Anthem Canceling 30,000 Individual Health Policies for Hoosiers

IJB.com October 31, 2014 J.K. Wall

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is canceling the policies of about 30,000 Hoosiers and asking them to switch over to new health plans that comply with Obamacare’s rules.

That change could cause some customers’ premiums to spike while at the same time limiting their choices of hospitals and doctors.

For the past few months, the Indianapolis-based health insurer has been sending out notices to holders of individual insurance policies who renewed their coverage before Dec. 31, 2013. Such early renewals allowed Anthem customers to continue coverage under pre-Obamacare rules.

The Obama administration has said these so-called transitional policies can continue until as late as 2016. But an Anthem spokesman said the insurer chose to end them now due to what it perceived as modest demand.

“Because only 25 percent of our individual members renewed early, we made the business decision to not extend these non-compliant plans into 2015,” wrote Anthem spokesman Tony Felts in an email.

By contrast, about two-thirds of Anthem’s small-employer customers early-renewed their plans in 2013, and Anthem will keep those plans in place for 2015, Felts said.

Another factor, according to health insurance brokers, was that Anthem was struggling to provide customer service to both pre-Obamacare and post-Obamacare plans.

The cancellation of pre-Obamacare policies can lead to a big run-up in premiums—at least for some customers.

Obamacare required all individual insurance policies to cover a list of 10 essential health benefits and to pay for at least 60 percent of all expected medical costs. In addition, Obamacare no longer allows insurers to charge customers more or less based on their health status—other than whether they smoke.

Obamacare also requires insurers to charge their oldest customers no more than three times as much as their youngest customers. Before the law, the oldest customers were often charged five or six times more.

Anthem’s premiums for 2015 for its individual Obamacare policies will be on average 50 percent higher than its individual premiums were in 2013.

Tony Nefouse, a local health insurance broker, said most of his clients having their Anthem policies canceled are not eligible for the tax credits Obamacare makes available to low- and moderate-income households. So they are getting hit with premium increases of 15 percent to 20 percent.

“Nobody wants that,” Nefouse said. “If you’re in that middle class and you don’t qualify for tax credits, you have to make some major decisions.”

The other big change for customers having their policies canceled is that, if they remain with Anthem, their choice of doctors and hospitals will shrink. Unlike its pre-Obamacare policies, Anthem’s Obamacare policies exclude the state’s three largest hospital systems—Indiana University Health, St. Vincent Health and Franciscan Alliance—as well as many physicians.

Anthem is by far the state’s largest provider of individual insurance policies, which are sold directly to families or individuals, rather than through employers, where the majority of Hoosiers obtain health coverage.

According to filings with the Indiana Department of Insurance, Anthem has about 159,000 individual insurance customers—up nearly one-third from a year ago. About 112,000 of those customers hold Obamacare-compliant plans.

It’s not clear how many other insurers are canceling the “transitional” health plans that were early-renewed in 2013.

Minnesota-based UnitedHealthcare said it is moving fewer than 40 policyholders that have “legacy” plans over to Obamacare-compliant plans. But other than that, it is allowing its customers that early-renewed their plans in 2013 to stay on them for 2015.

“We are not canceling anyone’s coverage and no one currently covered by a UnitedHealthcare individual and family plan in Indiana is losing their coverage in 2015,” wrote UnitedHealthcare spokeswoman Ellen Laden in an email.

A year ago, it encouraged its policyholders to renew early because UnitedHealthcare exited the Indiana individual market for 2014. But now UnitedHealthcare is coming back, offering Obamacare-compliant plans on the Obamacare exchange and off the exchange.

UnitedHealthcare has about 16,000 individual customers, according to its filings with the Indiana Insurance Department.

In addition, New York-based Assurant Inc. said it will allow some of its roughly 12,000 Indiana customers to remain in their pre-Obamacare plans until 2016.

Massive Non-Citizen Voting Uncovered in Maryland

By Bryan Preston

An election integrity watchdog group is suing the state of Maryland, alleging that it has discovered massive and ongoing fraudulent voting by non-U.S. citizens in one county. But because of the way that the non-citizens are able to cast votes in elections, the fraud is likely happening in every single county and subdivision across the state. The group believes that the illegal voting has been happening for years.

The group, Virginia Voters Alliance, says that it compared how voters in Frederick County filled out jury duty statements compared with their voting records. The group’s investigation found that thousands of people in Frederick County who stated that they are not U.S. citizens on jury duty forms went on to cast votes in elections. Either they failed to tell the truth when they were summoned for jury duty, or they cast illegal votes. Both are crimes. The same group previously found that about 40,000 people are registered to vote in both Virginia and Maryland.

“The lawsuit is the equivalent of the lookout spotting the iceberg ahead of the Titanic,” state Del. Pat McDonough told the Tatler. He added that the group’s investigation found a voter fraud “smoking gun.”

Maryland state law makes it easier for non-citizens, both those present legally and those in the country against the law, to vote. Maryland issues drivers licenses to legal and illegal aliens. Driver’s licenses in turn make it easier under the Motor Voter law to register to vote. Maryland also offers copious taxpayer-funded social programs to non-citizens in the state.

The group filed suit in Baltimore’s U.S. District Court on Friday. They are suing the Frederick County Board of Elections and the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Del. Pat McDonough (R-Baltimore and Harford Counties) detailed the alleged fraud in a Maryland press conference today. He is calling for a special state prosecutor because the fraud may be taking place statewide, with significant impact on Maryland elections. Maryland currently holds 10 electoral votes in presidential elections. McDonough is also proposing legislation including voter ID to close the loopholes that he says non-citizens are using to cast votes.

In a statement, Del. McDonough says:

There are frequent allegations in America and Maryland about the existence of voter fraud. In the case I am presenting today, there is documentation and a track record. The numbers and facts from the records in Frederick County are the tip of the iceberg. When these numbers are multiplied by including the other subdivisions in Maryland, the potential number is alarming and could change the outcome of a close statewide election.

The important election that we have coming up demands that citizens’ votes are not diluted or cancelled by non-citizens who are not legally permitted to vote. The sanctity of the ballot box, because of the flawed system we are pointing out, has already been violated in previous elections.

The purpose of the lawsuit is to mandate those responsible for the administration of the election process will remove the non-citizens from the final voting count.

The purpose of the investigation by the special prosecutor is to penetrate more deeply statewide and determine why this fraud or any other related violation was allowed to occur.

The purpose of the legislation is to plug the massive loophole in current law which permitted these fraudulent practices to take place.

Maryland is a Democratic stronghold especially around its larger cities, but the governor’s race there is tightening as Republican Larry Hogan gains ground. Illegal votes could tip the balance if the legal vote is close enough on election day. “What if Hogan loses by 500 votes or 1000 votes?” McDonough asked.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. Del. McDonough noted that the fraud uncovered by VVA occurred on O’Malley’s watch.

Video: Votes for Republicans Switched to Democrats in Illinois

Two Illinois voters say their attempts to vote early for Republicans on an electronic voting machine were registered as votes for Democrats—and they say have the video evidence to prove it.

The voters are 18- and 19-year-old Moline residents who asked to remain anonymous. They say they went to their polling station on Monday, October 28, at the Moline Public Library. Both say they were aware of recent news stories that other early voters in their area had experienced difficulties voting on electronic machines. The complaints have been widespread.

The Republican House candidate for the area, Bobby Schilling, claims 20 supporters have called his campaign to say that their attempts to vote for him were switched to his opponent, Democratic congresswoman Cheri Bustos.

“Two nights ago, I took a call from a supporter of mine who said that his mother-in-law had gone to the library to vote and that every time that she went to push my name that it automatically bounced up to my opponents name,” Schilling told KWQC, the local NBC affiliate, on October 24. “I thought, well, maybe she mixed up, she’s an older gal, but come to find out in the last two days I’ve taken 17 calls of people saying the exact same thing.”

The two Moline voters say they didn’t expect to experience problems. They figured the problem was older people were having difficult with the machines’ touchscreens. But both said their attempts to vote for Republicans on several races were switched to select the Democrat. One of the voters said he tried to vote for the Republican candidate in the races for U.S. House and the state senate, and that both his votes were registered as those for the Democratic candidate. The second voter said he had the same problem for those races as well as those for the state house and the Rock Island County clerk race.

“I pressed the top of the box for [Republican state senate candidate] Neil Anderson, and it clicked for [Democratic state senator] Mike Jacobs,” he said. The machines, both voters said, require the use of fingers, and no stylus or other device is provided.

The voters say they decided to use their cell phones to film their votes after having trouble. They said they wanted to show how easily the machines registered the wrong vote. Watch that video below:

Eventually, both voters were able to vote for the Republican candidates, as they say they preferred. They said the screen appeared to be poorly calibrated, so that while pressing anywhere in the box for a Democrat registered a vote for the Democrat, only pressing the bottom half of the Republican box did so for the Republican. The only way to make the correct vote, they said, was to press the incorrectly checked box to “uncheck” it, then press low in the Republican’s box. The voters say they were able to figure this out without calling over an election judge for help.

In an article in the Quad City Times published Monday morning, the Democratic clerk for Rock Island County pushed back against the criticisms of her office’s handling of early voting.

Kinney’s office has been the target of a Republican Party attack that not only is she opening ballots early and counting them but that her voting machines are calibrated in such a way that switches votes from Republican to Democrat.

Rock Island County Circuit Judge Lori Lefstein denied the GOP’s emergency injunction on the counting of absentee ballots.

“There is nothing wrong in this office,” Kinney, a Democrat, said afterward.

One of the voters who spoke with me says his attempt to vote for Kinney’s Republican opponent was registered as a vote for Kinney. He eventually voted for the Republican.

Jon Schweppe, a spokesman for the Schilling campaign, says he called an official on the Illinois state board of elections on Friday afternoon about the voters’ complaints.

“I spoke with Bruce Brown at the Illinois State Board of Elections,” Schweppe says. “He called me back about an hour later after speaking with the Rock Island County Clerk’s office. He told me he suggested a full recalibration to fix the problem. He said it was a common problem and easy to fix.”

Kinney told the Times she recalibrated the machines on Friday, though the video above (taken days later, on Monday) suggests that did not fix the problem.

Others in Illinois, where early voting began on October 20, have claimed similar problems with electronic voting machines. One Republican state house candidate in Cook County claimed his attempt to vote for himself was initially regsitered as a vote for his Democratic opponent.

Could non-citizens decide the November election?

Could non-citizens decide the November election?

Washington Post      By Jesse Richman and David Earnest

October 24, 2014

Could control of the Senate in 2014 be decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens? Some argue that incidents of voting by non-citizens are so rare as to be inconsequential, with efforts to block fraud a screen for an agenda to prevent poor and minority voters from exercising the franchise, while others define such incidents as a threat to democracy itself. Both sides depend more heavily on anecdotes than data.

In a forthcoming article in the journal Electoral Studies, we bring real data from big social science survey datasets to bear on the question of whether, to what extent, and for whom non-citizens vote in U.S. elections. Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races.

Our data comes from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). Its large number of observations (32,800 in 2008 and 55,400 in 2010) provide sufficient samples of the non-immigrant sub-population, with 339 non-citizen respondents in 2008 and 489 in 2010. For the 2008 CCES, we also attempted to match respondents to voter files so that we could verify whether they actually voted.

How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.

Estimated Voter Turnout by Non-Citizens
2008 2010
Self reported and/or verified 38 (11.3%) 13 (3.5%)
Self reported and verified 5 (1.5%) N.A.
Adjusted estimate 21 (6.4%) 8 (2.2%)

Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.

We also find that one of the favorite policies advocated by conservatives to prevent voter fraud appears strikingly ineffective. Nearly three quarters of the non-citizens who indicated they were asked to provide photo identification at the polls claimed to have subsequently voted.

An alternative approach to reducing non-citizen turnout might emphasize public information. Unlike other populations, including naturalized citizens, education is not associated with higher participation among non-citizens. In 2008, non-citizens with less than a college degree were significantly more likely to cast a validated vote, and no non-citizens with a college degree or higher cast a validated vote. This hints at a link between non-citizen voting and lack of awareness about legal barriers.

There are obvious limitations to our research, which one should take account of when interpreting the results. Although the CCES sample is large, the non-citizen portion of the sample is modest, with the attendant uncertainty associated with sampling error. We analyze only 828 self-reported non-citizens. Self-reports of citizen status might also be a source of error, although the appendix of our paper shows that the racial, geographic, and attitudinal characteristics of non-citizens (and non-citizen voters) are consistent with their self-reported status.

Another possible limitation is the matching process conducted by Catalyst to verify registration and turnout drops many non-citizen respondents who cannot be matched. Our adjusted estimate assumes the implication of a “registered” or “voted” response among those who Catalyst could not match is the same as for those whom it could. If one questions this assumption, one might focus only on those non-citizens with a reported and validated vote. This is the second line of the table.

Finally, extrapolation to specific state-level or district-level election outcomes is fraught with substantial uncertainty. It is obviously possible that non-citizens in California are more likely to vote than non-citizens in North Carolina, or vice versa. Thus, we are much more confident that non-citizen votes mattered for the Minnesota Senate race (a turnout of little more than one-tenth of our adjusted estimate is all that would be required) than that non-citizen votes changed the outcome in North Carolina.

Our research cannot answer whether the United States should move to legalize some electoral participation by non-citizens as many other countries do, and as some U.S. states did for more than 100 years, or find policies that more effectively restrict it. But this research should move that debate a step closer to a common set of facts.

Jesse Richman is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Old Dominion University, and Director of the ODU Social Science Research Center. David Earnest is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Old Dominion University, and Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies in the College of Arts and Letters.

Obama administration scraps quarantine regulations

Posted 4/1/2010 8:53 PM  By Alison Young, USA TODAY

The Obama administration has quietly scrapped plans to enact sweeping new federal quarantine regulations that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention touted four years ago as critical to protecting Americans from dangerous diseases spread by travelers.

The regulations, proposed in 2005 during the Bush administration amid fears of avian flu, would have given the federal government additional powers to detain sick airline passengers and those exposed to certain diseases. They also would have expanded requirements for airlines to report ill passengers to the CDC and mandated that airlines collect and maintain contact information for fliers in case they later needed to be traced as part of an investigation into an outbreak.

Airline and civil liberties groups, which had opposed the rules, praised their withdrawal.

The Air Transport Association had decried them as imposing “unprecedented” regulations on airlines at costs they couldn’t afford. “We think that the CDC was right to withdraw the proposed rule,” association spokeswoman Elizabeth Merida said Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union had objected to potential passenger privacy rights violations and the proposal’s “provisional quarantine” rule. That rule would have allowed the CDC to detain people involuntarily for three business days if the agency believed they had certain diseases: pandemic flu, infectious tuberculosis, plague, cholera, SARS, smallpox, yellow fever, diphtheria or viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.

“The fact that they’re backing away from this very coercive style of quarantine is good news,” said ACLU legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese, who was unaware the proposed rules had been withdrawn.

CDC officials had stressed the rules would only be used in rare circumstances when someone posed a threat and refused to cooperate. The new rules, they noted at the time, added legal protections and appeals for those subject to quarantines.

CDC spokeswoman Christine Pearson said in a statement Thursday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC’s parent agency, withdrew the proposed regulations after discussion across the government made it clear that “further revision and reconsideration is necessary to update the regulations.”

HHS and the CDC are crafting new regulations that will incorporate public health lessons learned since 2005, Pearson said in the statement. She did not elaborate and referred questions to HHS. HHS spokeswoman Vicki Rivas-Vazquez said late Thursday the department had no further comment.

Last June, after the H1N1, or swine flu, pandemic emerged, the White House Office of Management and Budget received the final rules for review, records show. HHS withdrew the proposed regulations Jan. 20 — after more than four years of refining them and reviewing public comments.

Jennifer Nuzzo, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Biosecurity, said the rapid worldwide spread of swine flu showed flaws in the proposed regulations’ premise.

“They probably learned during H1N1 that this hope of preventing diseases from entering the country by stationing people at airports is unrealistic,” she said.

In 2007, after an Atlanta man with drug-resistant tuberculosis drew international attention to the potential risks posed by infected air travelers, CDC Director Julie Gerberding testified before Congress that the proposed regulations would improve the agency’s ability to identify exposed passengers quickly. Gerberding, now president of Merck Vaccines, was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Even in the Bush administration, some were skeptical of the CDC’s 2005 proposal, said Stewart Baker, assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. “There were a lot of questions about how plausible it was to treat airports as a place where you could stop and inspect and quarantine people,” Baker said Thursday.

Boehner Slams Preparation for Executive Amnesty ‘Unacceptable’

Obama Administration Quietly Prepares ‘Surge’ Of Millions Of New Immigrant IDs
Inform

“The Speaker has made perfectly clear to the president that it is unacceptable for him to unilaterally re-write immigration law on his own and the Speaker will never support this type of action,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said.

The comment is the most significant repudiation since Breitbart News reported that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is seeking vendors for “surge” capacity to handle future immigration policy changes.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said the draft request for proposal, issued Oct. 6 but heretofore unnoticed, shows the president “is preparing to violate the Constitution again,” and other Republicans have denounced it as well.

USCIS has still not offered any official comment about the solicitation, nor has the White House. A USCIS official told the Daily Mail the agency is planning the “surge” capacity “’in case the president makes the move we think he will.”

The request for proposals says the agency will need a minimum of four million cards per year. In the “surge,” scenario in 2016, the agency would need an additional five million cards – more than double the baseline annual amount for a total of 9 million.

“The guaranteed minimum for each ordering period is 4,000,000 cards. The estimated maximum for the entire contract is 34,000,000 cards,” the document says.

The agency is buying the materials need to construct both Permanent Residency Cards (PRC), commonly known as green cards, as well as Employment Authorization Documentation (EAD) cards which have been used to implement President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program. The RFP does not specify how many of each type of card would be issued.

Jessica Vaughan, an immigration expert at the Center for Immigration Studies and former State Department official, said the document suggests a new program of remarkable breadth.

The RFP “seems to indicate that the president is contemplating an enormous executive action that is even more expansive than the plan that Congress rejected in the ‘Gang of Eight’ bill,” Vaughan said.

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Introductions to this important movie by:

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Opposing John Boehner for Speaker Could Come With Repercussions

From the DailySignal.com  Conservatives planning to buck the status quo and oppose the reelection of John Boehner as House speaker have received a warning shot. Sources on Capitol Hill say dissenters could be stripped of their committee assignments should they fail to support the two-term speaker.

There haven’t been any public challenges to Boehner, though reports have surfaced that Republicans who vote against him on the floor would be punished.

The process will play out after the Nov. 4 midterm elections when the Republican conference holds a closed-door vote for majority leader, majority whip and conference chair. Those roles are currently held by Kevin McCarthy of California, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, respectively.

Republicans will also select a nominee for House speaker.

When the 114th Congress convenes in January, all 435 House members will gather to vote publicly for speaker.

>>> 9 Senate Races That Could Tip the Balance of Power

The Republican conference votes on the rules every two years, and any proposed changes would have to be approved by a majority of the caucus.

One former conservative House aide with knowledge of the dealings cited two reasons for lawmakers to issue such a warning to potential dissenters.

First, the former aide told The Daily Signal, threatening conservatives who may not support Boehner could reduce the chances they mount a campaign against him when it comes time to vote for speaker on the House floor.

Second, House Republicans may be using this as an opportunity to reduce the influence of members not viewed as siding with leadership.

One GOP insider told National Journal there could be between 30 and 40 Republican lawmakers who would vote against Boehner.

In an interview with USA Today, Boehner rejected any suggestion Republicans voting against him in January would face repercussions, and confirmed this in a statement to The Daily Signal.

“I don’t support any such effort,” Boehner said. “It’s not a good idea, and isn’t necessary.”

Requests for comment from McCarthy and Scalise went unanswered.

Conservative Dissenters

In 2010, a wave of tea party Republicans were elected to the House, which led to what many Republicans said was a rift between conservatives and the establishment.

Conservative lawmakers such as Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas pushed back against leadership—including Boehner—and maintained strict conservative voting records, sometimes stymying and other times opposing leadership.

Their actions had consequences.

In late 2012, Amash, Huelskamp and Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona were allremoved from key committees for what many said was retribution for their votes. At an event at The Heritage Foundation in December 2012, Amash and Huelskamp said they were blindsided by the news.

“I had to read it in the newspapers,” Amash said at the time.

>>> Conservatives Predict Boehner Won’t Be Back as Speaker Next Year

Their removals stood in contrast to a deal leadership made with incoming freshman in 2010, when the tea party wave was elected to the 112th Congress. Then, Huelskamp said members were encouraged to “vote their conscience and their district” as long as they made leadership aware of their votes before casting them.

But Huelskamp said leadership reneged on that deal and instead ranked members based on their votes. Those who “didn’t get a high enough score,” he said in 2012, were “punished.”

Huelskamp himself was removed from the Budget and Agriculture committees, despite his extensive knowledge of the agriculture industry as a former farmer. Similarly, Schweikert was stripped of his spot on the Financial Services Committee despite his business background.

Electing the Speaker

Boehner was up for re-election as speaker at the start of the 113th Congress, but he was met with pushback from conservatives in the conference.

When the entire chamber gathered to vote, several lawmakers bucked the status quo and failed to back the Ohio Republican.

Six Republicans voted for other GOP members, and others either abstained or simply said “present.” Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia and Louie Gohmert of Texas cast votes for outgoing Republican Allen West of Florida. North Carolina’s Walter Jones supported former Comptroller General David Walker, who served from 1998 to 2008.

The speaker of the House does not have to be a sitting member of Congress.

Mixed Messages

In the 2014 elections, Republicans are working to pick up 11 seats, bringing the total number of GOP members to 245—the largest Republican majority since Harry Truman’s presidency. The campaign to achieve such a goal has been dubbed the “Drive to 245.”

Political strategists such as Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report say it’s possible.

Support for Boehner as speaker, though, is not inevitable. Several GOP congressional hopefuls have refrained from announcing support for the top Republican while campaigning.

Dave Brat, the Virginia Republican who ousted former then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the state’s June Republican primary, refused to endorse Boehner in interviews with both The Washington Post and The Washington Times. Instead, he vowed to continue running on principles, not personalities.

>>> Boehner: Ground Troops Needed to Defeat ISIS ‘Barbarians’

Boehner has hit the campaign trail with GOP candidates, including state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, who is running against U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, the incumbent Democrat in New Hampshire’s 2nd District. The speaker was on hand to help Garcia raise money.

Within his own conference, some conservative firebrands have committed to supporting Boehner should he remain the only viable candidate for speaker.

“I don’t see much of a challenge mounting, and I suspect that there won’t be a challenge,” Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho said during Conversations with Conservatives last month. “However, if we don’t take the Senate, I think there might be rumblings as to maybe we need a new direction as a Republican Party.”

Labrador mounted a campaign for majority leader following Cantor’s loss, but McCarthy defeated him in June.

A Step Forward for Hoosiers in a Long March

October 15, 2014

The wonderful thing about America is that even in what seem like our darkest hours, there are occasional rays of hope.  These are what keep people in all fifty states going, determined to continue the fight to protect and restore the liberties upon which this great nation was founded.  One such ray of hope has broken through the clouds here in Indiana.  It is a small step in what ultimately must be a long march to reclaim control of policy-making from the federal government.

As the federal government has ballooned over the last several decades, its appetite to exert influence, power, and ultimatums on the states has become insatiable.  On most every issue, it is the federal government that charts the course of state executives and legislatures, rather than “the people” and those they elect to represent them in their statehouses.  In state after state, legislatures have almost been relegate to the status of being mere subcontractors, tasked to execute and carry out state policies set by the feds.

So powerful is the lure of federal funding that, far more often than not, it’s difficult to find a governor of either party who is willing to say “no.”  And yet, that is exactly what is needed – governors who are willing to stand at the constitutional line and reclaim the right of the states to govern themselves – to be responsive to their citizens rather than to the federal government.

This week Governor Mike Pence took a step forward in this fight.  He had the good judgment and courage to walk away from millions of potential federal dollars, by refusing to apply for the federal Preschool Development Grant.  Of course, there continues to be much work that needs to be done to return control of education to Indiana, but turning down this federal grant is a welcomed first step.  We applaud and thank Governor Pence for this decision, and hope that it is the beginning of a new day in Indiana.

We also applaud and thank the many Hoosiers who rallied to make their voices heard, afterwe wrote about this issue last week.  In a matter of days, people from all across the state called and emailed their concerns, which allowed them to be heard by Governor Pence.  We are proud of the role we played in making this happen, as well as to stand with groups such as the American Family Association, the Indiana Association of Home Educators, the Indiana Family Institute, Indiana Eagle Forum, and the numerous Tea Parties across the state, all of whom alerted their members.

May this small victory and the light of hope it shines be a sign of good things for Indiana that are yet to come.

An Open Letter To Florida Power And Light CEO James L. Robo

The letter below was sent to Florida Power and Light Chairman/CEO James L. Robo on March 29, 2014 upon reviewing FPL’s policy to “opt out” of Smart Meter technology for an “enrollment fee” and subsequent monthly payments. Such payments amount to mob-style extortion that utility customers are forced to pay, simply to remain free from potential harassment or harm.

James L. Robo
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Next Era Energy / Florida Power and Light
700 Universe Boulevard
Juno Beach, Florida 33408

Dear Mr. James L. Robo,

I am writing with regard to the “Smart Meter” appliance that your company, Next Era Energy / Florida Power and Light (NEE/FPL; NYSE: NEE) placed on my home and households throughout my Boca Raton neighborhood in April 2011, and your present bid for my family to “opt out” of exposure to such technology. As you are likely aware, after doing extensive research on the device and its implications for privacy and human health, in addition to conducting periodic measurements with my HF35-C RF Analyzer, I discovered how your Smart Meter apparatus was discharging microwave radiation on my family (which includes small children) in excess of 10,000 microwatts per square meter every thirty-to-ninety seconds. I requested that NEE/FPL remove the meter. NEE/FPL complied only after being repeatedly telephoned and furnished with my own observations delivered via certified mail and accompanied by copious scientific research that such “Smart Meter” technology poses a serious health hazard and privacy-related concerns.

Yet Mr. Robo, as you are aware, even with this knowledge you have consciously chosen to act in a grossly irresponsible fashion by maintaining that the meters in question are safe, and have proceeded to keep them on millions of NEE/FPL customers’ homes throughout Florida without their awareness or express consent. This flagrant act demonstrated to such a manifold degree arguably constitutes fraud, negligence, and reckless endangerment on a truly astounding scale.
An important interview with Take Back Your Power documentary producer Josh Del Sol:
In your most recent paraphernalia to customers you disingenuously assert that there are “no credible studies” concluding that “Smart Meter” radiation is dangerous to human health. As you are well aware, the body of research on the negative health effects of microwave RF dates to the 1960s and consists of several thousand military and scholarly scientific studies. In fact, the only studies that lack credibility and defy basic scientific standards are those commissioned by NEE/FPL and its peer utilities throughout North America to avert public concern over such risks.

Mr. Robo, as a Harvard Man twice over one might conclude that you hold scientific inquiry and proof thereof in high regard. Your irresponsible conduct in this matter suggests that any such intellectual training is not only placed in abeyance but wholly betrayed. Moreover, your most recent proposition to allow families to “opt out” for a fee of what is essentially a gigantic scientific experiment is tantamount to mob-style extortion.
I will appreciate the opportunity of meeting and conversing with you in person so that you may explain to me whether you have a “Smart Meter” attached to your office, living room, or bedroom wall, as so many of your customers’ families do. I am also interested to know how you are able to proceed with a clear conscience given that you are presiding over such a dangerous health-related trial that will almost certainly cause countless health problems and an overall deteriorating quality of life on unsuspecting millions.

An honest Fourth Estate vigorously airing the perils of the technology you have unilaterally mandated for every single Florida resident might result in a far more circumspect if not hostile citizenry. Such inattention by the press has allowed you to successfully bamboozle the Florida Public Utility Commission into approving the widescale deployment of this dangerous system and the uncertain effort to allow customers to “opt out.”
If the “Smart Meter” technology you stipulate were really safe and beneficial, your customer base would be clamoring to pay the $95.00 initiation and $13.00 monthly fee to “opt in” to the “Smart Grid.” Yet because the technology is unproven, hazardous, and perhaps even useless you must foist it on your customers without their knowledge and then proceed to confuse them, even as you disingenuously offer the option to say, “No.”
Mr. Robo, I once again offer you my emphatic “No!” “No!” to the fraud, “No!” to the guile, “No!” to the invasion of privacy, and “No!” to the assault on my family’s health that your outrageous and unfounded technology poses.

Sincerely,
James F. Tracy
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Professor James F. Tracy is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. James Tracy’s work on media history, politics and culture has appeared in a wide variety of academic journals, edited volumes, and alternative news and opinion outlets. James is editor of Union for Democratic Communication’s Journal Democratic Communiqué and a contributor to Project Censored’s forthcoming publication Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012. Additional writings and information are accessible at memoryholeblog.com.