1.1 percent experienced attempted rape. As the authors wrote, “[O]ne might conclude that the risk of rape victimization for college women is not high; ‘only’ about 1 in 36 college women (2.8 percent) experience a completed rape or attempted rape in an academic year.”

In a footnote, the authors acknowledge that asserting that one-quarter of college students “might” be raped is not based on actual evidence: “These projections are suggestive. To assess accurately the victimization risk for women throughout a college career, longitudinal research following a cohort of female students across time is needed.” The one-fifth to one-quarter assertion would mean that young American college women are raped at a rate similar to women in Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war.

No one disputes that only a percentage of sexual assaults get reported, but the studies that have tried to capture the incidence of unreported rape are miles apart.

Yoffe also mentions David Lisak, who’s acted as a consultant in the military, colleges, and other institutions regarding sexual assault, and his 2002 study that’s become the foundation for curbing the frequency of such brutal attacks in our society. In essence, those who commit rapes on campuses fit the profile of a sexual predator. They’re a small group–and they’re repeat offenders. He noted in an article for Sexual Assault Report that “decent” young men do not (although he admits sometimes they do) engage in this barbarism against women since serial offenders are responsible for 90 percent of attacks of attacks. They’re “multi-faceted,” and their attacks are pre-planned and premeditated.

It’s pretty sick stuff. Lisak found in his 2002 that 6.4 percent of men “met criteria for rape or attempted rape;” Yoffe mentioned that 80 percent admitted to taking advantaged of an intoxicated partner.

Yet, while Yoffe credits Lisak for profiling these predators who are adept at evading capture, she’s quick to note that it isn’t representative of all college men. She also mentioned that his sample included more than just this demographic:

To start, though the study was of college men, it was not of college-age men (who are traditionally ages 18 to 24). Lisak’s participants ranged in age from 18 to 71. The average age of his respondents was 26.5, and more than 20 percent were older than 30. How does a study of men in college include so many older men? Lisak recruited people from where he taught, the University of Massachusetts Boston, an urban commuter school with no campus housing. Many students are older working people returning to or just starting college. Currently, 30 percent of its students attend part time and the school’s four-year graduation rate is 15 percent. By comparison, at the state’s flagship university in Amherst, seven percent of students are enrolled part time and its four-year graduation rate is 60 percent.

I spoke with James J. Cochran, professor of applied statistics at the University of Alabama. He said that because the population of male students at UMass Boston may differ in important ways from the population of male college students across all universities, we must be careful in generalizing results from the UMass Boston sample to the population of male college students across all universities.* People tend to think that a single study is definitive, Cochran told me. But generally what a single study tells you, he said, is that we have “evidence of something interesting, let’s study it more.”

Lisak conducted the study between 1991 to 1998, at several year intervals, setting up tables on campus, where he offered men $3 or $4 to complete a study on “childhood experiences and adult functioning.” In all, Lisak and his co-author recruited 1,882 participants (the school had a total of about 5,800 male students during this period). Lisak and his co-author wrote: “Because of the non-random nature of the sampling procedures, the reported data cannot be interpreted as estimates of the prevalence of sexual and other acts of violence.” I asked Lisak about this caveat in an interview and he said, “That’s a standard disclaimer for any study.”

Hence, we come back to the issue of having healthy criticism when rape claims come forward. The mantra of the feminist left is to believe alleged rape victims because women don’t lie, or something.

After the Duke lacrosse fiasco, where the three young men were allegedly involved in sexually assaulting a stripper, they were declared more than just not guilty, but innocent by North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper. 

To automatically believe one person’s account and disregard others when a serious crime is committed goes against everything codified in our system of justice. At the same time, it’s doubly irresponsible to suggest college is a dystopia for women when the facts and figures on sexual assault are questionable at best. In fact, DOJ reports show that college students are less likely to be victims of sexual assault. 

It does appear that institutions in higher learning are not equipped for the arduous, tedious process that our system of justice takes to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, to prevent innocent people’s lives from being ruined by frivolous allegations, to get the facts straight, and allow due process.

It’s hard to do that when raw emotion and a disregard for our system of justice sets in when it comes to investigating such heinous allegations. Feminists trust women. So do I, but investigations into allegations of sexual assault need to include–and respect– due process of law, especially at the college level.

State Dept Offering Millions to Get Terrorist Freed From Gitmo Back

On December 18, 2014, the State Department put Ibrahim al-Rubaysh, a senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, on a Specially Designated Global Terrorist watch list. Al-Rubaysh plays a key role in operational planning for the terrorist group and provides justification for their attacks. He’s also made public statements on more than one occasion calling for war against the United States. For these reasons, there’s been a $5 million reward offered since October for information that could lead to his capture.

The problem is not the terrorist per se, or the State Department’s decision to place him on the global watch list; it’s the fact that the U.S. already had him once—and let him go.

Judicial Watch explains:

Hundreds of Gitmo terrorists have been discharged over the years under a program that started with President George W. Bush and continued full-throttle with this administration. Intelligence report after intelligence report has revealed that many rejoin terrorist missions after leaving the military prison. In fact, Judicial Watch has been reporting this for years. Back in 2010 JW wrote about a report that the Director of National Intelligence gave Congress documenting that 150 former Gitmo detainees were confirmed or suspected of “reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities after transfer.” At least 83 remained at large, according to the document.

Now we learn that the U.S. government is secretly admitting that it erred in at least one case, the release of a Saudi national named Ibrahim al-Rubaysh. In late 2006 the Bush administration repatriated him back home under a Saudi Arabian “rehabilitation” program that supposedly reformed Guantanamo Bay jihadists but instead has served as a training camp for future terrorists. In fact, in 2008 counterterrorism officials confirmed that many of the terrorists who return to “the fight” after being released from U.S. custody actually graduated from the laughable Saudi rehab program, which started under Bush and continued under Obama.

It turns out that al-Rubaysh is the poster child for the Saudi rehab’s failures. He’s a dangerous Al Qaeda operative based in Yemen and now, years after freeing him, the United States wants him captured.

As Judicial Watch noted, this is not exactly the first time former Gitmo detainees have rejoined the fight, no matter what type of rehabilitation programs they’re placed into upon release. And yet, this administration seems to have learned nothing. By releasing more and more Gitmo detainees, they’re continuing to place politics ahead of security concerns.

Just over the weekend, for example, four Afghan detainees were released, bringing the number down to 132. Many more transfers are expected in the coming weeks.

March Court Date Means GOP Has Till June To Replace Obamacare

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, a suit seeking to stop billions in health care tax credits, on March 4, 2015. 

The Court first announced they would hear the case on November 7th, a surprise that many Obamacare supporters took as a bad sign for the law. University Law School professor Nicholas Bagley wrote at the time:

In a significant setback for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court just agreed to review King v. Burwell, the Fourth Circuit’s decision upholding an IRS rule extending tax credits to federally established exchanges.

what’s troubling is that four justices apparently think—or at least are inclined to think—that King was wrongly decided. As I’ve said before, there’s no other reason to take King. The challengers urged the Court to intervene now in order to resolve “uncertainty” about the availability of federal tax credits.

...

There’s uncertainty only if you think the Supreme Court might invalidate the IRS rule. That’s why the justices’ votes on whether to grant the case are decent proxies for how they’ll decide the case. The justices who agree with King wouldn’t vote to grant. They would instead want to signal to their colleagues that, in their view, the IRS rule ought to be upheld. The justices who disagree with King would want to signal the opposite.

If the Court does rule against the Obama administration, however, Republicans in Congress will be in a bind. Only those states that did not set up state health care exchanges will lose their Obamacare tax credits and most of those states are controlled by Republicans. This means that the citizens of California will continue to get their health insurance tax credits while the citizens of Texas will not.

Republicans in Congress will have until midsummer to come up with a solution to this problem. A Court decision is expected in late June.

Reminder: More US Troops Bound for Iraq in New Year

As a candidate for re-election, how many times did President Obama take credit for ending the War in Iraq? Perhaps too many to count:

Despite these assurances, however, the war is not over, let alone won. If it was, why on earth is Uncle Sam redeploying troops there?

The U.S. is sending as many as 1,300 more troops to Iraq in late January, the Defense Department announced Friday. The troops will include about 1,000 soldiers in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. The rest will be drawn from multiple services. “Their mission will be to train, advise and assist Iraqi security forces,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters at a briefing. “This deployment is part of the additional 1,500 troops that the president authorized in November.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed orders Wednesday for the first group of these troops to go to Iraq, the Associated Press reported. “What makes this [deployment] different is simply the geography,” Kirby noted, pointing out the advising teams will operate in the Anbar area and north of Baghdad.

Of course, the administration is adamant these are not “combat troops.” They are merely serving an “advisory role” to help “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. But even if that’s the case that doesn't necessarily diminish the inherent dangers of serving in what is self-evidently a war zone. After all, what are we to make, for example, of reports that US ground troops have recently and already engaged ISIS?

A number of militants have been killed in Islamic State's very first battle with U.S. ground troops after the extremists attempted to overrun an Iraqi military base. The militants attacked Ein al-Asad military base on Sunday where more than 100 U.S. military support troops are based.

Despite launching the surprise attack just after midnight, ISIS's offensive was swiftly repelled when U.S. troops and F18 jets joined in the skirmish in support of the Iraqi Army. Facing both Iraqi and US troops supported by F18 jets, an unknown number of ISIS attackers were killed during the two hour firefight before being forced to retreat.

It’s worth noting, however, that a spokesman for the military called these reports “unfounded.”

Contrary to reports coming out of Iraq, U.S. troops have not engaged in ground combat with the Sunni insurgent group Islamic State, according to the task force in charge of running daily operations in the U.S. and coalition mission known as Operation Inherent Resolve.

"We have seen the recent media stories and there has been absolutely no contact between U.S. military forces on the ground and ISIL (Islamic State) near al Asad airbase or anywhere else in Iraq," said Gary Boucher, a spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. "The reports are unfounded. Throughout the past week, Iraqi security forces have had engagements with ISIL in the vicinity of al Asad Airbase. However, U.S. forces were not a part of those engagements."

Still, it’s perhaps only a matter of time before U.S. ground troops engage the enemy. And even if they don’t, one thing is absolutely certain: This war is not over.

If it was, I suspect re-deploying America's sons and daughters to such a place wouldn't be necessary.

De Blasio vs. The NYPD

Yesterday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference, where he called for a cessation of protests until Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were buried for their service to the city. Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley murdered both officers last Saturday afternoon in Bed-Stuy, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. De Blasio also took shots at the media for “dividing” the city for only reporting about the bad folks, whom he says does not represent the majority of the protestors.

De Blasio has faced mounting criticism for the perception that he doesn’t stand by the NYPD–and for remarks he made to his biracial son–Dante– about being more careful around police officers. The Chicago Tribune  wrote that the unions accuse de Blasio for “helping incite a loathing of police through public remarks noting that he understood some of the protesters' grievances.”

So, how bad has relationship become between de Blasio and the police department? Well, officers turned their backs on him when he entered the Brooklyn hospital where Officers Liu and Ramos were taken after the ambush. The city’s largest police union circulated a letter signed by officers asking the mayor to stay away from their funerals should they be killed on duty.

Yet, going after the media is the first sign that a politician knows he–or she–is cornered. On one end, de Blasio, for a lack of a better term, has lost the police. On the other, protestors were aghast that de Blasio called for a moratorium on protests in light of these horrific murders. One group, the Answer Coalition, said such a suggestion was “outrageous” and an effort to “chill” free speech, according to the Tribune. They are not going to cancel a pre-planned Tuesday night march this week.

Though one thing does look inevitable: de Blasio’s relationship with the police will completely breakdown (one could argue it already has) and will create a political problem that his staff seems incapable of ameliorating. Case in point: His press secretary, Phil Walzak, commented on harsh criticism his boss was receiving, including the intense comments made by the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President, Patrick Lynch, by saying, “It’s unfortunate that in a time of great tragedy, some would resort to irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people.”

Right, so the folks saying, “they [Officers Liu and Ramos] deserved it” are not to part of the problem? This is an appalling lack of self-awareness.

Mike Lupica, who is more of a sports columnist, noted that Walzak came off as “a tone-deaf political hack,” noting that such anti-cop rhetoric has been festering in the streets of New York for weeks:

This is what happens when this mayor acts more interested — or deferential — about what a self-promoter like Al Sharpton thinks about policing than those actually doing it in New York City.

he police officers of this city weren’t always happy with Rudy Giuliani when Giuliani was mayor, starting with how he thought they should be paid. But they knew where they stood with Giuliani the way they knew where they stood with Mike Bloomberg. But then neither one of them ever gave you the idea, when they were running for office, that they were running against cops the way de Blasio did.

The mayor has to understand that if he does not step up and step forward now and admit mistakes he has made with the NYPD because of his obsession with playing to his base, then the image of those cops turning their backs on him will be a part of his permanent record.

But the mayor’s chief flack thinking anybody actually cared what he thought about the kind of anger and mourning we saw at Woodhull Hospital makes you wonder if these people at City Hall have the capacity to admit any kind of mistake, or if they have the capacity to change.

Those cops turned their backs on de Blasio Saturday night because he did it to them first.

Indeed, this war between 1 Police Plaza and City Hall seems to have had its beginnings in the 2013 mayoral election. Staffers of de Blasio were worried that the NYPD officers assigned to his protection detail were eavesdropping on their conversations, sometimes ducking out into the street away from plainclothes officers to have conversations, according to Politico. Yet, there are other events, besides meeting privately with the Eric Garner protestors and remarks he made to his son, that have left the police shaking their heads:

He [de Blasio] took the unusual step — unimaginable under the mayoralties of Rudy Giuliani or Michael Bloomberg — of inviting Sharpton to City Hall, seating him opposite Bratton at a table where the activist proceeded to strongly denounce the police. (“If Dante wasn’t your son, he’d be a candidate for a chokehold. And we got to deal with that reality,” Sharpton said to de Blasio as Bratton looked on.) Last week, de Blasio privately met with organizers of the Garner protests, another moment that antagonized police.

But the action that turned off cops most of all was his defense of City Hall staffer Rachel Noerdlinger, a longtime Sharpton aide whose son and boyfriend posted anti-police messages on their Facebook accounts. The boyfriend allegedly tried to drive a cop off the road in Edgewater, New Jersey, and later pleaded to a lesser offense, according to the New York Post. The mayor stood behind Noerdlinger for weeks until her son was arrested for trespassing – and even then he didn’t fire her. When she left her job, City Hall officials said she was on leave.

“His words and his deeds don’t match,” said veteran cop reporter Leonard Levitt, who runs NYPD Confidential, a website fed by tips from inside the department and widely read by the rank-and-file. “You had Noerdlinger’s son calling cops ‘pigs’ and de Blasio doesn’t think that’s inappropriate? What message are you sending? De Blasio says it’s just the union guys who are angry. It’s not. It’s everybody. I’ve been covering this for 25 years and I have never seen anything like it… The mayor doesn’t have a clue.”

The Politico piece also drew parallels between de Blasio and Obama; both men have low approvals among white voters. And both men seem unable to fully fill the seats of their offices. They can’t act the part. De Blasio reportedly shows up late to ceremonial events that Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, the writers of the piece, wrote are incredibly important to the office. They cite former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who understood these aspects of the mayoralty as the city recovered from the 9/11 attacks.

So, while de Blasio has time to reset relations with the NYPD, though it’s dubious if that will be successful, he’s proven–to no one's surprise–that he’s no Bloomberg.

Yet, as for the notion about the rhetoric, yes, it can get nasty, inexcusable, and make a tense situation worse, but let’s not rush to blame speech for this heinous crime, no matter how outrageous.

I’ll end with this question from a Hot Air post by Jazz Shaw: should de Blasio just resign?

Last note: The daughter of Eric Garner visited the memorial for Officers Liu and Ramos and offered her condolences.  

Sen. Rand Paul Hints at 2016 Run During Twitter Festivus Celebration

Festivus, the made-up holiday popularized by the television show Seinfeld includes an "airing of grievances" as part of the "celebration." Like last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R) took to Twitter to air some of his grievances with Washington, politics in general, and other politicians. He also dropped a pretty strong hint that he's considering a 2016 run.

While airing his "grievance" that fellow Kentuckian Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) won't let him borrow his "awesome" sweater vest, Paul then tweeted about the importance of fashion in a campaign (noting Santorum's trademark vests), and then...this:

While this certainly wasn't an official announcement, it certainly raised a few eyebrows among Paul's Twitter followers.

After making it clear that he will not be airing any (more) grievances against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (saving that for the feats of strength, perhaps?), Paul left Twitter, promising to be back with additional grievances about the Federal Reserve and other topics.

Stay tuned.

Fewer Americans Working Today Than Before The Recession Began

While there are more people working in the United States today than when the recession began, the number of native born Americans working today is still lower than it was when the recession began.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, beofre the recession, the number of people with jobs peaked at 146.2 million in September 2007. Today, 147.3 million people have jobs.

But the job growth has not been even. Foreign born immigrants have fared far better than American citizens.

The number of native born citizens with jobs peaked at 124 million in November 2007, and fell to a low of 115.7 million in January 2010, before rising to 122.6 million today. So while the number of native born citizens with jobs has risen by almost 7 million, there are still 1.4 million fewer native born Americans with jobs today than when the recession began. 

Over this same time, the native born population above the age of 16 has grown from 197.7 million in November 2007 to 208.8 million today.

Immigrants, however, have fared far better during the Obama recovery. Before the recession, the number of foreign born workers peaked at 23.3 million in July 2007, before falling to 21.1 million in January 2010. Today, however, the number of foreign born workers with jobs has risen to 25.1 million, a gain of 4 million jobs since the bottom of the recession, and a gain of 1.8 million jobs since the recession began.

Cuba on Returning Cop Killer Joanne Chesimard: We Have The Right to Protect "Persecuted" Fugitives

When President Obama announced his plans to "normalize" relations with Cuba last week, he got little in return for the move from the Castro regime. Regardless, the announcement opened the door for federal law enforcement to ask the question, "With normalization will Cuba return convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard, who murdered New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973, to the United States?" New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also sent a letter to President Obama over the weekend saying Chesimard's return should happen before further negotiation and diplomacy with the Cuban government. 

Regardless, the Castro regime has no plans to return a "persecuted" Chesimard, who is on the FBI's most wanted terrorist list, so she can finish her prison sentence.

Cuba said Monday that it has a right to grant asylum to U.S. fugitives, the clearest sign yet that the communist government has no intention of extraditing America's most-wanted woman despite the warming of bilateral ties.

Chesimard was granted asylum by Fidel Castro after she escaped from the prison where she was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 during a gunbattle after being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Asked if returning fugitives was open to negotiation, Cuba's head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal, told The Associated Press that "every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted. ... That's a legitimate right."

"We've explained to the U.S. government in the past that there are some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political asylum," Vidal said.

"There's no extradition treaty in effect between Cuba and the U.S.," she added.

If the Cuban government won't even return convicted cop killers to the United States, don't expect them to embrace the values of democracy any time soon.

SCOTUS: Second Obamacare Challenge Gets Its Court Date

Well, the day has arrived! On March 4, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on King v. Burwell, which will determine the fate of Obamacare. The King case was decided around the same time as Halbig v. Burwell, which argued similar points over health care subsidies for exchanges “established by the state.”

The Fourth Circuit of Appeals sided with the government, while the D.C. Court of Appeals sided with Halbig, which Guy mentioned would increase the likelihood that this case will head to the Supreme Court (via WSJ):

The Supreme Court said it will hear oral arguments on March 4 in a lawsuit over whether the Obama administration is improperly providing tax credits to consumers who purchase health insurance through the federal exchanges.

The case will determine the fate of the tax credits to millions of consumers who have obtained insurance coverage through HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace. The Supreme Court decided Nov. 7 to hear the lawsuit from Virginia, King v. Burwell, that challenges a key part of the Affordable Care Act. In all, an estimated 4.7 million people receive billions of dollars in subsidies to buy health coverage on the federal exchange.

Challengers claim the language in the health law only permits people who buy insurance from state-run exchanges to obtain the tax credits. Supporters of the law say it was always intended to provide the subsidies to people who bought coverage on the federal exchanges, too. HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange, now serves 37 states.

On March 4, the Supreme Court will only hear arguments related to the King case.

The tax credits are considered central to the law’s success. Under the ACA, most Americans must have health insurance or pay a penalty. The exchanges let individuals who don’t have insurance from their employer, Medicaid or Medicare to purchase insurance policies, with tax credits for lower-income consumers.

So, mark your calendars fellow health care wonks, journalists, bloggers, and political junkies; the ACA is heading back to court.

"Stop Gun Violence" Sends Mixed Messages to Children

A new three minute ad called “Stop Gun Violence” is sending a very mixed message to children—namely, if you’re scared of guns bring them to school.

The ad is as ridiculous as it sounds. The clip, created by independent filmmaker Rejina Sincic, shows a boy sneaking into his mother’s room (while she sits reads demurely in the living room) only to steal the handgun that is hidden in one of her dresser drawers.

The boy then tosses the gun into his backpack and flops back on his bed as though heavily burdened. And, considering he just put a handgun into his backpack without making sure that there was no bullet in the chamber that the safety was on, he should be feeling pretty worried right now.

The next day after class, he walks up to his teacher and drops the weapon onto her desk:

“Can you take this away? I don’t feel safe with a gun in my house.”

Just watch:

This ad just has so much wrong with it, I don’t even know where to begin:

First of all, why would the boy be scared of his mother’s handgun? He should know that the weapon has the potential to save his and his mother’s life.

Secondly, if a child is afraid of guns, the last thing he or she should be doing is bringing one to school. Apparently this thought never occurred to the San Francisco-based screenwriter.

Thirdly, why would the boy turn on his mother and bring the gun into a public authority figure rather than speaking to her about it? And what is a teacher supposed to do? Confiscate the weapon that the mother (perhaps a single mother as the father is never shown) owns by her Second Amendment right?

Clearly, someone did not think this one through.