If you are as confused as I am about this new bill that increases our debt ceiling and is supposed to save the country from defaulting on its debts, it’s probably because we are getting conflicting reports about what’s in it. And if you scan down the text of the bill, you can see that it was not written so that the average individual could understand it. Indeed, I wish that all such laws passed by Congress would be accompanied by a simplified translation into plain English that the average citizen could understand.
Like so many of these laws crafted by congressional staffers, they are written in a kind of Washington legalese meant to make it impossible for ordinary folk to know what’s in them. For example, Nancy Pelosi said that they had to pass the Obama healthcare bill so that we could find out what was in it. Well, I have news. It’s just as impossible to know what’s in it after it’s been passed. Even the title of the law is meant to deceive the average citizen. Its official title is: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Of course it’s nothing of the kind. It is the Federal Takeover of Healthcare Act. It passed the Democrat-controlled Senate on December 24, 2009. The Democrat-controlled House passed it on March 21, 2010, and our Socialist-in-Chief signed it into law on March 23, 2010. The first task of a new Tea Party Congress and White House in 2012 must be to repeal it.
Republican-led state legislatures have stirred more school choice debates this year than ever before, as Republicans seek to reform state budgets and rekindle student achievement. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states have introduced bills this year which would use government funding to send poor and special needs children to private schools. Nine voucher bills were proposed in 2010, of which the sole survivor was a special needs voucher program in Oklahoma. Six states have passed some form of school choice program this year, including both voucher and tax credit legislation. Progress in educational reform has developed largely in the aftermath of the 2010 elections. "I think that there’s long been an interest among Republican legislators, but this year is the first time they’ve gained so many seats in so many states and gained majorities," asserted Josh Cunningham, a member of the state legislatures group. "There was a window of opportunity to get these bills passed. It was kind of the perfect timing."
Pro-homosexual groups have targeted a Minnesota school district just outside of Minneapolis for its unwillingness to discuss homosexuality in the classroom. The groups point to seven suicides within two years at the school district as proof that the subject should be addressed by the schools, since parents and friends say that four of those students were either "gay," perceived to be "gay," or questioning their own sexuality. A number of groups have filed a lawsuit against the school district, and the federal government has indicated it will perform a formal investigation into the district’s policy.
In 2009, the Anoka-Hennepin School District adopted a policy that indicates staff must “remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation” and that “such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations.”
American education has seen one “reform” movement after another. The most recent incarnation, “Race to the Top,” was initiated in 2009 by the Obama Administration. It is structured around a serious-sounding program called the “Common Core of State Standards Initiative Project,” or CCS for short, which is set for implementation in 46 states, at last count, in 2012.
Most people alive today actually remember “reform” measures that date only from around 1970, even though many of these originated much earlier, sometimes reappearing under new names: the Effective Schools Movement; Mastery Learning, revived around 1980; America 2000 in 1992; Goals 2000, built around a program called Outcome-Based Education in 1993; and No Child Left Behind in 2002, which, in turn, promoted a curricular program called the International Baccalaureate, which people mistook for its pre-War European counterpart.
A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction against a Kansas law that bans funding of abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten was “incredulous” at the state’s insistence that the law prohibiting abortion funding did not target Planned Parenthood specifically, ruling that the law was intended to punish the abortion provider and would eventually be overturned.
In its lawsuit Planned Parenthood argued that the Kansas measure is part of a national effort by pro-life organizations to cut off federal funding of the group. Similar laws to either partially or completely cut off abortion funding have been passed in Indiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. But in late June a federal judge granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary injunction against the measure in Indiana, opening the door to challenges in other states.
Hours after Congress voted to raise the debt ceiling, the national debt rose enough to consume 60 percent of $400 billion allowed. According to the Washington Times, spending shot up $239 billion on Tuesday, the largest one-day increase in American history.
Other debt news includes this heartening tidbit: Thanks to the big jump, the national debt may well exceed the gross domestic product.
As if the United States did not have enough issues with OPEC already, news reports reveal that there may be more cause for concern. According to the British publication the Guardian, Rostam Ghasemi will be the new president of OPEC. Ghasemi is a commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard, who has been sanctioned by the United States, European Union, and Australia, and has had his assets blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury.
Iran took control of OPEC last October after 36 years under a rotating system, and some contend that with Ghasemi holding the position as president, the Revolutionary Guard will become more influential.
Following in the footsteps of other European nations, an Italian parliamentary commission has approved a preliminary draft that bans women from wearing veils that cover their faces in public. According to the Associated Press, the ban will prohibit women from wearing burqas, naqibs, or any other article of clothing that covers their faces.
It relies upon a law that is already in place, which mandates that no one can wear face-covering items in public places for security reasons. The AP reports,
Women who violate the ban would face fines of €100 to €300, while third parties who force women to cover their faces in public would be fined €30,000 ($43,000) and face up to 12 months in jail.
It appears that Republicans and Democrats, Congress and the White House, have arrived at agreement on the debt ceiling. To sum it all up: the debt ceiling will be raised (shocker there) and Armageddon will be averted! Both Republicans and Democrats are claiming victory for their respective sides. All of this was more than just a bit predictable. Republicans swore that they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats in turn swore not to raise taxes. Presumably, then, Republicans believed that we could afford not to raise the debt ceiling, that the alternative to not doing so, though perhaps not all that pleasant, would nevertheless be tolerable. At the same time, they continually told us that unless they agreed to raise the debt ceiling, world-wide economic catastrophe would ensue. So, the debt ceiling would have to be raised.
A federal Judge in Ohio ruled on Monday that a former Democratic Congressman is permitted to proceed with a lawsuit against a pro-life group that he claims defamed him during his campaign. Analysts say the case may test the bounds of free speech.
According to former Rep. Steve Driehaus, the Susan B. Anthony List contributed to his election loss because they “disseminated lies” about him regarding his record on abortion issues. He claims they caused him “reputational” and “economic” harm.
Driehaus’ complaint focuses on statements and advertisements that argued Driehaus was not a pro-life lawmaker, since he voted for taxpayer-funded abortion as part of the healthcare overhaul.