Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Can the government force private businesses to provide drugs to their employees if those drugs violate the conscience of the business owners?
In some 40 lawsuits across the country courts have given mixed answers and now the Supreme Court will rule.
Specifically, the high court will hear the case brought by the Green family, owners of craft giant Hobby Lobby, along with a case brought by Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a Pennsylvania company that makes wood cabinets.
The cases stem from the contraception mandate in Obamacare, which includes the morning after pill. It requires all employers that offer health insurance to their employees to offer contraception free of charge.
Businesses owners like the Greens say providing the morning after pill violates their Christian faith. The Supreme Court will decide whether or not religious objections by the Greens and other business owners are constitutional.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Whenever the White House wants to change the subject, there's always another lingering problem in perpetual need of addressing that it can turn to... JOBS.
That's the pivot the Obama administration is making to try and distract from unwavering criticism of its failed rollout of Obamacare.
Hovering around 40 percent, President Obama's approval rating is lower than it's ever been. According to a CNN poll, 56 percent of Americans now disapprove of Obama's performance.
Still the Obama administration believes it can beat the bad press by focusing on American's pocket books. As Republicans keep picking up steam and evidence for their assault on the failed implementation of Obamacare, the administration is telling Congressional Democrats that focusing on the economy will outweigh, not just fallout from Obamacare, but also the administration's handling of Syria's chemical weapons and leaks about NSA spying.
Tuesday, the president will address the economy during a visit to DreamWorks film studios in California. Vice President Joe Biden and some of the president's Cabinet members will also deploy over the coming weeks to promote their boss's economic policies while recalling memories of last month's GOP-led government shutdown.
It's a risky gamble though. Polling by the Pew Research Center shows 65 percent of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the economy.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
What do Loretta Lynn, Dean Smith, and Oprah Winfrey have in common?
They're joined 13 other people this week to receive America's highest civilian honor from President Obama: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The distinction is reserved for people who have made "meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Here is a full list of the people who were honored as released by the White House.
Known to many as “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. During his 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he played in 11 All-Star Games, hit over 500 home runs, and became the first National League player to win Most Valuable Player honors in back-to-back years. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.
Ben Bradlee is one of the most respected newsmen of his generation. During his tenure as executive editor of The Washington Post, Mr. Bradlee oversaw coverage of the Watergate scandal, successfully challenged the Federal Government over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers, and guided the newspaper through some of its most challenging moments. He also served in the Navy during World War II.
President Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States. Before taking office, he served as Governor and Attorney General of the State of Arkansas. Following his second term, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote health and wellness, and protect the environment. He also formed the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund with President George W. Bush in 2010.
Daniel Inouye (posthumous)
Daniel Inouye was a lifelong public servant. As a young man, he fought in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, for which he received the Medal of Honor. He was later elected to the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. Senator Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment they joined the Union.
Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology. After escaping Nazi occupation in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist. Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is currently a professor at Princeton University.
Richard Lugar represented Indiana in the United States Senate for more than 30 years. An internationally respected statesman, he is best known for his bipartisan leadership and decades-long commitment to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. Prior to serving in Congress, Senator Lugar was a Rhodes Scholar and Mayor of Indianapolis from 1968 to 1975. He currently serves as President of the Lugar Center.
Loretta Lynn is a country music legend. Raised in rural Kentucky, she emerged as one of the first successful female country music vocalists in the early 1960s, courageously breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by men. Ms. Lynn’s numerous accolades include the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
Mario Molina is a visionary chemist and environmental scientist. Born in Mexico, Dr. Molina came to America to pursue his graduate degree. He later earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering how chlorofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer. Dr. Molina is a professor at the University of California, San Diego; Director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and Environment; and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Sally Ride (posthumous)
Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut to travel to space. As a role model to generations of young women, she advocated passionately for science education, stood up for racial and gender equality in the classroom, and taught students from every background that there are no limits to what they can accomplish. Dr. Ride also served in several administrations as an advisor on space exploration.
Bayard Rustin (posthumous)
Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all. An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.
Arturo Sandoval is a celebrated jazz trumpeter, pianist, and composer. Born outside Havana, he became a protégé of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and gained international acclaim as a dynamic performer. He defected to the United States in 1990 and later became an American citizen. He has been awarded nine Grammy Awards and is widely considered one of the greatest living jazz artists.
Dean Smith was head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team from 1961 to 1997. In those 36 years, he earned 2 national championships, was named National Coach of the Year multiple times, and retired as the winningest men’s college basketball coach in history. Ninety-six percent of his players graduated from college. Mr. Smith has also remained a dedicated civil rights advocate throughout his career.
Gloria Steinem is a renowned writer and activist for women’s equality. She was a leader in the women’s liberation movement, co-founded Ms. magazine, and helped launch a wide variety of groups and publications dedicated to advancing civil rights. Ms. Steinem has received dozens of awards over the course of her career, and remains an active voice for women’s rights.
Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian
C.T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author, and organizer. A leader in the Civil Rights Movement and friend to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins across our country. Dr. Vivian also helped found numerous civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal. In 2012, he returned to serve as interim President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Patricia Wald is one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation. After graduating as 1 of only 11 women in her Yale University Law School class, she became the first woman appointed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and served as Chief Judge from 1986-1991. She later served on the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Ms. Wald currently serves on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s most successful broadcast journalists. She is best known for creating The Oprah Winfrey Show, which became the highest rated talk show in America for 25 years. Ms. Winfrey has long been active in philanthropic causes and expanding opportunities for young women. She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Headlines for the bungled health care roll out seem to get worse by the day.
Critics of the health care overhaul warned it would be bad three years ago, before Obamacare became the law of the land.
So when the official website, HeatlhCare.gov, crashed upon debut, they weren't surprised. When news reports gave real-life examples of how people's private information was at risk, they weren't at all shocked. Nor were they stunned when millions of people started complaining that they were being kicked off their health insurance policies, despite the assurance we've all heard countless times: "If you like your plan, you can keep it."
Democrats - from the president on down to rank and file lawmakers - repeated that claim before and after passing the Affordable Care Act. Now they're scrambling to come up with a quick fix, knowing their credibility and favorability are on the line.
That's why nearly 40 Democrats broke ranks and joined with Republicans to support the passage of a proposal that aims to let more Americans keep their current plans.
The "Keep Your Health Plan Act" allows health insurance providers to keep offering policies that don't meet Obamacare's new minimum standards, a legislative solution that allows those who like their plans to keep them.
But it would also deliver a crippling blow to the president's signature legislative accomplishment by permitting insurers to keep selling what opponents call sub-standard policies.
President Obama's announcement earlier in the week does not offer a full-scale guarantee that people in the individual insurance market can keep their plans. In fact, the administrative fix only allows for insurers to extend those policies through 2014. The House-passed Republican plan has no expiration date, so to speak.
Democrats in the Senate are crafting their own version of a fix. It's safe to say neither the Senate nor House plan will pass in the opposite chamber.
That means the White House's administrative fix -- which has already met resistance from some states -- may be the only workable solution for now. And, that's not saying much given the waning trust the American public have in the health care law and the chief proponent whose name its bears.
Friday, November 01, 2013
Today's Beltway Buzz is breaking out a bit from the usual blog entry. For those looking for something a little more political, hopefully you'll extend some grace. (If not, there's always The Brody File!)
Recently, our John Jessup sat down with gospel music legend Dr. Bobby Jones.
He's known for his baritone voice, big personality, and bright and flashy suits. Jones is also directly responsible for helping launch the careers of some of the most famous names in the gospel music industry through his TV show, "Bobby Jones Gospel." (Think Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, and the singing duo Mary Mary)
While he appears to be at the top of his game, what most people don't know about the musical pioneer is that it wasn't always sunshine for Bobby Jones. To steal a phrase from the late Walter Hawkins' tune "Be Grateful" -- "God' has not promised me sunshine ... but a little rain."
During our interview, Jones publicly revealed for that first time that he suffered verbal and physical abuse when he was a young boy at the hand of his father.
Jones admits he became bitter and eventually grew to hate his dad. But through God's grace and believing in the biblical promises of the Word, he ultimately forgave his father and surrendered the shackles of his painful childhood.
Now, he's using his testimony to encourage others who might have trouble letting go of the past. And that's the key: using our life experiences -- the good and the bad -- to help those around us.
Returning to the lyrics of Hawkins' song, it continues with the refrain: "a little rain mixed with God's sunshine -- a little pain; Makes me appreciate the good times. Be grateful."
Sometimes, things happen that are beyond our control. But, as believers, we know God ultimately is in control and can redeem our hurts, failures, and brokenness.
That's what he did for Bobby Jones. And he can do the same for you.
Remember, "all things work together for the good of those who love God, to them who are called according to His purpose." Rom. 8:28
Friday, October 25, 2013
After being buried in the headlines the last few weeks, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act is finally front and center. This week news outlets turned their attention squarely on Obamacare after it's disastrous debut was upstaged by the 16-day government shutdown.
Expect a slew of hearings investigating the fall out. Already, lawmakers grilled the primary contractors responsible for the glitch-ridden online exchanges this week. And next week, they're going to hear from Obamacare's chief lieutenant, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
We at Beltway Buzz predict plenty of fireworks and suggest Secretary Sebelius prepare to get an earful from Republicans, who hate the law, and Democrats, who were hoping to campaign on Obamacare's potential success and popularity in the 2014 midterm elections.
One of the major problems, as Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice pointed out in a recent interview on The 700 Club, is the government agency responsible for enforcing the individual mandate requiring every American to have health insurance, (the Internal Revenue Service) is the very same agency currently mired in a scandal of its own.
Watch John Jessup's story and learn more about the problems plaguing the IRS and the ongoing investigations.
The ACLJ is representing more than 40 Tea Party, educational, and pro-life organizations in 22 states in a federal lawsuit against the IRS.They say the IRS either delayed or denied their tax exempt status for political purposes.
"That should raise the concern level significantly," warned Sekulow.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
With only hours to spare before the United States reaches its debt limit, evangelist Franklin Graham steps into the political fray to speak out against the current state of dysfunction.
In an exclusive interview with CBN News, he tells CBN's John Jessup greed, lust, and wickedness are at the heart of what's wrong in Washington and the country’s crises are the result of years of pushing God out of the picture.
Graham was candid and direct in his criticism of Washington. He also admonished the nation's leaders for not seeking spiritual guidance to find a way out of gridlock.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Graham and his father, Billy Graham, supported Republican nominee Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama because of the president’s stance on moral issues, like abortion and gay marriage. However, the younger Graham did not exclusively lay blame on the current administration for America’s spiritual slide.
Graham said, “the country is slowly imploding” and there’s no hope unless “we repent of our sins.”
Graham is hitting the circuit promoting a new book written by his father, Billy Graham, released this week:The Reason for My Hope.
The younger Graham believes the Christian gospel has the power to change hearts, save lives, and fix the country.
Friday, October 04, 2013
This week WWII veterans, treasured but increasingly scarce testaments to the time, were among the casualties caught up in the federal government shutdown.
When scores of the Great War survivors descended on the memorial that bears the name of the conflict in which they so courageously fought, they found that it was closed, barricaded from public access.
There's something truly un-American about keeping these national treasures away. Fortunately, a few lawmakers defied the signs on the barricades and allowed the vets to personally tour the memorial.
CBN News was there and captured the moment they opened the gates. What a privilege it was to meet so many heroes and thank them for their service and sacrifice.
Watch John Jessup's interview with WWII Veteran Eugene Morgan
Friday, September 27, 2013
We here at Beltway Buzz don't take credit for the title of this post.
Those words actually came from the mouth of the Rev. Dr. Barry Black, the Senate chaplain, during a prayer on the Senate floor just four days before a looming government shutdown.
Chaos consumes Capitol Hill as Washington appears to be veering closer and closer toward what looks like the inevitable. Indeed, the unfolding scenario has pundits split. Some are predicting a last-minute compromise while others forecasting no way to avoid a shutdown.
The major stickler, of course, is the conservative drive to de-fund or delay the implementation of Obamacare, the president's health care law set to open for business at the beginning of October.
Last week, the GOP-controlled House passed a measure that would keep the government up and running, but it also stripped funding for Obamacare. And Texas Republican Ted Cruz stalled debate on the same bill in a marathon 21-hour speech on the Senate floor a few days later.
It's still unclear exactly how things ultimately will shake out between the Senate plan and the House plan. One thing, however, is clear. It likely will get messier before there's any semblance of a resolution. Already there's a public fight taking place among the GOP - and even some of their allies - as to whether they're pursuing the right course and if Republicans will take the brunt of the blame if a shutdown occurs.
The problem with all of this is the uncertainty it causes in the markets. There's already a lot of uncertainty given the shaky economy, a slew of new government regulations, etc., and the ever-expanding federal debt.
Clearly, Washington needs to get serious about tackling the national debt. Absolutely, Washington needs to rein in spending. And, regardless whether you agree with Republicans or Democrats on how to achieve that, there's something about Rev. Black's words that ring true ... even if lawmakers do avoid a shutdown.
Right now, Republican leaders in the House have suggested they plan to attach their demands to the upcoming debate over raising the nation's debt limit, which is scheduled to arrive Oct. 17. And President Obama has vowed not to negotiate "on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit" of the U.S.
That simply means the next crisis is in the not too distant future -- and we're not even through with this one yet.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Whatever deal works its way through the high-stakes talks in Geneva over Syria's chemical weapons, it will be met with plenty of skepticism. And for good reason.
Consider the deal broker. Russia?
Russia and Syria have a longtime friendly relationship and strong economic ties. Critics quickly called Russia's face-saving move nothing more than a stalling tactic. (Syria is already delaying. Instead of offering to immediately hand over weapons, the Assad regime says its willing to give up information about Syria's stockpile in the next 30 days.)
Adding insult to injury, Russian President Vladimir Putin lambasted the United States in a New York Times editorial, saying it's now "commonplace" for America to intervene in the internal conflicts of other countries.
He questions America's example of democracy and instead insists that others around the world see the U.S. as "relying solely on brute force."
But the most pointed part of the op-ed is when Putin -- or "Pootie Poot," as George W. Bush liked to refer to him -- challenged the notion of American exceptionalism. He was responding to a line in President Obama's televised address to the nation.
Putin flatly rejected the idea, saying "the United States' policy is 'what makes America different.'"
"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy ... We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal," he wrote.
True, we all may be equal in God's eyes. And, the value of each human life is precious. But Putin's broad brush of equality fails to understand that people, their ability, ideas, creative works, and even their countries can be exceptional.
For example, and reducing this to the most basic analogy, Jennifer Wishon might want a record deal, but unless she sings exceptionally well - like Celine Dion or Mariah Carey - that probably won't happen. Likewise, John Jessup might like to run fast, but he knows he's no Usain Bolt.
America and Americans aren't perfect, but we're motivated to do better and to keep trying. Many still believe the sky's the limit. And that's part of what makes us exceptional.
If Putin is indeed to be trusted as an honest broker in his new role as a peacemaker, let's pray his path to peace goes better than his ability to play philosopher.