Surprise: Efforts to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in New York City Not Going So Well

As it turns out, most residents of the Big Apple appreciate tradition and opportunities to ride horse-drawn carriages around places like Central Park -- a practice that has been a staple of New York City for some 150 years. Even so, that must come as quite the shock to newly elected Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio -- who, of course, tried (unsuccessfully) to eliminate the industry altogether after taking the oath of office.

Funded by animal rights activists and aided by PETA, his ongoing efforts to kick horses out of New York City for “humanitarian purposes” have met staunch resistance. The AP reports:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is pulling back the reins on his plans to quickly get rid of New York City's horse-drawn carriage industry, stung by a recent outpouring of support for the colorful coaches that have clip-clopped their way through Central Park for more than 150 years.

A campaign pledge to take on the horses during his first week as mayor was eclipsed by other issues. And as he nears his fourth month in office, he has encountered enough resistance from the usually compliant City Council to slow his plans again, now saying an industry he calls cruel and inhumane will be gone by year's end.

Why the pushback? Two reasons: an effective lobbying campaign to save the industry and…unions?

For one, a media blitz led by actor Liam Neeson has portrayed the horse-drawn carriage industry as an iconic, romantic part of New York that provides about 400 jobs, many to Irish immigrants. In a series of editorials and TV interviews, he has said the operators treat their 200 working horses like their own children.

"I can appreciate a happy and well-cared-for horse when I see one," Neeson wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Times. "It has been my experience, always, that horses, much like humans, are at their happiest and healthiest when working."

The next blow came when a series of city unions — who usually are de Blasio's staunchest allies — broke with the mayor, urging him to reconsider his decision in order to save not only the industry's hundreds of jobs but a profitable source of tourism.

Mayor de Blasio hopes to soften the blow by replacing horses (he defines their treatment as “inhumane”) with old fashioned-looking electric cars -- a pledge he actually made during the last election.

But perhaps that's a mistake; after all, his most recent (unpopular) crusade is hellbent on crushing an industry many people like, including his union buddies.

C'mon: Hagan Falsely Accuses GOP Opponent of...Praising Obamacare


North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan's -- shall we say -- issues defending her voting record have been well-documented, so it's no surprise that she's turning to dishonest commercials in a flailing effort to save her political hide. But I'm not sure that anyone expected her to lean on a line of attack quite this ridiculous, via the Free Beacon:


Tillis has attacked Hagan for her support of Obamacare, but the ad suggests these attacks are hypocritical because Tillis once described Obamacare as “a great idea.” “Politicians, these days you’ve gotta watch ‘em close—real close,” says the narrator in Hagan’s ad, before playing a clip of Tillis saying “it’s a great idea” in reference to Obamacare. “That’s right. Thom Tillis called Obamacare ‘a great idea,’” the narrator continues. “So Thom Tillis thinks he can attack Kay Hagan over something he calls ‘a great idea’? Watch close, seems Thom Tillis wants it both ways.”


And now, the context:


The Tillis quote was taken from his February 6 appearance on the Bill LuMaye radio show. You can check out the full audio here. The quote in question takes place around the 9-minute mark. Here’s what Tillis said, in the context of broader GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare: “The majority of the stuff that is in Obamacare is bad, because it’s not fiscally sustainable. It’s a great idea that can’t be paid for.” He went on to describe Obamacare as a “policy that’s creating as many problems as it fixes in terms of healthcare,” and “creating the most devastating problem of a deficit that we can’t afford.”

Tillis is clearly an Obamacare opponent -- unlike Hagan, who voted for the law, repeated its false promises, and-- like a trained partisan automaton -- opposed Republican attempts to restore those pledges. So within the last few days, we've seen one Democrat fretting that some of Obamacare's least attractive qualities have yet to "hit the fan," while another laughably tries to beat up on her Republican competitor over...a sentence fragment quasi-praising the disastrous law she's supported at every turn. Allahpundit snarks: "Essentially, she’s trying to maneuver Tillis around into being the pro-ObamaCare candidate so that she can posture as a quasi-anti one. Democrats promised us that O-Care would turn the world upside down, and so it has." Here's the ad. Feel free to point and laugh at Kay Hagan:


MSNBC Host: "You Can't Keep Your Crappy Plan! Just Deal With That!"


MSNBC host and renowned deep thinker Melissa Harris-Perry has a solution to Democrats' Obamacare woes. Why are the law's supporters constantly walk on eggshells, she wonders, when they can simply assert their "swagger" by angrily berating victims of President Obama's lie of the year? Brilliant stuff. I hope Democrats are taking notes (via MKH):



Virtuosic messaging. Own the lie, while reminding betrayed consumers that their canceled plans were "crappy" anyway. People who liked their existing (and often less expensive) plans that covered their medications and preferred doctors are a bunch of rubes. MHP -- a great fan of the ultimate "junk coverage," by the way -- is here to set 'em straight. Alas, it seems that many Democrats are foolishly rejecting her sound advice. The New York Times reports:


President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the $1.4 trillion effort to extend health insurance to all Americans, is challenging the traditional calculus about government benefits and political impact. Even as Mr. Obama announced that eight million Americans had enrolled in the program and urged Democrats to embrace the law, those in his party are running from it rather than on it, while Republicans are prospering by demanding its repeal.


Maybe they're running because they know that pro-Obamacare "swagger" is a big political loser. The president says the debate is over, casting opponents of the law as heartless, spiteful know-nothings. Fresh polling once again confirms that this may not be the wisest approach:



Clearly unpersuaded by the president, one Massachusetts Democrat isn't sugarcoating the predicament in which his party finds itself. Kudos to Mediaite's Noah Rothman for flagging this:


Speaking to Boston Herald Radio last week, the only member of Massachusetts’ all-Democrat congressional delegation to vote against the 2010 health care reform law, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), warned that the Obamacare — well, you know — is about to “hit the fan.” ... “There are parts of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, that were postponed because they are unpalatable,” Lynch observed. “As these provisions come into effect, the administration thus far is saying, ‘Gee, we really can’t handle this right now so we’re going to delay it.’” ... “We will lose seats in the House,” the Bay State congressman confessed when pressed on the likely political impact of the ACA. “I am fairly certain of that based on the poll numbers that are coming out from the more experienced pollsters down there. And I think we may lose the Senate.” Lynch did not mince words when he said that the Democrats’ dire political straits are “primarily because of health care.”


In short, some of the worst is yet to come -- and we're going to pay a price. But remember, the debate is over because Obamacare is on a "winning streak."

Dem Rep. Discussing Obamacare: “It’s Going to Hit the Fan”

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) was one of the few House Democrats to vote against the Affordable Care Act. This of course gives him a certain degree of latitude to speak objectively about its shortcomings as federal law. And so during an interview with the Boston Herald last week, Rep. Lynch did just that, describing provisions in "the law of the land" as “unpalatable.” Furthermore, he predicted Americans can look forward to more tax hikes coming down the pike -- especially those with ‘cadillac’ plans -- reminding listeners that Obamacare for the first time ever made it a taxable offense to forgo health insurance.

He also raised doubts about the debunked promise peddled again and again by the White House that the government could deliver better health care outcomes -- and insure more people -- while at the same time bringing down overall costs. This was never going to happen.

“I think that’s a very tough promise to live up to under this system,” he intoned. Take a look (via The Right Scoop):

Prof Calls Republicans Racist and Misogynist, Warns They Will Close Colleges

Imagine walking into a college class Monday morning and finding the professor ranting against those 'racist, misogynist, money-grubbing people' known as Republicans. Welcome to intro to creative writing at Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU).

If the GOP takes control of the House and the Senate in 2014, Professor Brent Terry warned, ‘colleges will start closing up’ and America could very well revert back not to 1955, but to 1855:'

There are a lot of people out there that do not want black people to vote, do not want Latinos to vote. Do not want old people to vote, or young people to vote. Because generally, people like you are liberal.

You want equality. You want racial equality. You want financial equality. You want to be able to use your education and go out into the world and make it better, but you’d also like to be able to get a job. All these things point toward being liberal.

Never ever in the history of the United States has it been so important to vote….

It's absolutely possible that the Republicans will take over the Senate as well as the House. And we will live in a very, very, very different kind of country if that happens. I mean, colleges will start closing up if they, if these people have their way. They don't think money should go to giving you people dangerous ideas about how the world should be run.

The professor stated maybe one true fact: Republicans do have a very good chance of maintaining control of the House and additionally winning the Senate. Perhaps this one truth fueled the frenzy of lies embedded in the rest of his lecture.

Terry referenced a study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern universities which claimed that the United States has turned from a democracy to an oligarchy:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.

Special interest groups lobby for both Democrat and Republican policies. The study even used the example of "pharmaceutical, hospital, insurance, and medical organizations" lobbying and spending money on health care issues. Rather than show all the facts accurately, the professor used the empirical data to target the GOP.

According to Campus Reform, an ECSU official said the issue is “not a university matter” since faculty have academic freedom to conduct their classes at will.

Fortunately for the future of America, at least one student identified the ignorant accusations being made and recorded the lecture.

Four Counties in Alabama Have More Registered Voters than Adult Residents

Four counties in Alabama have more registered and active voters than the number of voting-age adults in the county. An active voter means the person has voted within the last four years.

As of March, Greene, Hale, Lowndes and Macon counties had more active, registered voters than what the census estimated as their 18-and-older population in 2012.

Active voters are those who have not been placed on inactive status. That happens when the periodic update cards from county boards are returned as undeliverable, or if they don’t vote for four years (two federal election cycles).

Each county has a three-person team that is supposed to ensure the integrity of the voter rolls—e.g. removing names when a person has died or moved out of the county. The discrepancy is being explained as "under-counting" by the U.S. Census, as some people are hesitant to talk to a census worker. Other names may be duplicates.

All four counties voted heavily for President Obama in the 2012 election. Alabama's new voter identification law goes into effect for the June 3 primary.

Nevada GOP Dropped Platforms Against Abortion and Marriage Equality

Last week, the Nevada Republican Party had a convention to approve their party platform and endorse a candidate for governor. After much debate, the party conventioneers decided to strip opposition to gay marriage and abortion from the party platform, while they also endorsed Gov. Brian Sandoval for re-election. Sue Lowden was also backed for the seat of lieutenant governor over Mark Hutchison, who was endorsed by Sandoval.

The new party platform was proposed by a separate committee and was then approved by a show of hands by convention-goers. There were 520 delegates in attendance, but less than half of them were present at the time of the vote on the platform.

The party chairman stated it was a successful convention. He said, “I think it was about inclusion, not exclusion…This is where the party is going.” Those members of the committee who proposed this new platform said they decided not to deal with social issues this year because the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts had already weighed in and it didn’t make sense to have the party of “personal freedom” to have the government get involved in peoples’ personal lives.

The state party platform had previously defined marriage as “between a man and a woman” and described the party as “pro-life,” but that’s no longer in there.

What seemed to be most controversial during the convention was the decision to endorse a candidate before the primary. Many were worried that this would create a riff in the party and unnecessarily pitted some members against one another.

It will be interesting to see how the decision to remove the right to life and the current definition of marriage from the party platform will affect other states. Perhaps others will follow considering the most recent polls, especially concerning marriage. And will this then come up at our next national convention? I guess we will just have to stay tuned.

Corrupt as Chicago: Judicial Watch Sues HHS for Obamacare Navigator Records

Government watchdog Judicial Watch announced a lawsuit Tuesday morning against the Department of Health and Human Services after officials failed to comply with a November 8, 2013 Freedom of Information Act Request about Obamacare navigators. The suit was filed on March 27, 2014, but was publicly revealed today.

According to Health and Human Services 50,000 people have been hired as navigators to help Americans enroll in Obamacare through federal or state exchanges. Since navigators were hired, HHS has failed to provide a concrete record of what processes navigators must go through before being qualified to handle sensitive information of potential Obamacare enrollees. Judicial Watch is suing for information about navigator qualifications, background checks and records about the navigator program. From the November FOIA:

-Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to contracts awarded to private entities to provide navigators to assist individuals obtaining health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and
-Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to federal requirements for the above-mentioned navigators, including but not limited to background checks and qualifications.


“The Obamacare navigator program seems as corrupt as any Chicago patronage operation – and is a danger to the privacy of millions of Americans who are participating in Obamacare,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The use of Obamacare navigators and the Healthcare.gov web site should come with consumer warnings. The Obama administration’s illegal secrecy about these Obamacare navigators should make Americans very nervous."

During a Senate Judiciary hearing last year, former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted Obamacare navigators could in fact be felons. In California alone, at least 43 convicted criminals have worked as navigators and handling sensitive information of private citizens.



It has also been documented that people formerly part of ACORN, a group that was stripped of its federal funding in 2009 for alleged illegal activity like promoting underage prostitution and tax fraud, have been brought in to run Obamacare navigator programs. Further, government officials on both sides of the political aisle have learned about the potential for fraud and criminal activity in the navigator program.

Sick: British Model Getting An Abortion to Become More Famous

Josie Cunningham is already an infamous figure in England. Brits won't soon forget how she used NHS funds to pay for a boob job. Now, she's making a decision that is much more tragic: she is getting an abortion in order to appear on a reality show.

The model was set to appear on Britain's version of "Big Brother," until producers found out she was pregnant, Cunningham told The Mirror:

Puffing on a cigarette and rubbing her baby bump, the controversial model and call girl – who will have her abortion at a clinic this week – said: “I’m finally on the verge of becoming famous and I’m not going to ruin it now.

An abortion will further my career. This time next year I won’t have a baby. Instead, I’ll be famous, driving a bright pink Range Rover and buying a big house. Nothing will get in my way.”

How tragic that Cunningham views a child as "ruining her life" or "getting in her way" of appearing on an inconsequential reality show. Someone needs to open her eyes and plead with her that this is a serious life or death decision. It's not cosmetic surgery, it's a life-ending procedure. No TV show is worth sacrificing a child.

I hope her extra 15 minutes of fame are worth it.

Update: It looks like Big Brother has rejected Cunningham's participation in the show in light of her recent interview.

State Department: By the Way, It Looks Like Syria Used Chemical Weapons Again


Syria's horrific civil war rages on, with the (unofficial) death toll rising by the day. The Obama administration's formal position on the conflict was that the "Assad must go," but that the US would not intervene unless the regime in Damascus crossed a "red line" by using chemical weapons against its people. Assad just that, a fact on the ground confirmed and acknowledged by our government, pushing America's armed forces to the precipice of a strike. With public opinion calcifying against US military involvement, the president equivocated on whether to seek Congressional authorization for an attack. On that question, 'no' gave way to 'yes,' which then evolved into 'uh oh,' as informal whip counts on the Hill looked bleak. On the brink of an enormous geopolitical humiliation, a cornered Obama had little choice but to latch onto a farcical "deal" offered by Assad and his Russian benefactor, Vladimir Putin, who managed to exploit a gaffe by Secretary of State John Kerry by turning it into official policy. The agreement called for the Assad regime to renounce and turn over the entirety of its chemical weapons stockpile on a strict timeline, supervised by the international community. The logistical chances of this task being carried out on schedule were virtually nil to begin with. The likelihood that Assad's murderous, Iran-backed government would faithfully execute its role as a partner for peace was always zero. And thus, to the surprise of no one, Kerry was forced to admit that the administration's Syria policy was a complete failure earlier this year. The White House wasn't sure it agreed with its State Department's assessment, but the results spoke for themselves:


Syria on Wednesday missed a deadline to hand over all the toxic materials it declared to the world's chemical weapons watchdog, putting the programme several weeks behind schedule and jeopardizing a final June 30 deadline. At the same time, opposition activists say the Syrian air force is attacking the country's biggest city, Aleppo, with barrel bombs, forcing many to flee. Turkey was turning away some of those refugees because camps were now full. Under a deal reached in October between Russia and the United States, which helped avert a U.S.-led missile strike against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Syria agreed to give up its entire stockpile of chemical weapons by February 5. Russia said on Tuesday its ally Damascus would ship more chemicals soon, but Western diplomats said they saw no indications that further shipments were pending.


Assad had crossed the American president's red line, bamboozled the West into accepting a sham "solution," and appeared to have gotten away with it. Indeed, US intelligence sources warned that the Obama/Putin/Assad deal had only strengthened Damascus. And now, new evidence indicates that the Assad regime may have once again employed the very weapons of which they were obligated to have rid themselves under the terms of this useless agreement:


The Obama administration said Monday it has "indications" chemical weapons were used in Syria earlier this month, and is investigating whether the Assad regime might have been responsible. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki discussed the allegations a day after French President Francois Hollande said France also had indications the regime is still using chemical weapons. Bashar Assad's government last year agreed to ship chemical weapons out of his country following a sarin gas attack, as part of a deal to de-escalate tensions with the United States and its allies. President Obama had declared the use of chemical weapons a "red line," but backed off threats of military force following the agreement. The latest attack in question allegedly occurred April 11 in the rebel-held village of Kfar Zeita....Both sides in Syria's civil war blamed each other for the attack in Kfar Zeita....The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that relies on a network of on-the-ground volunteers, said the gas attack happened during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area.


The French believe this latest outrage lands squarely on Assad's doorstep. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, who plied her trade with the Obama campaign, would prefer not to speculate, thank you:



I understand proceeding with caution. Fog of war, etc. But let's say it's definitively proven that the regime once again crossed the chemical weapons red line -- what then? It's bad enough that they're shirking their disarmament responsibilities; vowing to meet those conditions was ostensibly the only thing that spared them a punishing "unbelievably small" US reprisal. So actually unleashing the banned WMDs again would be truly brazen. Is the Obama administration prepared to do anything? Would any potential action be put before Congress? Are there repercussions for defying unambiguous threats from the President of the United States? And would a post-Assad Syria be measurably preferable to the horrible status quo? Obama has no political appetite for any of this, of course, but he may recognize that taking some action (even if it's unpopular) may not be materially worse than telegraphic more rudderless non-leadership to the American people and the world. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, you'll be pleased to know that the United States has unfrozen more than $1 billion in additional cash assets for Iran, in accordance with the interim deal the Obama administration struck with the anti-American fanatics in Tehran. Since that agreement was forged and hailed as a breakthrough by the "smart power" crowd, the Iranian regime has (a) defiantly insisted that they didn't agree to dismantle any element of their nuclear program, (b) been accused of attempting to obtain banned nuclear components, and (c) nominated this man as its ambassador to the United Nations. Terrific. I'll leave you with this:


GOP Senate Candidate: I Think I Know More About Women Than My Democratic Male Opponent

Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican and shockingly, her Democratic opponent Rep. Gary Peters is accusing her of waging a war on women (Democrats are being really original with their attack strategy this year). Now, Land is taking on the issue directly with her first campaign ad openly mocking Peters for accusing her, a woman, of waging a war on women.

"I'm Terri Lynn Land and I approve this message because as a woman, I might know a little bit more about women than Gary Peters."


The ad is actually really good. Instead of being defensive about why she doesn't hate women, Land simply allows Peters' ridiculous accusations stand and fall all on their own, putting her immediately back on offense while quickly addressing the issue.

Recent polling shows Lynn slightly leading Peters and she's also been beating him in the fundraising department.

Duck Commander's Willie Robertson Visits Sean Hannity's Show

Today is Willie Robertson's birthday and last night he celebrated by stopping by to talk with Fox News' Sean Hannity. Sean bought Willie a cake and made fun of the grey coming in on his beard. Willie stripped Sean's man card because of the tassels on his shoes. It's a hilarious interview and worth your time if you need a good laugh.

Just a few months ago Hannity and Robertson were in Washington D.C. for President Obama's State of the Union address. After the speech they went to dinner with a few other friends, including Mark Levin and Ted Cruz, and left a $5000 tip for their waiter. Class acts and two great guys.

Poll: College Cost Increasingly Seen as Top Financial Challenge

An increasing number of Americans are citing college expenses as their top financial challenge, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

More than one in five young adults (18 to 29) dubbed the cost of college as their top financial concern. College costs also tied as the primary concern for 30 to 49-year-olds. As Katie noted earlier, financial hardships have caused a growing number of older adults to move back in with their aging parents.


The average college debt for students in the class of 2013 was $29,400.

Court Rules U.S. Government Must Release Paperwork Concerning Legality of Drone Strikes

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled on the controversial drone strikes today. The court decided in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by the ACLU that the U.S. government must publicly disclose, in redacted form, secret papers describing its legal justification for using drones to kill citizens suspected of terrorism abroad. The court ruled in this way because of the fact that President Obama and senior government officials have commented on the subject.

The ACLU together with two reporters from The New York Times brought the case against the government after they requested documents from the Department of Justice in 2011 that concerned the “targeted-killing” program.

The case was originally passed on by a U.S. District Court Judge who ruled that she had no authority to order documents to be disclosed. But at the time of that decision she also made sure to give the President some harsh words for refusing to release them.

This type of government transparency has long been an issue of debate, but it seems the courts have at least decided the American people deserve to know more about the government’s drone program. The only caveat here really is that the documents are allowed to be redacted, which could really prevent us from knowing much. The people who fall more on the side of government secrecy will think the redaction is a good idea because it still leaves something private.

All we know for now is that this is court ordered, but we are not so sure what we will find. Americans may be hearing a lot more about the drone program in the Middle East, real soon.

Blue on Blue: Labor Unions Slam 'Gutless' WH on Keystone Delay


Allow me to say right off the bat that I was wrong. Mea culpa. I predicted that the Obama administration would finally approve the Keystone pipeline project sometime this fall, tossing a political bone to vulnerable Democratic Senators who've been begging the president to stop dragging his feet. As we learned over the holiday weekend, Mary Landrieu and friends won't get their wish. The White House is again hunkering down and postponing a decision until early 2015, and possibly beyond -- leaving thousands of American workers in the lurch. During his obnoxious Obamacare press conference last week, the president said that Washington must stop debating the health law, and move on to more pressing matters like jobs and the economy (fronts on which Obamacare is inflicting damage, incidentally). He even called for additional "investments" in American infrastructure, which he said would "improve our economy for the long term." Literally the next day, he swatted down a hugely popular job-creating infrastructure project. As Dan wrote earlier, MSNBC's Morning Joe crew seemed perplexed by the move, which liberal host Mika Brzezinski called "hard to defend." The Wall Street Journal's editors agree, but they aren't puzzling over what happened. Follow the money:


The Koch brothers may get the media attention, but the billionaire getting the most political bang for his buck is Tom Steyer. The hedge-fund politico has pledged to raise $100 million to help Democrats keep the Senate, and on Friday he received a major return on his investment when the State Department again delayed its decision on the Keystone XL pipeline ... The real reason for the delay is Democratic politics. Mr. Steyer and the party's liberal financiers are climate-change absolutists who have made killing Keystone a non-negotiable demand. But the White House doesn't want to reject the pipeline before November because several Senate Democrats running for re-election claim to favor it. We say "claim" because Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and others can't even get Majority Leader Harry Reid to give them a vote on the floor.


After the decision was announced, Steyer danced in the endzone over the politicized, anti-jobs victory he purchased. Obama extended a middle finger to Senate Democrats who back the pipeline, although he's providing them the "delay" fig leaf, allowing them to continue campaigning in favor of the popular idea. But America Rising has it exactly right:



The White House's actions, and Harry Reid's obedient obstruction of votes on the question, expose Landrieu, Pryor, Begich, Hagan et al as powerless within their own party. The party's liberals can count on the votes of these self-stylized "moderates" when they're really needed (see: Obamacare), but will blithely ignore the blue dogs when they decline to toe the Obama line. These Senators can brag about "standing up to the White House" on Keystone back home, but the proof is in the pudding. They're Obama rubber stamps when it counts, and wield precious little influence on important issues like Keystone -- to the point that they can't even persuade their own leadership to schedule votes. It also goes without saying that although they'll profess to be angry and disappointed about the recent delay, these incumbents will be more than happy to take campaign cash from the Steyers of the world. Democrats love their "out of state billionaires." In any case, the American people strongly support construction of the pipeline, as do prominent labor unions whose members want work. Several unions are pounding away at the White House, recognizing that they've been demoted on the totem pole of liberal special interests:


A top labor union blasted the Obama administration on Friday over what it described as a nakedly political decision to once again delay a decision on the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers International Union of America (LIUNA), called the move “gutless” and a “low blow to the working men and women of our country.” The State Department announced on Friday that it would push back its decision on the pipeline until after the midterm elections in November.


Another:


“The actions by the Obama Administration to further extend the review process for the Keystone XL pipeline is 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. Despite this administration’s own findings that the Keystone project will result in significant economic benefits to our country, President Obama has placed politics over substantive policy that only serves to advance the agenda of well funded radical environmentalists....It's ironic that at the same time billionaire conservatives are coming under increasing scrutiny and criticism by the left for their involvement in politics, there is nary a word about the political spending by liberal billionaires that negatively impact the job prospects and livelihoods of working class Americans.”


That last line is an surprisingly overt jab at Harry Reid. I'll leave you with remarkably lifelike talking points robot Debbie Wasserman Schultz insisting that the president's Keystone punt had nothing at all to do with politics, followed by John Hardwood of CNBC and the New York Times asserting precisely the opposite:



White House Gives Non-Answer to "Deport Justin Bieber" Petition

According to the White House's own rules, once a petition on WeThePeople crosses 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the government will issue a response. This has led to some quasi-hilarious statements (such as the "no" response to building a Death Star), but also some serious responses. This past weekend, a petition requesting that Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber be deported and banned from the USA crossed that threshold, and the government issued a response...sort-of.

The petition read:

We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture. We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive, and drug abusing, Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked. He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nations youth. We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society.

Over 200,000 people have signed the petition requesting that the 20 year old be removed from the country due to his repeated run-ins with the law. The White House declined to comment specifically on Bieber's case, yet instead went on a tangent decrying the current immigration system.

So we'll leave it to others to comment on Mr. Bieber’s case, but we’re glad you care about immigration issues. Because our current system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers, and 11 million people are living in the shadows.

That status quo isn’t good for our economy or our country. We need common-sense immigration reform to make sure everyone plays by the same set of rules.

I guess this means we're stuck with the Biebs until further notice.

Nailed It: Tom Cotton's New Ad Introduces His Drill Sergeant

While maybe not the political “gaffe of the year,” Sen. Mark Pryor’s (D-AR) remark that his Republican challenger's military service gives him a “sense of entitlement” is certainly up there. Hence why Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) -- who is indeed running to unseat Sen. Pryor -- is now actively campaigning off his opponent’s verbal missteps.

If for no other reason, this spot is effective because (as Matt Lewis also notes) it reminds voters that Pryor actually said that. And that’s important to emphasize. I’ve never served in the armed services, of course, but I’m fairly certain one does not return from foreign battlefields feeling ‘entitled’; on the contrary, I imagine wearing the nation’s uniform is a deeply humbling and at times terrifying experience. Thus, accusing a combat veteran who just so happens to be your political opponent of having an empty resume -- especially when your own political career was almost certainly aided by family connections -- is hardly a resounding line of attack.

The more Arkansans that see this ad, the better:

Obama's America: 50 and 60-Years-Olds Moving in With Parents to Survive the Economy

Welcome to Obama's America, a place where 50 and 60-year-olds are moving back in with their parents in order to survive terrible, ongoing economic conditions. From the NYT:

Debbie Rohr lives with her husband and twin teenage sons in a well-tended three-bedroom home in Salinas.

The ranch-style house has a spacious kitchen that looks out on a yard filled with rosebushes. It's a modest but comfortable house, the type that Rohr, 52, pictured for herself at this stage of life.

She just never imagined that it would be her childhood home, a return to a bedroom where she once hung posters of Olivia Newton-John and curled up with her beloved Mrs. Beasley doll.

Driven by economic necessity — Rohr has been chronically unemployed and her husband lost his job last year — she moved her family back home with her 77-year-old mother.

At a time when the still sluggish economy has sent a flood of jobless young adults back home, older people are quietly moving in with their parents at twice the rate of their younger counterparts.

For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents' homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

Is this really what the American dream has come to? Adults moving back in to care for elderly and aging parents who need care is one thing, this is quite another. The unemployment rate of 6.7 percent is bogus. Millions are out of work, 47 million people are on food stamps (imagine how that picture if people still had to line up in bread lines) and the White House, along with Nancy Pelosi, is telling people they don't have to work because they can "be an artist," or "avoid job lock" thanks to Obamacare.

All that being said, the millennial generation (my generation) has a pretty bad reputation, but this latest news makes the baby boomer generation look way worse.


Amazing: An American Just Won the Boston Marathon

Today Beantown is celebrating Patriot’s Day and the 118th annual Boston Marathon. A reported 36,000 runners are participating in the prestigious road race -- the second largest to date -- many of whom were unable to finish last year because of the bombings.

And importantly, for the first time in decades, an American has won gold:



His official time was 2:08:37, which reportedly gives him the second fastest time ever recorded by a male from the United States:

It’s fitting that one year after the marathon prematurely ended when two bombs exploded near the finish line, killing three and injuring hundreds, the race would not only go on as planned, but an American would win it. Even still, winning awards and smashing records is not entirely what the race is about, although that's certainly part of it. I’ve attended the Boston Marathon in years past (after all, I’m from the Boston area) and can personally attest that Marathon Monday is above all a day of celebration and solidarity. That’s especially true this year.

Congratulations to all the runners, participants, and spectators who proved once again that good will always triumph over evil. May your day continue to be fun-filled and joyful.

Attkisson: Some CBS Bosses Seemed 'Personally Defensive' of the Obama Administration


Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has been making the media rounds, discussing her departure from the network she called home for more than two decades. She appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources over the weekend and shed additional light on a developing culture inside CBS News that she said she could no longer abide. Attkisson cited the network's "declining appetite" for original investigative reporting, prompting host Brian Stelter to note the irony that CBS News' slogan is "original reporting." But her concerns extended far beyond some producers' and executives' apparent disinterest in her brand of journalism. She said CBS' internal editorial inertia resists stories that could reflect poorly on the Obama administration, or the federal government in general. This full exchange is worth your time:



(1) Some CBS News managers are so "ideologically entrenched," Attiksson explained, that they're willing to quash or bury reports that could inflict political damage on the sitting administration. These influential figures "never mind the stories that seem to -- for example, and I did plenty of them -- go against the grain of the Republican Party. But they do seem to feel defensive about, almost personally defensive about, stories that could make the [current] government look bad." Stelter drilled down a bit, asking if Attkisson was similarly steered away from pursuing negative pieces about the previous administration. Her answer was unequivocal: "I didn't sense any resistance in doing stories that were perceived to be negative to the Bush administration. By anybody, ever." Adversarial journalism with conservatives in the crosshairs (for which Attkisson has won Emmys) was encouraged, it would seem, while pieces that risked crossing Team Obama faced additional obstacles.


(2) The president of CBS News is David Rhodes, whose brother, Ben, is a White House official. I wrote about that potential conflict of interest last year, but have since been assured by a number of sources (including Brit Hume) that the Rhodes brothers' politics don't necessarily mesh. In this interview, Attkisson attested that Rhodes was not a source of her frustrations at CBS; to the contrary, she said she and Rhodes had a "meeting of the minds." This goes to show that damning-looking breadcrumbs don't always lead where one assumes they might.


(3) Attkisson described "organized campaigns" from special interests -- within government and without -- that apply pressure to networks over story selection. This heat begins "prior to [a story] airing, when they get wind that it's going to air, as it airs, [and] after it airs." (The Obama campaign was infamous for this sort of guerilla-style agitation). These coordinated efforts, she said, may have prodded some CBS News suits to conclude that journalism critical of certain powerful entities was "too much trouble." Prodded to respond from criticisms of her work from the George Soros-backed, left-wing group Media Matters, Attkisson calmly dissected their modus operandi:



The Left's objective with Attkisson -- who has been one of the few mainstream reporters willing to wade into major Obama scandals -- is to "controversialize" her work product in an effort to convince her fellow journalists to tune her out. Liberals ghettoize conservative outlets and Fox News as illegitimate, so Attkisson's tenacious pursuit of the "wrong" stories prompted a furious marginalization campaign. Watching Attkisson coolly and professionally expose their machinations on CNN must have caused some heartburn at Media Matters headquarters -- although they've got their hands full at the moment with an absolutely hilarious labor dispute with...the SEIU.

Morning Joe Roundtable: Delaying Keystone Decision Makes Very Little Sense

The bombshell announcement last week that the White House would delay (once again) making a decision vis-à-vis the Keystone XL Pipeline until after the 2014 midterm elections is leaving many pundits on cable television scratching their heads. One the one hand, the decision ostensibly makes sense; progressive mega donors have pledged lots of money to re-elect Democrats who oppose the project, and thus green lighting the pipeline would significantly imperil the size of the party’s war chest come November. On the other hand, many vulnerable red state Senate Democrats support the project and desperately need an issue to campaign on that is popular with the public. This is it. But because the administration feels as if they’re in a ‘damned if we do, damned if we don’t’ situation, they’re punting until after the midterms. Go figure.

But is this a wise decision? That’s the question Joe Scarborough and the crew debated at some length earlier today (via WFB):

Joe Scarborough, for his part, is baffled by the White House’s incessant foot-dragging. He argues that the progressive Left is not going to vote for Republicans anyway -- or against incumbent Democrats -- so it’s not the end of the world if the Keystone Pipeline does get approved. It’s only the “far Left” contingent, he posits, that will rue its construction. So why further jeopardize control of the upper chamber by punting on a Democrat-friendly issue, Scarborough asks, when approving the project makes sense both economically and politically?

If anything, the White House’s decision will put additional pressure on vulnerable House and Senate Democrats to come up with inventive new ways to convince voters to re-elect them. Unfortunately for them, however, the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline won’t be one of them.

Number of Tenured Teachers in CA Fired for Poor Performance in Last Decade: 19

If students don't put in the work they need to and therefore receive failing grades, they don't get to move ahead. If only the same could be said for the teachers.

The Permanent Employment Statute in California has all but assured teachers that, once they reach tenure, they can stop trying. Just look at these shameful figures:

In the last ten years, only 91 teachers out of about 300,000 (.003 percent) who have attained permanence lost their jobs in California. Of those, only 19 (.0007 percent) have been dismissed for poor performance. Is it possible that Golden State teachers are that good? Such an astronomical permanence rate doesn’t square with the performance of California’s fourth- and eighth-graders, whose scores on National Assessment of Educational Progress tests persistently rank near the bottom.

Yes, even though these California elementary school teachers routinely earn poor reviews, they face no repercussions. It is this unfair practice nine California public school children are trying to abolish in Vergara v. California. If they succeed, permananence and other union-backed statutes such as time-consuming dismissals and seniority-based layoffs, will be ruled unconstitutional.

The California Teachers Association has come out strongly against this case, accusing backers of the lawsuit as being the "who's who of billionaire boys club" who are only concerned with "privatizing public schools and attacking teachers and their unions."

But, it's hard to see how policies that keep bad teachers right where they are is beneficial to students who are eager to learn. Superior Court judge Rolf Treu will rule on the case by July 10. Here's hoping he chooses children's futures over teachers' "rights."

Video: No, the Obamacare Debate is Not "Over"


Try as they might, President Obama and his media allies cannot tell Americans how to think. On two recent occasions, Obama has attempted to proclaim an end to the national conversation over his unpopular health law. Polling continues to show that most Americans disapprove of the law -- with a sizable plurality favoring complete repeal, and a majority backing major changes. With a nod to Animal House's Bluto, I explained on Fox News why Obama's unseemly attempts to stifle and delegitimize debate won't work (via Right Sightings' Steven Laboe):



In a football-spiking story that could have been written by the White House press team, National Journal's Lucia Graves -- supposedly a news correspondent -- gleefully declares that all of Obamacare's "good news" is, in fact, bad news for "conservative pundits." She proudly touts a colleague's column about the law's "winning streak," arguing that we've been "hyperbolic" in overselling the negative impacts of the law. Setting aside the irony of an Obamacare supporter chastising others for overselling anything, Graves' evidence of conservative hyperbole are (a) the law's strong enrollment numbers, and (b) a USA Today report indicating that 2015 premium spikes may be less dramatic than expected. Let's examine each:


Enrollment: Eight million "sign-ups" is undoubtedly better than most people expected, but as we've explained, once non-payments are factored in, the actual enrollment figure is likely closer to 6.4 million -- quite a bit shy of the administration's goal. More importantly, the White House still won't say what percentage of these people previously lacked coverage, which is the best indicator of whether the law is truly "working," as the president constantly avers. Independent studies have concluded that the large majority of these "new" enrollees already had insurance before Obamacare. Based on the available data, it's entirely possible that the previously-uninunsured population that obtained coverage through the new exchanges amounts to between 1.6 and 2.1 million. "Success." Also, in spite of the president's misleading statistics about "under 35" enrollments, just 28 percent of exchange sign-ups came from the crucial 18-34 "young invincibles" demographic. The White House was hoping for closer to 40 percent; a significant miss. This all passes as "good news" for people who are desperate to nourish a political narrative.


Premiums: As for the possibility of lower-than-expected premium increases, Graves says most righties' predictions of sharp premium jumps were based on a "thinly sourced" article in The Hill, which we wrote about here. But that wasn't our only source -- not by a long shot. In February, Reuters quoted insurance executives predicting "double digit" rate shock in "many states" next year. The news agency followed up earlier this month with a piece describing how insurers are bracing for a "backlash" over rising costs. Bloomberg has followed the trend, too, with a Morgan Stanley analysis pointing to significant hikes for many Americans in the small group market. The Associated Press published a piece a few weeks ago about how rural Americans, in particular, are in for a rough ride. And we haven't even mentioned unaffordable "out-of-pocket" costs, or the impacts of so-called access shock, as people discover that their preferred doctors and hospitals are no longer in network. Nor have we addressed the upcoming waves of cancellation notices, which will materialize over the coming months and years. But since she is so giddy about it, let's take a peek at the analysis Graves trumpets as such fantastic news for Obamacare:


Axene says that as insurers dig through the new health exchange enrollees to figure out their ages and health conditions to determine next year's premiums, he expects an overall increase of 6% to 8.5%...Axene warns there could be wide variations in actual costs. "In some states, there's a very wide spread between the high rate and the low rate — in Manhattan, it was 2-to-1 — but these are averages," he says. He's also been able to get an early read on some of the people who have been enrolling, though the March and early-April exchange enrollees' data aren't yet available. The early enrollees tended to be people with "higher morbidity," he says — about 6-8% had higher-than-average health care needs. But that had been expected, and probably won't play a large part in next year's premiums. However, insurance costs are likely to rise more in coming years as reinsurance and risk corridors disappear in 2017.


State-to-state rate increases will be highly variable, and premiums could really head north once measures that use taxpayer dollars to mitigate insurers' losses phase out. Furthermore, Mr. Axene -- who is the primary source for this piece touted 'round the lefty blogosphere -- says that he hopes Obamacare "bending the cost curve down" will negate this trend. The law is not bending the cost curve down, and the recent (Obamacare-unrelated) slowdown in rising health costs may be over. Finally, because we're being lectured about expectations management, let's recall that the president repeatedly promised that health costs would decrease substantially as a result of his $2 trillion law. The average family, he said, would save $2,500. Nancy Pelosi intoned that "everybody will have lower rates." Now Obamacare backers are pounding their chests over one man's opinion that average premium increases may -- may -- "only" be seven percent for some Americans. How many single mothers will receive their higher health bills and exclaim, Wow! My rates only increased by seven percent this year -- what a huge success! Those pundits sure missed the boat! (Perhaps Democrats can take this uplifting message on the trail with them in the fall). The more likely scenario involves middle class families -- many of whom are already worrying about keeping their doctors and budgeting for higher deductibles -- eyeballing the new prices and reacting thusly: What the hell? Our premiums are going up again? Weren't we told the new law was going to reverse the endless upward climb? Why, yes. Yes you were. Here's your "winning streak," America:


Surprise! Doctors Forced to Rush Patients Through Appointments Thanks to Obamacare

Since before Obamacare was signed in 2010, conservatives have warned the law would turn doctors' offices into DMV style clinics with physicians rapidly rushing through patients in order to survive under the legislation. Further, grave warnings were given about doctors retiring early due to Obamacare making the industry too expensive to practice in. Four years later, 6 out of 10 doctors say they'll be retiring early and now, patients are being rushed through appointments, including at the offices of specialists.

Joan Eisenstodt didn't have a stopwatch when she went to see an ear, nose and throat specialist recently, but she is certain the physician was not in the exam room with her for more than three or four minutes.

"He looked up my nose, said it was inflamed, told me to see the nurse for a prescription and was gone," said the 66-year-old Washington, D.C., consultant, who was suffering from an acute sinus infection.

When she started protesting the doctor's choice of medication, "He just cut me off totally," she said. "I've never been in and out from a visit faster."

These days, stories like Eisenstodt's are increasingly common. Patients — and physicians — say they feel the time crunch as never before as doctors rush through appointments as if on roller skates to see more patients and perform more procedures to make up for flat or declining reimbursements.

It's not unusual for primary care doctors' appointments to be scheduled at 15-minute intervals. Some physicians who work for hospitals say they've been asked to see patients every 11 minutes.

And the problem may worsen as millions of consumers who gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act begin to seek care — some of whom may have seen doctors rarely, if at all, and have a slew of untreated problems.


Because liberals don't seem to understand the concept of supply vs. demand, they failed to recognize early on that an influx of new patients without new doctors would cause a shortage and lessen the quality of care. Well, here we are.

Obamacare was sold on the idea that the government shouldn't come between a patient and their doctor. Further, people were told the law would get them more treatment and expanded care, not less. Primary care and specialty care offices are already seeing the devastating effects of government meddling in the healthcare system. We're seeing exactly the opposite of what was promised on every single level.


Study Shows Ethanol Produces Worse 'Global Warming' Pollution Than Gasoline

Well, this is going to be a heartbreaker for the hysterical global warming crowd. According to a new study, emissions from burning corn are worse for the environment and produce more CO2 or 'global warming' gases than the burning of traditional gasoline.

Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration's conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

A $500,000 study paid for by the federal government and released Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

The federal government has already dumped billions of dollars into facilities and programs producing biofuels in the name of preventing climate change but as usual, is having the opposite effect than originally intended.

Just last week, biofuel industry producers told the New York Times 2016 was the year they were looking most forward to bring cleaner energy to the United States. Oops.

“The whole purpose of the Renewable Fuel Standard was to encourage investment to create brand-new technologies that would help the United States become more energy-independent and use cleaner and more efficient fuels. We feel like we are just on the verge of doing that and now the E.P.A. is talking about changing the rules," Executive Vice President of the heavily subsidized biofuel company Abengoa Christopher Standlee said to the paper.

Al Gore, call your office.