How Democrats Are Reacting to Obama's Keystone XL Decision

The latest Obama decision to push back an actual decision on approval of the Keystone XL pipeline has put Democrats running in swing states in a tough position: go along with the leader of their party or break with Obama in order to try to win more moderate voters, with whom the Keystone XL pipeline is relatively popular.

Alison Grimes of Kentucky, the Democrat running to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has broken wth Obama and is pushing for the pipeline to be built. Unsurprisingly, this hasn't lost her any money from an environmentalist super PAC:

Alison Grimes is the latest Democratic Senate candidate to call for building the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But the move hasn't cost her support among some environmentalists as she tries to win the seat now held by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

That's because, according to one environmentalist, those groups want Democrats to be running the Senate rather than McConnell after the November elections.

Even as Grimes told The Associated Press this week that she supports building the pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, a San Francisco-based Super Pac, CREDO, which opposes the pipeline project, said it will spend $500,000 in Kentucky aimed at unseating McConnell.

It will be interesting to watch how other Democrats in red states - like Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor, continue to play this.

Disgrace: Phoenix VA Dumps Sick Veterans Into 'Secret Waiting Lists,' Some Die of Negligence

Prepare to be enraged by this exclusive investigative report from CNN. As Allahpundit notes, the media has been documenting the VA's egregiously poor treatment of our veterans for some time, blowing the whistle on horrific conditions and scandalously long wait times for care. But the new revelations introduce an additional, more sinister, element into the equation: Lethal, ass-covering corruption. An absolute disgrace:

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list. The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources ... Internal e-mails obtained by CNN show that top management at the VA hospital in Arizona knew about the practice and even defended it. Dr. Sam Foote just retired after spending 24 years with the VA system in Phoenix. The veteran doctor told CNN in an exclusive interview that the Phoenix VA works off two lists for patient appointments: There's an "official" list that's shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. And then there's the real list that's hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.

So this branch of the VA operated an off-the-books list in order to mask atrocious realities and deflect public scrutiny. (Was the Phoenix division the only one that used this ploy?) It gets worse:

According to Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor's appointments for veterans within the computer system. Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, "they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there's no record that you were ever here," he said. According to Foote, the information was gathered on the secret electronic list and then the information that would show when veterans first began waiting for an appointment was actually destroyed...Foote adds that when veterans waiting on the secret list die, they are simply removed...Foote said that the number of dead veterans who died waiting for care is at least 40.

They went to great lengths to avoid keeping accurate records, and when veterans died of neglect, their secret files simply disappeared. Their paper trail was destroyed. The CNN story profiles one victim of this scheme -- and as a fair warning, some these quotes are excruciating to read:

Teddy says his Brooklyn-raised father was so proud of his military service that he would go nowhere but the VA for treatment. On September 28, 2013, with blood in his urine and a history of cancer, Teddy and his wife, Sally, rushed his father to the Phoenix VA emergency room, where he was examined and sent home to wait. "They wrote on his chart that it was urgent," said Sally, her father-in-law's main caretaker. The family has obtained the chart from the VA that clearly states the "urgency" as "one week" for Breen to see a primary care doctor or at least a urologist, for the concerns about the blood in the urine. "And they sent him home," says Teddy, incredulously. Thomas Breen died on November 30. The death certificate shows that he died from Stage 4 bladder cancer. Sally says her father-in-law realized toward the end he was not getting the care he needed. "At the end is when he suffered. He screamed. He cried. And that's somethin' I'd never seen him do before, was cry. Never. Never. He cried in the kitchen right here. 'Don't let me die.' " Teddy added his father said: "Why is this happening to me? Why won't anybody help me?"

Once you've recovered from your entirely justifiable fit of rage, allow me to make two points. First, a non-partisan observation: Our veterans -- men and women who served this country to protect and defend our freedoms -- deserve much, much better than this. Those responsible for these shameful policies in Phoenix are criminals, and should be treated as such. (The director of this division received $9,345 in bonuses last year, according to records). The federal government ought to launch an immediate and unsparing investigation into the entire VA system to see if Phoenix's worst practices were adopted elsewhere. Accountability should be swift, thorough, and painful for the guilty. This cannot stand. And now, a more ideological point: American public opinion is fractured on healthcare policy. Obamacare is deeply divisive, and most Americans don't believe it's the federal government's role to provide universal healthcare to all of its citizens. But there are a few areas of broad consensus on health policy, one of which is keeping faith with our veterans. They've earned our help. The VA is one form of "single payer," government-run healthcare that most people support. Yet it's a wreck. It's failing the very people we virtually all agree deserve to be covered on our dime. One of the president's big campaign promises in 2008 was to reduce backlogs at the VA. According to left-leaning fact-checker Politifact, the problem has only intensified during the Obama presidency.

Elsewhere, our Native American health system is another single-payer-esque system operating under the auspices of the federal government. It's woefully under-funded, and its "beneficiaries" darkly joke that one shouldn't get sick after June, when the annual budget runs out. Medicare is another single-payer system. It's quite popular. It's also knocking on the door of insolvency, and must be reformed to avoid a fiscal implosion. And liberal Vermont's proposed single-payer dream is dying because the state has no way to pay for it. Government-run healthcare systems result in longer wait times, fewer choices, doctor shortages, less innovation and rationing. Those are facts. The reality that our federal bureaucracy can't even support and sustain a non-disgraceful VA -- a rallying point for Americans of all political stripes -- should be a wake-up call for those who'd push the nation toward a single-payer regime. One major political coalition is wedded to that ideological goal:

Pro-Palestinian Group at NYU Targets Jewish Students With "Eviction Notices"

Some residents of NYU's Palladium Hall, a dormitory known for its sizable Jewish population, woke up this morning to find "eviction notices" slipped under their doors by members of NYU's Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Students, however, were not thrilled by the tactics of the group, and said that they felt as if the flyers were intended to intimidate and scare rather than to inform. Laura Adkins writes for Times of Israel:

One Jewish resident of Palladium and Steinhardt Sophomore, speaking anonymously told me, “Being very straightforward, this made me feel targeted and unsafe in my own dorm room and I know others feel exactly the same as myself. I understand free speech rights but if this was targeted solely to Jewish students then this appears to be of a more threatening nature rather than informative.”

Similar tactics have taken place at Rutgers and Northeastern University. Northeastern's chapter of SJP got suspended as a result of their distribution of "eviction" notices.

Adkins criticized the tactic as cowardice and anti-Semitic in nature as SJP intentionally targeted a dorm with a large Jewish population rather than foster some kind of dialogue on campus.

Academic dialogue and the freedom to share ideas is one thing, but this move by NYU’s SJP shows nothing but cowardice and anti-semitic fearmongering. By choosing to target Jewish students (or at the very least, a dorm brimming with Jewish students) instead of engaging with them, NYU’s SJP has made it clear that they do not seek dialogue or peace with Israel; indeed, an article published by SJP members in NYU Local earlier this year called the peace process a sham, and SJP member Kumars Salehi’s remarks in a discussion between Salehi and myself featured on NYU Local’s Op Ed Live expressed similar sentiments.

Unauthorized canvassing dorms with fliers is a violation of NYU housing policies.

Dem Senate Candidate: Build the Keystone XL Pipeline

The Keystone XL Pipeline will not pass through Kentucky. But after months of stalling and foot-dragging, US Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) has finally come out in favor of the project. But things, you might say, just got a bit tense.

On the very same day (and mere hours before) she announced her support for it, an environmentalist group staunchly opposed to the project vowed to spend half a million dollars in the state unseating Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Oops:

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes called on President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, joining 11 incumbent Democrats as the party tries to keep control of the Senate this November.

Grimes' statement Wednesday to The Associated Press came on the same day that a group committed to blocking the pipeline's construction announced plans to spend $500,000 setting up field offices in Kentucky to defeat U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. And it comes after McConnell and Republican party officials have repeatedly criticized Grimes for delaying her opinion on the project, which has become a key issue in Senate races across the country by pitting the value of economic development against protecting the environment.

"The administration should rule now and approve the project," Grimes said. "Putting Americans back to work in good-paying jobs that strengthen the middle class is my top priority and it should be the federal government's as well."

Question: Will this special interest group now pull out of the race or stick it out as planned? After all, both candidates now support the project. Well, it seems to me they’re dead set on sending Sen. McConnell into early retirement, even in light of recent events:

Before Grimes' announcement Wednesday, a San Francisco-based super PAC that opposes the Keystone pipeline construction announced plans to spend $500,000 to open field offices in Kentucky aimed at defeating McConnell. In a news release, Credo SuperPAC said it was skipping Sen. Mary Landrieu's tight Senate race in Louisiana because she "frequently votes against progressives." Landrieu supports the Keystone pipeline construction.

But Becky Bond, the group's president, said their No. 1 priority is to defeat McConnell, whom she called "one of the most obstructionist leaders we have in Washington."

"We think everyone in position of power should do everything they can to slow climate change," Bond said. "But the Keystone XL issue is not up to the Senate. It's up to the president. The most important vote for us is the vote cast for majority leader."

Grimes now joins 11 Senate Democrats calling for the president to approve the pipeline. He won’t, of course, for reasons that are patently obvious; he’ll reportedly hand down his decision sometime after the midterms.

But given his track record on meeting his own deadlines, perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath.

Oh My: Two New Polls Show Dead Heat in Colorado Senate Race

We wrote about this race just yesterday, in the context of incumbent Mark Udall's new ad claiming that Republican Cory Gardner is on a "crusade" to "outlaw" birth control. The Gardner campaign responded with a scathing statement:

“After nearly two decades in Washington, Senator Udall has decided to launch his reelection campaign with a negative, misleading attack ad because he has no record of accomplishments. While Coloradans sound the call for new leadership, Senator Udall continues to lie about Cory Gardner’s record while distorting his own. If Senator Udall trusts and respects women, and all Coloradans for that matter, then he should not have lied to them about keeping their healthcare plans and doctors.”

A local fact-checker called the ad's claims about birth control "debatable," with the Gardner camp noting that the GOP candidate had supported legislative language to protect contraception -- a far cry from being on a zealous mission to criminalize it, as the ad implies. Gardner has also abandoned the issue position Team Udall is using to advance their claim. As I advised yesterday, Colorado Republicans need to tackle this allegation squarely with on-air ads. Gardner needs to make his position crystal clear, and if he's so moved, he may draw attention to his opponent's extremism on abortion. At stake are women voters, who split on abortion, but who don't take kindly to male candidates they are led to believe are hostile to women's health issues. A new poll from Quinnipiac shows this race is a dead heat, with the candidates separated by a statistically-insignificant single point in the mid-40s. Three factors are keeping Udall afloat:

(1) Women. Udall is trying to exploit the gender gap, which currently gives him a 17-point advantage (52/35) with female voters. If Gardner can close this number even a little bit, he'll be in a strong position to win. That's why the birth control attacks must be blunted, and swiftly.

(2) Young voters. Fully 72 percent of 18-29 year olds say they have no opinion of Cory Gardner. Of those who do, the Republican actually scores a (+3) favorability rating. But he's by and large an unknown commodity within this demo, and he's getting trounced by the incumbent, trailing by 31 points (56/25).

(3) Independents. Gardner is actually winning this group, but by a narrow two points. Given the trend of independents breaking fairly heavily for the GOP this year, Gardner must win this cohort by more than a couple of percentage points. Part of doing so requires him successfully introducing himself as a plausible Senator -- and that's why Udall's going to play the "extremist" card early and often.

The poll is also packed with very gloomy data points for the Democrat incumbent:

(1) By a six point margin, voters say Udall does not deserve to be re-elected. The "yes" camp only encompasses 40 percent of voters, a real danger zone for a sitting office holder.

(2) The top two issues in the race are the economy and healthcare. Gardner holds substantial leads on both issues; 13 points on the former, and 21 points on the latter.

(3) Barack Obama is deep underwater in the Rocky Mountain State. His overall approval rating is (38/57), with disapproval reaching 60 percent on the economy and foreign policy. Just 24 percent of Coloradans are at least somewhat satisfied with the overall direction of the country.

(4) Obamacare is enduringly unpopular in the state. In this poll, it's upside-down by 22 points (37/59), virtually unchanged across months of polling. The so-called "winning streak" hasn't made a dent.

A separate poll commissioned by the US Chamber of Commerce gives Gardner a razor-thin lead, (44/42). This survey's data largely confirms the Q-poll's findings:

A slight majority, 51 percent, said it is time to give a new person a chance, compared with 35 percent who said they would automatically vote to reelect [Udall]...A generic Republican Senate candidate would lead a generic Democrat by 9 points, 49 percent to 40 percent. The number grows into double digits if it’s a Republican against a generic Democrat “who will help President Barack Obama and the Democrats in the Senate” pass his agenda. Obama is viewed unfavorably by 55 percent, with 47 percent saying they strongly disapprove, in the poll. And 63 percent said the country is seriously on the wrong track, compared with 29 percent who say things are moving the right direction....Gardner’s voters are most passionate: he’s up 8 points among those who have an opinion of both candidates, he leads by 5 points among those who say they will “definitely” vote and he’s up 20 points among those who say that, on a 1-to-10 scale, they have a 10 level of interest. Six in 10 of likely voters oppose Obamacare, as 51 percent say they are “strongly” against the law.

Coloradans bristle at the idea of sending someone to the Senate to "help President Obama and the Democrats." That's bad news for Mark Udall, who votes the Obama line a staggering 99 percent of the time. The fundamentals for a Gardner victory are clearly falling into place. To maintain his position and ultimately eclipse Udall, he'll need to pass the initial threshold test of acceptability, which is why the Udall camp is already airing ads trying to define him as a gargoyle. Gardner is a sharp, funny, winsome guy. He's harder to pigeonhole than many politicians -- but Udall's political survival rest on doing just that.

Dem Governor of Illinois Condones Comparison Between Black Republicans and Jewish Nazis

A series of tweets (that were deleted later) has the Democratic governor of Illinois in trouble with the Jewish community today. The tweets from Gov. Pat Quinn urged followers to read an article appearing in the Chicago Sun Times that compared black Republican voters to Jews who collaborated with Nazis during World War II.

Several readers of the Chicago paper were stunned and offended after reading writer Neil Steinberg’s column about the Republican gubernatorial candidate. The black Republican candidate, Bruce Rauner, was compared to Jews who worked with the Nazis against other Jews during the Holocaust.

Steinberg wrote,

“As a general rule, individuals will sell out the interests of their groups in return for personal benefit…It isn’t just a black thing. Jews collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping them to round up their own people in the hopes they’d be the last to go.”

The Quinn camp praised the piece and tweeted it out to followers multiple times. The tweets were then deleted after local Jewish community officials quietly communicated their outrage to the governor.

One of the deleted tweets read, “If Rauner is willing to throw his money away like this, what’s he going to do when he gets his hands on ours?”

I guess I missed the part where black people aren’t allowed to be Republicans. How is it that a black person who affiliates with the Republican Party is a “race traitor”? This was clearly a misstep for the governor who is facing elections very soon. What’s shocking is that the campaign has yet to apologize for the tweets and has not even publicly acknowledged deleting them. It’s about time we all grew up Mr. Quinn.

Georgia Governor Signs Expansive New Pro-Gun Law

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a right-to-carry bill into law on Wednesday that allows weapons in some government buildings, places of worship, bars, and under certain circumstances, school zones—making it the “most comprehensive pro-gun bill in state history,” according to the NRA-ILA.

CNS News reports:

Under House Bill 60, also known as the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, school districts will get to decide whether to allow authorized personnel to carry weapons within school safety zones under certain circumstances.

In addition, church leaders will be able to decide whether to allow licensed gun owners to bring weapons into their place of worship. The law also removes fingerprinting requirements for renewal licenses.

“This legislation will protect the constitutional rights of Georgians who have gone through a background check to legally obtain a Georgia Weapons Carry License,” Deal said in a statement.

“Roughly 500,000 Georgia citizens have a permit of this kind, which is approximately 5 percent of our population. License holders have passed background checks and are in good standing with the law. This law gives added protections to those who have played by the rules – and who can protect themselves and others from those who don’t play by the rules,” he added. “Our nation’s founders put the right to bear arms on par with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Georgians cherish their Second Amendment rights, and this law embodies those values.”

In the wake of the Newtown massacre last year, six states approved gun control bills, but things have since turned around. This year, pro-gun legislation is on the rise, as at least 30 states have passed legislation that advances gun rights, reports the Washington Times.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, announced Wednesday that he has signed a bill preventing local officials from restricting the sale of firearms and ammunition or regulating how guns are transported and stored, a measure designed to ensure that the state’s open-carry laws can effectively operate statewide.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, signed a bill in February that lets concealed-carry permit holders bring guns into bars and restaurants. Three other states are considering similar measures, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The Georgia law will take effect July 1.

Oversight Committee Members Demand Answers About DOJ Role in Targeting Conservative Groups With the IRS

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa and sixteen Committee members are demanding answers from Attorney General Eric Holder after it was revealed last week, through a series of emails, former IRS official Lois Lerner was in contact with the Director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Department of Justice Public Integrity Section Richard Pilger about prosecuting tax exempt groups.

A newly released email obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Request shows someone instructed Pilger to run the idea of prosecution by Lerner, but it is unclear who the instruction came from.

“When you have a moment, would you call me? I have been asked to run something by you," a May 8, 2013 email from Pilger to Lerner states.

Shortly after Pilger's contact, Lerner forwarded the following email to Nicole Flax, the former chief of staff to former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who visited the White House 118 times between 2010 and 2011 when the bulk of the IRS targeting of conservatives took place.

"I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ ... He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who "lied" on their 1024s --saying they weren't planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs. I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS," Lerner wrote in a May 8, 2013 email.

Flax responded by saying she not only wanted to help, but wanted to rope in the Criminal Division of DOJ.

"I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?" Flax responded on May 9, 2013.

In another email more than a month before the exchange with DOJ, Lerner detailed how a single prosecution of just one tax-exempt group would essentially send a chilling affect across all [conservative] groups.

"One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing stuff. So, don’t be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity," she wrote on March 27, 2013 adding, "There are several groups of folks from the FEC world that are pushing tax fraud prosecution for c4s who report they are not conducting political activity when they are (or these folks think they are). One is my ex-boss Larry Noble (former General Counsel at the FEC), who is now president of Americans for Campaign Reform. This is their latest push to shut these down."

Just two days after these emails were exchanged between DOJ, Lerner and Flax, news the IRS inappropriately targeted conservative groups surfaced.

"Mr. Pilger’s communications with Ms. Lerner are also striking for their timing. They show that the IRS and the Justice Department were actively considering efforts to target tax-exempt organizations just two days before Ms. Lerner’s public apology for the targeting. This information certainly undermines the sincerity of Ms. Lerner’s apology, but it calls into question your reaction that targeting was “outrageous” and “unacceptable.” These comments ring hollow in light of evidence that your subordinates apparently colluded with the IRS to target nonprofit groups less than a week before. We are severely disappointed in the Department’s apparent contribution to the Administration’s targeting of tax-exempt applicants," a letter sent directly to Holder from Issa and other Committee members states. "This e-mail is shocking on several levels. As an initial matter, this e-mail is further evidence that the Administration’s targeting and inappropriate treatment of conservative tax-exempt applicants was the result of political pressure from prominent Democrats to “fix the problem” posed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Information obtained by the Committee shows that beginning in 2010, the President and congressional Democrats loudly and aggressively criticized the Court’s decision and conservative nonprofit groups that they believed would benefit from it."

"This e-mail makes clear that the Justice Department, like the IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission, played a role in a government-wide effort to target political speech. Certainly, as is apparent in this e-mail, the Department felt the need to do something in response to Democratic rhetoric against nonprofit political speech. More unbelievably, this e-mail also suggests that the Department actually considered prosecuting nonprofit groups for their political activities. Even more astounding, the Department considered prosecuting these groups for actions that are legal for 501(c)(4) nonprofits under federal tax law – that is, engaging in political speech. The Department’s use of alleged false statement on the tax-exempt application is an unfortunate instance of prosecutorial “gotcha,” targeting these victims for supposed “lies” about activities that they are legally allowed to do. In this way, the tactics suggested by Mr. Pilger appear to be nothing more than harassment by the Justice Department of groups engaged in otherwise lawful activity."

Issa and members are demanding to know who at DOJ gave the instructions to ask the IRS to look into prosecutions and asking for documentation surrounding the communication. The Committee is also asking for Pilger to be available for a transcribed interview.

All documents and communications referring or relating to 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations or applicants for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status for the period January 1, 2009, through the present.

All documents and communications between or among Lois Lerner and employees of the Department of Justice for the period January 1, 2009, through the present.

All documents and communications referring or relating to the potential prosecution of tax-exempt organizations for alleged false statements made on Internal Revenue Service forms for the period January 1, 2009, through the present.

Documentation must be produced by DOJ by May 5, 2014.

RELATED: New Emails Show Lois Lerner Was in Contact With DOJ About Prosecuting Tax Exempt Groups

RELATED: Emails Show Lois Lerner Fed True the Vote Tax Information to Democrat Elijah Cummings

Competence: WH Has Missed More Than Half of Own Obamacare Deadlines

They bungled the roll-out, botched the website, and have leaned on a string of unilateral delays and alterations to keep this mess afloat. Undeterred, liberals would still love to see this very same federal government completely envelop and administer the entire American healthcare system. The follies of blind ideology. Yes, let's hand these people even more power -- they've done such a spectacular job thus far:

The administration has failed to meet 44 statutory deadlines required under Obamacare, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The report, released on Monday, documents every provision with a specific deadline within the health care law and the administration’s actions taken as of April 15, 2014. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has missed more than half of the 83 deadlines mandated since March 2011. The missed deadlines range from several days to years.

The truth of the matter is that few Americans would care at all about these unmet deadlines if the law's core promises -- zero impact on satisfied consumers, lower costs for all, etc. -- had been realized. Instead, millions are grappling with Obamacare's shattered pledges. Logistical snafus are a symptom, not the disease. The New York Times profiles some of those who took a pass on Obamacare, many of whom decided they couldn't afford the "Affordable" Care Act:

For every individual who did sign up, there were others...people who have decided to stay uninsured for now, despite the law’s requirement that most Americans get coverage this year or pay an income tax penalty of $95 or more. A common thread running through stories of the unenrolled is cost. Many people either do not qualify for federal subsidies or believe that the assistance is not enough to make insurance affordable, interviews with consumers and experts suggested. According to enrollment counselors in several states, people who have gone without health insurance or major illness for years can be especially resistant to investing in coverage. To be sure, some of those who chose not to sign up were motivated by ideological opposition to Mr. Obama, to the law’s mandate that they buy insurance, or to both....But a New York Times/CBS News poll of uninsured people in December found that of those who did not plan to get coverage, half said that cost was the main reason. Nearly three in 10 said they objected to the government’s requiring it, while about one in 10 said they felt they did not need it.

Click through to meet some of the ordinary people behind those statistics. As we've noted in the past, America's uninsured population has been particularly hostile to Obamacare in public polling. Coverage, in many cases, is too expensive -- and unless these unhappy campers claim a hardship waiver, they'll be forced to pay a tax for the privilege of not being able to afford Obamacare. Businesses have received delays on the mandate that impacts them; individuals and families have not. Meanwhile, in Florida, "sign ups" have exceeded expectations, but rates are on the rise due to demographics:

Most of the consumers who bought a private health plan from Florida Blue through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges between October and April were previously uninsured — one of many factors potentially leading to higher premium rates in 2015, according to a senior executive. Jason Altmire, a former Pennsylvania congressman and now senior vice president of public policy for Florida Blue, cited familiar reasons for a likely rise in rates next year, including the requirement that insurers no longer exclude those with pre-existing conditions, charge equal rates regardless of gender and charge older members no more than three times the amount paid by younger ones. Other reasons consumers may see higher premiums in 2015, he said, include the Obama administration’s decision to allow Americans to keep their health insurance plans for an additional year even if the plans did not meet the coverage requirements of the health law. Altmire said that most consumers signed up through the exchange were previously uninsured Americans who may have delayed seeking medical care, making them potentially more costly to insure. “A lot of them aren’t in the best of health,” he said, noting that consumers who signed up at the outset of open enrollment were likely the ones who needed it most. “We expect it to cost more to insure them because of deferred health needs.” Altmire said...the insurer did not enroll as many of the so-called “young invincibles” as it had hoped, to help spread the risk across a wide pool — another factor potentially affecting premiums next year. “It did not get to where we hoped it would be,” Altmire said of enrollment among young adults, though he declined to specify Florida Blue’s target.

That report confirms one trend we've been following (not enough "young invicibles" in the risk pool to defray premium hikes), but contradicts another. Independent studies have indicated that a hefty majority of "new" Obamacare enrollments came from people who previously had coverage. This story suggests that "most" of Florida's sign-ups came from the ranks of the uninsured. If accurate (details are scant), the Sunshine State's experience would represent an improvement in terms of meeting the law's stated goal -- but as described in the above excerpt, it comes with substantial actuarial downsides. Another mystery is the percentage of "enrollees" who've paid their first premium, thus activating their coverage. Estimates peg the national delinquency rate at 20 percent, but some of the state-level data trickling in looks much uglier. In Georgia, for instance, less than half of the sign-ups have sealed the deal by ponying up the requisite cash. I'll leave you with an embarrassing mistake impacting consumers in the Covered California exchange, which is often brandished by supporters as an Obamacare success story:

If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Unless you can't, that is -- perhaps because your state exchange inaccurately listed her as covered through your plan.

Kickstarter on Rejecting Pro-Life Films: "We Made a Mistake"

Last week, Katie exposed how the crowd funding website Kickstarter suspiciously rejected two pro-life films within two weeks. First came Gosnell the Movie, a documentary from filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney about America’s worst serial killer, abortionist Kermit Gosnell. That, Kickstarter claimed, was too “graphic.” Then they rejected Stolen Moments, Jason Vaughn’s film highlighting precious moments in life that are stolen by abortion. This time, the website claimed they don’t allow any films that offer “self-help.” Their excuses were poor, considering Kickstarter routinely allows porn on its site as well as films that give out health advice, which can certainly be classified as “self-help.”

Now, it seems the crowd funding website is apologizing for rejecting both McAleer’s and Vaughn’s pro-life based projects. Yancey Strickler, the CEO at Kickstarter, sent a message to Vaughn, explaining how they were in the wrong. Vaughn shared that email with The Federalist:

Hi Jason,

My name is Yancey, and I’m the CEO of Kickstarter. I came across a blog post this morning that reported your frustration at having a project rejected by us at Kickstarter. I took a look at the project, and think you’re right: we made a mistake. Your project is not in violation of our rules, and we would welcome it on the site.

I see that you’ve understandably launched your project elsewhere. I wish you the best with it. I’m sorry for the frustration and that you had a poor experience with us. We set very high standards for how we serve our community, and it’s frustrating when we fall short. I realize this is small consolation at this point, but it was important to me that we shared these thoughts.

Thanks for your time and all the best,


Whether Strickler is sincere or not is now a moot point. Both McAleer and Vaughn have taken their business to Indiegogo. That move seemed to pay off, as The Gosnell movie has now received over $1 million in funds.

So, a little too late for Kickstarter. To help out both of the important films they dismissed, go here and here.

Horrifying: Bodies of Aborted Babies Burned to Power Homes in Oregon

An incinerator in Oregon has been ordered to stop burning medical waste to power homes after it was discovered aborted babies from Canada were part of materials being used for energy. Apparently, this has been going on for years and it is common practice in Canada to mix "waste" baby parts in with cancer and other materials.

An Oregon county commission has ordered an incinerator to stop accepting boxed medical waste to generate electricity after learning the waste it's been burning may include tissue from aborted fetuses from British Columbia.

Sam Brentano, chairman of the Marion County board of commissioners, said late Wednesday the board is taking immediate action to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries at the plant that has been turning waste into energy since 1987.

"We provide an important service to the people of this state and it would be a travesty if this program is jeopardized due to this finding," he said in a statement. "We thought our ordinance excluded this type of material at the waste-to-energy facility. We will take immediate action to ensure a process is developed to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries."

Kristy Anderson, a British Columbia Health Ministry spokeswoman, told The Associated Press that regional health authorities there have a contract with a company that sends biomedical waste, such as fetal tissue, cancerous tissue and amputated limbs, to Oregon, where it's incinerated in the waste-energy plant.

Last month, it was discovered nearly a dozen hospitals in the United Kingdom were burning aborted babies, along with trash, to fuel government run hospitals.

British health officials are responding to a news program's report that accuses some hospitals of incinerating aborted and miscarried fetuses, in some cases as part of a system for heating the facilities.

The TV news program Dispatches on Channel 4 in the U.K. reports that 10 National Health Service (NHS) hospital trusts have admitted burning the remains as "clinical waste" alongside trash, while two other facilities disposed of the remains in incinerators that generate power for heating, multiple British news organizations including the BBC and the Telegraph reported.

Reports said that in the past two years alone, at least 15,500 fetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts. In some cases, mothers were told that the remains were cremated.

Absolutely horrifying and tragic.

Three American Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Guard

Three American doctors were killed early Thursday morning at a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan by an Afghan security officer according to the U.S. Embassy. More from Fox News:

The shooting at Cure International Hospital in the western part of the Afghan capital was the latest attack on foreign civilians in the city this year.

"With great sadness we confirm that three Americans were killed in the attack at CURE Hospital," said a statement posted on the Embassy's Twitter page. "No other information will be released at this time."

The attacker was a member of the Afghan Police Protection Force assigned to guard the hospital, District Police Chief Hafiz Khan told the Associated Press. Khan said the man's motive was not yet clear.

Doctors at CURE International Hospital specialize in maternity and child health. Qualified doctors in Afghanistan are hard to find.

Today, CURE International Hospital of Kabul is one of the leading medical institutions in Afghanistan. The hospital represents many things to many people. To expecting mothers, it is a haven where they can safely deliver their child. For children with physical disabilities, it is where they can be made whole. For health care professionals, it is a center of medical excellence where they can receive advanced training and education. For the nation of Afghanistan, it is a source of hope.

In recent years, attacks from "friendly" sources have become all too common.

Over 40,000 People Are Registered to Vote in Both Virginia and Maryland

As midterm elections quickly approach, many are starting to think about voting and potential fraud at the polls. And once again, we find that there is cause to be worried about voter fraud here in the U.S. It appears in a new report that 44,000 people are registered to vote in both Virginia and Maryland.

A vote-integrity group crosschecked the voter rolls in the two states and found far too many people registered in both states. The group, known as The Virginia Voters Alliance, is going to expand their research into surrounding states like Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Georgia.

The group found that the number of voters who actually cast ballots in both states was only 164 in 2012, but that is still far too many. And the problem of potentially having thousands of people casting multiple ballots is the real issue.

The Virginia Voters Alliance also worked with the Privileges and Elections committees of the state House and Senate. They found 31,000 dead voters through the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. The president of the organization said that dead voter registration is a prime target for voter fraud.

A simple solution for this issue is a voter ID law. Not only should people be required to show ID at the polls, but voter registrations should be cross checked more frequently. Hiring an outside group to do this, not only will help with voter fraud, but provides business to a non-governmental group. These numbers need to be greatly reduced before November.

Victory: NY School Reverses Suspension for Student Wearing NRA Shirt

It's not often the Second Amendment scores a victory in the state of New York, but they got one on Tuesday when the Grand Island School district decided to reverse its decision to suspend a student for wearing a T-shirt with the NRA logo.

Shane Kinney, a sophomore at Grand Island High School, was ordered to report to the principal's office last month when a teacher spotted him wearing the "controversial" piece of clothing.

"They've yelled at me for wearing it before because it has a gun on it and I had to duct tape it," says Kinney. Administrators suggested he turn the shirt inside out or find another shirt. He refused, saying there was nothing wrong with it, adding the NRA has done great things for the country.

Parents and gun rights advocates protested the school's intolerant move, and now it seems their efforts have paid off - the district is retracting the suspension. Activist Rus Thompson, who led protests against the school district, posted some insight about the administration's change of heart on his Facebook page after attending Tuesday's board of education meeting:

Victory on Grand Island! Mission accomplished! The Superintendent read a great statement, she admitted they were wrong in the suspension. The suspension has been expunged from Shane's school records. They returned his pocket tool and have stopped the 30 year practice of turning T-shirts inside out. She respects the 2nd Amendment, the 1st Amendment, and is the daughter of a veteran, her daughter shoots on a team. I started the applause after she was finished.

I wish I was in that meeting so I could clap along with him. Good for Grand Island for recognizing that Kinney's T-shirt was harmless and for ultimately ruling in free speech's favor.

It's a small victory in a state that has introduced some of the most anti-gun legislation in the country, but it's a victory nonetheless.

Tearjerker: Senate GOP Candidate Launches Powerful "Pro-life" Ad

Guy analyzed this campaign spot earlier today, but I wanted to add some additional commentary as a follow-up.

As my other colleague Cortney recently noted, Oregon Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Monica Wehby is not pro-life. She is of the, shall we say, Joe Biden mold in that she is “personally” pro-life but supports abortion rights in practice. The GOP establishment, however, as Cortney lamented, has endorsed her candidacy over the pro-life candidate in the belief that she is -- and will prove to be -- more electable. We’ll see. (Personally, I don’t summarily object when the party endorses “moderate” candidates from blue states. Republicans after all are playing to win. But conservatives -- understandably -- have the right to criticize and take issue with any of their strategic endorsements).

Nevertheless, Dr. Wehby’s new campaign spot is tastefully done and hits all the right notes. She doesn’t explicitly assert she’s “pro-life” in the traditional sense, of course, but the ad titled “Trust” does explain how she guided and brought hope to a young mother in need. As it happens, Lexi Liebelt was suddenly informed by her physician -- after an ultrasound -- that she should at least consider aborting her child, who suffered from severe spinal damage. Upon hearing the news, then, it comes as no surprise that Mrs. Liebelt was devastated and disconsolate. However, as a pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Wehby went on to perform the necessary surgery that quite literally saved the child’s life. Today, we’re told, Liebelt's daughter Gabby is a healthy 12-year-old:

For obvious reasons this spot will appeal to Oregon’s pro-life crowd. What’s more inspiring than a Senate hopeful using her skills and experience as a surgeon to save a child’s life from the violence and barbarism of abortion? If she wins the primary, then, perhaps pro-lifers can summon the strength to vote for her over the Democrat.

But the ad, I think, will also appeal to those fed up with Washington -- and the lawmakers who make their living there. Trust in government is rapidly declining, so any spot that can meaningfully show a candidate is worthy of the public’s trust has the capacity to move the needle.

This ad might do just that.

Video: Conservative Ads Blitz Top Senate Races

Americans for Prosperity is launching anti-Obamacare ad campaigns in four key states, The Hill reports, which will undoubtedly fuel Democrats' Koch Derangement Syndrome. The story mentions the Kochs in both the headline and the lede; we'll see if the publication applies the same standard to campaigns bankrolled by liberal billionaires like Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. The new spots will air in Louisiana, Michigan, Colorado and New Hampshire -- all states in which Democrat-held Senate seats are being targeted by the GOP. The Louisiana version features a Marine who served two tours in Iraq, and who isn't feeling especially grateful over Obamacare's changes to the health plan with which he was fully satisfied:

"I don't think Mary Landrieu is looking out for my best interests."

In Michigan, AFP hits Rep. Gary Peters for his unqualified support for a law that's hurting many consumers -- including single mother and leukemia patient Julie Boonstra:

And in New Hampshire, the organization builds a similar case against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

The Colorado spot hasn't been released yet. You can see my write-up of that contested race here. While the AFP ads are solid, the best ones I've seen this week come from GOP campaigns. Yesterday, Dan wrote up Tom Cotton's lighthearted push-back effort against Sen. Mark Pryor's outrageous "sense of entitlement" smear. A fresh poll in that race gives Pryor a ten-point lead, although the internals look rather suspect. Nevertheless, it's appears as though Cotton has work to do in order to unseat the incumbent. If Pryor survives in Arkansas, a Republican takeover of the Senate becomes highly unlikely. I'll leave you with this moving spot from Oregon doctor Monica Wehby:

Wehby has a compelling story to tell. Her years in the medical profession put her in an unique position to critique Obamacare, and her status as a woman renders "war on women" attacks less effective -- as Democrats are learning in Michigan. The theme of this ad is trust, highlighting her integrity and commitment to working for others when everything is on the line. She's drawing a contrast with incumbent Sen. Jeff Merkley, whom she's denounced for playing along with his party's "lie of the year" on Obamacare.

Jeb Bush "Thinking About" Running for President

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush reportedly admitted today that he is "thinking about" running for president. Jeb Bush has now joined the ranks of Hillary Clinton in admitting that there is a possibility he may throw his hat in the ring.

The exchange took place at an event in New York City. Bush has been faulted recently for his support of Common Core and for his saying that illegal immigration is an "act of love."

Nobody has officially entered the 2016 election yet.

Good News: IRS Pays $1 Million in Bonuses to Employees Who Owe Back Taxes

Americans have no shortage of reasons to resent the Internal Revenue Service. The agency is responsible for confiscating an annual percentage of each citizen's earned wealth on behalf of the state (and it's never a bad time to reiterate this point about "fair shares"). It is now tasked with enforcing Obamacare's hated individual mandate tax -- although with blanket exceptions like this, it's unclear what there is to enforce at this stage. And it has been embroiled in a high-profile targeting scandal, in which agency higher-ups exploited their power to deliberately harass and abuse organizations opposed to the government's ruling party. The scandal has flared up again in recent weeks, as the House of Representatives weighs contempt charges for Lois Lerner amid additional developments coming to light regarding the IRS' internal culture, Lerner's political biases, and possible collusion from the Justice Department and Congressional Democrats. Against that sordid backdrop, we have this:

The Internal Revenue Service has paid more than $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with recent disciplinary problems, including $1 million to workers who owed back taxes, a government investigator said Tuesday. More than 2,800 workers got bonuses despite facing a disciplinary action in the previous year, including 1,150 who owed back taxes, said a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The bonuses were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012. George's report said the bonus program doesn't violate federal regulations, but it's inconsistent with the IRS mission to enforce tax laws.

So while the IRS was slow-rolling and auditing conservative groups, it was bestowing generous, taxpayer-funded bonuses upon employees who'd been flagged for disciplinary issues, including more than 1,100 who owed back taxes. How many ordinary Americans have received any form of bonus during this "recovery," which has been so tepid that Democrats are being urged not to mention it? How many taxpayers would earn "performance" bonuses after getting into trouble at work, or openly violating core tenets of their company's mission? Perhaps most galling is the fact that these unwarranted bonuses don't violate any federal regulations. An incredulous Mary Katharine Ham floats a modest proposal:

Surely in the untold reams of regulations, they could codify that they shouldn’t give piles of money to people charged with collecting your piles of money who then neglect to pay the proper piles of money to the organization for whom they’re charged with collecting piles of money! Lord knows they can’t use common sense, so it must be a law. Pretty sure they could find my lawnmower gas tank in violation of some federal regulation if they tried, but this? No prob, moving on.

Will this public embarrassment -- at a moment where the public is even more suspicious of the IRS than usual -- trigger some painfully obvious reforms within the agency? Perhaps, but never underestimate the power of bureaucratic inertia to do the wrong thing.

Poll: Cotton Trails by 10 in AR?

What to make of this poll jointly conducted by the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation? After crosschecking other surveys at RCP, my colleague Ed Morrissey (who first flagged this story, by the way) concludes this poll is almost certainly an outlier. I tend to agree with him. After all, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is perhaps the number one Republican target running for re-election in the upper chamber. How on earth, then, is he leading Tom Cotton by double-digits in a state the president lost by 24 percentage points in 2012? Doesn’t make that much sense:

Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, a two-term incumbent who has been considered perhaps the most imperiled Democratic senator in the country, holds a 10-point lead over his Republican opponent, Representative Tom Cotton. Mr. Pryor, the son of a former senator, has an approval rating of 47 percent, with 38 percent of Arkansas voters disapproving of him.

Top line numbers are utterly meaningless, although still attention-grabbing, if the sample is skewed. And that’s apparently what’s going on here. The big take-away Senate Democrats will shout from the rooftops is that a race that was once deemed "competitive" is moving into safer Democratic waters. But that’s nonsense. The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol explains:

[The] Times and Kaiser have produced a sample in Arkansas that reports they voted in 2012 for Romney over Obama--by one point. But Romney carried Arkansas in 2012 by 24 points. Similarly, the Kentucky sample is +3 Romney when reality was +23. The Louisiana sample is +3 Obama in a state Obama lost by 17, and the North Carolina sample is +7 Obama in a state he lost by 3.

The whole point of question 12 is to provide a reality test for the sample. That's why they ask that question--we know what happened in 2012, so the only thing to be learned by asking the 2012 question of the sample is to ensure that it's a reasonably accurate snapshot of voters in the state. Of course there'll always be some variance between reality and the sample's report of its vote a year and a half ago--but not a 23 point variance.

A reputable news organization would have looked at question 12 and thrown the poll out. But then again, it was the New York Times.

Kristol argues the contest in Arkansas is exceedingly close. But at the same time, concedes after a barrage of anti-Cotton attack ads, Pryor "is probably now ahead by a point or two.” Still, “a point or two” is nowhere near the double-digit lead the New York Times claims Pryor now enjoys. He doesn't.

Low-information voters, I assume, will take these top-line numbers at face value. But they shouldn’t, of course -- and neither should anyone else.

ECSU Prof Apologizes for Slurring Republicans in Lecture

Professor Brent Terry has apologized for slamming the GOP during a creative writing class lecture at Eastern Connecticut State University earlier this week. During the four-minute rant, captured by one student on audio tape, the professor claimed Republicans do not want Latinos, blacks, young people, or old people to vote. He also warned colleges would start closing if the GOP takes control of both the House and Senate in November.

State GOP Rep. Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) demanded Terry apologize for his offensive harangue “as a point of personal privilege.” Only an hour after Cafero made the request on the House floor, Terry released a statement:

During my creative writing class yesterday, I allowed my own political opinions to color the discussion. I regret the language I used, and I apologize to any students in the room who were offended. As a liberal arts university, Eastern is known for encouraging debate and discussion about a host of social and political issues.

My role in my own classroom is to keep the debate lively yet respectful. I did not meet that standard yesterday, and for that I am truly sorry.

Read more about Terry’s initial comments here.

America: We Support Building Keystone

Last week on Good Friday, the White House announced yet another delay for the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2014 midterm elections. The White House cited the project needing "further review" before approval and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says the move was not political. The bright side is labor unions called the delay "gutless," a “low blow to the working men and women of our country," and a "cold, hard slap in the face for hard working Americans who are literally waiting for President Obama's approval and the tens of thousands of jobs it will generate."

A new poll from Rasmussen Reports shows 61 percent of Americans support the approval of Keystone, a new high.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor building the major oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, while just 27% are opposed. This includes 37% who Strongly Favor the project and 10% who Strongly Oppose it. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided.

It has already been proven through multiple studies, including those from the State Department, that the Keystone pipeline is a safe, efficient way to transport oil. In fact, studies have shown that other methods of transportation are more dangerous and produce a bigger carbon footprint.

Despite Gun Sales Being Banned in Chicago, Police Superintendent Still Blaming Lack of Gun Control For Violence

Last night on The Kelly File, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul discussed the recent and ongoing rash of violence in the Windy City. Paul, who was in town for a school choice event, explained that the violence problem in Chicago goes far beyond guns and comes from a lack of leadership, education and guidance for young people in certain parts of the city. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (like Barack Obama) is an opponent of school choice, which allows kids to get out of miserable, failing schools in violent neighborhoods. But thanks to Emanuel's solid support for teacher's unions, instead of being able to pursue a future through educational choice, teenagers are trapped in worthless, hopeless schools. Due to a lack of opportunity, they join gangs.

Gang initiations typically require a violent act. Those violent acts usually involve guns that were purchased or stolen illegally by gang members and then are used in crimes (again illegal). When guns aren't purchased illegally on the street, they're brought into the city illegally. As Megyn Kelly points out in her introduction, all gun sales in Chicago are already banned, yet the Superintendent of Police Garry McCarthy (and Emanuel) is still blaming a lack of gun control for the violence. He admits murders by gunshot wound are higher in Chicago than the national average, but fails to acknowledge that the rest of the country has less stringent gun control laws. In fact, states and cities with fewer gun control laws and more concealed carry permit holders have lower crime rates.

But not only are McCarthy and Emanuel's calls for more gun control unproductive, they're also out of touch with the people who live in the communities being affected the most. Since the ban on concealed carry in Illinois was struck down in December 2012, residents from Chicago's south side have been flocking to classes to learn about how to protect themselves. The Reader recently did a feature story, Dismantling the Stigma of Guns, profiling Gerald Vernon, a long time Second Amendment advocate and firearms instructor living in Chicago's south side.

Gerald Vernon believes conceal-and-carry laws and responsible firearm owners are crucial to keeping people safe—especially in the communities hit hardest by crime.

The first lesson Gerald Vernon shared with his conceal-and-carry class is, to him, the most fundamental: "The only thing that stops bad people with guns is good people with guns."
His ten students—eight men and two women, all African-Americans—were listening intently. They had gathered in a meeting room at a south-side social service center to learn about gun ownership and self-defense from Vernon, a veteran firearms instructor who was seated at the front of the room next to a table set with an array of revolvers and semiautomatic handguns from his collection.
The students didn't appear to need any convincing. "I'm interested in protection," explained Thomas Brandon, 57, when it was his turn to introduce himself. The others said they were there for the same reason.

Last week, Chicago Magazine published an investigative story alleging McCarthy and Emanuel were cooking the books on "decreasing" crime rates.

Independents Overwhelmingly Lean Towards anti-Obamacare Candidates, Poll Finds

“The bases have already been rallied,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) asserted this month on the Fox News Channel before boldly repudiating Democrats’ latest gambit to retain their Senate majority. But where does this leave independents and non-affiliated voters? Ultimately, they will exert enormous influence in swing districts and hotly contested congressional races this fall. Thus their voting preferences matter, and on one issue in particular, Democrats find themselves deeply underwater.

According to a recent Fox News poll, independents overwhelmingly prefer anti-Obamacare candidates to pro-Obamacare candidates -- that is, if Obamacare is the only issue in which both candidates stand in disagreement. Consequently, this underscores just how "unpalatable" the president’s signature domestic achievement has become, and gives us yet another reason why Democrats continue to run from it (via the Washington Times):

The Fox News poll showed that if the only difference between two candidates running for Congress this year was their position on the Affordable Care Act, then independents would support the candidate that fights against the health care law by a 54- to 29-percent margin.

This may not bode well for Democrats as they look to defend their Senate majority.

To be fair, most independents will evaluate office seekers on a whole host of issues, and vote for the candidate who they feel most aligns with their values. But make no mistake: this is another bump in the road for Congressional Democrats -- and they know it.

Inevitable: Worried Democrats Resurrect 'Birth Control Ban' Attacks

Democratic messaging gurus and pollsters have warned embattled incumbents not to defend Obamacare. It's too toxic. They've also admonished their party against touting the economic recovery. It's too weak; the idea that America's economy is roaring back to life isn't resonating with voters. Democrats have virtually zero chance of winning back the House, so their primary concern is retaining the Senate -- which the GOP can reclaim by netting six seats in November. Some losses are expected, but Team Blue believes it can use political triage to save their majority. In order to do so, they'll need relatively strong turnout from the voting blocs that were instrumental to re-electing President Obama in 2012, so strategists are dialing up every play in the book to galvanize specific constituencies. Colorado Senator Mark Udall's first ad of the cycle hews to this strategy. It attacks Udall's Republican opponent -- Rep. Cory Gardner -- for wanting to "outlaw" birth control, an outlandish claim:

A friend snarks that Udall's facial expression near the end of the spot is eerily reminiscent of "blue steel." As preposterous as the attack seems, setting the record straight on this sort of issue is important. So important, in fact, that I'd recommend that Gardner push back forcefully in an on-air ad of his own. Democrats got a lot of mileage out of the "Republicans want to take away your birth control" garbage in the 2012 cycle, and Terry McAuliffe used the issue to define Ken Cuccinelli early in last year's gubernatorial race in Virginia. Cuccinelli ended up closing a large gap because of Obamacare, but fell short. Perhaps the biggest reason? Unmarried women, who overwhelmingly backed McAuliffe. This narrative needs to be nipped in the bud -- or else, like a mendacious weed, it could take root with just enough potential voters to make a difference.

And while I'm dishing out unsolicited advice, I'd urge Team Gardner to be highly prepared to push back on the abortion attack, too. Two Republican candidates fumbled the "rape exception" question last cycle, arguably costing them Senate seats. Out of curiosity, Does Mark Udall support his party's extremist position of taxpayer-funded, late-term abortion on demand? Does he agree with the strong majority of American women that abortion shouldn't be allowed in most cases? Of course, Udall is frantic to distract from his own record on other issues, which includes reciting his party's "keep your plan" lie of the year to Colorado healthcare consumers. He's so anxious about this issue, in fact, that his office pressured a state agency to cook the books on cancellation notices, a nakedly political attempt to minimize the fallout from his broken pledge. Recent polling shows a close race -- with Udall's numbers looking shaky, and Obama's popularity in the toilet. Unfortunately for Udall, his pro-Obama voting record is among the most slavish in the entire Senate. He's sided with Obama line 99 percent of the time. The numbers, unlike certain Senators, don't lie:

Also of note is the fact that Udall's signature was conspicuously absent from that letter sent by red and purple state Democrats urging the Obama administration to approve the wildly popular Keystone pipeline. Those ineffectual Senators were ignored, of course, but at least they made an attempt. Mark Udall evidently believes that he has too much at stake with deep-pocketed environmentalists (he is a Tom Steyer beneficiary) to go to bat for a broadly-supported, job-creating infrastructure and energy project. Thousands of American jobs can wait, it seems. Gardner is hitting Udall over the issue:

To recap, the Republican in this race is talking about job creation. The Democrats is fear-mongering about birth control.

UPDATE - A solid web ad from American Commitment shoves back at Udall. Too bad this isn't airing:

Cheerleaders Sue Buffalo Bills For Failing to Meet Minimum Wage

In upstate New York, becoming a Buffalo Jill is almost as impressive as becoming a New York City Rockette. But, as the following young women will tell you, being a Buffalo cheerleader is not so glamorous as it seems. Tuesday, five former Jills announced they are suing the football team and its managers for withholding wages and for forcing them to endure degrading treatment. reports:

The five former Jills claim the team, Stejon Productions, the current manager, and Citadel Communications, the former manager, failed to pay the minimum wage for extensive game day work as well as community event appearances. The hundreds of hours of work did not meet the minimum wage standard of $8 per hour in New York State.

Here's a few more details from the testy lawsuit:

"In flagrant violation of numerous laws of the State of New York, exploited plaintiffs, who worked for them as members of the Bills’ cheerleading squad, by failing to pay them for all hours they worked each season. The Bills, Citadel and Stejon also failed to reimburse the Jills for certain business expenses, failed to pay them in a timely manner, took unlawful deductions and kick-backs from the Jills wages, unlawfully took gratuities paid to the Jills, failed to adhere to the notice and record keeping requirements of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, and were unjustly enriched as a result of the Jills’ work."

In addition to not receiving compensation for their appearances at football games or practices, these former cheerleaders claim they were also subjected to mandatory and embarrassing public appearances, such as the Jills Annual Gold Tournament, where they had to dress in bikinis and then step into a dunk tank.

No offense to these ladies, but how many want to be a cheerleader because of the great salary? It's more about the status and name recognition, is it not?

The Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals are currently facing similar lawsuits. I guess these Buffalo Jills just have nothing to cheer about.