Today in Liberty: Ukraine’s fight for freedom, House GOP walks back plans for Obamacare alternative

“The end of the law is, not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.” — John Locke

— “We want to be free from a dictatorship”: Learn Liberty released a new, 30-second video early yesterday evening featuring a young protester the Ukraine who explains why she fought her country’s regime. “I want you to know why thousands of people all over my country are on the streets,” she says. “We want to be free from a dictatorship. We want to be free from the politicians who work only for themselves.” Watch it. Because we seriously teared up.

Severity of California’s drought isn’t about climate change

California drought

The ongoing drought in California’s Central Valley has become the next big avenue for President Barack Obama to push his climate change agenda, using the state’s farmers as a distraction from the real causes of its water woes.

“A changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher,” President Obama said on Friday. “Droughts have obviously been a part of life out here in the West since before any of us were around and water politics in California have always been complicated, but scientific evidence shows that a changing climate is going to make them more intense.”

“The planet is slowly going to keep warming for a long time to come. So we’re going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for; we’ve got to start looking at these disasters as something to prepare for, to anticipate, to start building new infrastructure, to start having new plans, to recalibrate the baseline that we’re working off of,” he added.

President Obama revealed a $1 billion initiative that he will include in his next budget proposal that would provide “funding for new technologies to help communities prepare for a changing climate, set up incentives to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure.”

The drought brings another opportunity to pitch his climate change agenda, but it overlooks the some of the issues that have exacerbated the problem, including a 2007 federal court ruling that required the state to divert water resources to the ocean to protect delta smelt, a protected fish species.

Today in Liberty: NSA reforms stalled, Amash on conservatism and libertarianism, Mike Lee on Obamacare’s lawlessness

“Our system, with its unhealthy, unconstitutional concentration of power, feeds on the atavistic tendency to see the chief magistrate as our national father or mother, responsible for our economic well-being, our physical safety, and even our sense of belonging. Relimiting the presidency depends on freeing ourselves from a mind-set one century in the making.” — Gene Healy

— It’s Presidents Day: Rather than embellishing the office of the executive and the power its welds, you should pick up Gene Healy’s e-books — The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power (free) and False Idol: Barack Obama and the Continuing Cult of the Presidency ($3.03). Trust us, these two e-books are well worth the time it takes to read them.

— Another big Obamacare change could be coming: This would one be pretty significant, not to mention costly. The Washington Examiner reports this morning that the insurance industry and the Obama administration are discussing the extension of the transitional “risk corridors” provision (also known as the Obamacare bailout provision). We’ll have a little more on this later this morning.

CA-33: Fluke files paperwork to run for Congress (updated)

Sandra Fluke

UPDATE: Fluke now says that she won’t run for Congress, despite filing to run. She will instead seek a California State Senate seat.

Nearly a week after floating the idea of running for Congress, Politico reported this morning that Sandra Fluke has filed paperwork with the California Democratic Party to seek its nomination in California’s 33rd district, the seat being vacated by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA):

The California Democratic Party lists Fluke’s name as having officially filed with the party to run in the California district of the retiring Democrat. Two other candidates have filed to run and three others are considered potential candidates, according to the party’s site.

But a spokeswoman for Fluke said the move was simply a necessary step if down the line she wants to seek the party’s endorsement and said no final decisions have been made.

Fluke has not filed campaign paperwork with the FEC.

As we noted last week, Fluke gained notoriety in 2012 when she testified at a hearing hosted by House Democrats, during which she claimed that her contraceptives cost her some $3,000 over the course of a few years.

CA-33: Henry Waxman to retire, Sandra Fluke considers congressional bid

In yet another sign that Democrats have given up on their quest to take back the House of Representatives, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has decided to call it quits, after 40 years in Washington.

Waxman, who represented California’s 33rd Congressional District (CA-33), served as the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and would have likely been in line to chair the powerful committee if Democrats took back the House this fall.

The California Democrat led Energy and Commerce from 2007 to 2011 and helped push President Barack Obama’s cap-and-trade bill and other environmental legislation. He was also one of the key congressional architects of Obamacare. So, you know, good riddance.

The most interesting development in this, however, is that Sandra Fluke is considering a bid to succeed Waxman in CA-33, according to Politico:

Sandra Fluke, who became an instant celebrity when she was denied the opportunity to testify at a hearing on Obamacare’s contraception requirements, is “strongly considering” a bid for Rep. Henry Waxman’s congressional seat, according to KPCC, a Southern California radio station.

Maldonado Out of CA Gov Race, Donnelly Video Gets Attention

Tim Donnelly

California’s gubernatorial race got a little less crowded last week when former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado dropped out of the race, stating, “I’ve concluded that the best way I can help to advance those solutions this year is by helping other Republican candidates, especially those for down ticket offices running in districts full of Californians who are Republicans, but as Ronald Reagan said, just don’t know it yet.”

The hand-picked favorite of the party establishment, Maldonado is widely disliked by a large swath of the state’s conservatives, who dislike his involvement in the creation of the top-two primary system and viewed him as too willing to kowtow to Democrats.

Meanwhile, State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly’s campaign is picking up steam. A December PPIC poll showed him leading the field of potential GOP candidates and he has gained the endorsement of a handful of celebrities, including Rob Schneider and Maria Conchita Alsonso. Donnelly’s refreshing, unorthodox approach to campaign videos that is getting social media love. In this week’s video with Alonso, he talks about making California sexy for business again and Alonso saying in Spanish, “He has big ones. And he’s angry.” This approach should make a wide audience stand up and take notice.

Because of her support for Donnelly, the actress was forced to resign from an upcoming San Francisco production of “The Vagina Monologues.”

California legislators join anti-NSA push


In response to the ongoing domestic surveillance controversy, two California legislators have introduced legislation to prohibit state agencies from providing any material support to the National Security Agency.

California state Sens. Ted Lieu (D-Torrence) and Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) have introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act (SB 828), based on legislation promoted by the OffNow coalition. The measure would ban state agencies and subdivisions from providing public utilities, such as water, to the NSA or any other federal agency which “claims the power…to collect electronic data or metadata.”

“The National Security Agency’s massive level of spying and indiscriminate collecting of phone and electronic data on all Americans, including more than 38 million Californians, is a direct threat to our liberty and freedom,” said Lieu in a statement.

“I agree with the NSA that the world is a dangerous place,” Lieu said. “That is why our founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood the grave dangers of an out-of-control federal government,” he added.

Similar legislation has been introduced in a handful of other states — including Arizona, Kansas and Missouri — and has been hailed as a way to “nullify” the NSA’s controversial (and unconstitutional) domestic surveillance program.

70% of California doctors won’t participate in Obamacare

California Medical Associate

President Barack Obama’s promise that Americans could keep their health plans and doctors under Obamacare has already proved to be false, given millions of cancellations and limited networks that have left consumers without access to their primary physician or top-tier hospitals.

But survey by the California Medical Association, via the Washington Examiner, shows an overwhelming majority of its members have refused to accept plans purchased through that state’s exchange. The reason? These doctors fear Obamacare will force them to operate at a loss:

An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange and won’t participate, the head of the state’s largest medical association said.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there’s a high rate of nonparticipation,” said Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association.

Thorp has been a primary care doctor for 38 years in a small town 90 miles north of Sacramento. The CMA represents 38,000 of the roughly 104,000 doctors in California.

“We need some recognition that we’re doing a service to the community. But we can’t do it for free. And we can’t do it at a loss. No other business would do that,” he said.

California offers one of the lowest government reimbursement rates in the country — 30 percent lower than federal Medicare payments. And reimbursement rates for some procedures are even lower.

Obamacare enrollments tick up, still anemic

We likely won’t have solid numbers until next month, but various media outlets have reported that “enrollments,” a loosely defined term, through the federal and state Obamacare exchanges have increased since the beginning of the month.

The New York Times noted on Tuesday that enrollments on the federal Obamacare exchange,, have jumped to “more than 50,000” in the first two weeks of November, from last month’s dismal total of 26,284.

Similarly, California has seen enrollments “nearly double” on its state exchange, according to the Los Angeles Times, and that Connecticut and Kentucky “are outpacing their enrollment estimates.” Supporters of the law have seized on this, essentially saying, “There’s interest! States with functioning websites are getting enrollments.”

Yes and no. No one denied that there would be increased interest in the exchanges before the end of the year. Many want to ensure that they’ve enrolled before December 15 so that their coverage would be in place by the beginning of the year.

The Obama Administration anticipated that California would report 91,000 enrollments in October. They reported 35,364, roughly 39% of the initial estimate. Even if the numbers have nearly doubled and sustains that pace, the Golden State is still lagging.

Over 1 million insurance cancellation letters sent in California

The number of insurance cancellations continues to rise across the country, a byproduct of Obamacare’s strictly written “grandfathered plan” regulations. To date, more than 4.8 million Americans have seen their health plans canceled, despite President Obama’s promise that they could keep them, and that figure will continue to rise.

California, the most populous state in the country, accounts for approximate one-fifth of the cancellations, as more than 1 million consumers on the individual market have seen their policies terminated because they lost grandfathered status:

More than 1 million cancellation notices have been sent to Californians as the Affordable Care Act begins allowing individuals to buy insurance through exchanges, [state Insurance Commissioner Dave] Jones said. The federal law requires policies to offer minimum levels of coverage, forcing companies to terminate many existing plans. But Jones said that under the law, insurers have another year to do so.

The end of October cancellation estimate in California was 900,000. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced on Tuesday evening that she had co-sponsored Sen. Mary Landrieu’s measure that would allow some Americans to keep their plans, citing concerns of her constituents.

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