US News: Guardian Liberty Voice Daily Digest for July 22, 2014

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The US News Daily Digest from Guardian Liberty Voice for July 22, 2014 begins with a tough day for Obamacare, examines Rick Perry’s presidential themes, looks askance at Perry’s turning out the Texas National Guard to patrol the border with Mexico while Chris Christie looks for traction in for his presidential hopes. Johns Hopkins settles a malpractice suit for $190 million, and R.J. Reynolds gets dinged for a really big wrongful death, as in $23 billion big. 

 Obamacare Batting .500 After A Tough Day in Court

Obamacare is batting .500 in the federal court system today, with one victory and one defeat for the embattled health care initiative. In same-day decisions, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Richmond, Virginia, upheld the legality of a key provision in the Affordable Care Act, which provides tax relief for consumers who are forced to pay more for health care insurance in the 34 states that decided against setting up their own healthcare marketplaces. It is rare for two cases involving the same defendant, in this case the U.S. government, to be decided in two separate courts on the same day. In fact, a review of US news sources failed to reveal a similar case.

Two hours earlier, however, a three justice panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal subsidies, which are given in the form of tax credits rather than in cash contributions, may be provided only to residents of states that have set up health care marketplaces. According to this court, Obama exceeded the limitation of the law by allowing the IRS to grant tax credits to citizens in states that don’t have marketplaces. If the Court of Appeals decision is left standing, it will leave residents of the other 34 states out of luck. In some cases, that benefit may exceed $5,000 annually and, in the event that Court rules against the Obama administration on this, it could sound the death knell for the entire program, which then might be considered to be in violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is widely considered the junior varsity of the Supreme Court, in part because the court hears many cases of national importance where there is no clear geographical territoriality associated with the case. Four of the nine justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court made their bones in the D.C. Court of Appeals before moving up to the High Court, and the D.C. Circuit’s decisions are usually considered harbingers of what the Supreme Court will do when a case gets to them.

In this case, however, the D.C. Court is being pitted against the 4th Circuit, which has a reputation for being the fastest and least overturned Appeals courts in the nation. Once considered the most conservative Appeals Court in the country, it is now considered one of the most liberal, with nine of its 15 justices having been appointed by Democratic presidents, and the last six all having been Obama appointees.

The Obama Administration will appeal the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision to the full panel of the D.C. Court, hoping for a victory at that level before going on to the Supreme Court where, right now, the smart money is betting on a 5 to 4 decision against the Affordable Care Act, putting Obamacare into what may become terminal life support.

Rick Perry Takes It Back to the Future in Iowa

In the 2012 Republican primary process, Texas Governor Rick Perry began as the punchline for a bad joke, and ended up in exactly the same predicament when his surprise run for the nomination collapsed in the face of the Romney juggernaut. In 2011, at the beginning of that fumbled effort, Iowa put Rick Perry on the map, a Republican Governor from Texas, of all places, looking for the Republican presidential nomination, following George Bush’s wavering footsteps toward what he hoped would be a ticket out of the Texas doldrums.

Seeking redemption for his embarrassingly poor showing in 2012, and hoping for the lightning to strike twice, Perry is again courting Iowans with his branded form of religion-laced politics. The Texas governor apparently does not remember that it was the religious aspect of his candidacy that made him vulnerable to the “let’s not talk about religion” tactics that help Mitt Romney to the nomination. Romney’s dedication to not talking about his Mormon faith made it difficult for Perry and the other faith-based Christian candidates to trade upon their Christianity without tacitly raising issues about Romney’s Mormonism.

Right now, pending further developments, it seems that Perry is going back to the well of his fundamentalist roots, while playing a two note campaign of Middle East interventionism, to differentiate himself from arch-rival Rand Paul, and his hard-line stance against immigrant children, with which he is attempting to goad Obama into making fun of him which, as tempting as that is, Obama has so far more or less refused to do. Unfortunately for Perry, Middle Eastern interventionism is quickly boiling down to support for Israel, once again, and no one runs against Israel who wants to win, so that policy plank goes nowhere. As far as the immigration issue is concerned, Perry seems to forget that he is not going to be running against Obama but rather against “a player to be named later,” who probably will…but may not be…Hillary Clinton.

Perry Activates Texas National Guard

In a related story, Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced that he is calling up 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard to patrol the border with Mexico, possibly violating federal law, since the last time a state was actively involved in patrolling its borders was during an altercation now known as the Civil War.

Perry says that he won’t stand by while American citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detailed in squalor. Perry has not said how his Texas Guardsmen are going to deal with immigrant children who are coming across the border, because there are only three possible choices: sending them back into Mexico, where they will probably die in the desert, do exactly what the federal government is doing, picking them up and putting them into shelters until they can be identified and sent home again, or just shoot them.

Perry has estimated the cost of deploying the National Guard at $1.2 million a week. An internal memo obtained by the McAllen Monitor, a newspaper from the town that became the epicenter of the debate when Jose Antonio Vargas was detained there last week, indicates that the actual cost will be $12 million a month, or $3 million a week. The people of Texas should bill the cost back to the Perry campaign.

Checking up on Chris Christie

The early indications are that Chris Christie has survived the George Washington Bridge Thing, as it is known in Washington political circles, without too much mud sticking to his shoes….but that will change, if he gets the chance to face a Democrat in a presidential campaign. That will only happen, however, if the Republican party loses control over itself again. Touring the country, stumping for Republican governors who do not really need the help in his capacity as the Chairman of the Republican Governors’ Conference, Christie is developing a campaign style that might be best described as saying nothing at great length. He refuses, for example, to discuss his own presidential ambitions, quite rightly asserting that he is in whatever state he is in to help a Republican governor who did not need the help, promising to say nothing until November, after the mid-term elections have run their course.

Like his Texas counterpart, Rick Perry, Christie hammers Obama on Middle East policies and immigration, continuing to campaign against a lame duck president because neither he, nor any other Republican, actually knows who they are going to be running against in 2016. Unlike Perry, who has to travel the revival tent circuit to draw crowds, Christie is a people magnet, whose larger than life personality compares well with Perry’s basic primness, but there is always a question of what the crowd is looking at, a candidate or a curiosity item.

Some observers have commented that BridgeGate (the George Washington Bridge Thing) is losing its grip on the electorate, but that may also be because Christie’s campaign appearances are carefully designed to prevent people from asking questions about BridgeGate which, since the people who attend these events are Republican faithfuls, they are not inclined to do. There are, nevertheless, five open investigations into BridgeGate and, despite the fact that Christie’s own investigation has proclaimed his innocence, none of those investigations have thus far cleared the New Jersey Governor of any wrongdoings, but no wrongdoing has yet been definitively ascribed to him either.

Rank and file Republicans may not care about BridgeGate, but Republican power brokers do and, among them, the question being asked might be paraphrased as, “Why bother with damaged goods when we can find a fresh face somewhere who doesn’t have that baggage?” It is a good question.

Johns Hopkins’ Peeping Tom Nikita Levy Costs Hospital $190 Million

Johns Hopkins University Hospital, the first, second or third best hospital in the nation, depending upon which survey one reads, is one of those institutions that no one seems to know by its correct name. Today, the venerable hospital and its insurance company are reeling from a $190 million settlement involving approximately 9,000 women whose private parts were photographed and videod by a Johns Hopkins gynecologist, Dr. Nikita Levy, over a 25 year period. The settlement amounts to approximately $21,111 per victim before legal expenses. Only 1,200 actual video clips and still images were found but, since there is no way to trace the images back to the women involved, all of the women who underwent pelvic exams by Levy are included in the class action suit. Johns Hopkins was deemed to be at fault because the hospital routinely allowed Levy to conduct pelvic examinations without having adequate chaperones present, as required by hospital regulations. One of the curiosities of this case is that the digital technology that Levy used is no more than 10 to 15 years old, raising questions about when this strange behavior really began. Levy is not available for comment, having committed suicide, presumably to avoid prosecution.

R.J.Reynolds Loses a Bundle in Florida Cancer Settlement

A Florida jury has awarded a Pensacola, Florida woman $23.016 billion because the R.J. Reynolds company neglected to inform her husband, Michael Johnson Sr, that nicotine is highly addictive and that smoking causes lung cancer. The award is for $16 million in compensatory damages, and $23 million in punitive damages. Johnson died of lung cancer in 1996.

This is the second time that Cynthia Robinson has been awarded a magnanimous settlement by a court. Her case was part of a class action suit in which $145 billion in damages were awarded, one of the largest such awards ever reported in the US news media, until the Florida Supreme Court overturned the decision in 2006. The judgment will be appealed again, but eventually the case will end up in a group of such cases that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear, letting the lower court decisions…and the financial awards….stand.

R.J. Reynolds was in the news just ten days ago when a merger with Lorillard Tobacco was announced that will enable to Reynolds to get into the lucrative e-cigarette market. Today, at the same time as the judgment in the Robinson case was being handed down, the two companies also won a judgment setting aside the rulings of a U.S. advisory board on menthol cigarettes because three of the panel’s nine voting members had consulted for drug companies manufacturing smoking cessation products. The three had also testified as paid expert witnesses against the tobacco companies.

Did the Marlboro Man really die of cancer?

Every time another tobacco judgment gets reported, people ask, “Did the Marlboro Man really die of cancer?” Even though Marlboro belongs to the Phillip Morris brand, which is owned by the Altria Group, the question still comes up, and the answer is yes, and no.

More than two dozen men…and no one seems to know how many more…have portrayed the Marlboro Man in television commercials, on billboards and in print advertising since the campaign was first initiated by advertising legend Leo Burnett in 1954. lists three “Marlboro Men” who are known to have passed away from smoking related conditions but others, still alive, may still succumb to tobacco smoke as they age, which gives new meaning to the trademarked motto, “Smoking more now, but enjoying it less?”

That was the motto of the “Camels” brand of cigarettes, which also used the trademarked slogan, “I’d walk a mile for Camel.” The Camel brand is owned by R.J. Reynolds, which directly aimed its campaign at the Marlboro brand which, because it used a lighter tobacco blend in a filtered cigarette could not compete with the robust, unfiltered Camel taste. The Camel pitch boiled down to the idea that, because they had more taste, smokers would smoke fewer Camels. Unfortunately, Joe Camel, the current Camel pitch-character, could not be reached for comment. He is currently under quarantine due to the MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic now slowly spreading across that part of the world.

The last cigarette commercial ever aired on American television was a Virginia Slims commercial (“You’ve come a long way, baby”) on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson at 11: 59 PM, December 31, 1970. (Some sources say it was 1971.) Some historians believe that Carson himself was the last person to smoke on a live television program, or even a videotaped one. He died on January 23, 2005, having frequently joked that, “These things are going to kill me,” while smoking cigarettes on camera. They did. Carson died from cigarette induced emphysema.

US News: Guardian Liberty Voice Daily Digest
Commentary by Alan M. Milner, National News Editor

See Also:

World News: Guardian Liberty Voice Daily Digest for July 22, 2014
Technology News: Guardian Liberty Voice Daily Digest for July 22, 2014
Today in Science: Guardian Liberty Voice Daily Digest for July 22, 2014
Health News: Guardian Liberty Voice Daily Digest for July 22, 2014
Gaming News: Guardian Liberty Voice Daily Digest for July 22, 2014


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