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By: Amy Lutz

This is Second Amendment trolling at its finest, folks. 

Gun control activists are a bit peeved, to say the least, at a billboard recently erected over the Stevenson Expressway in Chicago. The ad [pictured] displays images of a baseball mitt, apple pie, and "assault rifle" over the tag "Pure American." 

Here's the best part. This billboard is located in Chicago, Illinois, which boasts both some of the country's tightest gun laws, but some of its highest gun violence rates as well. The ad was paid for by Slide Fire, a firearms manufacturer based in...Texas, a state on the other side of the spectrum of Second Amendment freedom. In addition to apple pie, baseball, and firearms, there's few things more American than a rigorous competition between the states. Perhaps if Chicagoan politicians were more like their Texan counterparts, the streets of their city would be less of a war zone.

As a Constitutionally-minded, pro-Second Amendment American, I find nothing offensive with this display. It's a billboard for crying out load. There's no profanity, nudity, or explicit content contained in the ad. However, for gun control activists, like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, are clutching their collective pearls over the seemingly "offensive" image. However, according to WGN in Chicago

The billboard company, Lamar Advertising, says the rifle company has a First Amendment right to advertise.
There's nothing like a case where the Second Amendment is protected by the First. Now that's "Pure American." 
 
 
Remember this? The sniveling, arrogant proclamation from the White House that the Affordable Care Act is law (and therefore is above reproach)? 

Perhaps the White House would be wise to remember that pride comes before the fall. A glitch-prone website, millions of health care cancellations, and the president's plummeting poll numbers have led to numerous "tweaks" and delays for the law that was supposedly "settled" over a year ago.  In fact, the administration has failed to meet ONE THIRD of the deadlines for the Affordable Care Act. 

Let's Review:

1. Cuts to the Medicare Advantage Program were postponed until after the 2012 election. How convenient. 
2. The employer mandate was delayed until 2015. 
3. Out-Of-Pocket caps were waived until 2015. 
4. "If you like you plan, you can keep it...for a year." Those who have plans who don't meet the ACA's standards can keep them for another year. 
5. The deadline for 2015 enrollment was pushed from October 15, 2014, to November 15, 2014, after the 2014 elections. Again, how convenient. 
6. Small business online enrollment was delayed a year. 

And now...

7. The White House will allow some who are facing canceled plans to buy catastrophic plans instead, plans that had been, until now, deemed "junk" by the White House. 

"If you like your junk plan, you can keep it." 

Perhaps the law isn't as solid as the White House originally proclaimed. To butcher a Marx quote, Obamacare likely contains the seeds of its own destruction. It's unworkable and those on whom the law's success/failure rests, young people, want little to do with the it at all. Many of these delays and fixes are merely a last ditch effort to save the law before it is not salvageable...if it isn't already. 

"It's the law, except when it isn't." 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By: Amy Lutz 

All I want for Christmas is a little historical literacy for my fellow Millennials. Perhaps the White House could use a bit as well? Exhibit A:
Now, to thinking-folk, this just screams “DANGER.” It’s creepy, borderline cultish, and not to mention completely ignorant of the historical connotations of the phrase “White House Youth.” Those of us with a 6th grade understanding of history will feel a little bit uneasy, to say the least, at the similarities the phrase holds with “Hitler Youth.” Yeah. That.

Is it possible that the social media staff at the White House is truly ignorant of the historical connotations of that loaded phrase? Perhaps. Considering the historical illiteracy among today’s college students (and tomorrow’s workforce), it’s not a stretch.

The more likely option, is this, however: The White House just doesn’t care. There are few, if any, strong-willed and independently minded journalists who will make mention of this hashtag and there are a limited number of people who stumble across #WHYouth who will even understand the historical connotations. Hitler Youth, what?
Any attempt from those on the right to criticize the creepiness of the hashtag will undoubtedly result in an accusation of breaking Godwin’s Law. Sure, we’re not actually comparing the White House to the Third Reich; we’re only making a passing mention of the creeping collectivism inherent in the media campaign. However, that’s irrelevant. In this 30 second news cycle world, few will pay enough attention to understand the right’s denouncements. Making even a quip about the “Hitler Youth,” will deem us crazy, extreme.

And that’s why it’s inherently brilliant, perhaps accidentally, born from the quick-thinking keystroke of an ignorant White House intern, but brilliant nonetheless. The White House is depending upon the lapdog media’s compliance with their creepy media campaigns, and the American public’s ever-growing ignorance of history. That should terrify us. We, the American people and the media tasked to bring the darker aspects of government into the light of day, are supposed to be a check upon an overreaching government, one bent on extinguishing the spark of individualism.

This begs the question, if they can “get away” with the use of such a loaded phrase as “White House Youth,” what else can they get away with? Perhaps passing a pork-laden bill in the middle of the night, outlining the structure of an immense government program despite the protests of economists, business owners and others who predicted it to fail long before it actually went into effect?

Oh wait.

While the oft-quipped Burke phrase about those “destined to repeat history” is true, Winston Churchill put it better: “Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.”

A lack of historical knowledge is not only bad when the high school report card comes around. It allows those in power, under the noses of the ignorant and uninformed, to march quickly down the dangerous path of collectivism with only but a few quiet cries of opposition. 
 
 
By: Amy Lutz

The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, in partnership with ProgressNow Colorado, have created quite a kerfuffle as of late with their Obamacare Ads targeting various demographics. Two of the ads have been dubbed "brosurance" & "hosurance" by many on the right because, as Dana Loesch said so succinctly, they exemplify lowest common denominator marketing. 
White House officials have been mum on the subject, claiming that these ads were made by a privately funded nonprofit, and therefore should not reflect back negatively upon the administration. Kathleen Sebelius said something of the sort during her recent hearing on Capitol Hill to discuss the woes of Healthcare.gov. 
As a side note, this has to be the first time "keg-stands" have been mentioned on the House floor. 

While the White House denies culpability for the ads, their non-endorsement of said ads has been brought into question.
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Meet Tara McGuinness. You might remember her from Twitchy articles like "Why So Quiet, @HealthCareTara?", or by her Twitter handle @HealthCareTara. She's basically a glorified Obamacare navigator, informing people about the perils, excuse me, perks of the Affordable Care Act. 

She's also the White House's Senior Communications Adviser, laying out for the Obama Administration's health care platform in 140 word tweets.

Let me repeat, McGuinness is a Senior White House Official who serves as the mouthpiece for the administration. Unlike the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, she's isn't just directly tied to the White House. She's part of it. 

Now for the interesting part. Earlier this evening, McGuinness posted this tweet:

That URL goes right to this page, the listing of ads produced by the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, including the "brosurance" and "hosurance" ads. Wait, I thought Kathleen Sebelius said these ads were produced by a "state level," organization, and not endorsed by the White House? 

Yet, a Senior White House Official is channeling the "Got Insurance" marketing campaign through her official twitter account. 

Hm.

If the White House is falling back on a distasteful, widely-panned advertising campaign, they must be truly desperate to save the Affordable Care Act from a death spiral. 
 
 
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By: Amy Lutz

Are College Students Shielded From Obamacare’s Devastating Effects?

...In a word, no. 

Proponents of Obamacare rush to sing praises of the “Affordable” Care Act’s regulation allowing Americans under the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan. However, that is far from the only effect the behemoth law has upon young people currently embracing university life. Young adults tend to see college as a transition point, an oasis between high school and graduation where they can exercise their independence without “cutting the cord” so to speak. Yet, even students roaming America’s college campuses are starting to feel the sting of Obamacare.

            Many colleges, my alma mater included, offer a student health care plan to students without health insurance of their own. Actually, many provide a mandate of sorts, requiring students to purchase insurance through the school if they cannot provide proof that they either have their own insurance plan, or are still on their parents’ plan. I’m quite familiar with this system, as many a bureaucratic snafu resulted in a temporary charge being placed on my student account when the school did not receive my paperwork showing my proof of insurance.

            Most universities tend only to offer bare-bones insurance plans, which cover trips to the school’s health clinic, and not much else. For almost all college students, this is enough, as most only have a fleeting encounter with the health centers. Under the Affordable Care Act, however, many of these plans are not deemed “good enough.” Like 5 million other Americans who have already had their health insurance canceled (so far) because of Obamacare’s hefty regulations, college students across the country are facing similar cancelations. At the very least, they’re experiencing sticker shock from higher premiums now associated with college health insurance plans.

            Bowie University, a historically black college in Maryland, is canceling its student health care program, as it does not meet the standards set under the Affordable Care Act. The plan offered $5,000 worth of medical coverage for only $54 per semester, a fee cheaper than most university parking passes. Many Bowie University students without health insurance might have to brave the glitch-prone Healthcare.gov site to sign up for care. If there’s one thing millennials enjoy doing on a Saturday night, it’s waiting…and waiting…to sign up for insurance on an issue-fraught website.  

            For Bowie University students, the cheapest alternative to their canceled plan on the ACA site costs $900 a semester, more than I paid for parking, books, and school supplies combined in any given semester. Those items aren’t cheap. And I went to a private institution in the middle of a large city. Other colleges and universities around the country are facing similar cancelations and premium hikes. Union County Community College in New Jersey now must offer health insurance plans to students for over $1000 per student. For perspective, tuition for full-time, in-state students at UCCC is around $2000 per semester.  

            Many of these students facing increased health care premiums, in addition to those who already have insurance, are facing an even bigger problem: youth unemployment. Since the beginning of the recession, youth unemployment for those ages 16-24 has skyrocketed, peaking at 19.6% in April 2010. The rate has hovered around 16% for most of 2013, still around twice the nationwide unemployment rate. College students rely on part-time jobs to pay for various expenses, ranging from food, to gas, to car payments. I even had a friend who used the money she made at a part-time job to pay for many of her family’s expenses.

            Furthermore, many college students use part-time, paid positions to pay their expenses while they intern in an industry relevant to their career goals. For example, I would not have been able to afford my living expenses while interning for Dana Loesch in St. Louis, had I not had an on-campus job to support myself. Many college students are in the same boat. Internships and volunteering opportunities are key to finding a job after college, opening up networking channels many college students otherwise would not be able to access. However, such learning opportunities are often unpaid, so students wishing to support themselves and pay for the time and travel necessary for many internships, must find another job. This effort has become much more difficult as of late, primarily due to issues resulting from the Affordable Care Act.

Not only are students facing a troubled economy, but they’re also facing the challenges Obamacare brings to the job market. Many part-time positions previously held by high school and college students are now held by college graduates looking for work while they face an uncertain job market (Over 36% of recent college graduates are working in a job that does not require a college degree.) Furthermore, many businesses offering part time employment, including those in the food and service industries which commonly employ the youth, are being forced to cut hours and are hesitant to hire new workers. More of their revenue will be devoted to either paying for employee health care, or to cover the penalty for not providing said health care, which will be difficult to afford for many small to medium sized businesses. Organizations with more than 50 full-time employees will soon be facing hiring freezes and will likely be forced to cut hours for many full-time employees. Many, therefore, are hesitant to hire temporary part-time workers (translation: college students). Because of the mandate, delayed until 2015, many businesses, including White Castle, Papa Johns, and Sea World will be forced to make drastic changes to their schedules and hiring. Demographics in such industries are beginning to change, as businesses commonly staffed by high school and college students are now starting to hire more out-of-work college graduates.

            The Affordable Care Act tortures and already ragged economy, effects of which trickle down to many college students. Universities are designed to give students a step up before they enter the job market and the so-called “real world.” Instead, because of economic concerns exacerbated by the Affordable Care Act, college students are being tripped up, facing economic concerns not previously experienced by recent generations. College students should be worrying about where to buy pizza at 3 am, or how to stretch a 3-page paper into a 10-page essay, not about unemployment and insurance concerns, previously only reserved for those already out of school. 

 
 
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By: Amy Lutz

To answer your question, yes this exists. 

The website "Thanks Obamacare," a project of ProgressNow Colorado and Colorado Consumer Health Initiative includes an online board game, The Game of Obamacare.

The game, modeled after The Game of Life, is strikingly reminiscent of "The Life of Julia," the project developed by the Obama campaign in 2012. Unlike the Healthcare.gov website, however, this site actually works. 

Here's a glimpse of what you see during "The Game of Obamacare."

"How DARE they make me choose between a male & female character! I spit on traditional gender rolls." - Every radical feminist ever. 
Note the "Happiness Meter," dependent not upon your actual happiness, but rather upon whether or not you make the life choices deemed "correct" by the makers of the game. 
Let's risk it. 
Well this should be interesting. 
I chose "Without Obamacare," and this happened. 

The front page of thanksobamacare.org previews what would have happened had I chosen "With Obamacare." 
Seems like the folks over at "Thanks Obamacare," need to read up on Congress' health care subsidies. Members of Congress will have to purchase insurance from the Obamacare exchanges, but will also receive cushy contributions to their plans from the federal government. 

So, Senator Reid gets relief from the higher premiums expected to result from Obamacare, but the single mother down the street will not. Thanks Obamacare? 
Here's how the game ended. During my "life," I won tickets to the Super Bowl, had a child, adopted a puppy, went to college, and opened a small business. Yet, my character "isn't feeling so great?" Likely, this is a result of my choosing to face a life decision "With Obamacare," only once during the game. I chose to forgo the ACA several other times. 

Clearly, Obamacare should be the *key* indicator of happiness during one's life. Ok then. 
 
 
By: Amy Lutz

From Politico:

The White House issued a formal veto threat Wednesday for five piecemeal government funding bills.

"Consideration of appropriations bills in a piecemeal fashion is not a serious or responsible way to run the United States government," the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement. The OMB specifically cites H.J. Res. 70, H.J. Res. 71, H.J. Res. 72, H.J. Res. 73, and H.R. 3230 as pieces of legislation that President Obama would veto if they were to reach  his desk.

"Instead of opening up a few government functions, the House of Representatives should re-open all of the government," OMB said. "The harmful impacts of a shutdown extend across Government, affecting services that are critical to small businesses, women, children, seniors, and others across the nation.  The Senate acted in a responsible manner on a short-term funding measure to maintain Government functions and avoid a damaging Government shutdown.  The House of Representatives should allow a straight up or down vote on Senate-passed H.J. Res. 59."


So for those of you keeping track, here are the stopgap measures the White House is refusing the sign:

H.J. Res. 70: Open Our National Parks and Museums Act
H.J. Res. 71: Provide Local Funding for the District of Columbia Act
H.J. Res. 72: Honoring Our Promise To America's Veterans Act
H.J. Res. 73: Research for Lifesaving Cures Act
H.J. Res. 73: Pay Our Guard and Reserve Act

The White House is holding hostage funds for our national parks, museums (including the WWII museum), DC, VETERANS, medical research, and the National Guard. The fact that this administration is keeping funds from veterans for political gain should enrage all Americans. The next time you hear talk of the "Republican Shutdown," remember this: The House passed a bill to fund the government (while defunding Obamacare). When that failed, Republicans passed several stopgap measures to ensure that some of the more "essential" of our "non-essential" services were maintained, including payment for Veterans. It was Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and the Democrats who are refused to vote for these measures, essentially ripping funds away from our nation's finest.

And meanwhile, at the WWII Memorial:
These men stormed the beaches of Normandy. Metal barriers erected for political gain shouldn't even phase them.
 
 
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"You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad."

So says Allison Benedikt in her receive Slate article, "If You Send Your Kid To Private School, You Are A Bad Person." To me, that isn't just an idiotic statement, it's personal. From 3rd grade until I graduated high school, I went to a private, religiously affiliated school (I had attended a public school previously). I reject the premise that parents who send their kids to private institutions are "ruining" the nation's education system. Yes, Ms. Benedikt, I'm sure that's exactly what my parents had in mind when they decided to dole out the funds for my siblings and I to attend the local Catholic school.

It is not mere annoyance that drove me to type this piece, however. I mean, let's be honest, why should I really care all that much about what one illogical Slate writer has to say about education? I knew her post was doomed when Benedikt started with "I'm not an education policy wonk," and then proceeded to dissect complex education policy. Yet, I had to offer my two cents because the "logic" which fueled the post is based upon two false premises which the left commonly uses when discussing not only education, but a variety of subjects. It's important to be aware and refute said fallacies. 

For clarity's sake, here's Benedikt's argument in a nutshell: If all parents currently sending their kids to private school send them to public schools instead, the "collective" would be much more inclined to put more effort into improving the public school system because we'd all have some skin in the game. She also assumes that once everyone does have "skin in the game," funding will flow like a raging river towards the public school system and its issues will improve. Like magic!

Throwing money into a corrupt bureaucracy plagued by the incessant-issue-causing teachers unions won't solve the problem, but that's a topic for another time. To start however, I want to identify the false dichotomy through which the article's author uses to view the issue at hand. Ms. Benedikt speaks of public and private schools as if those are the only options for students. They're not. The components of our educational system are much more complex. Do "public schools" include magnet and charter schools? What about homeschooling? Simply identifying "public" and "private" schools doesn't acknowledge that it's not a black and white issue. There are great public schools and very poor private schools in our educational system. And homeschoolers should not be exempt from this scenario. Benedikt mentions how she suffered, SUFFERED, through a horrific K-12 experience in a public school. I'd like to point out that while I received many benefits from attending a private institution, it shared many of the characteristics Benedikt complained about. My school didn't have AP courses either (it had dual credit, but not AP). The course choices were slim and the extracurricular activities were limited. We didn't have anything resembling a Home Ec. course and the boy's tennis team was cut after my senior year. I even had to go to the local public school for gifted classes. Imagine that!

Now I want to really dig into the fallacies on which Benedikt bases her entire argument. The article stands on a shaky foundation, to say the least.   

1. If one school is succeeding, it is obviously "taking away" that success from another school.

Ms. Benedikt's article appears to claim that successful private schools are not only rising above their public counterparts, but they're doing so at the expense of said public schools. This is an extraordinarily narrow-minded way to look at the world. It's the "haves" against the "have nots." If one person succeeds, it means another person fails. Bologna. This argument is remarkably similar to the wealth distribution argument we often face. Those on the left seem to see our resources as slices of a pie.
If one person has a slice of pie, that means another person is faced with one less "slice." The more free market opinion, however, is to suggest that we just make more pies. In the jobs market, that means creating more innovation, more jobs, more businesses. It works the same way for schools. More opportunity in the educational realm might not necessarily mean "more schools." However it can mean striving for better standards, hiring more accomplished teachers, and allowing for more inter-district mobility, all of which can be accomplished by reforms like school choice. None of which mean creating success for one school in exchange for the failure of another. Benedikt states that "banning private schools" isn't the answer. Ok, but neither is condemning them. Instead of tearing down success, why don't we strive for it?

2. Educational Choices Should Include A Consideration of the Collective.

Yes, I'm sure every parent thinks to themselves, "Well, this school is great for my kids, but what effect will my choice of schools have on everyone else?" It looks like Allison Benedikt belongs to the Melissa Harris-Perry school of "Your kids belong to the collective." I tend to believe, however, that educational choices are some of the most personal choices we make. Each child's education is their own. It's what they do with that education which affects others. This collective mindset is dangerous for it destroys the value of the individual. Without the success of countless individuals, society would not progress (See: Atlas Shrugged). It works the same for education. Each parent and each student must make educational decisions on their own, weighing various factors that matter to them (the parents and child), not society as a whole.

All parents want the best for their children, which means it's important that they choose a school based upon what it offers to their child specifically. Allison Benedikt, however, believes that such a decision is "morally corrupt" (no seriously, read the article, I'm quoting verbatim). While I mourn for the children stuck in our under-performing schools, "redistributing our kids" into the public school system will likely do more harm than good. Right now children in public schools are subject to things like Common Core, tyrannical teacher's unions, and leftist brainwashing. Shouldn't we address those issues first? And are there perfectly successful public schools as well? Sure, but choosing these schools is a decision parents and children should be able to make on their own, a suggestion, which might seem horrifying to the Allison Benedikts and Melissa Harris-Perrys of the world. Then again, the latter did wear "tampon earrings" on air, so I find myself wondering why anyone values her opinion in the first place.