President’s Speech To Catholic Health Association

The White House

On Tuesday, U.S. President Obama spoke about America’s healthcare in a speech to the Catholic Health Association’s annual assembly, in Washington, DC.  He attempted to make the case that The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an integral part of the country’s social safety net, much like Social Security or Medicare.

He condemned opponents of his signature health care law as “cynical” partisans seeking to deprive Americans of an important benefit, writes The New York Times. He built a tough political case against Republicans as the Supreme Court weighs whether to strike down a key element of the Affordable Care Act in the case of King v. Burwell.

“This is now part of the fabric of how we care for one another — this is health care in America,” the president said in a speech to the Catholic Health Association, an organization that championed the law and has written a brief asking the high court to uphold it. “It seems so cynical to want to take health care away from millions of people.”

Senator Ted Cruz Threatens To Subpoena Treasury Officials To Testify About Obamacare

Roll Call states that Senator Ted Cruz is warning he might seek to compel testimony from the Treasury Department about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The Texas Republican senator – who is also a presidential candidate – is in control of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts.

He said his staff had been informed by the Obama administration that witnesses would not be available to testify about the rule-making process for providing subsidies under Obamacare because of ongoing litigation.

“For two main reasons, this excuse is entirely invalid,” Cruz wrote in a new letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

“First, Congress retains its right to conduct oversight of the executive branch at all times, regardless of any perceptions of poor timing by, or inconvenience to, the executive branch. The Senate Judiciary Committee has obligations to ensure the proper functioning of the federal government at all times, and not just during windows of convenience for political officials. Second, your Department’s pending litigation justification is without basis, particularly given how you have provided at least one Department witness for the exact same topic during the pendency of other litigation over the last few years.”

http://blogs.rollcall.com/wgdb/cruz-threatens-to-subpoena-treasury-officials-to-testify-about-obamacare-rules/

The Iowa ‘Freedom Summit’

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz speaking to conservative activists gathered at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines on Saturday.

Last Saturday, at a Victorian theater in Des Moines, Iowa, at least eight likely Republican candidates for president met to talk to conservative activists.

The event highlighted the party’s challenge: to find a candidate who can win the loyalty of the grassroots base without moving too far to the right and jeopardizing the GOP’s chances of victory in the general election.

Theoretically, it could be a good place for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

If he didn’t have so many troubles at home.

Those include investigations into purposely causing a multi-day traffic jam in the town of a mayor he didn’t like, misuse of Hurricane Sandy relief aid, and improper use of bondholders’ funds by the Port Authority.

Party strategists and candidates remember well the lessons of Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 campaign, when he was trapped by his efforts to establish conservative bona fides, at one point calling himself “severely conservative.”

The Iowa Freedom Summit brought together more than 1,000 conservative activists, many of them sought-after for the Iowa caucuses.  The first votes for the GOP nomination will be cast just over a year from now.

The event was sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa), a hard-line voice against immigration reform and on other issues, along with the conservative group Citizens United.

According to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic national chairwoman who held a news conference before the event, the gathering was “an extremist ring-kissing summit masquerading as a political forum.”

Right-wingers expressed their views at the forum.

America is “mired in darkness,” said David Bossie, head of Citizens United and a conservative filmmaker who organized the event.

Conservative talk-show host Jan Mickelson began the event by saying that Iowa conservatives were not anti-immigrant, but “what we do care about is illegal gate crashers.”

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called Obama “an overgrown little boy” for his executive order last year allowing some undocumented immigrants to stay in the country.

The likely candidates, besides Christie, included former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, neurosurgeon/pundit Ben Carson, and former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Carly Fiorina.

Amazingly, in a move appearing to defy time, Ted Cruz managed to show up the next day at the Koch Brothers’ right-wing forum in Palm Springs, California.

Heavyweight contenders Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney were not at the Iowa summit.

Christie told the audience that he shared its political values, deriding the “conventional wisdom” that says he’s too moderate for the state that will cast the first votes in the 2016 Republican presidential race.

Christie also cited his two wins in heavily Democratic New Jersey as evidence that Republicans do not have to abandon a “belief in the sanctity of human life” to win in blue states.  He also stressed the need to seek voters everywhere.

“We need a coalition that covers all parts of the country – all ethnicities,” said Christie.

Some in attendance worried that Christie would reach across the aisle. John Graves, 45, of Bluegrass, Iowa, said that Christie’s talk of being able to work with Democrats in New Jersey worried him. He said he would rather have a nominee who stands up for conservative principles rather than rushing to compromise.

There were other conservative stars – Palin, who told reporters in the Des Moines Marriott lobby Friday night she was “seriously interested” in considering a 2016 run; and real estate mogul Donald Trump, who continued his seemingly quadrennial flirtation with a White House campaign.

Rick Santorum seemed to have his parties mixed up and said the GOP should focus less on the investor and business-owning classes and speak to the anxieties of middle-class Americans.

“We need to be the party of the worker,” he said.

“People are more motivated than I’ve seen since 1980,” said Steve Scheffler, Iowa’s Republican national committeeman and president of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group of religious conservatives.

“They are concerned that another Obama-like administration will lead to the destruction of our country and our republic,” Scheffler said.

He said that Christie, even if he does not get overwhelming support at first from social conservatives, helped his cause Saturday. “It sends the message that he cares what conservatives think; it sows the seeds of goodwill,” Scheffler said.

Trump brought roars from the crowd when he said the two biggest establishment names were not viable.

“It can’t be Mitt, because Mitt ran and failed,” Trump shouted above cheers. “Something happened to him near the end of the election, which was so winnable. He choked.” He noted that Bush favors a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and supports national “common core” education. “The last thing we need is another Bush,” Trump said.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150125_Christie_and_a_crowded_field_address_conservatives_in_Iowa.html#ucOi9pHkxU3AshQj.99

Pentagon Asks National Defense University To ‘Honor’ Dead Saudi King In Essay

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Defense, attendees at the National Defense University have been asked to do a written tribute to the “life and leadership” of the “Saudi Arabian monarch.”

Headed by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, the essay contest will focus on both Abdullah and the region as a whole.

“This is an important opportunity to honor the memory of the king, while also fostering scholarly research on the Arab-Muslim world, and I can think of no better home for such an initiative than NDU,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey went one step further in his idolization of the ex-ruler by calling him a man of “remarkable character and courage.”

“In my job to train and advise his military forces, and in our relationship since, I found the king to be a man of remarkable character and courage,” Dempsey said.

Since Abdullah’s passing, members of the U.S. establishment have given endless praise to the former dictator, seemingly ignoring his barbaric rule and world-renowned brutality.

As noted by the Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain, prominent U.S. leaders such as John McCain, Joe Biden and John Kerry wasted no time in highlighting Abdullah’s alleged accomplishments following his death.

In a statement last night Senator John McCain eulogized Abdullah as ‘a vocal advocate for peace, speaking out against violence in the Middle East.’ John Kerry described the late monarch as ‘a brave partner in fighting violent extremism’ and ‘a proponent of peace.’

Not to be outdone, Vice President Joe Biden released a statement mourning Abdullah and announced that he would be personally leading a presidential delegation to offer condolences on his passing.

The president also expressed grief over the loss of Abdullah, pointing to his so-called “search for peace.”

The British government and the Royal Family paid their respects to the dictator by ordering all flags over state buildings and palaces to be flown at half mast, a move which produced a backlash among some public figures in Britain.

In reality, King Abdullah’s leadership produced atrocities nearly identical to that of alleged enemies the Islamic State.

Western leaders made no mention of the country’s “record level” beheadings in 2014 for crimes such as adultery, apostasy and “sorcery.”

Source: Mikael Thalen

Saudi King Abdullah

Majority Report gives their take on some of the things King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia did and how the media has talked about this wonderful man after his death.

According to The Middle East Eye:

“…the late king has been recently condemned for a raft of human rights abuses including a spike in state implemented beheadings.

“At least 15 people have been executed in the kingdom in 2015 – including a woman publicly beheaded in Mecca who was convicted of murder. The recent flogging of jailed liberal blogger Raif Badawi has caused international uproar and Saudi Arabia remains the only country where women are barred from driving.”

Majority Report

More:

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/king-salman-reasserts-sudairi-seven-key-abdullah-advisor-removed-496423196#sthash.21y4VaBQ.dpuf

Who Is Jonathan Gruber?

Jonathan Gruber is one of the developers of the health care bill that became the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Videos have surfaced in which he makes questionable comments about the American voter and the ACA.  The video has caused a massive stir among right-wing conservatives.

How important were his comments?

Sam Seder takes a look.