Monday, November 29, 2010

TSA Manipulates National Opt Out Day

/PRNewswire/ -- News and personal reports from around the country indicate that the Transportation Security Administration deactivated many of their controversial body imaging scanners on Wednesday, November 24th – one of the busiest travel dates of the year. In so doing, the TSA defused "Opt Out" activities planned by civil libertarian and conservative activists, resulting in shortened waiting lines and quelling public dissent over recent changes in security procedures at our nation's airports.

"We'd like to think that the TSA has been listening to citizens concerned about being given a choice between naked imaging or pat down searches of people's private parts," said former Congressman Bob Barr, Liberty Guard's Chairman. "If this is the indeed the case, we'd like to commend the TSA for applying a bit of common sense to the controversial situation. However, it's far more likely the reason was political and we think the public should be made aware of the motivations of our country's security chiefs."

Toward this end, Liberty Guard has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Transportation Security Administration to determine why many airport imaging scanners were shut down across the country on Wednesday. The FOIA request specifically demands TSA's internal communication regarding certain activists and organizations that are opposed to the new intrusive procedures.

"Considering recent hardline statements made by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole, this apparent sudden reversal in the TSA's direction warrants additional scrutiny," said Joe Seehussen, President of Liberty Guard. "We'd like to know if we can expect a policy shift from the TSA or if they were merely attempting to shut down the public outcry regarding their search procedures."

Liberty Guard, is the sponsor of the Opt Out Alliance and is a non-partisan, non-profit organization with one specific mission: Protect and Defend Individual Liberty. Members of Liberty Guard believe the invasive nature of the newly implemented Full-Body Scanners and the new "enhanced" pat downs are a violation of the 4th Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizure.

Federal Emergency Unemployment Benefits Set to Expire Unless Congress Acts

Georgians have received more than $2 billion in federal Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits over the last 12 months as part of the emergency UI program. To put that economic impact in context -- $2 billion is greater than the annual payroll for Robins Air Force Base. If Congress does not extend these benefits in December, millions of dollars will immediately stop flowing to Georgians pockets, lowering their purchasing power and impacting local economies across the state.

Congress provides emergency UI benefits in recessions to assist workers during periods of prolonged unemployment after they exhaust state UI benefits. These benefits help workers and families make ends meet when the number of job-searchers greatly out-numbers available jobs. For every 1 job opening nationally there are 5 unemployed workers. The job-population mismatch is especially pronounced in Georgia -- Today, Georgia has fewer jobs than in 2000, yet 20 percent more working age adults.

How would state leaders respond if a company with $2 billion in annual payroll suddenly announced they were eliminating all payroll in 2011? This is the dire reality faced by Georgia workers if federal UI benefits expire. An estimated 90,000 Georgians will lose benefits in December unless Congress acts, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Emergency UI Benefits Typical Until Unemployment Drops to 7.2%

Federal emergency benefits have been available in recessions since the 1950s and historically remain in place until unemployment falls to 7.2 percent or lower. Almost one in ten workers is unemployed today (9.6 percent nationally and 9.9 percent in Georgia), yet these emergency benefits are set to expire. Georgia's unemployment rate will likely stay above 9 percent in 2011, according to GSU Economic Forecasting Center.

Federal UI Benefits Have Helped Workers...And the State Budget

Georgia workers receiving federal UI benefits have contributed an estimated $100 million in income tax revenue over the last 12 months. UI benefits act as wage replacements for unemployed workers as they search for a job, and Georgia treats those benefits like regular wages when it comes to taxes. As the state has struggled with falling revenues and rising need, these tax contributions have added a small boost to revenues.

While the debate about UI extensions should focus on the very real impacts to workers and families, we at the state-level should also consider the impacts on state budget and tax policy. If emergency UI benefits expire and unemployment remains at 9 percent, as expected, will state leaders have to fill an additional $100 million hole in FY 2012 on top of the $1.8 to $2 billion budget shortfall? Will the demand for state services increase as these workers lose benefits -- at the same time revenues remain low? Is the state prepared to meet those additional demands for services?

The expiration of federal UI benefits has consequences for workers, families, and local economies, as well as the state's ability to meet rising needs for services.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Third National Poll Confirms: Americans' Concern About Nasty Politics Continues to Climb

/PRNewswire/ -- Building on its April 2010 survey on the growing incivility in politics, the Center for Political Participation (CPP) at Allegheny College, in conjunction with Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), today released the findings of new polling data that suggests Americans see politics as increasingly nasty and that the current political tone may be harmful to our democracy. Still, an overwhelming majority believe that passionate but respectful campaigning is possible.

Some 63 percent of respondents in the latest civility poll, conducted during the last four days leading up to the November midterm elections, believe politics has become less civil since President Barack Obama took office nearly two years ago. This is up from 48 percent in the April survey, and up from 58 percent in a second poll conducted in September, two full months before the midterms.

"You have to remember," said Professor Daniel M. Shea, director of the CPP, "our first wave of polling was done immediately following the health care reform vote. Things were rather hot in Washington. The dramatic increase in the perceptions of negativity since then is stunning. Things have gotten even worse."

A full 46 percent of registered American voters in the November poll said this year's election was the "most negative they had ever seen." An additional 26 percent said that it was "more negative than in the past," but they had seen worse. Only 4 percent said that campaigns were more positive than in the past.

"Sure, memories are short and it's common for all of us to think the most recent election was the worst," said Shea. "But these polling results are powerful. Nearly three out of four people believe this election was one of the nastiest they have ever seen."

A majority of voters (64 percent) polled in November said that the degenerating tone of politics is unhealthy for our democracy. Only 17 percent think the tone of campaigns is healthy for our democracy, while 14 percent think the tone has little impact on democracy. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats who viewed 2010 as the most negative election said that incivility in politics hurts our democracy. Independents and Republicans also see a detrimental effect, with independents at 78 percent and Republicans at 72 percent.

Although a majority of African Americans and Hispanics believe the negative tone of campaigns hurts our democracy, these groups (55 percent black, 50 percent Hispanic) were less likely than whites (67 percent) to consider this as harmful to democracy.

Even so, the November poll finds that voters remain optimistic about candidates' ability to run positive campaigns. Nine out of 10 registered voters believe it is "possible for candidates to run for office in aggressive, but in respectful ways."

"This percentage actually grew by 5 percent from our mid-September poll," said Michael Wolf of Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, co-author of the study. "Just because the public views campaigns as brutal, particularly this year's, doesn't mean they think it has to be that way. At least for now there remains some optimism out there."

Does their perception of negativity in politics have an impact on voters' willingness to get involved? Thirty percent of all registered voters questioned in the poll reported that the tone of the midterm elections made them less interested in becoming engaged in the process. Independents and Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to say they were less interested due to the tone. Indeed, a majority of Republicans who said that the 2010 election was the most negative they had ever seen said the uncivil tone would actually push them to participate. Additionally, African-Americans—who on the whole are loyal to Democrats—were much more likely than all Americans to say that negative campaigning made them more interested in getting involved in elections.

Another sore subject for voters was the role that so-called "outside money" – through which interest groups not located in a particular district flood a race with ads, mailings and phone calls -- has played in campaigning. Just less than 60 percent of respondents oppose this practice. Democratic respondents were more opposed to outside money (69 percent) than independents (57 percent opposed). A majority of Republicans (51 percent) also oppose this practice.

"It's a bit early to know with certainty, but early evidence suggests a strong majority of outside money was aimed at helping the GOP retake control of Congress, and a vast majority of these ads were hard-hitting and negative," Shea said. "It would make sense that some of these ads actually revved up GOP voters."

This recent wave of polling for Allegheny and IPFW was conducted by SurveyUSA between Oct. 28 and Nov. 1, 2010. In all, 1,252 registered voters were contacted, yielding a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.

For a complete set of the data, along with cross tabulations and graphic displays of the results, see: The survey findings from the September poll, along with charts and cross tabulations, can be accessed at: The April 2010 survey, "Nastiness, Name-calling & Negativity," is available at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nation's Frontline Physicians Unhappy with Health Care Reform Measures

/PRNewswire/ -- The Physicians Foundation today released the results of a national survey of physicians that finds strong negative feelings towards the new health care reform law and fear that patient care will suffer in the months and years ahead. The survey was intended to gauge physicians' initial reaction to the passage of health reform and to learn the ways in which they plan to respond to it.

The research, conducted by Merritt Hawkins, a national physician search and consulting firm, on behalf of the Foundation, comes on the two-year anniversary of the Foundation's first national physician survey (available at that found growing dissatisfaction among doctors as they struggle with less time for patient care and increased time dealing with non-clinical paperwork, difficulty receiving reimbursement and burdensome government regulations. The new research reinforces those findings and shows that the new health care reform could intensify existing problems for doctors and worsen the shortage of primary care doctors, making it more difficult for patients to access quality care.

"Physicians support reform; in fact, we were the ones leading the fight against the status quo. But this new research shows that doctors strongly believe the law is not working like it needs to – for them, or for their patients," said Lou Goodman, PhD, President. "For any health care reform effort to be successful, it must include the viewpoint of our nation's doctors. Their perspective from the front-lines of patient care is critical in determining what's broken in our system and how we can fix it."

Notably, physicians also felt that Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR) had an equally large impact on their practices as health care reform. Proposed cuts have been repeatedly put off by Congress and in January will reach approximately 30% if not addressed.

"Despite the high profile nature of the health reform discussion, physicians are equally concerned over the impact of SGR on their practices," said Walker Ray, MD, Research Committee Chair. "The fact that SGR was not addressed as part of this year's reform effort shows that we don't have a comprehensive solution yet, and also that doctors simply didn't have a voice at the table during the reform debate. That needs to change."

Key research findings include:

* The majority of physicians (60%) said health reform will compel them to close or significantly restrict their practices to certain categories of patients. Of these, 93% said they will be forced to close or significantly restrict their practices to Medicaid patients, while 87% said they would be forced to close or significantly restrict their practices to Medicare patients.
* 40% of physicians said they would drop out of patient care in the next one to three years, either by retiring, seeking a non-clinical job within healthcare, or by seeking a non-healthcare related job.
* The majority of physicians (59%) said health reform will cause them to spend less time with patients.
* While over half of physicians said health reform will cause patient volumes in their practices to increase, 69% said they no longer have the time or resources to see additional patients in their practices while still maintaining quality of care.
* 67% of physicians said their initial reaction to passage of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was either "somewhat negative" or "very negative" and a great majority (86%) believes the viewpoint of physicians was not adequately represented to policy makers during the run-up to passage of the law.
* Physicians are almost evenly divided over the relative importance of SGR (36%) and health reform (34%) to their practices, while 30% are unsure which will have the greatest impact.

Monday, November 15, 2010

United States Supreme Court Will Soon Issue a Landmark Decision on the Validity of the Constitution

/PRNewswire-/ -- The United States Supreme Court will soon issue a landmark decision on the validity of the Constitution. The Supreme Court will consider three petitions filed by William M. Windsor, a retired Atlanta, Georgia grandfather. The decision should be rendered by the end of the year. Unless The Supreme Court acts, federal judges will be free to void the Constitution.

The Questions Presented to The Supreme Court by Grandfather Windsor are:

1. Will The Supreme Court declare that the Constitution and its amendments may be voided by federal judges?
2. Should federal judges be stopped from committing illegal and corrupt acts to obstruct justice and inflict bias on litigants?
3. Will The Supreme Court be afraid to disclose the corruption in the federal courts?

These questions are presented in three separate Petitions for Writ of Mandamus filed with The United States Supreme Court the first week of November 2010 (appeal numbers to-be-assigned).

Windsor has been involved in legal action in the federal courts in Atlanta since 2006. Windsor was named a defendant in a lawsuit (1:06-CV-0714-ODE) in which Christopher Glynn of Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls, swore under oath that Windsor did a variety of things including the crimes of theft and bribery. Windsor stated under oath that Christopher Glynn made it all up and lied about absolutely everything that he swore. Windsor then obtained deposition testimony from Glynn and the other managers of the Maid of the Mist boat ride in Niagara Falls, and they admitted, under oath, that charges against Windsor were not true.

Despite this undeniable proof, federal Judge Orinda D. Evans declared that the grandfather of three should not have fought the lawsuit, and she forced him to pay over $400,000 in legal fees. Windsor appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, but federal judges Dubina, Hull, and Fay rubber-stamped Judge Evans' ruling. Windsor then took his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court where the justices said the appeal was not worthy of their consideration (cert denied).

Windsor believes that the federal courts and nine federal judges violated the Constitution, the Due Process Clause, and the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

Windsor says: "I have discovered that, at least in Atlanta, Georgia, the federal courts operate like a police state in which the judges are all-powerful, committing criminal acts from their benches and violating the Constitutional rights of parties who have the misfortune of appearing in their courts."

Windsor has now tossed the hot potato right square in the laps of the justices of the Supreme Court. By filing mandamus petitions rather than an appeal, The Supreme Court is forced to deal with Windsor's allegations of corruption in the federal courts.

Grandfather Windsor hopes for the best but fears for the worst: "I hope The Supreme Court is decent, honest, and cares about the Constitution and the citizens of the United States. However, I am sorry to say that at this point, I suspect the corruption goes all the way to the top. My charges have been totally ignored by the United States Attorney's Office, the FBI, and Congress. I have said to The Supreme Court that the issues can all be boiled down to one question: Is The United States Supreme Court prepared to stop the federal judges in Atlanta, Georgia from functioning like common criminals?"

Windsor says: "If The Supreme Court fails to act against these federal judges, the citizens of the United States need to know that there is not a shred of decency, honesty, or Constitutional rights in our federal courts. Corruption has consumed the federal court system, and we now live in a police state. Judges are free to do absolutely anything they want. Our laws are meaningless. Your life savings can be stolen by a federal judge, and they have no risk in violating every law in the books."

The Supreme Court may render its decision before the end of the year. It's one retired grandpa against the United States government.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Congress Should Remove Restrictions on Flexible Spending Accounts to Help Consumers

/PRNewswire/ -- Save Flexible Spending Plans today called on the new leaders in Congress to follow through on their campaign promises to fix problems with the health care reform law, including restrictions on employer-provided flexible spending accounts (FSAs).

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act includes several restrictions on FSAs, which were incorporated to pay for a portion of the health reform bill. First, starting on January 1, 2011, participants will need a doctor’s prescription in order to use their FSAs to pay for over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as allergy medicine and cough syrup. Second, beginning on January 1, 2013, contributions to FSAs will be capped at $2,500 per year.

“It was never a good idea to fund health reform on the backs of hard-working Americans who use flexible spending accounts to manage and contain health costs,” said Joe Jackson, chairman of Save Flexible Spending Plans and CEO of WageWorks, Inc., a benefits provider based in San Mateo, CA. “To improve and fix the health reform law, Congress should quickly repeal the requirement starting January 1, 2011 that a doctor’s prescription is needed for consumers to use their flex accounts to purchase over-the-counter medications, including Claritin, Zyrtec and Tylenol. This provision will not only drive up health care costs, but it is an utter waste of consumers’ and physicians’ limited time.”

Jackson recommends Congress preserve the usefulness of FSAs by taking the following actions:

Repeal the OTC Prescription Requirement

Employee benefits providers and retailers expect that the new OTC medication prescription requirement will blindside consumers and create an administrative nightmare. The new rule will also increase costs to the health care system since additional office visits will be required for patients seeking prescriptions to use their spending accounts for OTC medications.

If Congress can’t find a way to remove the restriction altogether, then it should at least follow the recommendation of leading industry groups, including the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, who have requested a delay in implementation of the provision in order to give providers and retailers an opportunity to educate consumers and develop applicable compliance procedures.

Remove the “Use it or Lose it” Provision

Today, FSA participants are required to spend their entire annual election before the end of the calendar year (or, in some cases, an extension deadline), or those funds are forfeited and returned to their employers. This “use it or lose it” rule often discourages individuals from utilizing FSAs to save on their health care expenses for fear that they will lose any remaining balance. Additionally, this forfeiture rule is no longer necessary now that an FSA contribution cap is set to go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Rather than forcing consumers to forfeit or spend unused money at the end of a plan year, Congress should revise the rule to allow participants each year to roll over up to $500 or cash-out unused FSA funds. With participants paying taxes on those funds or rolling over dollars into the next year, either solution would generate additional revenue for the federal government.

Increase the Contribution Cap

The future cap on FSA contributions will force approximately seven million hard-working Americans who use their FSAs to pay for out-of-pocket health care expenses that exceed the $2,500 limit to pay higher taxes and health care costs. Sadly, Americans with the highest out-of-pocket health care costs – those with chronic conditions or children with special needs – will be hit the hardest by this restriction. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, individuals and families with chronic illnesses incur annual out-of-pocket expenses that average $4,398 per year, which significantly exceeds the proposed $2,500 cap.

A more appropriate response is for Congress to set a cap at $5,000.

“FSAs are a lifeline for working Americans, often making the difference between staying afloat and going into debt over health care needs, and sometimes between getting necessary treatment and avoiding it altogether because of the cost. They enable participants to play an active role in managing their health care and should be preserved,” added Jackson.

About Save Flexible Spending Plans

Save Flexible Spending Plans is a national grassroots advocacy organization that protects against the restricted use of flexible spending accounts. The campaign is sponsored by the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC),, a non-profit organization dedicated to the maintenance and expansion of private employee benefit programs on a tax-advantaged basis. To learn more, take action and read the personal stories of FSA participants, please visit

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Consumer Watchdog Warns White House Strong Early Health Reform Rules are Needed to Prove Value of Law to Public

/PRNewswire/ -- Consumer Watchdog today warned the White House that the insurance industry is still intent on demolishing modest consumer protections in the health reform law, and outlined the most damaging industry demands in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The letter, noting that the chief industry lobbying group is hiring lobbyists with direct HHS and Justice Department ties, urges Sebelius not to accept any weakening and to repair some of the damage already done by industry pressure.

Read the letter, with data links, at

"The midterm elections are not a signal to water down reform until consumers can't see any benefit," said Carmen Balber, Washington director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog. "The White House has to prove to doubting voters that it can protect them from having to choose between paying the mortgage and keeping their health insurance."

"Consumers' unhappiness with the health reform law stems directly from their belief that they won't personally benefit from it as they watch premiums soar," said Balber. "You can help most Americans see the benefit by enacting strong protections in these consumer regulations."

The letter said:

"As you know, the health reform law did nothing to cap runaway rate hikes. However, two provisions of the law meant to at least curb the premiums consumers pay are now in your court: rules to require insurance companies to spend more on actual health care and less on administration and profit, and rules to define and require insurance companies to justify 'unreasonable' premiums before they take effect. The insurance industry, in the wake of the midterm election, is refocusing its efforts against these provisions on your agency.

"The insurers have threatened to disrupt insurance markets if health reform regulations are not to their liking. We urge you to reject such intimidation.

"You must instead strengthen new rules intended to shine a spotlight on insurer spending and make the insurance industry more efficient in providing health care. This must include a strong definition of what constitutes an 'unreasonable' rate increase, given the unaffordable double-digit premium increases that insurers are now imposing on existing customers. Your definition will govern whether insurers have to publicly defend their rate increases, and should be as simple and inclusive as possible to ensure that any questionable increase receives additional review."

The letter also warned that insurers have key additional demands that would, if accepted, make meaningless the law's demand that insurers spend a higher proportion of premium revenue on health care:

"[The industry's] chief and most damaging additional demands are, in brief:

"1. To combine each plan of a single insurer at the national level. …. Combining them nationally for purposes of the medical loss ratio would allow insurers to gouge customers in high-profit states by offsetting areas of low medical spending with higher proportions in better-regulated states.

"2. To deduct insurance broker fees from premiums before measuring MLR. …. If the deduction is allowed, the MLR minimum of 80% in those markets will become meaningless.

"3. To give many plans a larger percentage 'bonus' in calculating whether they have met the 80% individual/small business minimum and the 85% group plan minimum for health care spending."

In addition, said the letter, HHS must tighten the NAIC's too-loose definitions of what can be counted as insurer health care, particularly: corporate image marketing campaigns wrapped in a public health care message; deduction of virtually all federal and state taxes from premium income before the health care percentage is calculated; and failure to make public the insurers' defense of what they are counting as health care.

Ultimately, said the letter,

"Consumers cannot expect to pay a fair price for health insurance until all insurance companies are required to justify, and get approval for, every premium change, and until the public is allowed to fully participate in the rate review process. We urge you to encourage the states to enact and enhance prior approval rate regulation and consumer participation. Strong rules on medical spending and premium review are nevertheless your strongest currently available tools to protect consumers from insurer profiteering and greed."

Consumer Watchdog is a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, D.C. and Santa Monica, CA. Find us on the web at:

Monday, November 8, 2010

What's Next? An Issue that Unites Americans: Preservation of Parental Rights

/PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Michael P. Farris, J.D., President of

In the aftermath of this past election, it is appropriate to ask the question: What next? What will some of the legislative priorities be for the newly constituted House and Senate?

An issue that motivated many activists in last week's elections, while going largely uncovered by the national media, is the protection of the right of parents to make decisions concerning their children. This promises to be on the short list of action items for a new House controlled by Republicans.

During the last election cycle, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, and other Democratic leaders promised that they would seek and obtain ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Senator Jim DeMint (SC) introduced a resolution, S.Res.519, which opposes the ratification of the UN children's treaty that threatens the constitutional rights of parents. With the leadership of Senator DeMint and the substantial grassroots efforts of and 140+ affiliated family organizations, the Senate resolution has 31 formal sponsors. Written commitments from two additional senators bring the number to 33 Senators who stand against the use of international law to govern American parents. This is just one Senator away from the number needed to block ratification of this treaty.

A recent Zogby poll demonstrates that Americans oppose the Convention by 78.3% to 6.4%--a ratio of approximately 12 to 1.

On the flipside, 93% of Americans endorse the Supreme Court's traditional rule protecting parental rights as a fundamental freedom. And even with no explanation of the need for an amendment, 63% of the American public supports a constitutional amendment to protect these rights.

The proposed Parental Rights Amendment currently has 142 co-sponsors in the House, including 140 Republicans and two Democrats. In addition, dozens of candidates for the 112th Congress signed a pledge to cosponsor the Parental Rights Amendment. With many of these winning on November 2, already anticipates 156 cosponsors on the measure in January.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Libertarians oppose abusive TSA strip-search machines

Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle commented today (November 5) on the Transportation Security Administration's use of strip-search machines at airports.

Hinkle said, "The TSA should end the strip-search machine program immediately.

"We've reached a point where our government has no qualms about humiliating us.

"Everyone who cares about civil liberties should be outraged that the Obama administration has shown no respect for travelers' privacy or their right to be free from unreasonable searches. The fact that I want to travel on an airplane does not make me a threat, and it does not allow anyone to conduct a warrantless search under my clothing. The Obama administration apparently agrees with the neoconservative philosophy that there are no limits on government power in the areas of security and terrorism.

"Terrorists win when they provoke our government into overreacting. Apparently they have manipulated our government into chipping away at our rights and privacy. We should not let them get away with it."

American Pilots Association president Dave Bates recently spoke out against the strip-search machines, expressing concern about the possibly harmful radiation they emit.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently filed the opening brief in its lawsuit against the program. EPIC says that the machines violate the federal Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the Fourth Amendment. EPIC's president called the program "unlawful, invasive, and ineffective."

Hinkle continued, "We can ignore the government's assurances that images will not be stored. Regardless of policy, some security personnel will want to store the images, and they will find ways to do it. This is already reported to have happened in Florida, where U.S. Marshalls stored thousands of images from a courthouse scanner.

"Many airlines are probably relieved to have the federal government assume responsibility for security. But it's the airlines who ought to be responsible, and they should bear the liability for what happens on their flights. Rather than have a one-size-fits-all approach imposed by the government, passengers and airlines should be free to work together to determine what methods and levels of security fit their needs best.

"We encourage Americans to call their newly-elected members of Congress and tell them that they don't want this expensive, worthless, intrusive, unconstitutional program."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Hill Launches 2012 Election Coverage

The Hill is launching its coverage of the 2012 presidential election today.

Two new columns will appear under the banner White House 2012 in Ballot Box,'s campaign blog.

One of the columns, Obama's Bid For Re-election, will chronicle the president's every maneuver, both overt and covert, to position himself for victory in two years, and a second term in the Oval Office. The column will be written by Sam Youngman, The Hill's White House correspondent, who has been reporting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since the waning months of the Bush presidency, through the "change" election of November 2008, and the trials and triumphs of President Obama's first two years in office.

The Republican Primary column will focus on all the rising stars who might seek the GOP nomination — their exploratory committees and official announcements, the snows of New Hampshire and Iowa and the swelter of the convention. The column will be written by Christian Heinze, who founded the website two years ago and has built an unmatched trove of data about the politicking of potential Republican nominees.

“As one election ends, another cycle begins,” said The Hill’s Editor in Chief Hugo Gurdon. “Together these two columns will explain the long and hard-fought 2012 presidential campaign, which starts right now.”

Youngman will analyze, amid the unfolding events of government, what the president needs to do to recapture the excitement he created in 2007 and 2008..

Heinze will examine how establishment and outsider candidates approach a race in which the Tea Party is a factor with proven power but unclear direction.

To check them out go to the White House 2012 columns each Wednesday, at box

Sincerely, Hugo Gurdon
Editor in Chief, The Hill

The Hill, which has the largest circulation of any Capitol Hill publication, comes out daily when Congress is in session, and runs 24/7 on the web. Since its launch in 1994, The Hill has been the newspaper for and about Congress, breaking stories from Capitol Hill, K Street and the White House.

NPRA Statement on Defeat of Proposition 23 in California

/PRNewswire/ -- Charles T. Drevna, president of NPRA, the National Petrochemical &Refiners Association, today issued the following statement on the defeat of Proposition 23 in California:

"Proposition 23 was defeated because a sophisticated multimillion-dollar misinformation campaign falsely led Californians to believe they were voting to clean their air of pollutants that posed a danger to their health. In fact, Proposition 23 would simply have temporarily postponed drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are made up largely of carbon dioxide, the same substance humans and animals exhale after every breath we take. The postponement would have been in effect only until California's unemployment rate dropped to reasonable levels for a year.

"The defeat of Proposition 23 will hurt families across California by destroying jobs and raising the costs of gasoline, diesel fuel, electricity and more. It is the wrong medicine at the wrong time for California's ailing economy, which suffered from a 12.4 percent unemployment rate in September that left 2.27 million men and women unable to find jobs they so desperately need.

"The severe economic pain and hardship caused by the extreme mandates of Proposition 23 will accomplish absolutely nothing positive in terms of climate change. They will result in the relocation of jobs and businesses from California to other states and other countries, along with the relocation of carbon emissions produced by those businesses and people. Since every state and nation on Earth share the same atmosphere, moving carbon from one location to another will not bring about any reduction in greenhouse gases.

"The victories of Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer in Tuesday's election certainly helped win passage of Proposition 23, since voters who cast ballots for the winning candidates understandably heeded their calls for support of Proposition 23. I would not be surprised to see Californians vote again on this issue in the future, after the full magnitude of the suffering created by AB32 becomes a reality. It's tragic that this economic pain now looming in California's future was not averted with the passage of Proposition 23."