Hillary Clinton is very unhappy about Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act and on Thursday, she joined in the histrionics of the angry mobs who were complaining about the horrid, discriminatory law.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 27, 2015
But Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist, pointed out that it was Hillary’s husband, then-President Clinton, who signed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993.
I remember when your husband signed the federal version into law. RT @HillaryClinton Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today.
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 27, 2015
— The Federalist (@FDRLST) March 27, 2015
Davis then noted a whole litany of Bill Clinton policies that Hillary Clinton apparently finds problematic.
Hillary's dumped on NAFTA, DOMA, RFRA, welfare reform, balanced budget deal, cap. gains tax cut. Pretty much ever major WJC accomplishment.
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 27, 2015
With RFRA now under the bus, I have to ask: does @HillaryClinton support a single law her husband signed during his 8 years in the WH?
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 27, 2015
Just to set the record straight on Indiana’s RFRA, despite Hillary’s hysterics and the shrieks of the mobs calling for a boycott of the entire state (but not the other 30 states that have religious liberty protections), the new law does not actually discriminate against anyone. There’s not one word in the legislation that enshrines discrimination into Indiana law.
Gov. Mike Pence defended the RFRA in a statement after he signed it into law:
This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it. In fact, it does not even apply to disputes between private parties unless government action is involved. For more than twenty years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest held a Twitter Q & A today:
Join me today for #AskPressSec from 12:30-1:00pm ET, send any questions you may have my way!
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) March 26, 2015
It didn’t take long for some sharp Twitter users to come out swinging:
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) March 26, 2015
And Twitter collectively answered, “Game on!”
@PressSec when will we get the truth about Benghazi IRS Bergdahl ACA Illegal EO Iran agenda why RU betraying ME allies admission FP failure
— Taz (@moose_taz) March 26, 2015
@PressSec is POTUS plan to destroy America still the goal for his last days in office?
— Painters Wife (@Beanst2) March 26, 2015
— KRenner (@KRenner2) March 26, 2015
@PressSec Why ask when every time anyone does, they just get lies and evasions? But I'll bite. Why is Obama hellbent on destroying America?
— Jim Simpson (@jamesmsimpson) March 26, 2015
@PressSec When will you stop the Orwellian newspeak? Does Obama still consider Yemen a foreign policy success? Try answering honestly.
— Jim Simpson (@jamesmsimpson) March 26, 2015
Sadly, Earnest answered none of these probing questions. Not even this one from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) March 26, 2015
Instead, the White House spinmeister pontificated about baseball and The West Wing (the TV show, not the real West Wing):
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) March 26, 2015
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) March 26, 2015
To be fair, Earnest did field a couple of substantive policy questions (by “field” I mean that he head-faked and dodged the questions while typing 140 characters on Twitter):
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) March 26, 2015
That’s not what AG asked, but head pats for trying, Josh. Let’s try again with another substantive question:
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) March 26, 2015
Another disappointed interrogator whose question was dodged by Earnest. One more try on Iran:
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) March 26, 2015
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) March 26, 2015
So glad to hear your thoughts on the Royals, Josh! Maybe next time you can give us your rundown on House of Cards.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents the District of Columbia, was caught on video Wednesday trying — and failing — to maneuver her vehicle into parking spot in a lot between the Longworth and Cannon House Office buildings. According to Roll Call:
Once the aide seen assisting Norton from outside the slow-moving vehicle finishes waving her into clearly disastrous position, Norton emerges from the car, clicks her remote locking device (better safe than sorry) and starts to walk away.
Then, all of the sudden, she doubles back.
Has her conscience gotten the best of her? Is she going to slide a quickly composed apology onto the now-stuck truck’s windshield? Or perhaps a business card?
Norton simply retrieves some forgotten item from inside the car and then heads on her merry way.
Note that around the 40-second mark in the video a U.S. Capitol Police officer rides by on a motorcycle and ignores the silver car, which is obviously parked the wrong way in the slanted parking space.
According to Roll Call’s tipster, after spending twenty minutes in the Cannon Office Building, Norton simply got into her car and drove away, not even bothering to leave a note on the red car that she struck several times with her vehicle.
Her office told Roll Call that there was no damage to the adjacent cars, but said they “left a note with a business card” just in case.
The good news is that Ms. Norton, a delegate from the District of Columbia, is a non-voting member of Congress. The bad news, if you live in the District, is that she might try parking next to you the next time you’re at Trader Joe’s. And you thought the drivers with the diplomatic license plates were bad!
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul had some snippy comments about Sen. Ted Cruz choosing a Liberty University Convocation to announce that he’s running for president.
Asked by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly if he had organized the handful of students in the audience who were wearing bright red t-shirts with his name emblazoned across the front, Paul said, “I’m not sure who did orchestrate it, but I kind of remember those days because I went to Baylor University and we were all required to go to convocation.”
In case anyone missed it the first time, Paul repeated, “So all these kids are required and some of those who are required wanted to make sure that just by having to be there they weren’t expressing their support.” (In case you lost count, Paul repeated the word required three times in two sentences.)
Unlike Donald Trump, who had nothing but gracious comments about Cruz’s announcement when he appeared on a later segment of Megyn Kelly’s show, Rand Paul was the turd in the punchbowl on Cruz’s big day, grousing about the required attendance at the event (he didn’t mention that the applause and multiple standing ovations were not mandatory) and complaining that Cruz was reaching out to young people at a Christian university.
“I’ve spent the last couple years trying to go places Republicans haven’t gone,” Paul bragged, contrasting himself to Cruz. “And maybe not just throwing out red meat but throwing out something intellectually enticing to people who haven’t been listening to our message before.”
You know, like that time in late 2013 when Rand Paul spoke at a required Convocation at
one of those places Republicans haven’t gone Liberty University and threw out red meat “intellectually enticing” lines warning students about drones hovering outside their bedroom windows. Paul spent most of his speech painting a depressing picture of a bleak dystopian future awaiting the fresh-faced young people at Liberty.
The Kentucky senator seemed to have trouble connecting with the young people at Liberty that day. When students didn’t laugh at his joke about only having three TV channels growing up, a frustrated-looking Paul threw up his hands and said, “You don’t even know what I’m talking about!”
And you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium of the Baptist university when he said, “Laws don’t really restrain people.” He went on to explain that virtue was more important than laws and said the country needs a “revival” — one of the few lines that drew enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Though there were one or two smatterings of polite applause during the speech, it was no where near the enthusiastic response Ted Cruz received on Monday. Is that lack of enthusiasm the reason Rand Paul has his knickers all in a twist about this?
I'm running for President and I hope to earn your support! pic.twitter.com/0UTqaIoytP
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2015
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who was expected to announce his plans to run for president in a speech at Liberty University on Monday morning, instead took a non-traditional approach, sending out a midnight tweet saying, “I’m running for president. I hope to earn your support!”
Earlier on Sunday, Cruz sent a text message to his followers, telling them to watch for an announcement on Twitter at midnight. Those who stayed up waiting for the tweet were not disappointed, because in addition to the announcement, they were rewarded with a new campaign video (paid for by Cruz for President). It features scenes of American flags waving, cute babies, tractors (with lots of corn) and motorcycles. It’s evocative of President Reagan’s “Morning in America” ad with its iconic scenes of American life.
His campaign also launched a new website, Ted Cruz 2016.
Pictures surfaced on Twitter Sunday night of the Cruz family doing a walk-through at Liberty University in preparation for Monday’s event, which will likely receive even more buzz after tonight’s surprise Twitter announcement.
AP posted photos of Ted Cruz's walkthrough at Liberty Univ. tomorrow. Sure looks like an announcement. pic.twitter.com/QmImV5ASln
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) March 23, 2015
Responses from Cruz’s followers on Twitter were, not surprisingly, enthusiastic:
@tedcruz Amen! Where do we send donations please?
— Leslie Sureda (@weswieann) March 23, 2015
— Woman4 #Cruz2016 (@Victoria41768) March 23, 2015
— Concerned American (@LUVofCountry) March 23, 2015
— LindaAnn (@AmeriJeepRang2) March 23, 2015
Ted Cruz announcement coming at midnight! pic.twitter.com/wwgoi3E8kj
— Paula Bolyard (@pbolyard) March 23, 2015
Tonight around midnight there will be some news you won’t want to miss. Stay tuned…
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2015
Anonymous staffers told the Houston Chronicle that Cruz will launch his presidential campaign at Liberty University on Monday, bypassing the exploratory committee process, and becoming the first Republican to officially announce his candidacy.
Liberty University president Jerry Falwell confirmed that Texas Senator Ted Cruz will be speaking at the school’s weekly Convocation on Monday.
“We’re honored that political candidates are now requesting to appear at Liberty,” Falwell said in an article on Liberty University’s website. “We never had that happen years ago — we had to invite them. I think it’s a testament to what Liberty students have accomplished and what they are accomplishing.”
Cruz, the son of a Baptist minister, has joked to Dallas News, “I’m Cuban, Irish and Italian, and yet somehow I ended up Southern Baptist.”
Sen. Cruz will appear on Hannity on Fox News Monday night, following what is likely to be his presidential announcement during Liberty University’s 10:00 a.m. Convocation.
Israel has occupied the West Bank for nearly 50 years now. It has maintained its military closure on Gaza for nearly a decade, with no indication that it is even considering a change in policy. This is not a sustainable situation. Almost 13 million people are living on territory controlled by Israel, but only 8 million have the right to vote. At some point, Americans who talk about shared values are going to have to ask whether Jim Crow is one of those values.
A lot of people on Twitter apparently agreed.
@Ali_Gharib Israel has really become a replay of American racial tensions on another scene. The Arabs are under a Jim Crow type regime.
— tom hebert (@tominwindsor) March 20, 2015
— Lawrence D. Elliott (@lawrence_author) March 20, 2015
Israel and Jim Crow. Netanyahu and George Wallace. https://t.co/mUhhsbkQvr
— Stanley Rogouski (@stanleyrogouski) March 18, 2015
What if a US politician said gov't is in "danger" b/c blacks are voting "in droves"? Netanyahu's bold-faced Jim Crow http://t.co/cl5rBwSgL6
— Josh Ruebner (@joshruebner) March 18, 2015
But one person was quick to point out what should be obvious — that many Palestinians are forced to live segregated from others in Israel because their terrorist leaders continue to call for the destruction of Israel and they pose an ongoing security threat to the democratic nation — which Hamas refuses to recognize.
— John Groves (@jfgroves) March 19, 2015
Erin, a student at South Dakota State University in Brookings, told Students for Life about her experience at a Planned Parenthood clinic when she discovered she was pregnant.
“When they told me I was pregnant they only gave me abortion options,” she said. Erin, who is married and said her pregnancy was planned, received three pamphlets explaining abortion options, but no information about parenting or adoption.
When Planned Parenthood talks about protecting a woman’s right to “choose,” what they really mean is they want more women to choose to have abortions. It’s a profitable business model. Planned Parenthood has raked in over $500 million in in profits over the last nine years, with 37% of their income revenue coming from abortions. No wonder they give awards for increasing the number of abortions.
Fortunately, Erin and her husband didn’t take Planned Parenthood’s advice and she went on to give birth to a beautiful baby boy.
An Ohio Democrat has introduced legislation that would ban the manufacture, sale, and public display of imitation firearms in the state and would outlaw the disguising of a firearm to make it resemble an imitation firearm.
House Bill 119, authored by state Rep. Bill Patmon of Cleveland, would ban BB guns, air-soft guns, pellet guns or any other guns that a “reasonable person” would confuse with a real firearm. Violators could face 180 days in jail and a $1,000 penalty.
Patmon told the Plain Dealer the ban is needed because of the deaths of Tamir Rice and John Crawford III, who were shot by police while holding imitation firearms.
“It’s either a gun or it’s not,” Patmon said in an interview. “This idea of imitations has gone a bit far, especially in this day and age. … This is a bill that if it saves one child or one adult, then I think it’s done its job.”
Fortunately, fake guns would still be allowed for theatrical productions, “including any motion picture, video, television, or stage production.” While you could potentially land in jail if you’re caught in public with a BB gun, fear not. Your town’s next production of Annie Get Your Gun will be able to go on as planned.
Our kids had air-soft guns when they were teenagers; they were allowed to have them only after being taught about their safe use. That included stern lectures about not waving them around in public and even sterner lectures about how to transport the guns in their cars — how to react safely if they were ever pulled over by police.
How about instead of banning the imitation guns for everyone, we just try some parenting?
Seventeen years after Oregon decided to become the first state to hold all elections with mail-in ballots, it took another pioneering step on Monday to broaden participation by automatically registering people to vote.
Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill that puts the burden of registration on the state instead of voters.
Under the legislation, every adult citizen in Oregon who has interacted with the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division since 2013 but hasn’t registered to vote will receive a ballot in the mail at least 20 days before the next statewide election. The measure is expected to add about 300,000 new voters to the rolls.
Individuals who are registered to vote under the new law will have to affirmatively “opt out” if they choose not to be registered to vote and/or they don’t want to automatically receive ballots in the mail.
If we’re going to go down this road of the state taking responsibility for voting, why not make it even easier? In addition to automatic registration I suggest we also “help” voters by doing the following:
- Pre-mark ballots based on how they voted in the last election (it’s a lot of work filling in all those bubbles!). If voters want to change their votes, they can “opt out” of their assigned ballot and affirmatively request a new one.
- If voters fail to return their ballots on time, we should just assume that they meant to vote the same way they voted in the last election.
- We can enlist the help of Google to determine how voters should be voting based on their search histories. Individuals who spend time on sites like TMZ and BuzzFeed should be counted as Democrats; those who spend time researching the Constitution and listening to Rush Limbaugh online should be marked as Republicans.
In light of the developments in Oregon, doesn’t it seem a little unfair that the votes of Congress members from Oregon carry the same weight as votes from members who represent states with strong voter integrity laws?
Twenty-four hours after two police officers were shot in Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and was asked about the shooting by the show’s host.
Kimmel brought up Obama’s speech and the events in Selma last weekend and asked, “Does that make it especially painful for you when something like this happens?” (Because the burning question in the minds of most Americans is how all of this makes the president feel.)
“Obviously, we don’t yet know what happened,” the president said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers and their families and thankfully, as you said, they’re going to be okay.”
A suspect, who is still at large, fired several shots into a group of police officers in front of the Ferguson police station early Thursday morning, striking one officer in the shoulder and second in the face. Both officers were released from the hospital on Thursday, but the officer who was struck in the face still has a bullet lodged behind his ear.
Obama then quickly transitioned to reminiscing about Selma. “What was beautiful about Selma was reminding ourselves that real social change in this country so often has happened because ordinary people are willing, in a non-violent fashion, to make their voices heard,” he said.
Obama mildly condemned the shooters, calling them “criminals” and saying they should be arrested, but, shockingly, did so only in the context of condemning the Ferguson police.
“I think that what had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest,” Obama said. “But there was no excuse for criminal acts. And whoever fired those shots shouldn’t detract from the issue. They’re criminals. They need to be arrested. And then what we need to do is we need to make sure that like-minded, good-spirited people on both sides — law enforcement who have a terrifically tough job — and people who understandably don’t want to be stopped and harassed just because of their race — that we’re able to work together to try to come up with some good answers.”
The president went on to boast about the task force he convened after “the original Ferguson event” that included police officers, police chiefs, “and some of the organizers of the protests both in Ferguson and New York — young people.”
He didn’t elaborate on why
agitators protesters from New York were included in the task force and whether they have contributed to the ongoing, and increasingly tense protests in Ferguson. The Ferguson County police chief said last night after the shootings, “We cannot sustain this forever.”
Obama went on to say that the task force came up with “terrific recommendations.” He said people who resort to violence should be “marginalized.”
“In the same way that you can’t generalize about police officers who do an extraordinarily tough job, overwhelmingly they do it professionally, you can’t generalize about protesters who, as it turns out, had some very legitimate grievances,” Obama said. “The Justice Department showed that they were being stopped — African Americans were being stopped disproportionately, namely so the city could raise money even though these were unjust.”
He explained that police officers were ordered to write more tickets in order to raise revenue for the city, which led some people to have to take time off work and others to end up in jail when they were unable to pay the fines.
“There was a whole structure there, according to the Justice Department, that indicated both racism and just a disregard for what law enforcement is supposed to do,” he said.
He closed with a theme from his Selma speech saying, “It is not unique, but it’s also not the norm. And we’ve gotta constantly, when we’re thinking about issues of racial progress or any kind of issue, recognize that things get better, but there’s still more work to do. And we shouldn’t be complacent about the very real existence of problems out there, but we shouldn’t despair and think nothing’s changed. If people of goodwill, which is the overwhelming majority of Americans, are working together, then these are problems we can solve.”
Jimmy Kimmel asked President Obama on Thursday night if he planned to get rid of daylight-saving Time. “Will you get rid of the part where we have to wake up earlier?” Kimmel asked the president. “You can leave the other one,” he said.
“See, this is a California thing, because you guys are always getting sun,” Obama said. “In [sic] the east coast, you don’t mind losing that hour because that’s a signal that spring is here,” the president opined cheerfully.
And millions of parents across the country, whose children are still trying to adjust to losing an hour of sleep from the “spring ahead” time change, did this:
A dozen states are currently considering legislation that would allow them to opt out of the twice yearly time change, by remaining permanently on either daylight-saving time or on standard time.
Proponents of the time change say that it saves energy, while opponents point to studies that find it could actually result in increased energy use. They also say it causes health problems, results in increased traffic accidents, and reduces productivity.
Not to mention all the grumpy children — and adults — who spend weeks trying to recover from the altered sleep schedule.
Thanks for nothing, Mr. President.
WARNING: Violence and Strong Language
Two police officers were shot in front of the Ferguson, Missouri police station around midnight Thursday morning.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told reporters that 60-70 protesters had gathered in front of the police station, which he said was not unusual. “To the immediate north-northwest of the Ferguson Police Department, several shots were fired — at least three — and two officers were struck.”
A 41-year-old St. Louis County officer, who is a 14-year veteran of law enforcement, was struck in the shoulder. A second officer from Webster Groves, age 32, was struck in the face. He has been a member of the department for approximately five years.
Belmar said the officers, who are being treated at the hospital, are conscious and their families are with them, “However, those are very serious gunshot injuries to be able to sustain in your upper torso and certainly in your face.”
“These police officers were standing there and they were shot, just because they were police officers,” Belmar said.
Several officers had been standing together in a group in front of the police station when shots were fired from across the street. ”I would have to make an assumption right now, based on the fact that these officers were standing together and there were several officers standing right there together…that these shots were directed exactly at my police officers,” Belmar said.
He told reporters he thought Ferguson had been very fortunate not to have had “similar instances” since Michael Brown was killed. “But I have said all along that we cannot sustain this forever without problems,” he said. “That’s not an indictment on everybody that’s out there expressing their First Amendment rights, but we have seen in law enforcement that this is a very, very, very dangerous environment for the officers to work in regarding the amount of gunfire that we’ve experienced up there.”
A reporter from St. Louis Public Radio asked (or rather, stated): “To be clear, this was not the people who were exercising their First Amendment rights who did the shooting…”
“I don’t know who did the shooting to be honest with you right now,” Chief Belmar said. “But somehow they were embedded in that group of folks.”
He said he had no description of the suspect or suspects at this time and did not know what type of weapon had been used in the shooting.
Asked what kind of response Ferguson residents should expect from law enforcement in the wake of the shooting, Belmar answered, “I would argue that at times it’s been very volatile in the past and that’s what I talked about with sustainment. It’s very difficult to sustain this without injury to the public, our community, and without injuries to our police officers.” He added that the situation is being reevaluated. “My first priority is to the community. That’s followed very, very closely to my police officers and making sure they’re able to do what they’re supposed to do out there in a safe manner.”
The shooting of the two police officers follows the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson on Wednesday. Jackson was the sixth Ferguson employee to resign or be fired after the Department of Justice cleared Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
Fox New’s Megyn Kelly had a one-word response to professors at the University of California, Irvine, who want the United States flag banned because it contributes to racism. Actually, Kelly didn’t even need an actual word to express her feelings about the professors, who have expressed their support for a student organization that voted to ban all national flags — including the U.S. flag — on the UC Irvine campus.
I think Megyn Kelly speaks for a lot of Americans.
**** Updated: See from Spencer Klavan at PJ Lifestyle, “How to Beat the Thought Police, One American Flag at a Time: A Victory Case Study at UC Irvine“
Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL) told Greta Van Susteren on Monday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has only turned over 300 emails to the Benghazi Select Committee and said there are “significant gaps” at “pivotal times” in the investigation.
“When it comes down to it, we’ve got to get these emails,” Roskam said. “And the emails are the key to understand the truth about what happened in Benghazi and there’s one person that stands between us, as the Benghazi Select Committee, and the American people, and the truth about Benghazi as it relates to those emails and that one person is the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
Van Susteren disagreed. “You have dropped a subpoena on her, right? So there is nothing that stands between — now that you have the subpoena, those should be yours.”
Roskam said, “The State Department had been basically underselling for the past couple of months, creating a sense of false impression with the Benghazi Select Committee that ‘We’ve given you everything we have,’ when in fact, it turns out that only 300 emails have been forthcoming from Secretary Clinton.”
Van Susteren asked about Chairman Trey Gowdy’s statement about gaps in the emails. Gowdy said on Face the Nation Sunday that ”there are gaps of months, and months, and months” in the emails Clinton has provided to the Benghazi Select Committee.
“So, there are gaps in terms of timing, gaps as much as two months, other gaps of several weeks, so yes, I can confirm that,” Roskam said. “And these are gaps at pivotal times when you would expect that there would be a great deal of activity.” He added that there are “very significant gaps and it’s an incredible thing to say that there’s no communication. That’s not credible.”
Greta suggested that perhaps Clinton “went off email” because “it was such an important time.”
“Come on,” Roskam responded. ”Secretary Clinton has control of these emails. Secretary Clinton has the ability to come forward,” he said. “There are numerous voices on both sides of the aisle that are sounding more and more incredulous, frankly, the idea that the secretary of State is just going to sit on this information.”
Van Susteren again disagreed about which side should have the upper hand in the legal wrangling over the emails. “You should have those. You should have control of them. I think you have to understand a subpoena means you get them,” she said.
“I appreciate that and I understand the legal distinction you’re making,” said Congressman Roskam, who is also an attorney. “They are in her physical custody at this point in time and we’ve got to make sure that she relinquishes that physical custody.”
“Alright, if you had any question about whether she was going to do anything to them you could forthwith a subpoena,” Van Susteren said. “Look, if Congress really wants to step this up, Congress could step it up — if it wants to. Maybe it doesn’t feel the need to, for whatever reason. If you want those, you can have them.”
Rep. Gowdy told Megyn Kelly on Monday night that his committee “does not have the power to seize tangible, physical items like a car, or a server,” but he said “the House itself does, though that’s an open constitutional question.” Gowdy said he intends to give Clinton” the opportunity to produce that server to a neutral, independent arbiter — a federal judge, an archivist, an inspector general.”
“I am of like mind and I am echoing Chairman Gowdy on this,” Roskam told Van Susteren. “We intend to pursue every legal means to get this subpoena — to get those emails — because we think those emails are absolutely part of the key to figuring out what happened during those events.”
The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) alleging he used his Senate office to give business advantages to big campaign donors and helped a friend in exchange for gifts.
Bridget Jonson wrote here at PJ Media last week:
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) foreshadowed today’s news that the Department of Justice is preparing corruption charges against him by hinting to AIPAC that his political enemies would try to “break” him for his resolve on Iran sanctions.
Just days after that AIPAC speech and after Menendez’s support for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s historic speech, CNN broke the news that the investigation would be forthcoming:
The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, alleging he used his Senate office to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts.
People briefed on the case say Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on prosecutors’ request to proceed with charges, CNN first reported. An announcement could come within weeks. Prosecutors are under pressure in part because of the statute of limitation on some of the allegations.
The court proceedings will likely tie him up for months, leaving him unable to effectively fight his own party on a nuclear deal with Iran as he spends time mired in the controversy over his corruption charges.
Sen. Ted Cruz suggested that the timing of the pending charges was suspicious:
“The announcement this week by the Justice Department that they were bringing charges against Bob Menendez — I will point out that the timing seems awfully coincidental that … in the very week that Bob Menendez showed incredible courage to speak out and call out President Obama for the damage that his policy is doing to our national security … the Justice Department announces they’re moving forward with the criminal prosecution,” Cruz told reporters.
“It raises the suggestion to other Democrats that if you dare part from the Obama White House, that criminal prosecutions will be used potentially as a political weapon against you as well,” the senator added.
These accusations have been swirling around Sen. Menendez for years, with no indication that federal charges were on the horizon any time soon. Now, suddenly, the week after Menendez blasted the president for his foreign policy positions, our notoriously thin-skinned president (who always enjoys a good game of Chicago politics) chose this moment in history — when a nuclear deal with Iran could be imminent — to essentially silence the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He also sent a message to other members as well, putting them on notice that nothing short of lockstep with the president will be permitted. Dissenters will not be tolerated.
Are you wondering what vile, horrific things Menendez did to make himself an Enemy of the State in the eyes of a president from his own party? As it turned out, Menendez needed only 5 easy steps — 5 quotes about Cuba and Iran — to become an Enemy of Obama’s state.
1. “Trading convicted spies, including one who was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder of Americans for an innocent civilian sets a dangerous precedent. And so it says to others in the word, grab an aid worker and you should negotiate.”
2. “I think the president’s actions on this have presented problems for us globally. There is no room for comparison between a international aid worker and convicted Cuban spies who were found guilty of conspiracy of espionage against the United States. So what we see after the president’s announcement is an increasingly repressive dictatorship, and that’s going to end anytime soon.”
3. “It’s about the 10 million people in Cuba who got bad deal. Because what we did here we exchange one innocent prisoner for 5 convicted spies and one for conspiracy to commit murder among American citizens who were murdered by the Castro machine. I don’t see the Castros having to give anything for a carte blanche opening to the regime. We got nothing in terms of democracy and human rights. We got nothing about freedoms. And in a world that’s facing great difficulties because it’s patron, Venezuela, is not to be its patron, seems to me that what we did was throw an economic lifeline.”
4. “And maybe when you understand the history of the Jewish people and the efforts in the past to annihilate them and you understand the geography of Israel and the challenges of Israel, with her back to the sea, and surrounded by neighbors that are generally hostile and on a small strip of land where you can go from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on a good day in 45 minutes and cross the width of the country in a couple of minutes on a plane, you’d understand how difficult their challenge is and understand why Iran’s nuclear weaponry — their attempt to get nuclear weaponry — is such a consequential issue to their very existence.”
5. “The more I hear of the administration and its quotes, the more I think it comes straight out of Tehran.”
They all seem pretty reasonable to me, and part of what should be the normal, civil discourse in Washington. But we’re not dealing with a reasonable president who enjoys civil discourse as a way to sharpen his mind and clarify his ideas.
Instead, we’re dealing with a man who probably has his knickers all in a twist over #5 because “that’s just mean!” and who ordered, “I want Menendez out — NOW!”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi turned her back on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he said, “Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
While nearly everyone else in the audience stood and cheered for the Israeli prime minister’s defiant declaration, the camera caught an unhappy-looking Pelosi turning her back and speaking to the colleagues behind her.
Netanyahu continued, “But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel.” The audience in the House chamber responded with another standing ovation and thunderous applause.
In a press statement after Netanyahu’s address, Pelosi said, “I was near tears throughout the prime minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.
While Democrats are rushing to the microphones today to decry the “political theater” of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, it seems that Ms. Pelosi wasn’t above playing the drama queen to protest the speech she has called “inappropriate.”
.@Nancypelosi has appeared distressed in body language and facial expressions for extended time during this speech.
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) March 3, 2015
And there she goes – @NancyPelosi leaves House floor as Netanyahu is still saying goodbyes. She's not a happy camper.
— Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) March 3, 2015
At CPAC on Friday, Gov. Jeb Bush joined Sean Hannity on stage for a Q & A. Hannity’s final question for Bush was, “Do you believe America is exceptional and why do you love this country enough that you are going to go through the difficulty and trials and tribulations of running for office?”
You’d think this would be a no-brainer for any potential presidential candidate on the Republican side, especially someone like Jeb Bush, a member of one of the most powerful political families in our nation’s history — someone who has had a front row seat to American exceptionalism for most of his adult life.
Bush, now a self-proclaimed “reform conservative” (why the disclaiming adjective?), told Hannity, “I do believe in American exceptionalism,” but he neglected to list any reason why our country is exceptional and he ignored Hannity’s question about why he loves this country.
Instead, Bush waded into awkward territory by reminding everyone that he had been chairman of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia “for a couple years.” He said that he “fell in love with the Constitution again, being there in its presence.”
Unfortunately, the most memorable accomplishment of Bush’s tenure as chairman of the American Constitution Center was awarding Hillary Clinton the center’s Liberty Medal ”in recognition of her lifelong career in public service and for her ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of women and girls around the globe.”
Bush said at the time, “Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy. These efforts as a citizen, an activist, and a leader have earned Secretary Clinton this year’s Liberty Medal.”
If Jeb Bush becomes the Republican nominee, you can bet those words of fawning praise will show up in scores of “Hillary for President” ads.
But let’s get back to Hannity’s question about American exceptionalism and love of country. While it’s nice that Bush “fell in love with the Constitution again” after being in Philadelphia, he didn’t say why he loves it or why he believes this country is exceptional. Most patriotic Americans can think of a dozen reasons off the tops of their heads. How is it that the favorite son of the Republican establishment can’t even come up with a single reason?
Instead, Bush launched into an attack on President Obama. “This president has trampled over the Constitution. And put aside whether you like his beliefs or not — I imagine no one in this room does — the fact that he is disrespecting our history and the extraordinary nature of our country by doing what he’s done is deeply disturbing to me,” Bush said.
True enough, but that wasn’t the question. Why do you love this country? This should not be a difficult question, even for a “reform conservative.”
This is not to suggest that Gov. Bush is not patriotic or that he doesn’t love his country. But as Sen. Mike Lee said in his CPAC speech on Thursday, “A principled conservative doesn’t hide behind talking points – he tells you what he thinks and why.” Lee said that conservatives shouldn’t be looking for the ”guy who can shout ‘Freedom’ the loudest” (or, I might add, the guy who shouts “Constitution” the loudest). Instead, Lee said conservatives should look for a principled conservative candidate, someone who is “conservative every day, not just during the campaign.”
As the sun begins to set on Obama’s presidency and we look toward 2016, love for country – at the very least — should ooze from every pore of the Republican nominee’s body and a belief in American exceptionalism should be evident in every word that flows from his lips. This should be the baseline minimal job requirement — no exceptions.
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 27, 2015
When Florida Governor Jeb Bush said we should give the 11 million people who are in the country illegally a “path to legal status,” CPAC attendees roared their approval, as if they had just been told by Oprah Winfrey that they would all be receiving a new car at the end of the show.
That seemed a bit odd, since the mere mention of Jeb Bush’s name had drawn boos from those in attendance at CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference — earlier in the day on Friday:
Tremendous boos from CPAC crowd at mention of Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump & Chris Christie. Cheers for Scott Walker & Rand Paul.
— Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) February 27, 2015
news: audience stacked with Rand Paul fans boos Jeb and Christie, cheers Rand Paul
— Peter Hamby (@PeterHambyCNN) February 27, 2015
Jeb Bush & Christie get boos, few cheers at CPAC when Hannity asks
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) February 27, 2015
Braveheart got more cheers at this @cpacnews speech than Jeb and Christie. So there's that.
— Ben Kamisar (@bkamisar) February 27, 2015
But then something changed:
— Alex Leary (@learyreports) February 27, 2015
Mostly cheers for Jeb, smattering of boos. #CPAC2015
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) February 27, 2015
Jeb Bush got booed at 11am and suddenly at 2pm there were cheers for him – crowd switch? #CPAC2015
— Lynda McLaughlin (@LyndaMick) February 27, 2015
It sounds like Jeb Bush’s supporters are taking CPAC pretty seriously this year. Emails provided to Slate show that backers of the former Florida governor are busing supporters from downtown Washington D.C. to CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, and organizing to get them day passes into the event.
One of the emails that went out this morning was from Fritz Brogan, a former advance man for then-President George W. Bush who (per the Washington Post) co-hosted a fundraiser for Jeb’s Right to Rise PAC earlier this month. A Bush insider confirmed to Slate that Bush’s Right to Rise PAC is helping organize the transportation.
Keep this in mind when the CPAC Straw Poll results are released on Saturday. Each paid entrant is allowed one vote in the poll and attendees need only check in at the door in order to be eligible to vote.
Emmett McGroarty from American Principles Project predicted that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will oppose Common Core in the 2016 presidential election. He also said that a pro-Common Core Republican nominee would lose to her.
During a panel discussion at CPAC on Thursday, McGroarty said the movement to eliminate the Common Core standards, which dictate what children should should know at each grade level in math and English, is growing very quickly.
If Republicans are unable to unite behind a nominee who opposes Common Core, the vote could be “fractured” and a pro-Common Core Republican would face Hillary Clinton, “who does not really have Common Core baggage” in the general election, said McGroarty.
“And that is going to make the Republican candidate, I think, unelectable at that time because the conservative voters will be disappointed,” he said. “Their turnout will be suppressed and low. I think you’ll have the moderate votes or apolitical votes will vote for the other candidate — for the one who doesn’t have the Common Core baggage.”
Among Republicans rumored to be considering presidential runs, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has been an enthusiastic supporter of Common Core, as has Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has openly mocked those who disagree with him on the issue. Other Republican governors have either changed course on the standards (Mike Pence, Bobby Jindal) or expressed some concerns about the implementation (Chris Christie).
McGroarty described Clinton as “very smart, very shrewd” and said if the eventual Republican nominee supports Common Core in the general election, she will oppose it. “It’ll almost sound like a Republican criticizing it for the decision-making. She’ll criticize it for the heavy-handedness of the federal government. She’ll criticize it because all these leaders signed onto the standards and committed to the standards before they were drafted — on and on and on,” he said. “It will be very embarrassing for the Republican nominee.”
McGroarty said voters will be asking not whether candidates are “against” Common Core, but “are you fighting for change in the federal government that will prevent a travesty like this from ever happening again?”
He said voters want acknowledgement that Common Core is of poor quality and it was forced upon them. “Because if candidates don’t acknowledge that, then they’re not facing the truth and the fear will be that they’re not going to fight this,” he said.
According to McGroarty, people are beginning to realize that the federal government is dictating education decisions.
“So there’s this conversation going on between the federal government, which has the conditional money, so the states look to the federal executive and they are doing what the federal executive wants — they adopt their policies,” he said.
That’s how that 10% of the education budget really controls policy, according to McGroarty. “People now realize they’re being cut out…they and their desires and their needs and their children are being cut out of the decision-making and so I think this represents a very profound change in America,” he said. “People are realizing that that division of powers is very personal thing…a very personal concept, meant to protect their rights and their liberties.”
During an interview with the Shark Tank, Senator Ted Cruz told Nicole Sanders that he is “passionately opposed to Common Core” and he had some advice for parents who want to stop it.
“The only way we’re going to stop Common Core — the only way we’re going to change the direction of this country — is for the grassroots to rise up,” the potential GOP presidential candidate said.
Cruz said that education decisions should be made at the state or local level “where we as parents have direct control over the standards, over the mores, over the curriculum that’s being taught to our kids.” He said the standards are being used by the federal government as a “mechanism” to force a uniform curriculum and to “put federal bureaucrats in charge of what is taught to our kids.”
The Texas senator advised parents not to look to Washington for the solution. He said the biggest divide we have in this country is not between Republicans and Democrats, but between career politicians — in both parties — and the American people.
“Part of why Common Core has gotten so much momentum is a whole bunch of Republicans joined with a whole bunch of Democrats agreeing that the federal government should stick its nose in the middle of education,” Cruz said. “The only way to change that is a grassroots movement that’s sweeping the country.”
Cruz compared the current situation in the United States to the country during the Carter administration — economic misery, stagnation, malaise, a disastrous foreign policy — and recalled that during the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s “the expansion of federal power was turned around.”
“But it came from the grassroots,” Cruz said. “The only way to stop Common Core is for the grassroots all across this country to rise up and say, ‘Enough is enough. We’re going to hold elected officials accountable.’”
“If you want to make sure our children’s education stays at the local level with parents having control and not sucked into Washington by unelected bureaucrats corrupting our curriculum, then rise up, speak out, organize, come together and hold elected officials accountable. Republicans and Democrats.”
He said talk is cheap and warned parents not to accept “soothing sounding words” from politicians who tell them what they want to hear.
“We need to hold everyone accountable,” Cruz said, “and that’s something only the grassroots can do.”
Hindu anti Christian feeling is so strong in India there appears to be some kind of attempted smear campaign against Mother Teresa beginning
— Tony McLean (@DorvalTony) February 24, 2015
Mohan Bhagwat, head of the Hindu nationalist RSS organization, said on Monday that Mother Teresa’s prime motive in serving the poor was converting them to Christianity.
Speaking at a function for an NGO in the village of Bharatpur, Bhagwat said, ”It’s good to work for a cause with selfless intentions. But Mother Teresa’s work had ulterior motive, which was to convert the person who was being served to Christianity.” He added, “In the name of service, religious conversions were made. This was followed by other institutes, too.”
Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic sister, was the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, a religious and charitable organization that provides home, food, medical and hospice care for the poorest of the poor in India and 132 other countries around the world.
At the same event, former director general of Border Security Force Prakash Singh also complained about Mother Teresa.
“There are many other organizations that have done far more good work than her. But Christians, with the help of media were able to publicize their work,” said Singh.
The comments unleashed a Twitter storm of anger directed at Mother Teresa:
"@TheTweetOfGod: I wonder how Mother Teresa is doing down in hell." Brutal
— chuck (@chuck07j) February 24, 2015
"I'm very skeptical of anyone who wants to 'help others' there's always some sort of hidden agenda" "100% mother Teresa loved being famous"
There is nothing new in it. Not only RSS but many have been questioning Mother Teresa's intentions for years.
— Shiv Mishra (@mishrashiv) February 24, 2015
@Swamy39 Also The Mother Teresa Organisation did Organs Trade with the Street Poor People. She helped herself for monies! She is rather Evil
— SANSKRIT UNIVERSITY (@SanskritVarsity) February 24, 2015
In August, Bhagwat stirred up religious tensions in the Hindu-majority country by announcing, ”The entire world knows that the people who live in India are Hindus. Just as the Germans have Germany, the English have England, and Americans have America. … All the people of this country are Hindus,” Bhagwat said.
Since then, there have been several attacks on Christian churches in India. In January the only Christian church in an Indian village in Telangana state was burned down, reportedly by Hindu supremacists.
Archbishop Anil JT Couto of New Delhi told NDTV, ”A clear pattern of orchestrated attacks is emerging as more and more churches are targeted, vandalised and set on fire.” He said, “This is very disturbing and we request the authorities to take adequate measures to bring to book the miscreants who are threatening to weaken the social fabric of this great nation.”
But Vikjay Paul at Chakra News echoed Bhagwat’s call for Hindu nationalism. He said Christian humanitarian workers take advantage of the poor and convert them through “gradual force” by luring them with food and the promise of education. Paul said:
As in other countries such as Pakistan or Bangladesh with Muslim majorities, who sustain and fight for their religion, why can’t Hindus do the same for their countries religion without getting criticism from fellow Hindus? How has a country’s majority, including the government become so blind to such appalling act’s that hinder and take advantage of religious freedom?
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-avowed Hindu nationalist — and lifelong member of the RSS — has been criticized for not doing enough to protect the Christian minority in his country.
Supporters of Mother Teresa rushed in to defend her on Twitter:
Mother Teresa in slums days when RSS called these people untouchables pic.twitter.com/CiygsMTfQp"
— Supari Journalist (@sonykalloor) February 24, 2015
Mother Teresa being persecuted by the press and naysayers. No surprise to Evangelical Christians or Catholics. We still win! #JesusisLord
— ❤ Dr Melinda Thomas (@drmelindafaith) February 23, 2015
Mother Teresa converted potential delinquents into constructive citizens of the country. Totally guilty of conversion, I say.
— Yours Idly (@calmchor) February 24, 2015
The attack on mother teresa is not just against religion but against goodness its a slander to speak about service to the dying desolate
— lygia (@nickomelo) February 24, 2015
You say Mother Teresa had conversion in her mind? I'd say, you might not be completely wrong!
— BrainFag (@j_cheryl) February 24, 2015
Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, & always start with the person nearest to you. ~Mother Teresa
— Sharnicka (@PrettiDymndz) February 24, 2015
On Friday the U.S. Department of State’s blog unveiled a new graphic that came out of this week’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.
The multi-colored logo looks like it was recycled from a 1970s public housing project, but it probably came out of one of those ubiquitous conference brainstorming sessions attended by artistic types who were swilling Starbucks and drawing on their MacBook Pros. It boldly declares that “The Solution to Violent Extremism Begins in Your Community.”
The blog post highlighted Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement from the summit about ”the defining fight of our generation” and his declaration that battling “radical extremism” is a task for everyone, including civil society, the faith community, foundations and philanthropists, and the private sector.
While there’s nothing terribly wrong with the logo, it is noteworthy for its failure to communicate any useful information or deliver any action items. Its flaccid, half-hearted effort to motivate communities to fight terrorism with a Gandhian slogan is lost amid the boring visual appeal of the graphic design.
It’s interesting to compare the new counterterrorism logo with government-produced posters during World War II, which were used for many purposes, including warning the nation about the enemy and calling for unity during a time of war.
Here’s a 1942 recruiting poster for the United States Navy. It takes a fraction of a second to discern the main point of the message of this sign — it’s clear, concise, and leaves no room for ambiguity.
This 1942 poster was created by the Government Printing Office and warned about the dangers of the enemy. Note that there was no hesitation to name the enemy and to portray the Nazis as evil. Lidice was a Czech village that was obliterated by the Nazis in a 10-hour massacre. The attack became a symbol for Nazi brutality during World War II.
Instead of clarity about the nature of our enemies and the real threat to freedom and peace worldwide, the Obama State Department is saying we need jobs for jihadis. Our government is wasting valuable time and resources during a time of crisis on psychobabble about perceived grievances that lead to a culture of terror and on producing innocuous logos that allow a group of tongue-clicking elites at a White House summit to check a “did something that feels good” box.
The White House propaganda machine never sleeps.
On Wednesday the White House released a strange video reenacting the moment HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell told President Obama that 11 million Americans had enrolled in Obamacare.
In a staged White House scene that would have impressed Grigory Potemkin, who erected fake villages along the banks of the Dnieper River to fool Empress Catherine II during her journey to Crimea in 1789, Burwell is shown explaining to the president, “By our preliminary estimates there are 11.4 million who have either signed up or re-enrolled in this period that started November 15th.”
“That’s great!” Obama recites from the script.
The camera switches back and forth between Obama’s reenacted conversation with Burwell and “asides” from Obama explaining what it all means from the Oval Office (which is nicely staged with a bowl of sumptuous-looking apples).
“Well, we just got great news today,” Obama says, looking into the camera. “During this open enrollment period for the Affordable Care act — a.k.a. Obamacare — 11.4 million people have either re-enrolled or enrolled for the first time.”
The president goes on to defend his healthcare takeover saying, “It’s working a little better than we anticipated. It’s certainly working a lot better than the critics anticipated early on.”
“Everywhere I go around the country I’m meeting individuals who come up and thank me. ”
It seems odd that the White House would release a video promoting Obamacare days after the close of the open enrollment period, which ended on February 15th. However, HHS announced that there would be a grace period extending until February 22 for individuals who were unable to enroll due to “longer than normal wait times” at the Marketplace call center.
Is it possible the “preliminary estimate” of 11 million is as fake as the reenactment video? It wouldn’t be the first time that HHS inflated the numbers, so you have to wonder if this video is an attempt to boost lower-than-anticipated enrollment figures.
You can’t demonstrate the dangers of President Obama’s plan to regulate the internet and reclassify broadband as a Title II common carrier more clearly than this video, courtesy of Sen. Ted Cruz.
Cruz said on his website that the Obama administration is trying to impose 1934 rules on the Internet, which will stifle innovation. “The FCC’s net neutrality plan will drive up the cost of consumer Internet plans, impose billions of new taxes on the Internet, and allow a panel of five unelected bureaucrats to regulate and control every aspect of the Internet,” Cruz said.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, one of two Republicans on the unelected board, held a press conference earlier this week to warn about the dangers of the 332-page plan that will not be released to the public until after the FCC’s vote on February 26.
“The American people are being misled about President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet,” Pai said. “Last week’s carefully managed rollout was designed to downplay the plans of a massive intrusion in the Internet economy.”
“I have now read the 332 page plan. It is worse than I had imagined,” said Pai.
He warned that reclassifying broadband would open the door to new internet taxes and intrusive regulations and would give the FCC “broad and unprecedented discretion to micro-manage the internet.”
Gasps of Disbelief as ‘Live with Kelly and Michael’ Top Teacher Winner Resigns Over Common Core Testing
Stacie Starr, a veteran Elyria, Ohio, teacher who was chosen as the winner of the “Live with Kelly and Michael” 2014 Top Teacher Search, announced her retirement on Monday, citing the increasing pressures on students and teachers under the mandated Common Core standards.
Gasps of disbelief followed the announcement made during an education forum aimed at unraveling for parents the intricacies of the standardized testing system. Starr was at the podium, delivering a talk on how special education students are suffering under the new system based on Common Core standards and more rigorous assessments. She said as a veteran intervention specialist at Elyria High School, she could no longer watch silently from within the confines of a structured school day.
Instead, she is leaving education in the traditional sense.
“I am going to teach in a different way,” she proclaimed.
Starr wants to start an after-school mentoring program for at-risk students in hopes of saving them from the school-to-prison pipeline.
Starr spoke to a standing-room-only audience at the local public library and fought back tears as she announced her retirement at the end of the current school year. “I can’t do it anymore, not in this ‘drill ‘em and kill ‘em’ atmosphere,” she said. “I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”
“I have faith in my students, but my students are reading at sometimes a fourth- and fifth-grade reading level,” said Starr, who teaches 9th grade students. “Each and every day, I have to look in my students’ eyes and tell them I can’t help them because the state has decided they have to prove what they know.”
She said it’s hard for teachers because “the rules keep changing.”
Another teacher at the meeting said he understands her decision. “I’m like you. I feel like I have to get out,” said Jackie Conrad, a third grade teacher.
Matt Jablonski, another veteran teacher from Elyria High School, said that he has been teaching since before No Child Left Behind became law.
“We will give the last [Ohio Graduation Test] this year. I don’t know if I’m going to cry when we do, because what we are moving to is unbelievable,” he said.
Last week Dawn Neely, another veteran teacher in the Elyria district, implored the school board to take control of the “testing culture” in their local schools.
“I don’t know what to do. I am morally against what we are doing, and I think history will judge us for what we do to fight for our kids,” she told the Elyria school board. “Look through the test books and you tell me if you think they are developmentally appropriate. No one is advocating for our district, and I am asking my district to be honest with the parents about what we are doing to students.”
Board president Kathryn Karpus responded to Neely’s speech by saying the district’s hands are tied. They are bound by Ohio laws that mandate the testing.
“All we can do is speak for students in numbers and hope Columbus listens and acts,” Karpus said.
If you list your marital status as “Interlocutory,” LensCrafters wants you to feel included. Polygamists, too.
Today at LensCrafters I was handed an iPad and instructed to “update my medical history” prior to my eye exam. Purportedly for the sake of greater efficiency and accuracy, I was confronted with screen after screen of repetitive requests for information, most of which should have already been in their database. I had to type in my home address no fewer than three times. (Can we all agree that any computer programmer who creates such an illogical and repetitive form should be banished to the computer-programmer equivalent of Gitmo — perhaps an endless loop of Disney’s “It’s a Small World” ride with only a dial-up modem?)
In addition to the repetitive requests for my address and phone number(s!!) were more intrusive demographic questions, including an inquisition about my race and ethnic background.
And right there on the very first screen was a mini-interrogation about the intimate details of my marital status. Am I married? Divorced? Widowed? Never Married? Interlocutory?
We’ve all become accustomed to intrusive questions about our personal lives when we’re accosted by the endless forms, without which, we’re told, life as we know it will come to a grinding halt. Years ago doctors asked about your marital status so they’d know where to send the bill and they asked about your race and ethnic background solely because there were certain diseases and disorders endemic to some ethnicities.
Is LensCrafters making a grand statement about the definition of marriage? Perhaps. Or maybe the form is just a reflection of where we are as a culture. Either way, when a company recognizes “Polygamy” as a marital status, it cannot escape making a powerful cultural statement at this historical moment of marital revolution.
But these days, it’s much more likely that a company is asking you “demographic” questions — and even questions about your “health” — because they are data mining. The more they know about your personal life, the better they can “serve” you, they would say. There is a gold mine of data for marketers who learn that you list your marital status as “Interlocutory” (which is apparently some sort of legal purgatory between marriage and divorce) because it will influence your buying habits. Likewise, if you’re a 50-year-old man who claims to have multiple wives, your purchasing decisions will be different than those of a never-married female in her 20s.
I suspect that LensCrafters won’t turn away customers who refuse to reveal their marital status or other purely demographic data, and hopefully, they won’t give me the wrong glasses if I accidentally checked “Interlocutory” instead of “Married.” After all, it’s not my fault those checkboxes were so tiny, so there’s an outside chance that I registered as a 16-year-old polygamous, African American male of Serbian ethnicity with questionable near vision.
Van Jones, appearing on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, said Democrats should be “very worried” about the 2016 Republican primary. “This is going to be the greatest show on Earth,” he said.
According to Jones, the GOP field is “beginning to look like the rainbow coalition.”
“You may have a field where you have two Latinos —Cruz and Rubio — you can have an Asian, Jindal, you could have a woman, Carly Fiorina, you could have a black guy, Herman Cain.”
Another panelist jumped in to correct Jones and remind him that he probably meant to say Dr. Ben Carson, not Herman Cain, who briefly flirted with a presidential run in 2012 (chuckles all around the panel). Apparently Van Jones didn’t get the memo that the GOP has more than one “black guy.”
Jones continued, saying that all of this could amount to a field “where you have real superstars and suddenly you’ve got a very riveting primary on their side — nothing on our side,” he said. ”I think Democrats should be very worried about that.”
I suppose it’s better that this GOP laundry is being aired now, a year out from the first Republican presidential primary. Better now than an October Surprise by a malicious Democrat hack two weeks out from the presidential election.
The Daily Mail’s David Martosko asked 10 potential GOP candidates about their past use of marijuana:
Rick Perry, Donald Trump and John Bolton say they have never smoked pot; Rand Paul hints that he ‘wasn’t a choirboy’ – but won’t answer directly. Marco Rubio refuses to answer, saying no one will believe him if the answer is ‘no’; Carly Fiorina will only say she opposes legalizing weed. Spokesmen for Govs. Scott Walker and Gov. Chris Christie, and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, ignored questions entirely.
The biggest headline was reserved for Sen. Ted Cruz:
EXCLUSIVE: Top Republican contender Ted Cruz ‘foolishly experimented with marijuana,’ his campaign admits after Bush confesses to high-school pot use.
“Teenagers are often known for their lack of judgment, and Sen. Cruz was no exception,” a Cruz spokesperson told the Daily Mail. “When he was a teenager, he foolishly experimented with marijuana. It was a mistake, and he’s never tried it since.”
Cruz’s admission comes less than a week after Jeb Bush admitted to the Boston Globe that he smoked weed at the elite prep school he attended as a teenager.
Again, it’s good that these revelations are surfacing now. No candidate wants to worry that his high school football buddies (or debate teammates) are going to get a call from a reporter asking about that epic party in 1988.
Also included in the Daily Mail article is this comment from an anonymous congressional staffer:
But Cruz’s conservative political base may not look kindly on the news. An aide to a Democratic senator told Daily Mail Online: “Just wait until the tea party gets its hooks in this. I mean, we all have skeletons and even moral crusaders eventually topple of their own weight, right?”
You can practically hear the breathless staffer gleefully panting this into his cell phone from a dark corner of his office as he rubs his hands together, fantasizing about the (literal) lynching that will be visited upon Ted Cruz on the steps of the Capitol, courtesy of the tea party.
The anonymous aide is correct on one point. We all have skeletons.
Most people — tea party supporters included — understand that teenagers sometimes make poor decisions. But teenagers change. Most grow up and learn from their mistakes. People are usually willing to forgive youthful indiscretions when an individual shows over time that he has changed his ways and is sincere about repudiating the past behavior.
People tend to be less forgiving of individuals like President Obama, who wrote nostalgically — almost fondly — of his high school pot and cocaine use in Dreams from My Father. Obama wrote that being high “could at least help you to laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullsh** and cheap moralism.” He also boasted several times on the campaign trail, “I inhaled…frequently! That was the point!” Sides-splitting stuff there.
Parents tend to get a little irritated when their elected officials make comments that put drug use in a positive light. And voters — at least those on the right — don’t particularly like politicians who say, “Don’t do drugs” with wink and a smile.
Considering that the revelations about Cruz are for something that happened some 30 years in the past and given his words of contrition about behavior he calls “foolish” and a “mistake,” this skeleton is not going to “topple” Cruz. He will not be thrown under the tea party bus and no one will care about this in a month (except for that anonymous Dem staffer who will still be trying to figure out how on earth this did not turn into the biggest scandal since Watergate).
One Ohio tea party leader put it in perspective, saying that Cruz should be judged on his current record rather than on decisions he made in his teen years.
“While I don’t condone the use of pot, I’m not going to judge his qualifications based on a poor choice he made in his teen years,” said Amy Brighton, co-coordinator of Medina Tea Party Patriots. “A constitutional scholar and an ardent supporter of conservatism – obviously, he has matured since then. Like all the presidential hopefuls, I’m going to judge him based on whether he has fought – both in words and actions – to restore personal and economic freedom.”
Who knew you could do this with a horse and buggy?
Shayla Buhl, who was working at the Polk Market and Deli in Ashland County, Ohio, filmed this scene of an Amish buggy doing donuts in the parking lot.
“This made my night.. lol. Amish buggy doing donuts,” Buhl wrote on her Facebook page.
“I just looked out the window and grabbed my phone. They had it up on two wheels at one point,” she said.
Ohio is home to the largest Amish settlement in the world. Approximately 40,000 Amish live in the region that includes Holmes, Wayne, and Ashland Counties. The Swartzentruber Amish, considered to be among the most conservative of the Amish sects, call Ashland County home. They shun nearly all modern technology and drive simple black buggies with two kerosene lanterns and no windshields.
[HT: American Commitment]
Possible 2016 presidential contender Gov. Chris Christie, visiting an American facility in England that makes a flu vaccine, was asked if he thinks Americans should vaccinate their children to protect them from a measles outbreak that is sweeping the nation.
Explaining that he and his wife decided to vaccinate their own children, Christie said “that is the best expression I can give you of my opinion.”
But Christie didn’t stop there. He said, “I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well so that’s the balance that the government has to decide. But I can just tell people from our perspective, Mary Pat and I have had our children vaccinated and we think it’s an important part of making sure we protect their health and the public health.”
White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer took to Twitter to say he thought Christie needed to explain his statement:
@MarkHalperin I hope he will clarify, bc it's important that responsible leaders speak with one voice, but don't know what he will do
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) February 2, 2015
Christie later backed off somewhat from his comment in a statement issued by his office.
“The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated,” the statement read. “At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate.”
Pfeiffer then tweeted a bit about the all-knowing Obama understanding the settled science:
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) February 2, 2015
In an interview on NBC on Sunday before the Super Bowl President Obama said, “The science is pretty indisputable. We’ve looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated. There aren’t reasons to not get vaccinated. You should get your kids vaccinated.”
But in 2008, then-Senator Obama didn’t think the science was “indisputable.” In fact, a few weeks before the 2008 primary he told a group of families in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, that the science was “inconclusive.”
“We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Nobody knows exactly why,” Obama said at the campaign event.
“There are some people who are suspicious that it’s connected to vaccines and triggers,” Obama said. “The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it. Part of the reason I think it’s very important to research it is those vaccines are also preventing huge numbers of deaths among children and preventing debilitating illnesses like polio.”
Obama said that although we can’t afford to “junk our vaccine system,” we need to figure out why there is an increase in the rate of autism. “Because if we keep on seeing increases at the rate we’re seeing, we’re never going to have enough money to provide all the special needs, special education funding that’s going to be necessary,” he said.
Sen. Rand Paul (another potential 2016 GOP contender) also weighed in on the vaccination issue on Monday in an interview with CNBC:
“I think vaccines are one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that we have. I’m a big fan,” Paul said. But he added that “most of them ought to be voluntary.”
Sen. Paul, who is also a medical doctor, also said he has concerns. ”I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” he said.
“I think the parents should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom,” Paul said.
More than half of Americans support mandatory childhood vaccinations against childhood diseases:
Most Americans (57 percent) support requiring all children to get vaccinated against childhood diseases, but 32 percent do think that it should be up to parents to decide whether or not their child should be vaccinated. Americans under the age of 30 (43 percent) are far more likely than other age groups to say that the decision should be left to parents. Only 26 percent of 45-64 year olds and 21 percent of over-65s think that vaccination should be at parental discretion.
According to a Honey Maid commercial, divorce is now “wholesome.”
“You know, I never thought I’d get divorced,” says a dad, as pictures of a smiling, blended family flit across the screen. “But the way I look at it, there are just more of us to love the kids now,” he says.
“This is who we are, as perfect as we’re supposed to be,” a woman adds.
The narrator joins in as two men are shown cooing over a baby: “No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will. Honey Maid. This is wholesome.”
The description below the video of the ad on Honey Maid’s YouTube channel explains, “In our 2015 anthem spot we recognize wholesome modern day families of all types. Because no matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will.”
What is it that makes us wholesome? We’re not told, except for the claptrap about being “as perfect as we’re supposed to be,” whatever that means.
But we do know that a review of the empirical research on the effects of divorce on children found some not-so-wholesome outcomes for children when parents split up.
Researchers found children from divorced families were “significantly more likely to have behavioral, internalizing, social, and academic problems” when compared with children from continuously married families (at least twice that of children in continuously married families). Children from broken homes also had increased conduct disorders, antisocial behaviors, and problems with authority figures and parents.
Another study found that “between 18 and 25 percent of children have no contact with their fathers 2-3 years after divorce” and that “20-25 percent of children in divorced families, compared to 10 percent of children in non-divorced families, demonstrate severe emotional and behavioral problems.”
I’m not sure what Honey Maid’s angle is on this. Are they merely trying to sell graham crackers to divorced parents or are they trying to push a social agenda that undermines traditional marriage?
I suspect it’s both.
And while Honey Maid is celebrating adults who are focused on their own happiness and personal fulfillment, millions of kids are growing up in broken homes, missing their mom or their dad. There’s nothing “wholesome” in the deal for them.
Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, speaking at Hillsdale College’s Center for Constructive Alternatives, weighed in on President Obama’s decision to sit down to an interview with YouTube star GloZell.
Attkisson spoke on the topic of “Investigative Journalism and the Obama Administration” and was asked during the Q & A about Obama’s GloZell interview. “The president did an interview with an online blogger — a young woman with bright green lipstick,” an audience member said. “It was heralded by some as a new era of journalism. What do you think this administration’s target audiences are for their release of information?” he asked.
Attkisson said she doesn’t have a problem with Obama “doing that sort of thing.” But she said the administration has “perfected the idea of going around neutral news reporters who would ask critical questions.”
“My only problem would be if they do that instead of also being answerable to those who could ask the tough and probing and challenging questions and hold them accountable on behalf of the public,” she said. “And I think sometimes they do more of that social media and fun stuff and entertainment and celebrity stuff.”
She noted that the “fun stuff” does reach a certain audience “because that’s how some people get their news,” but said that the Obama administration is not asked critical questions on controversial topics during these interviews, which are not conducted by “informed interviewers.” Attkisson said, “Doing that instead of doing more of the other kind I see as a problem because I’m a traditional journalist. But I don’t have a problem with them doing that if they want to do it — in addition to.”
You can watch Attkisson’s speech in its entirety below:
An ad produced by the Department of Health and Human Services tells the story of Elena Miller-TerKuile, who is “pursuing her dream to farm” in Colorado thanks to Obamacare.
“The Marketplace is probably the only reason I have health insurance right now,” the Columbia University grad says in the ad. She said, “It’s been my dream for a while to come back to the farm and work with my dad.”
In a blog post at HHS Miller-TerKuile explains, “It was a hard dream to pursue without health insurance. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I was able to stay on my parents’ plan until I turned 26, but when I aged off the plan, I took a ‘town’ job that came with health benefits.”
Miller-TerKuile was previously employed as an advocate for healthcare in her position as a service learning coordinator at the San Luis Valley Health Project. The website says their mission is to teach youth to advocate “for increased access to health in their community.” In one activity promoted by the group, students play a board game that highlights all the benefits and none of the negative aspects of the ACA.
“Today, I’m proud to work alongside my family, as generations before me have done. Having health insurance has given me the freedom to decide what I want to do with my life. Why not find out where that freedom can take you?” Miller-TerKuile said in the HHS blog post.
“Emily,” another farmer featured in the ad, said that apprentices at the farm where she works in Hustontown, Pennsylvania, “are very well compensated” but her employers did not provide health insurance. “With the financial assistance I found the Silver-level plan with a $100 deductible.”
“Having the coverage I do allows me to do what I want to be doing, which is farming,” Emily says in the ad.
In 2012 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) famously predicted that Americans soon would be hearing stories of “liberation” as people followed their dreams, free from worries about healthcare costs.
“This is what our founders had in mind–ever expanding opportunity for people,” Pelosi said at a Capitol Hill news conference in March of 2012.
“You want to be a photographer or a writer or a musician, whatever — an artist, you want to be self-employed, if you want to start a business, you want to change jobs, you no longer are prohibited from doing that because you can’t have access to health care, especially because you do not want to put your family at risk,” she said.
What the cheery “follow your dreams” ad doesn’t talk about (and what Pelosi doesn’t mention when she gushes about the “liberation” of the American worker) is that on the other end of all this dream business you find other hardworking taxpayers who are providing the “financial assistance” required for the Obamacare subsidies. Some other middle class family has to make do with less — driving a car with 100,000 miles, purchasing school clothes at the thrift store, skipping family vacations — so they can pay for Emily and Elena to follow their dreams of farming.
Even worse, those hardworking taxpayers on the other end of the “liberation” could become victims of the 30-hour work week or lose their jobs when their employers decide it’s too costly to pay for Obamacare’s health insurance mandates. Then those families will join the ranks of those “living the dream” on Medicaid. Just “what our founders had in mind,” according to Pelosi.
This Pastor in Niger Has a Stunning (and Beautiful) Response to Having His Home and Church Destroyed
In case you missed it, Muslim protesters, angry about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, have destroyed more than 70 churches, killing at least ten people since January 16th. The protesters, angry over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed, have attacked not only Christian churches, but also Christian homes and schools — and even an orphanage. Various sources reported that there was little protection offered to Christians by security forces in Niger, which made them an easy target. Christians whose homes were destroyed fled with just the clothes on their backs.
But in the midst of the heartbreak and destruction — and the attempt to annihilate the tiny Christian church in the 98% Muslim country of Niger — one pastor has a message of hope and even expressed his gratitude for what the church has experienced.
“They burned our church, they burned my house, only we emerged safely and we glorify God for that,” he said. “All that I can say is this: may the name of the Lord be glorified right now in Niger.”
Instead of complaining about the suffering, the pastor took to heart the Apostle Paul’s instructions to rejoice in it. “So it is a glory and a joy that they burned our church,” he said. “We are moving forward and this is the time for the harvest. Many souls will come to Christ in Niger. I believe that!”
In other words, the pastor knows that God’s ways are higher than man’s ways. Just as Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery in Egypt, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,” the pastor in Niger knows that history has demonstrated over and over and over again that the Christian church grows — often exponentially — during times of persecution. So instead of looking at the immediate circumstances and the temporary suffering, he is able to find hope, believing that God will ultimately triumph over evil.
”Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14
Here are some heartbreaking social media posts — and a few very hopeful ones as well!
There are 7 police trucks guarding the outside of our church in Maradi, For 2 days the youth of the church are inside literally holding up the walls of the compound, The grounds of the church are covered with rocks and debris at the many attempts from the mob to enter, Over 30 churches have been burned in the capital Niamey (where we currently are), Pastors and church members are now displaced with nothing more then the clothes on their back, As we stand in a burned down church this morning, We know that He makes all things new, We know that the church will rise through persecution, The events of the past few days are the evidence of Gods Kingdom invading Niger, This is not simply a response to something that happened in France, It is not a political demonstration against the current President of Niger, It is the devil trying to burn down what God has built, But, like Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego – God is with us in the fire, He is with us in every fire of life and is faithful to complete the great work He has started. Be apart by praying and giving at runintl.org
— Brad Thor (@BradThor) January 17, 2015
— Dominic Sputo (@DominicPRC) January 21, 2015
— CitizenGO (@CitizenGO) January 21, 2015
Anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters burned down 45 churches, killing 10 people in Niger http://t.co/UBsSRPLPUI
— Reddit World News (@WNews_Reddit) January 20, 2015
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) January 28, 2015