Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christie leads GOP pack of 2016 hopefuls

A pair of new polls hints at a likely matchup between Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential race. Christie and Clinton are the current favorites for their party’s presidential nomination. Christie is the only Republican who currently leads Clinton in head-to-head polling.

A Fox News poll released Dec. 27 found that Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton lead the nomination fight for 2016. Among Democrats, 68 percent prefer Hillary Clinton as the next presidential nominee. Clinton holds a 56 point lead over Vice President Joe Biden, the second place finisher. Elizabeth Warren, currently a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, was third with seven percent. New York governor Andrew Cuomo ranked fourth with four percent. Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick both garnered one percent.

Chris Christie, recently re-elected governor of New Jersey, topped the Fox News list of Republicans for 2016. Christie’s 16 percent was four points better than the second place finishers, but hints at a much tougher fight for the Republican nomination than Hillary Clinton is likely to face.

There is a strong fight for second place in the Republican poll. Senator Ted Cruz (Tex.), Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisc.), and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, all scored 12 percent. Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, received 11 percent. Florida Senator Marco Rubio finished fourth with eight percent and Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, received six percent. 2012 candidates Rick Perry and Rick Santorum both have the support of three percent in the current poll.

Republicans are also much more uncommitted than Democrats at this point. Seventeen percent of Republicans (one percent prefer other candidates, five percent prefer none of the above, and 11 percent don’t know) are uncommitted to any of the top candidates. On the Democratic side only eight percent are uncommitted (two percent prefer none of the above and six percent don’t know). This means that a serious Democratic challenger would have to attack Hillary’s record in an attempt to reduce her lead, while Republican hopefuls can focus their efforts on undecided voters with a more positive message.

A second poll from Dec. 26 by CNN/Opinion Research focuses on head-to-head races between top Republicans and Hillary Clinton. The only Republican who outpolled Clinton was Chris Christie. Christie edged out Clinton by 48-46 percent. The result was within the margin of error for the poll.

Christie “performs particularly well among independents, winning nearly six in 10 in that key group," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "He also wins a majority of suburbanites and older voters, something that no other GOP hopeful [that was] tested was able to do against Clinton. Christie doesn't win in the Northeast, although he does hold Clinton to a bare majority there, but he has a solid edge in the Midwest while playing Clinton to a draw in the South and West.” Even though Clinton won among women by 10 points, Christie outpolled her among men by a 14 point margin.

Two other national polls in recent weeks also show Christie and Clinton in a statistical dead heat. A Quinnipiac poll from Dec. 19 favored Clinton 44-43 while Public Policy, a Democratic polling firm, gave Christie a 45-42 edge on Dec. 18.

The Republican who fared second best against Clinton in the CNN poll was Paul Ryan. Ryan is House Budget Committee chairman and was Mitt Romney’s vice presidential candidate in 2012. Ryan has earned prominence for his role in negotiating an end to the government shutdown and the recent budget agreement. In current polling, Ryan trails Clinton by eight points.

All other potential Republican challengers currently trail Mrs. Clinton by double digit margins. In third place, Rand Paul trails by 13 points (41-54 percent). The other three potential candidates ranked in the poll trail by nearly 20 point each. Ted Cruz loses 39-57 percent while Marco Rubio is at 37-56 percent. Jeb Bush fared worst of all at 37-58 percent.

With two years to go before the beginning of the 2016 primary season, Hillary Clinton is the heavy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination while Chris Christie holds a slight edge among Republicans. With the current travails of Obamacare still underway and ominous signs appearing for Democrats, the current political climate may be unusually fluid.

Originally published on National Elections Examiner

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Relax. Obamacare doesn’t bring beheadings to US.

A new rumor about Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, making its rounds on the internet is that the law will make beheading an official method of execution in the United States. The rumor, apparently started by Lorri Anderson on the Freedom Outpost on Nov. 18, 2013, claims that a medical code for “legal execution” reveals that beheading and decapitation are coming to the United States. The Freedom Outpost is a conservative pseudo-news site that promotes birtherism, nullification as well as other conspiracy stories.

Anderson claims that a medical code, “ICD 9 E 978,” purports to list the legal methods of execution in the United States. The definition of the coding is found on under “International Classification of Diseases” and is as follows:

E978 Legal execution

          All executions performed at the behest of the judiciary or ruling authority
          [whether permanent or temporary] as:
           asphyxiation by gas
           beheading, decapitation (by guillotine)
           capital punishment
           other specified means

Anderson notes that the code is part of an international coding system, but doesn’t seem to understand what the codes are for or how they are used. She seems to believe that, because the United States is using the coding system, all parts of the code will apply to patients in the United States.

Writing for, Trisha Torrey explains that “ICD” codes are “International Statistical Classifications of Diseases.” The codes are used to categorize every disease, set of symptoms or cause of death that can be attributed to human beings. The coding system was developed by the World Health Organization, the coordinating authority for health in the United Nations. As electronic medical records are implemented, the codes will be used for diagnosis and treatment of health problems.

When someone dies, an ICD code will also be used to record the cause of death. This is where Anderson’s code for “legal execution” comes in. The code will obviously be used when a person has been executed “at the behest of the judiciary or ruling authority [whether permanent or temporary].” Even though “beheading” and “decapitation (by guillotine)” are not legal methods of execution for the federal government or any of the 50 states, beheading is still legal in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, rebels in Syria and the Taliban in Pakistan (possibly a temporary authority in areas that they control) have been known to use beheading, as did Saddam Hussein in pre-war Iraq. Other Islamic terrorists have also been known to behead their captives. In one notable case, Nick Berg, an American business who was Jewish, was kidnapped and beheaded by Iraqi Muslim terrorists in 2004 and the video of the murder was posted online. And no, there is no evidence that Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Regardless of what international medical codes define as legal methods of execution, the method of legal execution in the United States is established by the legislature. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 35 states plus the federal government have the death penalty. All states have lethal injection as the primary method of execution. In Georgia, lethal injection is the only legal means of execution. Federal law requires that in federal death penalty cases, the method of execution follows the law of the state in which the conviction took place. No state law permits execution by beheading.

Anderson also attempts to tie in the ICD coding to Agenda 21 by asserting that “WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations and directly linked to the League of Nations under the guise of collecting data.” In reality, the League of Nations was the predecessor to the United Nations and was disbanded in 1946 after failing in its primary mission of preventing a second world war. The United Nations was founded a year earlier in 1945.

Agenda 21 (read the full text here) is frequent fodder for conspiracy buffs. Agenda 21 is a protocol for achieving “sustainable development” in the 21st century that was drafted by the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992. The agenda is not a treaty. The Heritage Foundation noted in 2011 that Agenda 21 is “voluntary” and “nonbinding.” The United Nations Association agrees that Agenda 21 is “not legally binding” and “does not take precedence over U.S. law.” Agenda 21 passed the House of Representatives in 1992 (sponsored by Nancy Pelosi) according to the Library of Congress but was never passed by the Senate so it never became U.S. law.

Conspiracy proponents like columnist Rachel Alexander sometimes refer to Executive Orders that supposedly implement Agenda 21 without congressional approval. In reality, President Obama’s Executive Order 13575 which in 2011 established the White House Rural Council specifically says that “nothing in this order shall be construed to… affect… authority granted by law” and that the order “shall be implemented consistent with applicable law….” Obama’s Executive Order 13547 carries similar disclaimers to avoid in pretense of amending current federal law. Similar claims about other presidents are also farfetched. Two orders by Bill Clinton cited by conspiracy buffs (12852 and 12996) establish an advisory council for the president on sustainable development and create wildlife refuges on public use lands. George W. Bush is also blamed for Executive Orders 13423 and 13366, which are equally innocuous and also carry disclaimers that they do not amend existing law.

It takes little research to quickly determine that the Affordable Care Act will not implement beheadings in the United States. It can be determined almost as quickly that however ill-advised that Agenda 21 may be, it does not apply to the United States.

If you find an internet conspiracy theory that would like Examiner to investigate, contact the Atlanta Conservative Examiner at or on the Common Sense Conservative Facebook page. If your conspiracy is selected for an article, you will receive an official Atlanta Conservative Examiner tinfoil hat. Readers might also be interested in Examiner’s guide to “Becoming a discerning internet user,” a helpful article on distinguishing fact from fiction on the internet.

Originally published on Atlanta Conservative Examiner

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TSA Pre-check eases burden on frequent fliers


temporaryJust in time for the holiday travel season, the Transportation Security Administration has rolled out new security measures that are less intrusive and faster for travelers. The program is called “Pre-check” and I had the chance to try it first hand on an airline trip from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (airport details on The program expanded to several new airports on Dec. 16.

To participate in the Pre-check program, travelers must be U.S. citizens and members of frequent flyer programs who meet certain TSA criteria, the Pre-check application program, or the Trusted Traveler program. Members of the U.S. military also qualify for Pre-check. U.S. citizens who do not fall into one of these categories can apply for Pre-check status on the TSA website. If you are a member of a frequent flyer program, you may already be approved for Pre-check.

Pre-check is not available at all airports. A list of approved airports and airlines is also available on the TSA website. The list includes hours of operation for Pre-check lanes, but times are subject to change.

Once approved, taking part in the Pre-check is easy. Boarding passes will be printed with the “TSA Pre✓™ ” logo. When the traveler goes to the TSA security checkpoint, a TSA officer will direct them to the Pre-check lane if your trip is eligible. This lane will allow travelers to go through security screening without removing their shoes, belts or lightweight jackets, which greatly speeds the process of clearing security. Laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids may be kept in their bags and children under 12 can accompany their adult travel companions.

On my trip, I arrived at the checkpoint after a brief wait and was referred to the Pre-check line by the TSA officer who pre-screened my boarding pass and identification. I carried my roller bag to the Pre-check line which was shorter and moved quicker than the traditional screening lines.

At the head of the line, another TSA officer verified the Pre-check logo on my boarding pass and crosschecked it with my ID again. As we moved toward the checkpoint, TSA officers reminded us that we did not have to remove our shoes, belts or lightweight jackets. On this cold day in Atlanta, most travelers had heavy overcoats that did have to go through the x-ray machines with our bags, however. They did not offer reminders that laptops or 3-1-1 bags did not have to be removed.

My travel documents were examined a third time as I approached the screening area. The screening process was also made quicker by the fact that the Pre-check travelers were screened by a traditional metal detector rather than one of the controversial body scanners. A scanner was present at the checkpoint so presumably it could be used if conditions warranted. Travelers who set off the metal detector were still singled out for a pat-down by TSA officers, but this seemed to happen infrequently.

The TSA Pre-check program is definitely something that the TSA got right. The agency has taken much criticism in recent years for excesses such as pat-downs of children and the elderly who posed no threat. Many videos of TSA pat-downs went viral and outraged the public. The Pre-check program is an attempt to restore sanity and convenience to the traveling public.

Although TSA Pre-check is not available on a national basis, it does hold promise. For frequent flyers, the program should take some of the stress and frustration out of going to the airport. For less frequent travelers, relief will hopefully come soon.


Originally published on Aviation Examiner

Monday, December 2, 2013

Voters oppose further cuts to military spending

A new Rasmussen poll indicates that a majority of Americans feel that United States military spending is either just right or not enough. The poll, released on Dec. 1, found that 64 percent of likely voters approve of the current level of military spending or would like to see it increased.

The poll comes as the Obama Administration touts a new deal that would delay the Iranian nuclear program for six months in exchange for relief from international sanctions. Another Rasmussen poll from last week found that voters were split on the Iran deal. Forty-one percent favor the deal while 43 percent are opposed.

American foreign policy is also being challenged in the Far East. After China declared an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the disputed Japanese Senkaku Islands. President Obama sent a flight of U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses to challenge what Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, director of Asia-Pacific programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, called “a bolder foreign policy in light of an anticipated U.S. decline” in CNN.

In light of the recent foreign policy news, the Rasmussen poll found that only 29 percent say the U.S. spends too much money on defense. Twenty-seven percent say that the U.S. currently spends the right amount on defense. A plurality, 37 percent, say that the U.S. does not spend enough on defense and national security in spite of the fact that the federal defense budget spends more than the next 10 countries combined.

The percentage of Americans supporting the current level of military spending has increased sharply since a February 2013 Gallup poll. The poll of adults found that 36 percent felt that military spending was too high and 35 percent found it about right. Only 26 percent thought that military spending was too low. The trend toward more support for military spending was already underway, however.

Similarly, an ABC News/Washington Post poll from March 2013 found that American adults supported federal budget cuts by a two-to-one margin, but that a nearly identical margin opposed cuts to the military budget. The poll specifically addressed the sequester’s five percent cut to overall spending and the eight percent cut to military spending.

The deal between Republicans and Democrats that ended October’s partial government shutdown authorized current spending levels through January 15, 2014. As budget negotiations heat up in the new year, it is likely that defense spending will again be an issue. MSNBC’s Timothy Noah points out that the next round of sequester budget cuts will come entirely from the military budget. If the president tries to force the military budget cuts to take effect or exchange military funding for tax increases, it may put him further against popular opinion.


Originally published on Elections Examiner