Associated Press

Americans Value Privacy Over Security, Survey Results Suggest

President Obama’s claim to be responding to people’s concerns related to the NSA’s surveillance programs hasn’t gained momentum, mainly because most Americans still believe that his promised reforms will do nothing to address the real problems.

According to Politico, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows that over 60 percent of people who participated said they value privacy over surveillance tactics disguised as anti-terror protections carried out by agencies like the National Security Agency. Since the last time this question was asked of respondents back in August by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the percentage of Americans that claimed to value privacy over security has gone up two points.

Since NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden made his revelations public, President Obama has been scrambling to gain the public’s trust back but none of his efforts seems to be paying off. He has recently promised to review NSA’s surveillance system by ensuring that new limits are going to be imposed to the intelligence committee. According to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Obama’s reforms are not going to be effective mostly because the President has misdiagnosed the problem.

According to the most recent poll, only 34% of respondents claimed to support Obama’s reform proposals concerning the FISA court procedures and the creation of a panel of attorneys that would offer counter-arguments to the government, while only 17% say Obama’s proposal to move collected phone data out of the NSA’s hands is valid.

Integrity Crumbles within the “Nixonian” Obama Administration

This past week brought forth a deluge of breaking news stories regarding scandalous behavior within various agencies and departments of the Obama Administration. They all seem to point to the same thing: government overreach. Furthermore, they all have been earning Obama a litany of Nixon comparisons.

In case you missed them, here’s my (link fest!) summary of events:

1) Last week’s Benghazi revelations were twofold:

Understanding media bias

media biasYes, there does appear to be a media bias.  I see it all the time, just like you probably do.  Part of the reason Fox News does as well as it does is because he simply presents a different media bias than what it’s watchers see elsewhere.  They’ve presented something new, and are being rewarded for it.

However, many people don’t believe in media bias.  They just don’t think it exists.  Well, let’s take a quick lesson in media bias, and some of the reasons for it.  For the record, I am the publisher of The Albany Journal, what was once a weekly newspaper in Albany, Georgia but is now an online news website.  I’m not telling you this to try and make it out like my vast newspaper experience gives me some insight (I only bought the paper last October after all), but so some stories later on will make some sense.

When talking about media bias, there are some things that happen.  I’m guilty of it as much as the next newspaper editor/publisher/news director.  Some stories cross my desk, and my natural reaction is to not devote space to them.  Even if they don’t cross my desk, I sometimes read articles on other sites and think “I wouldn’t run that”.  Sometimes, it’s well founded.  An eatery half way across the state that says it is going to start making their own bread just isn’t news for Albany.

Sometimes though, my subconscious makes the decision for me.  For example, a story about how laws regarding junk food in schools may be helping reduce childhood obesity.  Now, this as an AP story, and I don’t get to run AP stories, but this is a case of one I would probably not have run.  Consciously, I would probably argue to myself that I just don’t think my readers would find it interesting, but is that really the reason?

AP questions Obama’s stimulus claims

President Obama claimed last night that his jobs plan would be paid for.  “Everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything,” he said.  In politics, it never gets more clear than that.  Of course, obviously I question it.  I question everything any politicians says.  What surprised me was that even the Associated Press is questioning it.

THE FACTS: Obama did not spell out exactly how he would pay for the measures contained in his nearly $450 billion American Jobs Act but said he would send his proposed specifics in a week to the new congressional supercommittee charged with finding budget savings. White House aides suggested that new deficit spending in the near term to try to promote job creation would be paid for in the future – the “out years,” in legislative jargon – but they did not specify what would be cut or what revenues they would use.

Essentially, the jobs plan is an IOU from a president and lawmakers who may not even be in office down the road when the bills come due. Today’s Congress cannot bind a later one for future spending. A future Congress could simply reverse it.

Thank you AP.

For the record, this is the same problem one runs into when talking about spending cuts.  Most of those cuts are deferred to the out years to ease the pinch in the short term, and most never materialize because, as the AP points out, Congress can’t tell a future Congress what they have to spend.

Regardless of what you think of the President’s jobs plan, his claim it will be paid for is dubious at best.  As the AP piece points out, Obama must send his proposal to the Super Committee – which he does not control – and hope they accept it, then get it through Congress and then hope that these proposals are adhered to in the future.

Americans to Obama: No, the Obamacare debate isn’t over

Obamacare may be off the frontpage, as yet another Obama administration scandal has dominated the headlines, but the law remains immensely unpopular with Americans, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll:

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that public opinion continues to run deeply negative on the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature effort to cover the uninsured. Forty-three percent oppose the law, compared with just 28 percent in support.
The poll does have a bright spot for the administration: Those who signed up for coverage aren’t reeling from sticker shock. Most said they found premiums in line with what they expected, or even lower.

But even that was diminished by another finding: More than one-third of those who said they or someone in their household tried to enroll, were ultimately unable to do so. For the White House, it’s an uncomfortable reminder of the technical problems that paralyzed the website for weeks after it went live last fall.

The numbers are roughly consistent with the past three Associated Press-GfK polls on the law dating back to December. Overall, more than 50 percent of Americans oppose Obamacare, according polling data compiled by Real Clear Politics, making President Obama’s declaration that the Obamacare “debate is and should be over” look laughably absurd.

Incompetent White House learned about the VA scandal on the news

The White House first learned of fraudulent waiting lists at Veterans Administration hospitals through — drumroll, please — news reports. At least that’s what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters yesterday afternoon at the daily press briefing.

“If you mean the specific allegations that I think were reported first by [CNN] out of Phoenix, I believe we learned about them through the reports. I will double-check if that’s not the case,” said Carney. “But that’s when we learned about them, and that’s when, as I understand it, [VA] Secretary [Eric] Shinseki learned about them and immediately took the action that he has taken, including instigating his own review — or initiating his own review, but also requesting that the inspector general investigate.”

NY Times reporter calls Obama administration the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation

Recent reports from the Associated Press and Cause of Action have explained in great detail that President Barack Obama hasn’t come close to living up to promises of greater transparency, a result of the White House’s effort to control information requested by the press that could prove to be a political headache or embarrassing.

The administration’s obsession of controlling of information isn’t limited to what documents are released. It also extends to how the administration tries to control the press, as James Risen, a reporter for The New York Times, recently explained at a conference (emphasis added):

New York Times reporter James Risen, who is fighting an order that he testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer accused of leaking information to him, opened the conference earlier by saying the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting,” Risen said, to “create a path for accepted reporting.” Anyone journalist who exceeds those parameters, Risen said, “will be punished.”

The administration’s aggressive prosecutions have created “a de facto Official Secrets Act,” Risen said, and the media has been “too timid” in responding.

Surprise!: Obama administration not even close to living up to transparency promises

Though he once promised that his administration would be the most transparent in American history, the Obama administration has gone to great lengths to keep sunlight from shining, the Associated Press reports:

More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
The government’s own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that halfway through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records. In category after category - except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees - the government’s efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.

In a year of intense public interest over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times - a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year, when it cited that reason 3,658 times. The Defense Department, including the NSA, and the CIA accounted for nearly all those. The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency cited national security six times, the Environmental Protection Agency did twice and the National Park Service once.

Americans with employer-based coverage blame Obamacare for premium hikes, deductible increases

It’s not just those who on the individual market who are seeing premium increases and higher deductibles because of 2010 insurance reform law. The Associated Press released a poll yesterday which found that Americans with employer-based health insurance facing the same problems, and they’re blaming Obamacare (emphasis added):

In the survey, nearly half of those with job-based or other private coverage say their policies will be changing next year — mostly for the worse. Nearly 4 in 5 (77 percent) blame the changes on the Affordable Care Act, even though the trend toward leaner coverage predates the law’s passage.

Sixty-nine percent say their premiums will be going up, while 59 percent say annual deductibles or copayments are increasing.

Only 21 percent of those with private coverage said their plan is expanding to cover more types of medical care, though coverage of preventive care at no charge to the patient has been required by the law for the past couple of years.

The talking point from President Obama, administration officials and congressional Democrats has been that the law effects only a small part of those already in the health insurance market.

House Republican moves to impeach Eric Holder

Citing a scandals and failure to comply with congressional investigations, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) has announced on Wednesday that he will introduce articles of impeachment against Attorney General Eric Holder:

A group of 11 House Republicans will introduce a resolution Thursday calling for the impeachment of Eric Holder, saying the Attorney General has lost credibility and trust over a string of issues in recent years.

The articles of impeachment, drafted by Rep. Pete Olson of Texas, faults the Attorney General for refusing to comply with a congressional investigation of the botched gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious,” led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
“This was not a decision that I made lightly,” Olson said in a statement. “The American people deserve answers and accountability. If the Attorney General refuses to provide answers, then Congress must take action.”

CNN reported last week that Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Florida, was highly involved in this new effort to try and impeach Holder.

Given the mood among House Republican leadership, which wants to avoid any big political battles with President Barack Obama between now and the mid-term election, this isn’t likely to get very far. CNN noted that it the impeachment effort probably won’t get a vote in committee.

Even if it did manage to get out of committee and pass the House of Representatives, the Senate, controlled by Democrats, would never bring it to the floor for a vote. The impeachment effort is, basically, a statement of disapproval against Holder than anything substantive.

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