Tag Archive: government


Are you living in a Constitution Free Zone?
By Bobby Eberle April 17, 2014 7:13 am
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cfzIt’s sad to see what’s been happening with our government in recent years. Slowly, but surely, our rights and freedoms are being taken away. We thought our Constitution would protect us. After all, it was written to shield Americans from the abuses of government. But believe it or not, there are places in this country where the Constitution doesn’t apply.

As reported by Fox News, a federal judge has put forward a decision upholding the federal government’s practice of “‘suspicion-less’ searches of laptops, cameras and cell phones at the border.” There are two things wrong with this statement. First, that a federal judge would support these types of searches. And second, that this is an ongoing practice of our federal government!

“I think Americans are justifiably becoming increasingly surprised and even outraged by the extent to which the national security state seems to be monitoring and collecting information about us all,” said ACLU Attorney Catherine Crump. “We think that having a purely suspicion-less policy is wrong, because it leaves border agents with no standards at all to follow. That opens the door that people will be [targeted] for inappropriate reasons.”

The ACLU sued, claiming the broad expansion of search powers under President Obama posed a danger to the lives of ordinary Americans — especially since the administration claims it has the right to inspect items not just at ports of entry, but checkpoints hundreds of miles away. The ACLU calls these “Constitution-free zones.”

As Anthony Gucciardi points out, this zone around the United States “expands 100 miles and includes 197 million people.” We aren’t talking about Russia or China or Iran. We are talking about the United States of America under Barack Obama.

Gucciardi asks a basic question in his report: why isn’t the media reporting this? These zones, where anything of yours can be searched for any reason without having to have “cause,” is an ongoing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy. This is just outrageous! And the media don’t find this newsworthy? Why not? Why would they simply turn a blind eye to what’s happening to our freedoms?

Here’s how the 4th Amendment to the Constitution reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Donald Quinn, writing for Digital Journal, takes issue with what the federal government is doing:

For all those people who have been fighting tooth and nail against new gun control laws, in order to uphold the 2nd Amendment, the bad news is apparently it is already a lost cause. If your home, vehicle, or person has a gun within 100 miles of an international border, to include all land and sea borders, ports, and airports, then the law enforcement agent of any stripe can seize that gun on the simple premise that they believe you could be about to commit a crime. Without being called an alarmist, we need to understand that with the stripping of the 4th Amendment under this “constitution free zone” we have already lost the ability to defend ourselves against any other violations of the Bill of Rights. Think I am being a panic monger?

In the story reported in The Tampa Tribune, John Filippidis and his family were pulled over, searched, and detained on the side of the road for up to 90 minutes in Maryland recently. The officer, from the Transportation Authority Police, pulled over the family (kids and all) for a supposed traffic violation despite the fact that they were not speeding. What followed was an ordeal where a police officer tried to get Filippidis to disclose the location of his handgun. How did the officer know that the man had a weapon? Filippidis had a concealed weapons permit for the State of Florida, however, had chosen not to carry his gun on a family road trip this December. Despite being told this repeatedly, the officer searched Filippidis and interrogated him in front of his wife and kids. To add insult to injury, they searched the entire car — under the guise of reasonable suspicion. No due process and certainly no probable cause considering that not even a speeding ticket was awarded, and the department has since issued an apology. My question is, what would the officer have done had Filippidis been carrying his weapon under his 2nd Amendment rights, and what good did the 4th Amendment do a family that had done nothing to attract suspicion other than being legal registered gun owners in a different state?

This is really going on in America. I’m not usually on the side of the ACLU, but if we lose our protections under “probable cause,” then what’s next? The federal government is supposed to serve the people… not the other way around. If we keep forfeiting our freedoms all in the name of “security,” pretty soon we’ll have neither.

 

April 11, 2014
Nightmare: Feds seizing money from children for old debts of their parents
Thomas Lifson
In a case that is a perfect storm illustration of an arbitrary and incompetent federal government running roughshod over its citizens, “a single sentence tucked into the farm bill” had led to outrageous behavior. Marc Fisher of the Washington Post:

A few weeks ago, with no notice, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice had no idea that Uncle Sam had seized her money until some days later, when she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government — a very old debt.

When Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them.

Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.

Mary Grice is just unlucky, I guess. The feds want some money, and her name popped up, not those of her siblings. Tough luck when you get on the wrong side of the government. Her plight is not unique:

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years….

The feds are making up their own rules, and justice or personal responsibility are less important than the convenience of the bureaucrats:

Social Security officials told Grice that six people — Grice, her four siblings and her father’s first wife, whom she never knew — had received benefits under her father’s account. The government doesn’t look into exactly who got the overpayment; the policy is to seek compensation from the oldest sibling and work down through the family until the debt is paid.

The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.” But Social Security officials say that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children’s money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred.

It doesn’t even matter if the parents took the money and went on a bender, the kids are stuck with the bill, on the theory that they should have received the benefit and it would be too complicated for the bureaucrats if they had to actually, you know, prove that they had benefitted even as an infant. The most important thing, after all, is that the government get the money it wants.

Will anyone in the GOP wake up and start a crusade against this obvious government run amok travesty? Of course, how many of them voted for the “farm bill”?

 

Beyond Clive Bundy: The Real Range War and Why We’re Losing
Posted by MOTUS on April 13, 2014 at 12:19pm
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range-war
Hopefully your Saturday night and Palm Sunday morning activities have given you enough perspective to join me for a brief recap of the attempted federal land grab at the Bundy Ranch and the showdown at the NV Corral. You’ve undoubtedly heard the story by now of how the Bureau of Land Management attempted to evict Clive Bundy and his cows from the family’s centennial ranch (two second argument: tortoise trumps cows; because we said so). And now they’ve backed down, with an agreement that results in the slaughter of Bundy’s cows, for which he will receive half the proceeds. That’s, at least theoretically, a win for the good guys.
Now, here’s the rest of the story: (h/t Infowars and Dana Loesch)
The Bureau of Land Management, whose director was Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) former senior adviser, has purged documents from its web site stating that the agency wants Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle off of the land his family has worked for over 140 years in order to make way for solar panel power stations, or turtles. Or something. (more additional info here) “Back in 2012, the New American reported that Harry Reid’s son, Rory Reid, was the chief representative for a Chinese energy firm planning to build a $5-billion solar plant on public land in Laughlin, Nevada.”
Some people claim that what Harry really wants are the water rights, to divert to all his friends in Vegas, baby!
The stated reason for the land grab by the BLM was to protect a the desert tortoise – that is now so populous that the government i…
Although widely reported that Clive Bundy has not paid fees for use of his land, that isn’t quite accurate. He just hasn’t paid what the BLM thinks he should.
Last week hundreds of supporters (deemed the “militia” by the MSM, “armed anarchists” by others) showed up on the disputed land. Fevers were running high and anything might have happened. That is, prior to news of Harry Reid’s possible connections began to leak. Then, suddenly the Sherriff was able to work out a resolution with Clive, allowing the BLM armored division to back off.
web1_tresspasscattle_040514JL_01_14BLM snipers on BLM helicopter
I’m guessing the hostage negotiations were amicably settled for one of several reasons:
Barry didn’t want to be the second black President with blood on his hands.
Ricky didn’t want to be the first black Attorney General with blood on his hands.
Harry told them to back down, as the subsequent investigation would result in a midterm bloodbath.
The last time a story got a little too close to examining just why people call him “Dirty” Harry, the Feds also withdrew the complaint. Makes you wonder how many pictures, of whom, he has in private dossier.
harry reid wtf“Go ahead punk, make my day.”
So I think you’re pretty much up to speed now. When the story started to zero in on Democrat-nerve central, it had to be killed. Same as the cattle that the Feds have already rounded up from the Bundy ranch. Don’t worry though, they’re going to split the proceeds of the slaughter with the Bundy family, which is mighty generous of them, given all the trouble they’ve gone through – the Feds, I mean.
192131_5_
Anyway, this is certainly an interesting little story, butt there’s a much bigger, more interesting story that has been pretty much ignored in MSM.
A two-decades-old battle between a Nevada rancher and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has resulted in officials armed with machine guns surrounding the ranch and forcibly removing the owner’s cattle, according to the rancher’s family.
It’s one of those what-in-the-world is going on here storie: how is it that the Bureau of Land Management came to have armored vehicles and agents armed with military style arms in order to deal with trespassers on their national turtle refuge? If they want to evict someone occupying their land they should have to call the Sherriff – whose job is to enforce the law – just like everybody else. If the Sherriff needs backup, they call in the FBI – whose job is also to uphold the law. As far as I know, the Bureau of Land Management’s job is to, well, “manage the land” not scorch it.
Screenshot Studio capture #1885
I don’t see anything in BLM’s mission statement about protecting the Constitution (obviously), upholding the law, or forcing evictions. And yet, here they are, with armed agents, armored vehicles and “low-flying” helicopters to round up a rancher’s cattle. What’s wrong with this picture?
first_amendment_areaIt’s a constitutional right, not an “area”
Now every administrative agency (emphasis on “administrative”) in the U.S. government gets to have it’s own SWAT team. Seriously, “Homeland Security aims to buy 1.6b rounds of ammo” would have been a really big story at any other time in the history of the Republic, now it’s barely noted in the MSM.
It’s no wonder we’re going broke. Armies are very expensive. Maybe we should just merge them all into one civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded as the military.
cropped civilian military force-WM copy
So the moral of the story is this: Don’t count your liberties before they’re secured. Because in a range war between the tortoise and the Harry, freedom is only one generation away from extinction.
Posted from: Michelle Obama’s Mirror

 

Wyoming welder faces $75,000 a day in EPA fines for building pond on his property

Barnini Chakraborty
By  Published March 14, 2014
  • Johnson family pond.jpg

    Johnson family.CREDIT: ANDREW JOHNSON

All Andy Johnson wanted to do was build a stock pond on his sprawling eight-acre Wyoming farm. He and his wife Katie spent hours constructing it, filling it with crystal-clear water, and bringing in brook and brown trout, ducks and geese. It was a place where his horses could drink and graze, and a private playground for his three children. But instead of enjoying the fruits of his labor, the Wyoming welder says he was harangued by the federal government, stuck in what he calls a petty power play by the Environmental Protection Agency. He claims the agency is now threatening him with civil and criminal penalties – including the threat of a $75,000-a-day fine. “I have not paid them a dime nor will I,” a defiant Johnson told FoxNews.com. “I will go bankrupt if I have to fighting it. My wife and I built [the pond] together. We put our blood, sweat and tears into it. It was our dream.” But Johnson may be in for a rude awakening. The government says he violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Further, the EPA claims that material from his pond is being discharged into other waterways. Johnson says he built a stock pond — a man-made pond meant to attract wildlife — which is exempt from Clean Water Act regulations. The property owner says he followed the state rules for a stock pond when he built it in 2012 and has an April 4-dated letter from the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office to prove it. “Said permit is in good standing and is entitled to be exercised exactly as permitted,” the state agency letter to Johnson said. But the EPA isn’t backing down and argues they have final say over the issue. They also say Johnson needs to restore the land or face the fines. Johnson plans to fight. “This goes a lot further than a pond,” he said. “It’s about a person’s rights. I have three little kids. I am not going to roll over and let [the government] tell me what I can do on my land. I followed the rules.” Johnson says he was “bombarded by hopelessness” when he first received the administrative order from the EPA. He then turned to state lawmakers who fast-tracked his pleas to Wyoming’s two U.S. senators, John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter. The Republican lawmakers sent a March 12 letter to Nancy Stoner, the EPA’s acting assistant administration for water, saying they were “troubled” by Johnson’s case and demanding the EPA withdraw the compliance order. “Rather than a sober administration of the Clean Water Act, the Compliance Order reads like a draconian edict of a heavy-handed bureaucracy,” the letter states. The EPA order on Jan. 30 gave Johnson 30 days to hire a consultant and have him or her assess the impact of the supposed unauthorized discharges. The report was also supposed to include a restoration proposal to be approved by the EPA as well as contain a schedule requiring all work be completed within 60 days of the plan’s approval. If Johnson doesn’t comply — and he hasn’t so far — he’s subject to $37,500 per day in civil penalties as well as another $37,500 per day in fines for statutory violations. The senators’ letter questioned the argument that Johnson built a dam and not a stock pond. “Fairness and due process require the EPA base its compliance order on more than an assumption,” they wrote. “Instead of treating Mr. Johnson as guilty until he proves his innocence by demonstrating his entitlement to the Clean Water Act section 404 (f)(1)(C) stock pond exemption, EPA should make its case that a dam was built and that the Section 404 exemption does not apply.” The EPA told FoxNews.com that it is reviewing the senators’ letter. “We will carefully evaluate any additional information received, and all of the facts regarding this case,” a spokeswoman for the agency said. The authority of the EPA has recently been called into question over proposed rule changes that would redefine what bodies of water the government agency will oversee under the Clean Water Act. The proposed changes would give the agency a say in ponds, lakes, wetlands and any stream — natural or manmade — that would have an effect on downstream navigable waters on both public land and private property. “If the compliance order stands as an example of how EPA intends to operate after completing its current ‘waters of the United States’ rulemaking, it should give pause to each and every landowner throughout the country,” the letter states. For now, the matter remains unresolved. Johnson says he’s not budging and there’s been no indication from the EPA they will withdraw the compliance order. Regardless of the outcome, Johnson says his legal fight with the government agency is a teachable moment for his kids “This is showing them that they shouldn’t back down,” Johnson said. “If you need to stand up and fight, you do it.”

Harvard journal says “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” is ancient, not a modern forgery
By Michelle Boorstein, Published: April 10 E-mail the writer
A new report claiming to support the authenticity of a papyrus fragment that quotes Jesus as saying the surprising words “my wife” set off new debate Thursday over what can be definitively known about Jesus and how early Christians saw matters of gender and sex.

Two years ago, Harvard Divinity School historian Karen King announced the discovery of the fragment. In the meantime, experts on subjects ranging from ancient script to carbon ink to early Christianity have discussed whether it could be a modern forgery and, if not, what significance its words might have.

On Thursday, the Harvard Theological Review’s April edition included several articles on the document’s composition, saying it probably dated from between the sixth and ninth centuries and might be even older.

King said authenticating what she calls “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” doesn’t prove that Jesus was married but sheds light on early Christians’ discussions about whether “the ideal mode of Christian” life was a celibate one, King wrote in the Review.

It’s not known who wrote the fragment, which is in Coptic, but in it Jesus speaks of his mother, his wife and a female disciple called “Mary,” King wrote. “The main point of the [fragment] is simply to affirm that women who are wives and mothers can be Jesus’s disciples,” King wrote.

Experts on ancient and contemporary Christianity saw the conversational value in the fragment, even if they disagreed on its historical import.

Hal Taussig — a New Testament professor who worked with King on the fragment and has written about other ancient Christian writings found in recent decades — said the words on the fragment are “breathtaking” and support the idea that Mary Magdalene “was a major leader in the early Jesus movement.”

Taussig said he believes the document is ancient and ostensibly as important as documents that make up the accepted New Testament.

“Everything we have is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. We have no original documents,” he said Thursday. “What you have are traditions of writing.”

Taussig said that even considering a non-celibate Jesus would be a “huge shift” for some. “This is where people will take the most offense,” he said. “But for many married people, this might make Jesus feel closer.”

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit who last month came out with a travelogue based on Jesus’s life, said there is a lot of evidence that Jesus was single.

“It’s incredible that the four Gospel writers wouldn’t have mentioned Jesus’s wife if he had one. They mentioned everyone else in his family,” Martin said. “There are Gospels that talk about Jesus turning stones into birds. … There is a natural desire to know as much as we can about Jesus.’’

Martin added: “But funnily enough, people who are quick to accept the veracity of this” appear to be liberal Christians who question the veracity of other biblical accounts, including that of the Resurrection, Martin said.

The Harvard Review included an article by a Brown University Egyptologist, Leo Depuydt, who said the document looked fraudulent and “hilarious.” He said he had never seen ancient Coptic manuscripts with boldface letters before.

“The effect is something like: ‘My wife. Get it? MY wife. You heard that right.’ The papyrus fragment seems ripe for a Monty Python sketch,” he wrote.

Liberal Actress Lena Dunham: It was a ‘Huge Disappointment’ When I Realized I was Straight

April 10, 2014 By Greg Campbell

Sometimes, people are just born straight…

Lena Dunham, the leftist crusader and star of HBO’s Girls has come forward with her disappointment in realizing that she is heterosexual.

In a recent interview with the NY Post, the ultra-left celebrity admitted that she was disappointed when she realized she was straight, but was thankful that her sister came out as homosexual because then someone in her family was representing her values.

According to the NY Post:
Lena Dunham spoke warmly about her sister coming out as gay at age 17 at the Point Honors Gala at the New York Public Library on Monday.

“This is probably the most attractive room I have yet to enter,” she told the crowd at the event for the Point Foundation, which helps LGBTQ students.

“Gay men clean up real good, which is probably why I have dated so many of you,” she joked.

The “Girls” star thanked her sister Grace, now 22, saying, “I have always felt a strong and emotional connection to members of the LGBTQ community. It was actually a huge disappointment for me when I came of age and realized that I was sexually attracted to men. So when my sister came out, I thought, ‘Thank God, now someone in this family can truly represent my beliefs and passions.’”
Of course, a person’s sexuality is entirely their business; however, at the same time that homosexual activists attempt to downplay the differences between homosexual partnerships and heterosexual partnerships, it serves as a glaring contradiction when homosexuality is celebrated and affirmation of one’s heterosexuality can be classified as a “disappointment.”

Lois Lerner Held in Contempt!

April 10, 2014 By Jennifer Burke

Lois Lerner has refused to answer questions regarding her role, or the actions of the IRS, in the targeting, harassment, and intimidation scandal of Tea Party and conservative groups. Now, the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, has voted 21–12 to hold her in contempt. Lerner, who was in charge of the tax exempt division in the IRS, made what amounted to an opening statement during her first appearance before the House Oversight Committee before invoking the Fifth Amendment.

Republicans on the committee have contended that Lerner gave up her right to plead the Fifth by delivering an opening statement in which she claimed that she had done nothing wrong. In making a statement, their argument is that they have the right to question her about her claims.

While Democrats on the committee accuse Republicans of election year political maneuvering and McCarthyism, many damaging facts have come out, all of which the left is ignoring, that implicates not only Lerner in this scandal, but also Democrats including Rep. Elijah Cummings.

President Obama has claimed that there is not a smidgen of corruption in the IRS scandal, despite the fact that a full investigation has never been done. The left has declared the scandal to be phony. Democrat Cummings has worked at every turn to obstruct justice and block answers from being found.

Earlier this week, Lerner was referred to the Justice Department by the House Ways and Means Committee for potential prosecution of her actions. If convicted of the crimes for which she has been accused, she could face 11 years in prison. Given Eric Holder’s refusal to conduct a full investigation into the IRS scandal, holding Lerner in contempt would give those targeted by her and the Democrats for their political beliefs at least some justice. The resolution of contempt now moves to a vote in the full House.

 

Sebelius Resigns After Troubles Over Health Site
By MICHAEL D. SHEARAPRIL 10, 2014

WASHINGTON — Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, is resigning, ending a stormy five-year tenure marred by the disastrous rollout of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Obama accepted Ms. Sebelius’s resignation this week, and on Friday morning, he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, officials said.

The departure comes as the Obama administration tries to move beyond its early stumbles in carrying out the law, convince a still-skeptical public of its lasting benefits, and help Democratic incumbents, who face blistering attack ads after supporting the legislation, survive the midterm elections this fall.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell in 2013.Budget Chief Is Obama’s Choice as New Health SecretaryAPRIL 10, 2014
Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy.

Even last week, as Mr. Obama triumphantly announced that enrollments in the exchanges had exceeded seven million, she did not appear next to him for the news conference in the Rose Garden.

The president is hoping that Ms. Burwell, 48, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated West Virginia native with a background in economic policy, will bring an intense focus and management acumen to the department. The budget office, which she has overseen since April of last year, is deeply involved in developing and carrying out health care policy.

“The president wants to make sure we have a proven manager and relentless implementer in the job over there, which is why he is going to nominate Sylvia,” said Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff.

Last month, Ms. Sebelius approached Mr. Obama and began a series of conversations about her future, Mr. McDonough said. The secretary told the president that the March 31 deadline for sign-ups under the health care law — and rising enrollment numbers — provided an opportunity for change, and that he would be best served by someone who was not the target of so much political ire, Mr. McDonough said.

“What was clear is that she thought that it was time to transition the leadership to somebody else,” he said. “She’s made clear in other comments publicly that she recognizes that she takes a lot of the incoming. She does hope — all of us hope — that we can get beyond the partisan sniping.”

Republicans seized on Ms. Sebelius’s departure to heap even more criticism on the law she helped pass and carry out. “No matter who is in charge of H.H.S., Obamacare will continue to be a disaster,” said Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said her resignation was “cold comfort to the millions of Americans who were deceived about what it would mean for them and their families” under the health care law.

The resignation is a low point in what had been a remarkable career for Ms. Sebelius, who as governor of Kansas was named by Time magazine as one of the five best governors in the country and was even mentioned as a possible running mate for Mr. Obama in 2008. The two had bonded when Ms. Sebelius endorsed his presidential bid early in 2008, becoming one of the highest-profile Democratic women to back him over Hillary Rodham Clinton, and helping him deliver a big win in the Kansas caucus.

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White House officials were quick to point out the many successes during Ms. Sebelius’s tenure: the end to pre-existing conditions as a bar to insurance, the ability for young people to stay on their parents’ insurance, and the reduction in the growth of health care costs. In addition, Ms. Sebelius helped push through mental health parity in insurance plans and worked with the Department of Education to promote early childhood education.

Ms. Sebelius said in an interview on Thursday that she had always known that she would not “be here to turn out the lights in 2017.”

“My balance has always been, when do you make that decision?” she added.

The president had been under pressure for months to fire Ms. Sebelius. But he had resisted, in part because he did not want the Department of Health and Human Services to undergo more upheaval amid all the problems plaguing HealthCare.gov, and in part because of his general reluctance to publicly rebuke top officials.

In November, Mr. Obama defended the secretary, saying in an interview with NBC News that she “doesn’t write code; yeah, she wasn’t our I.T. person.” As recently as last week, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, rejected any suggestion that Ms. Sebelius would be fired.

On Thursday, Mr. McDonough praised Ms. Sebelius as “a fierce advocate,” and said she had been “tenacious in her belief” in the president’s health care law. “She’s fearless in her defense of this idea at the heart of the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “The president has commented to me countless times how much he admires that.”

But the Affordable Care Act faces a range of obstacles, political and otherwise, in the months ahead, and Mr. Obama is hoping that Ms. Burwell can smoothly steer the department and bring stability to its operations. In addition to the midterm elections, in which the health care law is the target of a flood of negative ads, the administration is grappling with policy questions: how it will levy the penalty on individuals who lack insurance, how much premiums will go up in the coming year, and how ultimately to administer the requirement that employers provide insurance.

Ms. Sebelius was not Mr. Obama’s first choice to lead the department; he wanted former Senator Tom Daschle in the job, but Mr. Daschle withdrew after acknowledging that he had underpaid his taxes for several years. She was hailed as a gifted political leader in Kansas who could work with legislators of both parties. But those skills were less evident in Washington, and she became a more distant figure within the administration.

In addition to the political battles over the passage and carrying out of the Affordable Care Act, she clashed with conservatives over contraception, and faced frequent calls for her political head by Republicans after the health care website failed to function properly last year.

In hearings on Capitol Hill, Ms. Sebelius sometimes grew rattled under questioning by lawmakers. In one hearing at the end of October, Ms. Sebelius declared that HealthCare.gov “has never crashed.”

“It is functional,” she added, “but at a very slow speed and very low reliability, and has continued to function.”

She made that statement even as large screens in the hearing room showed a live shot of the website with a page that said: “The system is down at the moment. We are experiencing technical difficulties and hope to have them resolved soon.”

An appearance on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” last October went even worse. Mr. Stewart challenged her to “sign up for Obamacare” before he could download every movie ever made. “We’ll see which happens first,” he joked. She struggled to defend the website and the law.

The television appearance prompted headlines like “Kathleen Sebelius’s ‘Daily Show’ Disaster” and accusations from Republicans that she was being misleading. Democrats squirmed at her stiff and halting performance, which did little to inspire confidence.

But Ms. Sebelius has not been at the center of public attention in recent weeks. Her national television exposure has been limited after the poor public performances, but she has continued to make small appearances and has been active on Twitter to press for people to sign up for insurance. She submitted to another questioning before a Senate committee on Thursday and later acknowledged that the idea of not doing “a hearing every three weeks sounds pretty good to me.”

Ms. Sebelius said she hoped — but did not expect — that her departure would represent the beginning of a more cooperative period in Washington to make health care better.

“If I could take something along with me,” she said, it would be “all the animosity.”

» Muslims Divided on Presbyterian Easter Egg Hunt

Leaders from Dearborn’s Arab-American community gathered at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church Sunday morning, showing their support for what they call an event for the entire community that will include an egg hunt and relay race, among other things.

Osama Siblani, local activist and publisher of the Arab American News, said he believes recent news reports of concern over flyers being distributed at a public school in Dearborn for the church’s Eggstravaganza planned for Saturday did not reflect the feelings of the majority of the region’s 46,000 Arab Americans.

“We’re here to support the church as Muslims and Arabs,” he said Sunday morning, standing outside the church’s rear entrance with leaders from the church and the Arab-American community. “We believe the church is doing the right thing bringing the community together, bringing our children together so we can understand each other and love each other.”

Attorney Majed Moughni, who is Muslim and has two young children in Dearborn elementary schools, told the Free Press last week that his children were upset by receiving at school the flyer for Eggstravaganza, which includes images of eggs and a bunny. “My son was like, ‘Dad, I really don’t feel comfortable getting these flyers, telling me to go to church. I thought churches are not supposed to mix with schools,’ ” Moughni had said.

Moughni has said he was concerned about “using school teachers paid by public funds … to pass out these flyers that are being distributed by a church. I think that’s a serious violation of separation of church and state.”

Sunday afternoon, Moughni said he was shocked that so much came from his bringing attention to the matter and said other parents have responded to him through social media supporting his stance.

“I’m standing up for my children,” he said. “My position hasn’t changed.”

Pastor Netta Nichols of Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church said the church has received many e-mails, phone calls and messages through social media both for and against the event, including some she wish she had not seen. She said the church has used the Dearborn schools in the past to get information out to the community. The invitation was meant for everyone — regardless of religious background — as a way of strengthening community ties. The event is the result of a yearlong mission study on the needs of their community.

“I do believe Mr. Moughni’s concern is more with the school system sending out a flyer for an event that’s happening at a church. It’s a surprise it’s become such a major discussion,” Nichols said. “We just want people to get to know each other. This is a changing community, and it has been changing for years. We want to live in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.”

Muslim and Arab-American leaders at the church Sunday said they felt much was made of nothing with regards to the event.

“This ‘lone wolf’ voice does not represent the (Muslim) community,” said attorney Nabih Ayad, chairman of the Arab-American Civil Rights League.

Fatina Abdrabboh, director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said egg hunts are among the memories from her childhood.

The flyer advertises an egg hunt, egg toss and relay race. Siblani noted that the word “Easter” did not appear on the flyer. Nichols said school officials had requested and received edits before the flyer was sent home with students.

Siblani said several Muslim and Arab-American organizations were donating money to help with costs for the event. He said he plans to be there as well.

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(c)2014 the Detroit Free Press

 

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