Pro-LGBT tombstone is a new issue

pro-LGBT tombstone

The same homosexual couple who appeared as victorious plaintiffs in the United States Supreme Court lawsuit that legalized same-sex “marriage” across America is now pressuring a Catholic cemetery against its will to display a pro-homosexual design on their headstone — one that sends an unbiblical message that directly opposes Catholic beliefs.

Greg Bourke, one of the plaintiffs who filed the same-sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, with his homosexual partner, is claiming that the Catholic cemetery’s rejection of his headstone is a civil rights issue of discrimination.

“It’s pretty clear when you read the letter that this is a clear case of LGBT discrimination,” Bourke argued, according to LifeSiteNews.

The homosexual activist, along with his partner, Michael De Leon, alleged that by refusing to accept their tombstone, the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, is guilty of unlawful discrimination. They publicly announced their allegation Wednesday during a press conference staged outside the St. Michael Cemetery, according to a report by the NBC-affiliate WAVE-3 local television station.

While addressing the media — using the backdrop of the church — Bourke claimed that the city’s archdiocese has been getting away with the unlawful treatment of him and his partner — as members of the LGBT community. He contended that the clergy was able to use extreme prejudice against them by acting under the veil of religious protection, which Bourke said allowed them to circumvent anti-discrimination laws in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

“We wanted to see if there might be any kind of a legal challenge that we can make,” Bourke told the media. “Honestly, there are legal protection laws — there’s an exclusion in the fairness ordinance that protects religious organizations — so that they have a license to discriminate.”

Promoting deviant behavior?

Imagery and symbolism displayed on the tombstone in question reportedly attempts to make an overt effort to promote the homosexual lifestyle — in contradiction to Christian teachings.

“Bourke and De Leon’s proposed headstone design blatantly revels in the Obergefell decision redefining marriage, sporting an image of the Supreme Court building beneath a pair of intertwined wedding rings between their two last names,” LifeSiteNews’ Lisa Bourne explained. “Below the image of the high court building, their first names and middle initials, along with space for their respective dates of death are divided by a cross.”

In the couple’s initial attempt to draw attention to the matter, a response letter from Catholic Cemeteries for the Louisville Archdiocese Executive Director Javier Rajardo was reprinted in The Advocate — a homosexual publication. The letter informed the homosexual couple that the designs on their grave marker stood in opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and as a result, the message it conveyed was not deemed appropriate to be displayed in a Catholic cemetery that honored its beliefs.

“Having reviewed your proposed gravestone inscription, please note we can approve your shared stone with both your names and dates of birth, and, of course, the religious symbol of the cross,” Rajardo replied to the men via his letter. “Inscriptions on grave markers are permitted so long as they do not conflict with any teachings of the Church. Your proposed markings are not in keeping with this requirement.”

At the “Freedom to Bury” press conference last week, Bourke informed the press that he and his partner were assured that new guidelines were going to be created for the memorials of same-sex couples. But when LifeSiteNews contacted Archdiocese of Louisville Chief Communication Officer Cecelia Hart Price for comment, she explained that a lengthy approval process for all grave makers — that dates back many years — has been put in place by the cemetery’s office.

Honoring God’s Word — not the LGBT agenda

Making its stance on the tombstone marker very clear, the Archdiocese of Louisville stressed that its mission is to honor the Gospel — not political agendas.

“A Catholic cemetery is a place that serves the faithful and witnesses to the Good News of Jesus Christ and the hope we share in the resurrection,” the archdiocese expressed in a statement prepared for LifeSiteNews. “This ministry of the sacred rite of burial is offered to the Catholic community and all of God’s people. To this end, it is a place where the signs and symbols of our Catholic faith are displayed with pride and reverence.”

It was also noted that the inappropriate and unbiblical imagery presented on the marker was the sole reason for its rejection.

“As with all markers in Catholic Cemeteries, determination as to the appropriateness of inscriptions or symbols is the judgment of the Executive Director of Catholic Cemeteries in consultation with the proper Church authority,” the statement continued. “In this case, the judgment was made that the depiction presented was not in keeping with Church teaching about marriage. Mr. Bourke and Mr. De Leon are welcome to present another headstone design for approval.”

Pushing the LGBT agenda full force

As longstanding attendees of Louisville’s Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, both Bourke and his partner, De Leon, were named by the dissenting Leftist publication, the National Catholic Reporter, as “2015 Persons of the Year.” This designation was given to reward the homosexual couple for their crucial part in redefining marriage — to no longer be the union of one man and one woman. The publication went on to extol the couple for “their faithful public witness as gay Catholics” — pointing to their landmark Supreme Court case that undermined natural marriage in America.

LGBT activists have rallied behind the homosexual couple to push their agenda in the name of tolerance and so-called “civil rights.”

“Denial of the headstone design celebrating homosexual ‘marriage’; garnered pushback from LGBT activists, with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) calling it a ‘narrow and hurtful decision by the Archdiocese,’” LifeSiteNews’ Bourne reports. “The Advocate piece said the men were ‘accustomed to discrimination within the Catholic Church,’ citing Bourke having been asked to resign as a Boy Scout troop leader at his parish in 2012 after announcing his sexual orientation. Despite the Boy Scouts of America lifting its restriction on openly gay adult leaders last year, religiously affiliated troops can continue to choose leaders in accord with their beliefs, and the Our Lady of Lourdes troop denied his application to rejoin.”

When Bourke was informed that he could not serve as a leader on the Catholic Church’s troop, he professed that he would make his qualm with the clergy public by complaining to Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz about his grievance.

“Clearly, we have to draw attention to the Archdiocese — and specifically Archbishop Joseph Kurtz — for making this decision, which was really unnecessary, and, I think, quite mean-spirited,” the LGBT activist insisted.

Soon afterwards, Bourke sought backing for his condemnation of Kurtz by creating a petition on Change.org, where he maligned him for holding to the Catholic Church’s teaching that those with same-sex attractions must abstain from sexual relations (with people of the same sex).

Not backing down

In a show of support for the Louisville Archdiocese, the Catholic League commended its perseverance in not caving in to the homosexual agenda’s bullying tactics. The nonprofit organization lifted up the archdiocese for standing by its cemetery policy and defending the morals held dear by the Catholic Church.

“The First Amendment ensures the free exercise of religion, and if that means anything, it means the right of religious institutions to determine their own strictures,” proclaimed Catholic League President Bill Donohue. “That would include the right to deny those who seek to politicize Catholic graveyards.”

The Catholic leader then attempted to expose the LGBT activists’ true intentions behind their insistent challenges to biblical policies enforced by the Catholic Church.

“These men are not interested in tolerance —a they want to impose their secular views on the Catholic Church,” Donohue concluded. “Hopefully, this contrived exercise in victimhood will open the eyes of those Americans who fail to distinguish between ordinary gays and militant gay activists. It is the latter, along with their heterosexual allies, who are seeking to sexually engineer our society — not even bathrooms and showers are off-limits — practicing intolerance in the name of ‘rights.’”

—-

OneNewsNow.com May 28, 2016

Copyright OneNewsNow.com. Reprinted with permission.

The Meaning of Hillary Clinton

hillary clinton email scandal cartoon

“For the younger voters…. here is a bit of Hillary Clinton I am betting you won’t remember…

Many people who may vote in the Democratic primary elections and the general election in 2016 have no real knowledge of Mrs. Clinton or her accomplishments. As a public service, I thought I would provide some input regarding her triumphs for consideration.

When Bill Clinton was president, he allowed Hillary to assume authority over a health care reform. Even after threats and intimidation, she couldn’t even get a vote in a democratic controlled congress. This fiasco cost the American taxpayers about $13 million in cost for studies, promotion, and other efforts.

Then President Clinton gave Hillary authority over selecting a female attorney general. Her first two selections were Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood – both were forced to withdraw their names from consideration. Next she chose Janet Reno – husband Bill described her selection as “my worst mistake.” Some may not remember that Reno made the decision to gas David Koresh and the Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas resulting in dozens of deaths of women and children.

Husband Bill allowed Hillary to make recommendations for the head of the Civil Rights Commission. Lani Guinier was her selection. When a little probing led to the discovered of Ms. Guanier’s radical views, her name had to be withdrawn from consideration.

Apparently a slow learner, husband Bill allowed Hillary to make some more recommendations. She chose former law partners Web Hubbell for the Justice Department, Vince Foster for the White House staff, and William Kennedy for the Treasury Department. Her selections went well: Hubbell went to prison, Foster (presumably) committed suicide, and Kennedy was forced to resign.

Many younger voters will have no knowledge of “Travelgate.” Hillary wanted to award unfettered travel contracts to Clinton friend Harry Thompson – and the White House Travel Office refused to comply. She managed to have them reported to the FBI and fired. This ruined their reputations, cost them their jobs, and caused a thirty-six month investigation. Only one employee, Billy Dale was charged with a crime, and that of the enormous crime of mixing personal and White House funds. A jury acquitted him of any crime in less than two hours

Still not convinced of her ineptness, Hillary was allowed to recommend a close Clinton friend, Craig Livingstone, for the position of Director of White House security. When Livingstone was investigated for the improper access of about 900 FBI files of Clinton enemies (Filegate) and the widespread use of drugs by White House staff, suddenly Hillary and the president denied even knowing Livingstone, and of course, denied knowledge of drug use in the White House. Following this debacle, the FBI closed its White House Liaison Office after more than thirty years of service to seven presidents.

Next, when women started coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment and rape by Bill Clinton, Hillary was put in charge of the “bimbo eruption” and scandal defense. Some of her more notable decisions in the debacle were:

  • She urged her husband not to settle the Paula Jones lawsuit. After the Starr investigation they settled with Ms. Jones.
  • She refused to release the Whitewater documents, which led to the appointment of Ken Starr as Special Prosecutor. After $80 million dollars of taxpayer money was spent, Starr’s investigation led to Monica Lewinsky, which led to Bill lying about and later admitting his affairs.
  • Hillary’s devious game plan resulted in Bill losing his license to practice law for lying under oath to a grand jury and then his subsequent impeachment by the House of Representatives.
  • Hillary avoided indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice during the Starr investigation by repeating, “I do not recall,” “I have no recollection,” and “I don’t know” a total of 56 times while under oath.
  • After leaving the White House, Hillary was forced to return an estimated $200,000 in White House furniture, china, and artwork that she had stolen.

Now we are exposed to: the destruction of possibly incriminating emails while Hillary was Secretary of State and the “pay to play” schemes of the Clinton Foundation – we have no idea what shoe will fall next. But to her loyal fans” – “what difference does it make”

Expose this criminal for what she is. ..share a million times for those who are unaware of her corrupt history.

Written by Robin Bellamy on Facebook.

The Meaning of Memorial Day

The American Cemetery in Normandy

The disconcerting part of the Memorial Day weekend is the general public’s misunderstanding of the day. Even the President doesn’t have a full understanding of the day.

Let me tell you what Memorial Day is not. It is not about parades or barbecues. It is not about honoring those who returned to their homes, families and communities. It is definitely not about being the first weekend of the American summer season.

The men who came home have Veteran’s Day not Memorial Day. This day is for those who paid the price for our freedom.

What Memorial Day is about is honoring those who paid the supreme price for yours and my liberty. From Lexington Green to some valley in Afghanistan, Americans have fought and died not only for our freedom but for the freedom of other peoples.

During the American Civil War, the Union Army fought and died to free 4 million African-American slaves. Memorial Day was originally created as Decoration Day so that their comrades could honor them.

During two world wars, our troops fought and died for freedom all over the globe. And they are buried all over the globe. They rest in eternal vigilance in the Philippines or Normandy.

In Korea, our troops fought to free South Koreans from the tyranny of the Communists and won. In Vietnam, we fought the same fight but we lost.

Our current military conflicts are involved with the War on Terror. These are different conflicts carried out by smaller special operations units. Despite what Barack Obama would like, expect them to continue indefinitely.

Unfortunately, we will continue to bury our honored dead. They will leave widows, widowers, children, parents and extended families to mourn their loss.Marine's son receiving flag

You see these are the people that Memorial Day was created for. Not the living who returned but the dead who are buried across the globe, not only at national cemeteries here but places like the American Cemetery in Normandy or in the Philippines.

Personally, I remember two men who died on the field of honor. One was a neighbor of my late mother’s. His name was Jackie Diamond and he was a Marine. He died during the first days of the Guadalcanal campaign.

His mother arrived at my mother’s family’s front door with the telegram that informed her that her only son had died for his country. They all mourned together.

The other dead soldier was my friend Sergeant Gerard Joseph Dunne. Gerard was killed in the Republic of Vietnam attempting to save his point man who was already dead. In doing so, he was shot and killed.

I think of these two young soldiers every Memorial Day and I will until I die. They are frozen in time, forever young. They are who Memorial Day is about.

An Indirect Bailout for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Bankruptcy

I wrote last year about why Puerto Rico got into fiscal trouble.

Like Greece and so many other governments, it did the opposite of Mitchell’s Golden Rule. Instead of a multi-year period of spending restraint, it allowed the budget to expand faster than the private sector for almost two decades.

As the old saying goes, that’s water under the bridge. Since we can’t un-ring the bell of excessive spending in the past, what’s the best option for the future?

The House of Representatives has approved a rescue plan that is getting mixed reviews.

Desmond Lachman of the American Enterprise Institute is supportive but not enthusiastic about the proposal.

The proposed Puerto Rican Restructuring Bill is to be welcomed as a first step towards resolving the island’s chronic debt problem… However, …the bill will be little more than a stop-gap measure to get us through the U.S. election cycle without a full blown Puerto Rican economic and financial crisis before November.

The legislation creates a board with some power to force fiscal and economic reforms.

…a seven-member oversight board…is to have exclusive control to ensure that Puerto Rico’s fiscal plans are enacted and enforced as well as to ensure that necessary reforms are undertaken to help the island regain fiscal solvency. The bill also includes a stay on debt-related litigation to create an environment for consensual negotiations with creditors. It is explicit that it will not involve taxpayer money to bail out the island.

So if there’s no taxpayer money involved, why do people say the legislation is a bailout?

Because the proposal allows Puerto Rico to defer payments on existing debt and then to restructure at least some of that debt. And “restructure” is a politically correct way of saying “partial default.”

So Puerto Rico will be bailed out to the extent that it will be able to stiff bondholders to some degree.

…it would afford the island with a temporary stay on debt principal repayments to allow more time for the voluntary restructuring of its debt mountain. That stay would forestall an otherwise disorderly Puerto Rican default as early as July 1, when some $2 billion in debt repayments come due.

Lachman views that as the least worst of the possible options, so this indirect bailout is not an argument against the legislation. At least from his perspective.

He’s more worried about the fact that much more needs to be done to restore growth on the island.

…it should be obvious that if the island’s economy were to continue to contract at its present rate of around 1 percent a year and if 2 percent of its able-bodied population were to continue to migrate to the mainland each year as is presently the case, the island would become progressively less capable of servicing its $72 billion in public debt or honoring its $45 billion in pension liabilities. A lack of restoring economic growth would also mean that the island would probably need a series of debt write-downs over time.

Writing for Forbes, Ryan Ellis has a much more optimistic assessment of the overall deal.

…the bill is a big win for limited government conservatives. It has no taxpayer bailout of Puerto Rico–not a single dime of taxpayer money is sent down there. …Puerto Rico will have to work their own way out of $72 billion in debt and defaults. They will be helped by an “oversight board”…modeled after the D.C. control board from the 1990s and 2000s, and their job is to approve fiscal plans and budgets, conduct audits, etc.

But Ryan acknowledges that “work their own way out of” is just another way of saying that there is likely going to be a partial default.

The oversight board…will first try to get the 18 classes of bondholders to agree to a voluntary debt restructuring with the Puerto Rican government and government sponsored enterprises. If that fails, the control board will recommend a debt restructuring plan to be enforced by a non-bankruptcy federal judge.

That being said, he’s confident that the legislation won’t be a template for profligate states such as Illinois and California.

Congress is exercising its Constitutional authority to provide all “needful and useful” laws to govern possessions, which is a separate power from the federal bankruptcy clause. There’s no risk of “contagion” to other states.

Though he agrees with Lachman that there’s very little hope for a growth spurt.

It lacks the necessary pro-growth reforms needed for Puerto Rico to get out of its decade-long depression, reverse migration back to the island, attract capital, and create jobs.

Which is why Ryan likes the ideas being pushed by Congressman McArthur of New Jersey. He’s especially fond of territorial taxation for American companies that do business on the island.

The solution is to enact the same type of international tax reform we want to do in the rest of the world–the U.S. companies pay tax in Puerto Rico, but don’t have to pay a second tax to the IRS just to bring the money home. That’s what the rest of the world does, and it’s called “territoriality.” It’s a basic principle of conservative tax reform to move from our outdated “worldwide” tax system to a “territorial” one. There is no better place to start than Puerto Rico.

That would be a good step, and it would be a nice bookend to the very good law Puerto Rico already has for high-income taxpayers from the mainland.

Other conservatives have a less sanguine view of the legislation. Here are excerpts from a coalition statement.

People, companies, states, and territories don’t just “go” broke. Willful prior activity is required. …Puerto Rico has a long history of financial mismanagement brought about by progressive politics and crony capitalism.

Amen. Puerto Rico got in trouble because of bad policy. And the bad policy wasn’t just excessive spending. There have also been grossly misguided interventions such as price controls.

So it’s quite understandable that signatories to this statement are not overly excited that Puerto Rico will have a route for partial default.

Progressive politicians, who are already seeking an indirect bailout – in the form of upending the existing legal structure to allow bankruptcy ‐‐ in the U.S. Congress, argue that a bailout or bankruptcy will help the people of Puerto Rico.

They correctly list several procedural reforms and also point out that there are some obvious policy reforms that should be undertaken.

Sensible economic reforms include allowing Puerto Rico (1) to set its own minimum wage law, including not having a minimum wage law; (2) to be exempt from U.S. overtime rules (which have just been greatly expanded by presidential fiat); and (3) to be exempt from the Jones Act, a protectionist measure that regulates U.S. shipping practices.

Sadly, the legislation is very tepid on these non-fiscal reforms.

So what’s the bottom line? Should the law get three cheers, as Ryan Ellis argues? Two cheers as Desmond Lachman prefers? Or only one cheer (or maybe no cheer), which seems to be the position of some conservative activists?

My answer depends on my mood. When I’m going through a fire-breathing-libertarian phase, I’m with the conservatives. Puerto Rico spent itself into a ditch so they should suffer the consequences.

But when I’m in my long-time-observer-of-Washington mode, I try to imagine the best possible (or least-worst possible) outcome, then I think Paul Ryan and the Republicans did a decent job.

In other words, this is like the fiscal cliff deal back in late 2012. Disappointing in many respects, but not as bad as I would have predicted.

The key question now is whether Republicans insist on putting good people on the oversight board.

And that’s not a trivial concern. I remember thinking the 2011 debt limit fight led to a decent outcome because we got sequester-enforced caps on discretionary spending (not as good as a comprehensive spending cap, but still a good step).

And we even got a sequester in early 2013. But then later that year, and last year as well, Republicans joined with Democrats to bust the spending caps.

That doesn’t bode well for any policy that requires long-run fiscal discipline. Though maybe GOPers will be tougher this time since the spending restraint will be imposed on people who don’t vote in congressional elections.

By Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute.

What’s driving Silicon Valley to become ‘radicalized’

What’s driving Silicon Valley to become ‘radicalized’

SAN FRANCISCO — Like many Silicon Valley start-ups, Larry Gadea’s company, Envoy, collects heaps of sensitive data from his customers.

Recently, he decided to do something with that data trove that was long considered unthinkable: He is getting rid of it.

The reason? Gadea fears that one day the FBI might do to him what it did to Apple in their recent legal battle: demand that he give the agency access to his encrypted data. Rather than make what he considers a Faustian bargain, he’s building a system that he hopes will avoid the situation entirely.

“We have to keep as little [information] as possible so that even if the government or some other entity wanted access to it, we’d be able to say that we don’t have it,” said Gadea, founder and chief executive of Envoy. The 30-person company enables businesses to register visitors using iPads instead of handwritten visitor logs. The technology tracks who works at a firm, who visits the firm, and their contact information.

In Silicon Valley, there’s a new emphasis on putting up barriers to government requests for data. The Apple-FBI case and its aftermath have tech firms racing to employ a variety of tools that would place customer information beyond the reach of a government-ordered search.

The trend is a striking reversal of a long-standing article of faith in the data-hungry tech industry, where companies including Google and the latest start-ups have predicated success on the ability to hoover up as much information as possible about consumers.

Now, some large tech firms are increasingly offering services to consumers that rely far less on collecting data. The sea change is even becoming evident among early-stage companies that see holding so much data as more of a liability than an asset, given the risk that cybercriminals or government investigators might come knocking.

Start-ups that once hesitated to invest in security are now repurposing limited resources to build technical systems to shed data, even if it hinders immediate growth.

“Engineers are not inherently anti-government, but they are becoming radicalized, because they believe that the FBI, in particular, and the U.S. government, more broadly, wants to outlaw encryption,” said prominent venture capitalist Marc Andreessen in a recent interview. Andreessen’s firm, Andreessen Horowitz, is an investor in Envoy.

The government abandoned its effort to force Apple to help unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists and paid professional hackers to crack the phone instead. But experts say that the issue is far from settled, and will probably be the subject of court and legislative battles.

The FBI has found a way into San Bernardino Syed Farook’s iPhone, and is now dropping bids to force Apple to help them crack into the phone. See all the latest developments in the case, and why the case isn’t over yet. (Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)

Start-ups are particularly wary, Andreessen said, of legislation proposed recently by Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would compel tech companies to build technical methods to share customers’ encrypted data, at a court’s request.

“They believe there’s this window of opportunity that if we build strong encryption now, we can make it a fait accompli. But if we let five years pass, it may never happen,” Andreessen said.

In the past two years, more companies have embraced encryption, which scrambles information so that it looks like a stream of unintelligible characters to an outsider who accessed it without permission. What’s changed more recently, industry officials say, is that companies are encrypting data and throwing away the key to prevent their gaining access, a move that started with Apple but is spreading across the Valley.

This latter tactic is the most worrisome to law enforcement. Government officials have said repeatedly they do not want to outlaw encryption; FBI Director James B. Comey has called strong encryption a vital means of protecting the public’s personal information from hackers.

But officials insist that there must be a technical means to access that information when companies are served with warrants. Otherwise, there will be “profound consequences for public safety,” Comey told Congress in March. Terrorists and criminals are already using messaging services to which tech companies have thrown away the key, he said. Investigators say two such services, WhatsApp and Telegram, were used by terrorists in the Paris attacks last November.

“This is a Silicon Valley delusion that the government wants to outlaw encryption,” Stewart A. Baker, a former National Security Agency general counsel, said in an interview. “I grant that there is a radicalized subculture of engineers that is very prone to that delusion, but it is a delusion.”

Surely not every company will resort to building such systems. Many simply can’t. Their business relies on targeted advertising or the mining of customer data, and cutting off access would be a recipe for failure. But many start-ups that wouldn’t have considered it before the Apple FBI fight are now doing so and discussing the accompanying trade-offs, said Bret Taylor, formerly Facebook’s chief technology officer and now chief executive of the start-up Quip.

The trade-offs can be significant: Heavy encryption risks slowing down your service. It limits the ability to analyze customer behavior or introduce new features. (Encrypting email, for example, would make it harder to search through email.) Once you give customers the only key to their data, you can’t give them a backup if they lose it.

Such efforts over the past few years have been described as part of an arms race between large tech companies and potential invaders, spurred largely by the growing threat of cyberattacks. To some extent, they’ve also been prompted by a newfound wariness of government after Edward Snowden’s revelations about government surveillance, as well as a growing awareness among entrepreneurs of the sheer sensitivity of the data on their services.

Apple led the pack, launching end-to-end encryption with its popular messaging app, iMessage, in 2011. In 2014, the company blocked its own access to information stored on iPhones — data that disappears permanently after 10 failed passcode attempts. (End-to-end encryption enables only the partners trading messages to decode them. The companies providing the means to transmit them cannot.)

WhatsApp, the global messaging service owned by Facebook, announced end-to-end encryption this year, as did Viber, a messaging app that is popular in Europe. These years-long technical efforts predated the FBI case. Cloudera and Box, two larger tech start-ups selling data storage and processing systems to large corporations, have built encrypted systems over the past year in which only the customer has the keys needed to unscramble data.

The case between Apple and the FBI and the possibility of “backdoor” legislation — mandating encryption bypasses for law enforcement — is a new inflection point. Earlier this month, Google launched Allo, a chat app that allows users to switch on end-to-end encryption, and Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos said he was exploring measures to encrypt data and throw away the keys on devices owned by the Seattle-based company.

Stealth Worker — a start-up funded six months ago by the prominent incubator Y-Combinator — provides contract cybersecurity experts to early-stage start-ups, which often operate on a shoestring budget. Stealth Worker chief executive Ken Baylor said that in the past month he had been approached by a half-dozen companies looking for ways to build tougher encryption and other secure technical architectures. But many don’t want to talk about it, he said.

“They are afraid of a phone call from someone high up saying that they are unpatriotic,” Baylor said.

Bracket Computing, a 70-person Silicon Valley start-up, embarked on an encryption project about a month ago intended to make it easier for customers to hold the keys to their own data.

That way, “I can’t get subpoenaed the way Apple did,” Bracket chief executive Tom Gillis said. “This clears up the whole issue: If you have an issue with my customer, go talk to my customer, don’t talk to me. I’m just a tech guy, and I don’t want to be in the middle of these things.”

Gillis said that initially, customers seeking the ability to hold the keys to their data were large, sophisticated financial services companies, such as Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. Today, a broader array of companies, including media and automotive firms and small banks, are making these requests. Advances in Intel’s chips, he said, have made it possible to build these complex systems 13 times as fast as in 2010.

Building systems that cut off a company’s access to customer data is time- and resource-intensive, and these systems don’t come without risks.

Envoy CEO Gadea, an engineering prodigy who was hired by Google when he was just 18, estimates that his company’s data-wiping project will take a few months and about three engineers working full time.

Currently, when a visitor enters a building with an Envoy registration system, a message is sent alerting the appropriate employee that they have a guest. Envoy can send such messages — by text, email or other messaging services — because the customer data is stored on its servers, which are hosted remotely by Amazon Web Services, the cloud division of Amazon. The information is encrypted, but Envoy holds the keys to unscramble it. (Amazon CEO Bezos owns The Washington Post).

Under the new protocol, the engineering team will have to reconfigure the system so that the keys to unscramble the data are kept by the customers on the iPads used to sign people in. Envoy will no longer have the ability to access the keys. The technical challenge will be making it possible for the iPads to alert people when they have visitors, instead of having the alerts come from Envoy’s servers. The goal is to make the change unnoticeable to users, Gadea says, but it could take months to get there.

There will undoubtedly be many trade-offs, Gadea said. Not only will Envoy sacrifice the ability to send visitor notifications directly, but customer service also could be become more challenging. Today, if one of Envoy’s 2,000 customers asks for help correcting a mistake in a visitor name or resetting a password, an Envoy customer service rep can lend a hand. Under the new system Envoy’s reps could have their hands tied.

The new system could also make it harder to fix software errors because Envoy will no longer be able to push out automatic updates from its servers. And if a customer loses its passwords or keys, Envoy won’t have the ability to restore the lost data. It will be inaccessible forever.

Gadea said he is not anti-government and would sell Envoy’s services to the FBI if the agency wished to become a customer. “It’s like with your friends,” he said, “you’re always going to find one thing you don’t like about them. But you’re not going to hate a person because of one disagreement.”

And he said he understands the trade-offs.

““For a small startup trying to iterate quickly, it definitely slows things down,” Gadea said. “But in the long run, it’s a competitive advantage and it reduces risk on our company. I can sleep better at night.”

Staff writer Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report

Think Tank Fires Employee Who Questioned Trump Ties

The Center for the National Interest, a Washington-based think tank, has fired one of its fellows after he criticized the organization’s decision to host Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump for a widely publicized speech, Foreign Policy has learned.

The dust-up marks the latest feud among the country’s top foreign-policy realists over whether to embrace the real estate tycoon — whose more narrow interpretation of U.S. national interests bears some resemblance to their own — or disown him as a charlatan with no serious ties to any intellectual tradition.

The employee, a junior fellow named Alexander Kirss, sharply rebuked the think tank for inviting Trump to explain his foreign-policy platform in an April 27 event at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel.

“Whether intended as an endorsement or not, the Center’s invitation is tantamount to tacit, if not explicit, approval of Trump’s positions,” Kirss wrote in a Monday column for the website War on the Rocks. He added that the businessman’s positions contain numerous “logical flaws and errors.” 

In hosting the mogul, Kirss said the think tank exhibited the same “opportunism displayed by others who have sided with Trump, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, and former presidential candidate Ben Carson.”

He was fired the same day the story published.

Paul Saunders, the executive director of the center, told FP that the decision to terminate Kirss’s position had “nothing to do with Trump.”

“The real issue is that this individual publicly disparaged the organization he was working for,” he said, noting that Kirss had never voiced his misgivings about the event to his superiors. “I don’t think that any employer would tolerate that.”

Kirss, in an email to FP, said the purpose of his piece was not to “publicly disparage the Center or its work, but rather to criticize a broader tendency within the realist movement to anoint political champions without thinking about the consequences of doing so.”

Founded by President Richard Nixon in 1994, the Center for the National Interest was created to serve as a “voice for strategic realism,” an expansive school of thought in international relations that in the context of U.S. foreign policy tends to warn against costly military interventions that do not directly threaten national interests. Prominent Republicans who have been associated with realism include heavyweights such as Brent Scowcroft and former President George H. W. Bush, but realism’s most vocal adherents have largely been relegated to academia.

In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the center’s flagship magazine, theNational Interest, served as a refuge for Republican foreign-policy thinkers who rejected the militaristic impulses of neoconservatives who controlled the party’s commanding heights as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan turned into embarrassing quagmires.

The rise of Trump, who has denounced the neoconservative agenda andlocked horns with its most prominent adherents, poses difficult questions for the center and realists more broadly. While some of Trump’s positions closely match the realist worldview, especially his complaints that American allies in Europe and Asia are failing to pay their fair share for U.S. protection, many prominent realists are frightened by his impulsive demeanor and find the rationale for his policies to be incoherent.

The center has not endorsed Trump, and some of its members have published criticisms of the businessman in the National Interest, including Vice Chairman Dov Zakheim, a co-signatory of the widely publicized “Never Trump” open letter from March.

The magazine has also published essays strongly supportive of Trump, such as a May column by defense analyst Crispin Rovere.

The center’s relationship with Trump had not garnered much attention at all until it played host to the businessman’s much-touted foreign-policy address in April. Critics of Trump quickly seized on the think tank, accusing its employees and former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who introduced Trump, of being lackeys of the reality TV star. The criticisms eventually forced the magazine’s editor, Jacob Heilbrunn, to clarify inPolitico that neither his employer nor Khalilzad was endorsing the candidate — merely providing a venue to air his views.

On Monday, Kirss said those assurances were unsatisfactory. “While the Center’s leaders later claimed that they invited Trump out of a benign desire to expand the scope and tenor of the foreign policy conversation in this year’s election, this line of argument is unconvincing,” he wrote.

“The Center’s defense of the event offered several approving statements of Trump’s views, and the tone of the speech was more that of a booster rally than a serious presentation,” he added in his essay.

Saunders said Kirss’s accusations had little merit and noted that besides hosting a variety of viewpoints on Trump, one of the center’s board members was Maurice Greenberg, a Jeb Bush backer “who contributed millions of dollars to stop Trump.”

“There are many different points of views on Trump, and I think there is a debate certainly at our magazine,” Saunders said. “If Mr. Kirss had approached our editors and wanted to write a piece very similar to the one he wrote that did not disparage the organization … I’m pretty confident that the editors would’ve been happy to publish that.”

In response, Kirss said, “I believe they would have tried to suppress my criticisms had I raised them internally before publication.”

BY JOHN HUDSON 

Photo credit: Al Drago/Getty Images

Clinton’s Email Investigation

hillary-clinton-blackberry-email

Our  investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email system entered a significant new phase this week.

We announced a schedule  of depositions of her top aides, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, as well as top State Department official Patrick Kennedy, and former State IT employee Bryan Pagliano.

Their testimony is about the creation and operation of Clinton’s non-government email system.  The first witness, Lewis A. Lukens, a deputy assistant secretary, was deposed on May 18.   I can’t say much about the testimony at this point, other than to tell you that it was not helpful to either Mrs. Clinton or the Obama State Department.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan set this historic evidence gathering in motion.  Judge Sullivan granted us “discovery” into Clinton’s email system, noting that “based on information learned during discovery, the deposition of Mrs. Clinton may be necessary.”

The depositions are part of our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that seeks records about the controversial employment status of Huma Abedin, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Clinton.  The lawsuit, which seeks records regarding the authorization for Abedin to engage in outside employment (the Clinton Foundation and other Clinton, Inc. entities) while employed by the Department of State, was reopened  because of revelations about theclintonemail.com system (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)).

We have permission from the court to question these individuals for as long as seven hours:

May 18 – Lewis A. Lukens,  deputy assistant secretary of state and executive director of the State Department’s Executive Secretariat from 2008 to 2011, who emailed with Patrick Kennedy and Cheryl Mills about setting up a computer for Clinton to check herclintonemail.com email account.  (This testimony took a little over two hours.)

May 27 – Cheryl D. Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff throughout her four years as secretary of state.

June 3 – Stephen D. Mull,  executive secretary of the State Department from June 2009 to October 2012, who suggested that Clinton be issued a State Department BlackBerry, which would protect her identity and would also be subject to FOIA requests.

June 6 – Bryan Pagliano, State Department Schedule C employee who has been reported to have serviced and maintained the server that hosted the “clintonemail.com” system during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

June 8  – 30(b)(6) deposition(s) of the State Department regarding the processing of FOIA requests, including Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, for emails of Clinton and Abedin both during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state and after.

June 28 – Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and a senior advisor to Clinton throughout her four years as secretary of state and also had an email account on clintonemail.com.

June 29 – Patrick F. Kennedy, undersecretary for management since 2007 and the secretary of state’s principal advisor on management issues, including technology and information services.

As you will see below, in a separate FOIA lawsuit concerning Hillary Clinton and the Benghazi terrorist attack, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth also ruled that we could conduct discovery into the email practices of Clinton and her top aides.

This court-order testimony could finally reveal new truths about how Hillary Clinton and the Obama State Department subverted the Freedom of the Information Act.

Judicial Watch Seeks Clinton Testimony In Email Investigation

The question of whether Hillary Clinton can be questioned under oath by Judicial Watch attorneys now is squarely before a federal court judge.

We also announced this week that we have filed a proposed order for discovery with a federal court that seeks the testimony of Hillary Clinton, herself, about her use of non-state.gov email account(s) for official State Department business.

This additional discovery comes in a July 2014 Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit seeking records and communications in the Secretary’s Office related to the since discredited talking points used by then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to describe the nature of the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attack (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No.1:14-cv-01242)).

Clinton’s proposed testimony would cover the State Department’s search of documents in response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request and, according to the filing:

  • searches of the Office of the Secretary for emails relating to the September 12, 2012 Benghazi attack and its aftermath, including searches for the Accountability Review Board, congressional inquiries, other FOIA requests, and the preparation of Secretary Clinton’s testimony before Congress on January 23, 2013;
  • the State Department’s policies, practices, procedures and/or actions (or lack thereof) to secure, inventory, and/or account for all records, including emails, of Secretary Clinton, prior to [her] termination of employment with the State Department; and
  • the use of non-state.gov email account(s) to conduct official State Department business by Secretary Clinton and other officials and staff in the Office of the Secretary;

Judicial Watch also seeks documents about the State Department’s Benghazi document responses and the handling of non-State.gov emails of Clinton and other top State officials, in particular:

  1. All documents that concern or relate to the processing of any and all searches of the Office of the Secretary for emails relating to the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attack and its aftermath, including but not limited to:
  • searches for records for the Accountability Review Board;
  • searches in response to congressional inquiries (including requests from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform dated September 20, 2012, October 2, 2012, October 29, 2012, and November 1, 2012);
  • searches in preparation of Secretary Clinton’s testimony before Congress on January 23, 2013; and
  • searches in response to FOIA requests, including but not limited to the FOIA request submitted by Plaintiff in this case.

Such documents would include the tasking, tracking and reporting records for such searches.  Forms DS-1748 and any “search slips,” “search tasker,” “search details,” shall also be considered responsive.

  1. All communications that concern or relate to the processing of all searches referenced in Document Request No. 1 above, including directions or guidance about how and where to conduct the searches, whether and how to search Secretary Clinton’s email, and issues, problems, or questions concerning the searches and/or search results.
  2. All records that concern or relate to the State Department’s policies, practices, procedures and/or actions (or lack thereof) to secure, inventory, and/or account for all records, including emails, of Secretary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin and Jacob Sullivan prior to their termination of employment with the State Department.

U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth is also concerned about potential government misconduct.  Judge Lamberth ruled on March 29 that “where there is evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases.”

(In the lawsuit that has discovery already underway, Judge Emmett Sullivan noted in his  May 4, 2016, order that “based on information learned during discovery, the deposition of Mrs. Clinton may be necessary.”)

In response to our request for her testimony, the Clinton campaign attacked your Judicial Watch with an over-the-top, false statement.   We won’t be deterred, nor do I expect that the courts will be either.

Mrs. Clinton’s testimony will help the courts determine whether her email practices thwarted the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act.

In the meantime, you might enjoy watching this C-Span coverage of our Clinton email investigations.

The Enemy at the Gates is Us

The enemy at the gates is us

First blow for liberty, colonials harassing the enemy British soldiers on the road from Concord, 1775.
Hand-colored halftone illustration

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” So said the most famous quotation in the comic strip Pogo by Walt Kelly.

All across the Western United States militia groups are springing up who see the federal government as their enemy. In 2008 there were some 150 groups. Today, there are over 1,000. They call themselves patriots, demanding that the federal government adhere to the Constitution and stop what they see as systematic abuse of land rights, gun rights, freedom of speech and other liberties.

One such group is the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard which conducts firearms training every week just like American colonists did before the Revolution. Despite being small, about 30 members, they are well-armed and well-trained. It is led by BJ Soper who formed the group two years ago as a “defensive unit” against “all enemies foreign and domestic.” Mainly, he’s talking about the federal government, which he thinks is capable of unprovoked aggression against its own people.

The group’s members are drywallers and flooring contractors, nurses and painters and high school students, who stockpile supplies, practice survival skills and “basic infantry” tactics, learn how to treat combat injuries, study the Constitution and train with their concealed handguns and combat-style rifles.

Soper defines their mission like this. “It doesn’t say in our Constitution that you can’t stand up and defend yourself,” Soper said. “We’ve let the government step over the line and rule us, and that was never the intent of this country.”

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremism, said there were about 150 such groups in 2008 and about 1,000 now. Potok and other analysts, including law enforcement officials who track the groups, said their supporters number in the hundreds of thousands, counting people who signal their support in more passive ways, such as following the groups on social media. The Facebook page of the Oath Keepers, a group of former members of police forces and the military, for example, has more than 525,000 “likes.”

The organizations are varied in their beliefs. Militia organizations have a variety of ideologies and objectives including anti-tax, anti-immigration, survivalist, white supremacist, sovereign citizen, libertarian, land rights and southern restoration tendencies. They generally share a common belief in the imminent or actual rise of a tyrannical government in the United States that, they believe, must be confronted through armed force.

Much of the movement traces its roots to the deadly 1990s confrontations between civilians and federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and in Waco, Tex., that resulted in the deaths of as many as 90. Timothy Mc­Veigh cited both events before he was executed for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, and he said he had deliberately chosen a building housing federal government agencies.

Now a “Second Wave” is spreading across the country, especially in the West, fueled by the Internet and social media. J.J. MacNab, an author and George Washington University researcher who specializes in extremism, said social media has allowed individuals or small groups such as Soper’s to become far more influential than in the 1990s, when the groups would spread their message through meetings at local diners and via faxes.

The movement received a huge boost from the 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada, where federal agents and hundreds of armed supporters of Bundy faced off in a dispute over the rancher’s refusal to pay fees to graze his cattle on federal land.

When federal agents backed down rather than risk a bloody clash, Bundy’s supporters claimed victory and were emboldened to stage similar armed face-offs last year at gold mines in Oregon and Montana.

In January, dozens of armed occupiers, led by Bundy’s sons Ammon and Ryan, took over the headquarters buildings of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near rural Burns, Ore., an action that later resulted in the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an occupier who was shot by state troopers.

Soper is a retired rodeo rider who lives with his second wife and their two daughters on a pastoral plot of land with horses, dogs, cats, chickens and a majestic view of the snow-capped Cascades.

“I lived like 90 percent of Americans, oblivious to everything that was going on, from the time I was 18 until the Bundy Ranch happened,” he said. “I just said, ‘I can’t sit back and do nothing. I’ve got to get involved.’ I feel responsible for where we’re at, because I’ve done nothing my entire life.”

His response was to start his Central Oregon Constitutional Guard, which he said was partly to protect against the government, but partly a way to get back to a simpler America.

Soper’s research also led him to some of the Internet’s favorite conspiracy theories, including a purported U.N. plot to impose “One World Government.” And Soper, like most in the patriot movement, became a believer.

He suspects that the United Nations, through a program called Agenda 21, wants to reduce the global population from 7 billion to fewer than 1 billion. He said the federal government may be promoting abortions overseas as part of that plot, and also may be deliberately mandating childhood vaccines designed to cause autism because autistic adults are less likely to have children.

Soper said he could not rule out the possibility that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks. He suspects that the government and the “medical community” have had a cancer cure for years but won’t release it because cancer treatment is too profitable for pharmaceutical companies.

“I’m not saying that’s the case,” he said, “but I like to look at all avenues.”

Is this the beginning of the next American Revolution or will the election of Donald Trump satisfy these constitutionalists?

Written by Richard T. Billies with thanks from Kevin Sullivan of The Washington Post.

 

Nigel Farage says Obama interfered in GB

President Obama looks set to wade into the contentious debate in the United Kingdom over whether or not the nation should remain a member of the European Union – and some Brits are angry at the president’s intrusion into a delicate UK issue ahead of a major vote. Those calling for Britain to leave the European Union are not happy at that news, with U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage saying Obama should stay home. ‘A monstrous interference,” Farage told Fox News Thursday. “I’d rather he stayed in Washington, frankly, if that’s what he’s going to do.”

Obama arrived in London late Thursday for a three-day trip. On Friday he will meet Prime Minister David Cameron — who is reportedly keen to get Obama’s backing ahead of the June 23 referendum, in which Britons will choose to remain or leave the European Union.

Cameron is in a difficult position, backing the “Remain” campaign, while many within his own Conservative Party are campaigning for the “Leave” or “Brexit” (British-Exit) campaign. Polls have shows the race is tight, with the Remain campaign holding an edge as small as one percent.

The White House has said Obama is willing to offer his opinion and may announce that he favors Cameron’s position – that Britain should remain in the European Union.

“If he’s asked his view as a friend, he will offer it,” U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said. “As the president has said, we support a strong United Kingdom in the European Union.”

Those calling for Britain to leave the European Union are not happy at that news, with U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage saying Obama should stay home.

‘A monstrous interference,” Farage told Fox News Thursday. “I’d rather he stayed in Washington, frankly, if that’s what he’s going to do.”

“You wouldn’t expect the British Prime Minister to intervene in your presidential election, you wouldn’t expect the Prime Minister to endorse one candidate or another. Perhaps he’s another one of those people who doesn’t understand what [the EU] is,” Farage said.

In March, a letter sent from Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Liam Fox, and co-signed by over 100 MPs from four different political parties, asked the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. to persuade Obama not to intervene, calling any such intervention “extremely controversial and potentially damaging.”

“It has long been the established practice not to interfere in the domestic political affairs of our allies and we hope that this will continue to be the case,” the letter to Ambassador Matthew Barzun read.

“While the current U.S. administration may have a view on the desirability or otherwise of Britain’s continued membership of the E.U., any explicit intervention in the debate is likely to be extremely controversial and potentially damaging,” the letter said.

London Mayor Boris Johnson — who was born in New York and has expressed strong support for the UK-U.S. relationship — accused Obama of hypocrisy.

“I just think it’s paradoxical that the United States, which wouldn’t dream of allowing the slightest infringement of its own sovereignty, should be lecturing other countries about the need to enmesh themselves ever deeper in a federal superstate,” Johnson said Tuesday.

Cameron however, has said that the advice of allies was welcome, saying “listening to what our friends say in the world is not a bad idea.”

“I struggle to find the leader of any friendly country that thinks we should leave,” he said Wednesday.

FoxNews.com’s Adam Shaw, Fox News’ Greg Palkot and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Obamacare disaster: Obama’s enduring domestic legacy

Obamacare disaster: Obama’s enduring domestic legacy

Historian David Maraniss notes, in Sunday’s Post, that President Obama came to office with the goal of changing “the trajectory of America” and leaving “a legacy as a president of consequence, the liberal counter to [Ronald] Reagan.”

On the foreign-policy front, he is the anti-Reagan for certain. Reagan defeated Soviet communism and left us a safer world; Obama presided over the rise and metastasis of the Islamic State and left us a far more dangerous one.

Domestically, Ronald Reagan told the American people: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ ” Obama wanted to convince Americans that they were not terrifying. And the way he was going to do it was through the only great liberal legislative achievement of his presidency: Obamacare.

He failed. Even before he leaves office, Obamacare has begun unraveling.

The law was passed over the objections of a majority of Americans, it is still opposed by a majority of Americans — and their opposition has been vindicated. Last week, UnitedHealth Group announced that, after estimated losses of more than $1 billion for 2015 and 2016 under Obamacare, the company was pulling out of most of its ill-fated exchanges.

In fact, commercial insurers across the country are hemorrhaging money on Obamacare at alarming rates. Health Care Service Corp. (which owns Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliates in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas) has lost “well north of $2 billion” in its first two years — twice as much as UnitedHealth. Highmark, the nation’s fourth-largest Blue Cross plan, lost nearly $600 million in 2015. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has projected it will lose more than $400 million in the first two years, and the company has said it may leave the exchanges entirely next year.

The president promised these insurers taxpayer bailouts if they lost money, but Congress in its wisdom passed legislation barring the use of taxpayer dollars to prop up the insurers. Without the bailouts, commercial insurers are being forced to eat their losses — while more than half of the Obamacare nonprofit insurance cooperatives created under the law failed.

So what happens now? Because commercial insurers are not going to keep bleeding cash to prop up Obamacare, they have three choices: 1) scale back coverage, 2) raise prices or 3) get out of the exchanges entirely. More and more are going to choose option 3.

Does this mean that Obamacare is finally entering its “death spiral”? Not exactly. As my American Enterprise Institute colleague Scott Gottlieb explains, while commercial insurers are starting to leave Obamacare, they are being replaced by Medicaid health maintenance organizations (HMOs) offering skimpy plans that mirror what they offer in Medicaid — our nation’s emergency health insurance program for the poorest of the poor.

This is a catastrophe for people stuck in Obamacare. According to a 2014 McKinsey survey, about three-quarters of those in the exchanges were previously insured on commercial plans, either through their employers or the individual market. They were doing fine without taxpayer-subsidized insurance but were pushed into Obamacare. They now face rising premiums and smaller provider networks — and as commercial insurers flee, they will increasingly be stuck in horrible, Medicaid-style plans.

This is not what the president promised when he sold Obamacare to the American people.

The president promised Obamacare would provide “more choice, more competition, lower costs.” Instead, Americans have less choice, less competition and higher costs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, if UnitedHealth “were to leave the exchange market overall, 1.8 million Marketplace enrollees would be left with two insurers, and another 1.1 million would be left with one insurer.” As more commercial insurers do the same, there will be even less competition — and higher premiums.

The president promised “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” But commercial insurers who stay in Obamacare are responding to massive losses by narrowing provider networks, with fewer doctors and hospitals to choose from. And those that quit are being replaced by Medicaid HMOs with even less doctor choice.

The president promised Obamacare would “lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year.” But insurers are raising premiums instead to cover the massive losses, and even Marilyn Tavenner — the former Obama administration official who ran Obamacare — has predicted premiums will rise even further next year.

As they do, young, healthy individuals will be priced out of the exchanges — and the only people who will be able to afford Obamacare will be high-risk patients who qualify for federal subsidies. Without enough healthy people in the exchanges to pay for the sick ones, taxpayers will be stuck with more and more of the costs over time — a situation that is unsustainable in the long run.

With Obamacare, Obama wanted to restore America’s faith in big government. Instead, the opposite has happened. Today, 69 percent of Americans say big government is “the biggest threat to the country in the future” (ahead of big business or big labor). That figure, which is slightly down from 72 percent in 2013, is higher under Obama than it has been since Gallup began asking the question about 50 years ago. Obamacare has done more to discredit big government than 1,000 Reagan speeches ever did.

That, in the end, will be Obama’s enduring domestic legacy.

Read more from Marc Thiessen’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

Marc Thiessen writes a weekly column for The Post on foreign and domestic policy and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. He is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

Follow @marcthiessen