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Paula Bolyard

In addition to writing for PJ Tatler and PJ Lifestyle, Paula also writes for Ohio Conservative Review,. She is co-author of a new Ebook called, Homeschooling: Fighting for My Children’s Future. Paula describes herself as a Christian first, conservative second, and Republican third. She is also a member of the Wayne County Ohio Executive Committee.
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Jeb Bush Tries, Fails to Explain American Exceptionalism at CPAC

Saturday, February 28th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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.

 

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Jeb Bush Supporters Bused to CPAC By Bush Backers

Friday, February 27th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

 

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:

 

 

But then something changed:

 

 

Betsy Woodruff at Slate has a possible explanation for the change of heart at CPAC:

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.

 

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CPAC Panelist Warns: Pro-Common Core Republican Would Lose to Hillary

Friday, February 27th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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.”

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Ted Cruz Has Some Advice for Parents Who Want to Stop Common Core

Monday, February 23rd, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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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.”

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Hindu Nationalist Leader Unleashes Incendiary Attack Against Mother Teresa

Monday, February 23rd, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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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:

 

The State Department’s New Logo to Battle Violent Extremism vs. American World War 2 Posters

Saturday, February 21st, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

2015_0220_cve_graphic

 

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.

man_the_guns

 

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.

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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.

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Potemkin President Reenacts Moment He Heard 11 Million Enrolled in Obamacare

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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.

 

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Ted Cruz Trolls Obama’s Planned Internet Takeover in the Most Brilliant Way Possible

Friday, February 13th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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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.”

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Gasps of Disbelief as ‘Live with Kelly and Michael’ Top Teacher Winner Resigns Over Common Core Testing

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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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.

The Chronicle-Telegram reported:

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.

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LensCrafters Offers Nine Marital Status Choices

Monday, February 9th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

# LensCrafters offers 9 marital status choices. Interlocutors rejoice! #marriage

A photo posted by Paula Bolyard (@pjbolyard) on

 

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?

Inter…what?

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.

 

 

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Van Jones: GOP Field ‘Beginning to Look Like the Rainbow Coalition’

Sunday, February 8th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

 

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.”

 

 

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Will the Tea Party Abandon Ted Cruz Now That His Teen Pot Experimentation Has Been Exposed?

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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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.”

 

 

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Enjoy This Amish Buggy Doing Donuts in a Snowy Parking Lot in Ohio

Monday, February 2nd, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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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.

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Did Obama Advisor Who Slammed Christie on Vaccines Forget About Obama’s Anti-Vaxx Comments?

Monday, February 2nd, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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[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:

 

 

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:

 

 

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.

 

 

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New Honey Maid Commercial Celebrates Divorce as ‘Wholesome’

Friday, January 30th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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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.

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What Does Sharyl Attkisson Think About Obama’s Interview with Green-Lipstick-Wearing GloZell?

Friday, January 30th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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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:

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HHS Ad Shows How You Can Follow Your Dreams with Obamacare (Just Like Nancy Pelosi Predicted)

Friday, January 30th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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.

 

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This Pastor in Niger Has a Stunning (and Beautiful) Response to Having His Home and Church Destroyed

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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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

A photo posted by Trae Childs (@traechilds) on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Watch Obama Refer to Himself 118 Times in Three Minutes

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

President Obama, speaking to an audience of mostly young people celebrating India’s Republic Day in New Delhi on Tuesday, told the crowd, “I realise that the sight of an American president as your chief guest on Republic Day would have once seemed unimaginable.  But my visit reflects the possibilities of a new moment.” He pointed out that he was the first American president to participate in the country’s Republic Day and boasted, “And I’m the first American president to come to your country twice!”

The president went on to refer to himself an astonishing 118 times in the short 33-minute speech, touching on injustices in the United States and in his own personal life.

Obama told the enthusiastic crowd that he and Michelle have been strengthened by their Christian faith. “But there have been times where my faith has been questioned — by people who don’t know me — or they’ve said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing,” Obama said.

He added that “too often religion has been used to tap into those darker impulses as opposed to the light of God.” He cited as an example the attack three years ago on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The American president, who is suing Catholic nuns to force them to comply with Obamacare’s birth control mandate, told the crowd of Indian young people that “every person has the right to practice their faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.”

Obama also talked about inequality in both India and America, as if the two countries are indistinguishable — as if poverty in the U.S. is in any way comparable to poverty in India.

“Sisters and brothers of India,” Obama said, “we are not perfect countries. And we’ve known tragedy and we’ve known triumph.  We’re home to glittering skyscrapers, but also terrible poverty; and new wealth, but also rising inequality.  We have many challenges in front of us.”

Bloomberg noted that Obama didn’t actually see much of India’s poverty during his trip:

Obama stayed insulated from the poor in a country where three of five people live on less than $2 per day, zipping by pockets of slums where residents used corrugated metal and tarps as building materials.

India accounts for about 60 percent of the world’s residents without toilets, according to a report released in May by the World Health Organization and Unicef. The country’s 50 percent open-defecation rate compares with 23 percent in Pakistan, 3 percent in Bangladesh and 1 percent in China, the report said.

Nevertheless, Obama went on to lecture the poverty-stricken country about the perils of climate change, warning that the seas were rising and the Himalayan glaciers are melting. “Few countries will be more affected by a warmer planet than India,” Obama warned.

In case any of the young people in the crowd were tempted to curb their global emissions just to please Obama, the president noted, “I’ll be gone when the worst effects happen.  It’s your generation and your children that are going to be impacted.  That’s why it’s urgent that we begin this work right now.”

And, of course, no Obama speech is complete until the president has tossed out the race card.

The putative leader of the free world complained, “Even as America has blessed us with extraordinary opportunities, there were moments in my life where I’ve been treated differently because of the color of my skin.”

I’m sure the Dalits – traditionally regarded as untouchable and only fit to remove rubbish and human waste in the Indian caste system — can totally relate.

 

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Bill O’Reilly Compares Internet Climate to Nazi Propaganda

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

The topic of Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News Talking Points Memo on Friday was “How the Internet is Deceiving You.” Using an attack on the film American Sniper by Vox’s Amanda Taub as an example, O’Reilly said, “The far left is going nuts launching hateful attacks on the film and on Mr. Kyle and most of the libel is found on the net.”

O’Reilly said that Taub may even be a terrorist sympathizer, citing an article she wrote trying to explain the actions of the terrorists who blew up a school in Pakistan.

“Here we have Taub providing the rationale for the slaughtering of innocent school children,” O’Reilly said. “Does it get much worse?”

He complained that her article about American Sniper was posted “on a number of sites including Yahoo.”

“But those providers did not tell you, the reader, who Amanda Taub is, or the quality of the organization for whom she works. They just post her disgusting stuff without any context,” O’Reilly continued.

“The chief danger here is not from a propagandist here like Amanda Taub. It’s the entire internet climate,” he said. “Americans are often presented with information that’s false, libelous, and distorted in the extreme. There are no journalistic standards on the net. Few websites even have editors looking at it. They just post this stuff and walk away.”

It’s a fair-enough criticism. Anyone can create a blog or put up a website that has the look and feel of a legitimate news site. Fact-checking is sometimes an afterthought.

O’Reilly thinks this free flow of information (and misinformation) poses a great danger to our republic:

“Unfortunately, many Americans believe what they read and therefore there is a danger to the republic,” he said. “If you know anything about history you know that dictators, both on the left and on the right, first control the press. The Nazis and the communists put out a steady stream of garbage brainwashing their population. To some extent, that is happening now in free societies with the elevation of the net. And it’s flat-out dangerous.”

Has Bill O’Reilly been to N. Korea lately? Or to China (that allegedly burgeoning bastion of capitalism and freedom)? A friend recently returned from a business trip to China and said both Facebook and Google were blocked there. He had to use Microsoft Outlook to send and receive email. “That pesky free exchange of ideas thing,” he said sarcastically.

Nomiki Konst, a political strategist and former Huffington Post blogger, joined Bill O’Reilly after his Talking Points Memo and reminded him that the Nazis had very limited vehicles with which to release their propaganda. Today, she said, there are “literally millions of ways to communicate different messages to different echo chambers.”

She asked him if he wanted to regulate the internet.

O’Reilly, who clearly doesn’t understand how the interwebs and news aggregator sites work, said he doesn’t want to regulate small sites like Vox but said, “When it gets over into the big ones like Google and Yahoo and all of these things and they just post it with no context, that’s propaganda, it’s wrong, and it’s happening all over the place. ”

O’Reilly said he thinks readers ought to know what a writer’s “worldview” is and that it should be clear where writers are coming from.

“If you write an op-ed in a newspaper, it tells at the bottom who you are and what agency you’re coming from. It doesn’t do it on the net.”

Well, except for that whole charade of the unsigned newspaper editorials that we are led to believe are right-down-the-middle pieces, written by trained journalists who have no biases whatsoever. And if we were to use O’Reilly’s truth-in-journalism standards, a large percentage of op-eds over the last 50 years should have been carrying labels that read: WARNING: LIBERAL BIAS. Also, where were the warnings about the danger to our republic when the “Big 3″ networks had far-left “real journalists” like Dan Rather feeding Americans their news on a nightly basis?

Konti told O’Reilly that the best way to rebut opinions that he didn’t like was by having more opinions. “We’re in a free society where we have freedom of speech and you just rebutted hers. That’s the best way to do it.”

In a later segment of the show, O’Reilly discussed the problem with Geraldo Rivera and they both worried about the proliferation of opinions floating around the internet without the guiding hand of “trained journalists.” It’s clear that O’Reilly is nostalgic for the days when just a handful of powerful individuals controlled the media and the flow of information.

The democratization of information is at once powerful and terrifying and liberating, but the technology can’t be undone — the information revolution is here to stay. More speech (and more excellent speech) is what is needed, not regulation.

 

 

 

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Nancy Pelosi Is Asked if a 20-Week Unborn Baby Is a Human Being. Watch What Happens…

Saturday, January 24th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

 

A reporter from CNSNews asked Rep. Nancy Pelosi to weigh in on whether she thinks an unborn child at 20 weeks gestation is a human being.

The House minority leader’s silence on the issue was deafening.

It’s not as if Pelosi had nothing to say — she unleashed a two-minute diatribe upon the offending reporter — it’s just that she completely avoided answering the question that was actually asked.

“Is an unborn child 20 weeks into pregnancy a human being?” the CNSNews reporter asked Pelosi during a press briefing on Thursday.

“You know what, what we’re talking about on the floor of the House is something that says politicians should determine what effects the health of a woman, her life, her health, and the rest,” Pelosi said.  ”I don’t think it’s up to politicians to do that. And that’s why we are very overwhelmingly opposing what is going on on the floor of the House.”

Pelosi made it clear that she opposes the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit aborting babies at 20 weeks gestation and beyond.

Undeterred, the CNSNews reporter tried again to get a straight answer from Pelosi. ”My question is pretty simple,” the reporter asked. “On the abortion issue, I understand your position on the legislation, but even the legislation aside, when it comes to the matter of whether or not an unborn child is a human being at 20 weeks gestation, what is your personal take on it. If it is not a human being, then what do you believe it is?”

It’s not a complicated question. In what category does Pelosi put that kicking, wriggling little “thing” inside a mother’s womb — the little “thing” that science tells us at 20 weeks has hair on the head, eyelashes and eyebrows, fingernails, and functioning kidneys? Is that 10 1/2 ounce “thing” that has its own unique DNA and fingerprints a human, a vegetable, an alien, or something else?

Ms. Pelosi refused to answer the question directly, but she made it clear that it’s only the women of reproductive age (is it because they can vote Democrat?) that she cares about.

“You know it is really interesting that you would come to these meetings to talk about it,” Pelosi scolded the reporter. “The fact is is what we have said: The life and the health of the mother is what is preeminent in when a decision is made about a woman’s reproductive health. It isn’t an ideological fight, it is a personal health issue,” she said.

Anyone who has followed the abortion debate for more than five minutes knows that pro-abortion advocates have fought tooth and nail to make sure the phrase “health of the mother” includes emotional health, which can be broadly interpreted to include just about anything, including the emotional stress of pregnancy.

Pelosi went on to say she has “great standing on the issue” because she’s is a mother of five, as if that gives her some sort of moral authority to impose a death sentence on nearly a million babies in the U.S. every year.

“So, in any event, this is up to women, their conscience, their God, their doctor, their health, their fate, their survival.  And that is what the decision should be. Decisions about women’s reproductive health should not be made by politicians in Washington, D.C., but should honor the decisions that have been made by the Supreme Court, a decision made by the Supreme Court, recognizing the right of women to have that choice,” Pelosi said.

But a 20-week gestation female with fallopian tubes and a uterus — a tiny individual created in the image of God, who sucks her thumb and can hear her mommy’s voice — doesn’t get a choice. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t care about her “fate” or her “survival” because, whether she’s willing to admit this ugly truth or not, “politicians in Washington, D.C.” — including Pelosi — have decided that this tiny girl is not human and she has no rights.

Or, there’s an even more ghastly possibility. Pelosi and others who support abortion on demand know full well that what’s in a mother’s womb is human and they’ve simply decided to turn a blind eye to the holocaust the Supreme Court unleashed on the United States with their 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the name of “reproductive rights.”

They ought to just say which it is and dispense with the doublespeak.

 

 

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You Won’t Believe What This NYC Teacher Told a Group of Senators About Common Core Testing

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

On Wednesday Jia Lee, a teacher at The Earth School in New York City, testified at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about reforming the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Lee, a fifth grade special education teacher, told the committee, chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), that over 50% of the parents at The Earth School refused to allow their children to take the Common Core aligned English/Language Arts and Math tests and said her school was not alone.

“Last year,” Lee told the senators,  ”I decided that I am obligated and accountable to my students and families, and that is why, as a conscientious objector, I will not administer tests that reduce my students to a single metric and will continue to take this position until the role of standardized assessments are put in their proper place.”

“We just celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr.” Lee continued.  ”In his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King affirms that ‘one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.’ He quotes St. Augustine who said ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’ So long as education policy continues to be shaped by the interests of corporate profiteering and not the interests of our public school children, we will resist these unjust testing laws.”

She said that parents who complain about high-stakes testing have been accused of “coddling.” She challenged that assumption, saying that the focus on testing has taken time and resources away from the arts, social studies, and physical education.

Instead of focusing on testing, Lee said, classrooms should emphasize “the importance of fostering learning environments that value a culture of trust, diversity, and teacher autonomy.”

Lee joins other teachers in New York City who object to “market-based education reform” and are refusing to administer high stakes tests as an “act of conscience.” There is also a growing opt-out movement throughout the country that encourages parents to refuse to allow their children to take Common Core and other high stakes tests. Parents and teachers object to the testing for a wide variety of reasons. Nearly everyone thinks too much classroom time is devoted to testing and test preparation. And while parents are concerned about data collection related to the tests and the testing anxiety their children experience, teachers often object to having the tests tied to their performance evaluations as well as the corporate influence in test development and in the adoption of the Common Core standards.

You can read Lee’s written testimony here.

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This Short Speech from Lamar Alexander Will Show You How Broken Washington Really Is

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) gave the opening remarks during today’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee meeting, calling for bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Alexander said that reform of NCLB, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2002, “is more than seven years overdue.”

“We’ve been working on it for more than 6 years,” Alexander said. “When we started, former Rep. George Miller [an original sponsor of NCLB] said, ‘Pass a lean bill to fix No Child Left Behind,’ and we identified a small number of problems.” Since then, Alexander said, “We’ve had 24 hearings, and in each of the last two Congresses we’ve reported bills out of committee.”

Six years! Congress has been unable — in six years — to reform a bad law that took a mere 350 days (or if you prefer, 8400 hours) to pass. No Child Left Behind was initially proposed by President George W. Bush on January 23, 2001, and coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA), and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH). The House passed the bill on May 23, 2001, and by June 14, 2001, it had won Senate approval. President Bush signed it into law on January 8, 2002.

Thirteen years later, Congress is still trying to repair the damage from the law that amounted to the largest federal intrusion into state education decisions in U.S. history. The problem is that lawmakers are trying to “fix” something that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

Alexander said in his opening remarks, “I understand that there can be short-term gains from Washington’s orders– but my experience is that long-term success can’t come that way. In fact, today Washington’s involvement, in effect mandating Common Core and teacher evaluation, is creating a backlash, making it harder for states to set higher standards and evaluate teaching.”

True enough, but Sen. Alexander’s proposed solutions will do little more than tinker around the edges of the massive federal law. The options he is proposing will either “give flexibility to the states to decide what to do on testing” or “maintain current law testing requirements.” Both options would continue to require annual reporting of student achievement to the federal government, continuing the carrot and stick approach to the federal government’s education funding scheme for the states.

Perhaps in another six years someone will suggest returning public education completely to its proper place — back to state and local control.

But perhaps that is wishful thinking, seeing how broken (and tone deaf) Washington is and how incapable and unwilling our lawmakers are of repealing an overbearing federal law once it becomes embedded in the government behemoth.

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[UPDATED VIDEO] Ted Cruz Wins SOTU Postgame with ‘More Cowbell! More Cowbell!’

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Megyn Kelly asked Sen. Ted Cruz if he thinks President Obama was setting the stage for the next presidential candidate.

“Oh, I think he was trying to and he hopes that the next candidate engages in the same far-left policies. This is a man of the left,” Cruz said.

“You know, it reminds me of the classic Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken, where there’s a band playing and his solution to every problem is ‘More cowbell! More cowbell!’” Cruz said. “For President Obama ‘More cowbell’ is ‘More taxes! More government!More taxes! More government!’”

Kelly laughed and said, “The audience knows!” She said the focus group in the studio “is familiar with the skit.” The camera cut to the laughing audience.

“It’s the same failed policies that don’t work and we ought to come together. Economic growth is a bipartisan objective and I think Congress needs to lead,” Cruz continued.

Cruz also drew on the populist theme that the 1% are benefitting the most in the current economy. Refuting the president’s claim that all Americans are benefitting from Obama’s so-called “middle class economics,” Cruz said, “We are facing a divided America when it comes to the economy. It is true that the top one percent are doing great under Barack Obama.”

But he said, “The sad reality is with big government under the Obama administration the rich and powerful — those who walk the corridors of power in the Obama administration — have gotten fat and happy.” He noted that we have the lowest labor force participation rate since 1978.

“The reason the unemployment rate is falling is because millions of people keep dropping out of the workforce altogether so they’re not counted in that number,” Cruz said. He added that the wage stagnation over the last decade has made life difficult for working families. “We need to be fighting for the working men and women, not those with power in Washington,” said Cruz.

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Luke Russert: Joni Ernst ‘Was a Pig Farmer Around This Time Last Year’

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Congressional correspondent Luke Russert said on MSNBC Tuesday that freshman Sen. Joni Ernst was a pig farmer this time last year and marveled that she is now she is giving the rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address. “That is an extraordinary rise in politics right there,” Russert told Joy Ann Reid.

Russert said that Ernst is emblematic of what the GOP wants to be. “That is what you’ll see her do tonight, sell her personality as a war veteran and somebody who was a pig farmer around this time last year and now giving the rebuttal to the president.”

In a campaign ad last year Ernst said that she “grew up” castrating pigs on an Iowa farm. In addition to being the freshman senator from Iowa, Ernst serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard, commanding the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at Camp Dodge, and has 21 years of military service under her belt. This time last year she was a member of the Iowa state Senate, where she had served since 2011. Prior to that she was a two-term county auditor.

Russert said that the selection of Ernst has a lot more to do with personality than with policy. “One thing Mitch McConnell said around the Christmas holiday, he doesn’t want Republicans to be made out to be the bad guys in the room. He is working hard to change the face of how they are being interpreted by Americans. The selection of Ernst is his attempt to do that. I expect it to be about personality and Republican themes and not specifics to the president’s speech.”

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White House Not Told About Secret Service’s Decision to Remove Four Directors

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Thursday that the White House was not told ahead of time about Acting Secret Service Director Joe Clancy’s decision to remove four assistant directors from their positions at the agency on Tuesday. The Washington Post first reported the shake-up at the Secret Service after receiving a statement from Clancy.

Earnest said during Thursday’s White House press conference, “This is a decision that was made by the Acting Director of the Secret Service, Joe Clancy. The White House was not informed in advance.” He said that the White House was aware of the director’s efforts to reform the agency and the changes that were announced are consistent with the findings of a DHS panel’s review of the Secret Service.

“So the White House, the West Wing, and even the president is certainly very supportive of Mr. Clancy’s efforts to reform the agency, consistent with the goal of trying to strengthen the ability of that agency to perform the very important work that they do on a daily basis,” Earnest said, adding that the president would be supportive of Director Clancy taking additional steps to reform the agency.

Clancy informed the four assistant directors, who oversee protection, investigations, technology, and public affairs at the Secret Service, on Tuesday that they must leave their leadership positions.

“Change is necessary to gain a fresh perspective on how we conduct business,” Clancy said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I am certain any of our senior executives will be productive and valued assets either in other positions at the Secret Service or the department.”

A DHS-appointed panel concluded last month that the agency is suffering from low morale among the rank-and-file and is “starved for leadership.”Clancy cited the panel’s report and said he also based his decision this week on his own assessment of the agency.

 

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Marco Rubio: ‘Very Concerned’ Feds Could Use Common Core to Impose Restrictions on Schools

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Shannon Bream, filling in for Megyn Kelly on The Kelly File, asked Florida Senator Marco Rubio about his views on the Common Core standards on Tuesday.

Rubio said he supports curriculum reform. “I think we need to have the best curriculum possible. He added that his state passed standards and improved curriculum when he was speaker of the Florida House.

“My concern — not just with Common Core, it’s in general — is that we all of a sudden create some sort of standard that the federal government uses as a requirement to impose on the states,” Rubio said.

Rubio said that it’s one thing for the federal government to incentivize states and another thing to say “if you don’t do things a certain way we’re going to penalize you by cutting funding.”

“And while that’s not what they’re doing today, that’s where the federal government always winds up,” Rubio said. “So I’m very concerned, as many Americans are, that something like Common Core could be used by the federal Department of Education to one day impose restrictions on schools when in fact, education is primarily, at the K-12 level, a state and local responsibility.”

Rubio is absolutely correct that more control over education is “where the federal government always winds up.” But it’s not just the penalties we need to worry about. The incentives have the same coercive effect because their whole purpose is to direct and control the behavior of those they reward.

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Obama Finds a Way to Make National Football Championship About (Who Else!) Obama

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard


At a meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday, President Obama congratulated The Ohio State University football team for winning Monday’s game against the Oregon Ducks. The underdog Buckeyes beat Oregon 42-20 to take the title of the first College Football Playoff National Championship.

Obama, who was seated next to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in the meeting, said, ”To the speaker, I just want to point out I said there are going to be some things that we agree on.”

He then reminded everyone that the national championship was basically his idea. ”Having a college football playoff is clearly something that we can agree on. I called for it when I came into office.”

In a 2008 “60 Minutes” interview with Steve Kroft, then President-elect Obama laid out some of his priorities, including his ideas for a change in the way college football is organized. “If you’ve got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there’s no clear decisive winner. We should be creating a playoff system,” Obama told Kroft.

“I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this,” Obama said in the 2008 interview. “So, I’m going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

During his meeting with congressional leaders Tuesday, President Obama also congratulated the Oregon Ducks on their fine season and made a point to note that Oregon’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota is from his home state of Hawaii.

“So I want to congratulate the Ohio State Buckeyes for their outstanding victory and commend Oregon as well for fielding a great team because their quarterback is from my original home state of Hawaii.”

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[RAW VIDEO] Panic as D.C. Metro Fills With Smoke

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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One woman has died and two people are in critical condition after a tunnel on the Yellow Line of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) filled with smoke on Monday afternoon, trapping riders on a pitch black train for 40 minutes until help could arrive. More than eighty passengers were transported to area hospitals for treatment of their injuries related to the incident.

The NTSB said on Monday night that the suspected cause of the smoke was an “electrical arcing event” that occurred approximately 1,100 feet in front of the train, causing it to come to a sudden stop shortly after pulling out of the L’Enfant Plaza station. L’Enfant Plaza was evacuated while authorities investigated the cause of the smoke.

Metro rider Jonathan Rogers posted pictures and video (including the raw footage above) of the terrifying ride on Twitter.

 

 

Rogers told the Washington Post, “You could see smoke coming through the doors. It started to get scary pretty quick.”

In the grainy video from the darkened train riders can be heard coughing as the Metro operator urges them to remain calm, instructing them not to open the doors. “If you open the doors the train will not move,” the operator said.

The Washington Post reported:

“People started praying,” [Rogers] said. “Smoke was coming in pretty steadily. Some people were fine and some people were just hurting pretty quickly.”

He said a man standing next to him, started having breathing problems and sank to the floor.

Passengers watched out for each other, sharing inhalers with those who were having trouble breathing, he said. After a few more minutes, another woman standing near him said she couldn’t breathe and then passed out. Rogers and other passengers took turns giving her CPR.

“We just kept doing (CPR), maybe 25 minutes . . . we just kept going. Somebody helped carry her toward the back of the train – that was before the fire fighters arrived.”

Another rider, Adjoa Adofo, told the Washington Post, “People were panicking. We didn’t know what to do and and we weren’t getting a lot of information.”

Alec Dubois, a freshman at Gonzaga University, told WJLA, ”People were freaking out, going everywhere. The conductor was telling us to stay calm. He said he was trying to get our train back to the station.” Dubois added, “We had no cell service. I was trying to call my parents. And then there was black stuff everywhere, it was all over my pants, too. It was under our noses. We have no idea what it was.”

Eventually firefighters arrived and escorted passengers on foot back to the L’Enfant Metro station, about 800 feet away.

WMATA restored service to most lines by 8 p.m. Monday night, but service disruptions continue in some areas as the investigation continues.

More pictures on the next page:

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Trump on Romney: ‘You Just Can’t Give Him Another Chance’

Monday, January 12th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski asked Donald Trump if Mitt Romney is trying to steal Jeb Bush’s thunder by suggesting that he might consider another run for president.

“I would say the last thing we need is another Bush,” Trump said, adding that he knows “for a fact” that the two don’t like each other.

“As far as Romney is concerned, he had a great chance of winning and he blew it,” the real estate mogul said on Monday. “He’s like a dealmaker that couldn’t close the deal, so you just can’t give him another chance. It didn’t work. He got less votes than John McCain got years before and he was just unable to close the deal that should have easily been closed.”

“You know, it’s a little like a golfer — I’m at the Trump National Doral and we have the great championships here — and certain golfers cannot sink the 3-foot putt on the 18th hole,” Trump said.

Co-host Joe Scarborough asked Trump if he thought he would be able to “sink the 3-foot putt” if he ran for president.

Trump, who considered a run for the GOP nomination in 2012 said, “I think so. I think I could do a lot of things well if I got it. I would do a lot of things differently.”

He explained that he decided not to run in 2012 because of contractual obligation with his show, The Apprentice, but said the obligation no longer exists because the show “will be long gone by the time — in other words it will all be over in about five weeks, so after that the timing is good.”

Trump noted that in addition to the show, he has building projects all over the world, including a construction project on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Trump International Hotel is being built at the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C.

“If you’re president of the United States you can check out your property on Pennsylvania Avenue,” Scarborough quipped.

“I don’t even have to move into the White House,” Trump said.

He said he would make his decision about whether to run for president over the next three months and will consider if other candidates are “all talk and no action. “The world is blowing up around us. Nobody knows what to do. There are problems that can be solved that these guys can’t solve.”

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‘Free for Everybody Who Is Willing to Work for It.’

Friday, January 9th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

President Obama invites Americans to join him in some classic Orwellian doublethink as he asks them to accept two contradictory policy proposals that are supposed to coexist: students can have two “free” years of college if they “work” for it. Here’s how the president (sounding like a used car salesman) explained it from Air Force One on Friday:

Put simply, what I’d like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it. That’s right, free for everybody that’s willing to work for it. It’s something that we can accomplish and it’s something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world.

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Here’s the fine print of what they actually intend, via the L.A. Times:

Obama’s proposal would make two years of community college “as free as high school for responsible students,” Munoz told reporters, saving a full-time community college student an average of $3,800 in tuition per year. Obama also plans to propose a new fund to pay for high-quality technical training programs.

The program would cover half-time and full-time students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average — about a C-plus — and who “make steady progress toward completing a program,” the White House said.

In other words, these students won’t have to “work” for their education in the way that Americans have traditionally worked their way through college — by waiting tables or laboring at a summer landscaping job in order to scrape together tuition money. By “work,” the president means the students will merely need to maintain minimum academic standards. No lousy fast food job required.

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VIDEO: Shep Smith Not OK with Calling Paris Attackers Muslims

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith went on an editorial rant against those rushing to judgment and suggesting that the terrorists who massacred twelve people at Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday might be — gasp — Muslims.

“To call the kind of religious extremists who do this sort of thing Muslims seems waaaay out there, anymore than the guy who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma might be considered a Christian,” Smith said on Wednesday.

The two-decade-old Tim McVeigh reference aside (McVeigh was a lapsed Catholic who said “Science is my god”), there is just no way any sentient being could conclude that the terrorists are not Muslims who are motivated by their religious beliefs as they understand them from the Koran.

According to witnesses, the attackers who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday shouted, “We have avenged the prophet!”

Were they avenging the Old Testament prophet Zechariah, who was stoned because  he had denounced the people of Israel for their unfaithfulness? Or were they seeking revenge for Herod’s beheading of John the Baptist?

Clearly not, since the terrorists also shouted, “Allahu Akbar!” in tribute to the Muslim god of the Koran.

It’s not Catholic, it’s not Jewish, it’s not Mormon, it’s not 7th Day Adventist, it’s not Buddhist. No one in the intelligence community is running around Paris today looking in Baptist churches for these terrorists or checking their connections to the local Jehovah’s Witness community.

The terrorists are Muslim, by their own definition. Who is Shep Smith to define what Islam is for these jihadi terrorists, who self-identify as Muslims?  Or who is President Obama, who has said the Islamic state is not Islamic, to tell anyone one else what the parameters of their religion must be?

This doesn’t mean that all, most, or even a high percentage of Muslims are terrorists. The vast majority are peaceful and nonviolent. But the fact remains that the vast majority of terrorists in this modern era are self-proclaimed Muslims. Pretending otherwise — and defining Islam through a narrow American lens — denies both history and reality.

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Lindsey Graham Warns Media: ‘People in Your Business Need to Be Concerned’

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN’s Dana Bash on Wednesday that he would be “shocked” if the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris was not at least inspired by ISIS.

Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned Bash, “People in your business need to be concerned. You’re soft targets and they hate the idea of being able to tell the story.”

“Are you saying that based on intelligence you’ve learned?” Bash asked.

Graham said the warning was “just based on common sense.” He said, “They’re moving away from military-style targets. They’re beginning to target soft targets.”

He said he thinks the U.S. terror threat level should be raised immediately because copycat threats are likely. “I am convinced there are people already in our homeland ready to do attacks like this.” He said the attack in Paris was an attack on our common values. “Even though it was an attack in France, it’s an attack on us. What these people were doing in France, we do every day.”

Graham also warned that budget cuts under sequestration are hurting U.S. ability to gather intelligence.

“The only way you find out about terror threats is to find out about these things before they happen. Between budget cuts on the intel defense side and the Obama administration policy of not detaining or interrogating the suspects anymore — reading them their rights — is leading to less intelligence,” he said. ”If Congress doesn’t relieve the budget pressure created by sequestration on the Intelligence Committee, our ability to detect attacks like this on our homeland are greatly reduced.”

 

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Takes Questions During Reddit AMA

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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SpaceX and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk participated in a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Monday night ahead of his company’s planned rocket launch from Florida on Tuesday. SpaceX plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket, which will carry supplies to the International Space Station, at 6:20 a.m. ET. If all goes as planned, the rocket will complete a soft vertical landing on a drone “spaceport ship” in the Atlantic with the goal of creating a “fully and rapidly reusable rocket.”

 

 

Asked by one reddit fan how he was able to estimate a 50% probability of success for Tuesday’s landing, Musk answered, “I pretty much made that up. I have no idea.” He added a smiley face and explained, “The grid fins are super important for landing with precision. The aerodynamic forces are way too strong for the nitrogen thrusters. In particular, achieving pitch trim is hopeless. Our atmosphere is like molasses at Mach 4!”

A group of fans from the reddit SpaceX community asked about a planned SpaceX mission to Mars. They wanted to know what the Mars Colonial Transporter actually is? Is it a crew module like Dragon (a partially reusable spacecraft developed by SpaceX), a launch vehicle like Falcon, or a mix of both?

“The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture,” Musk said. “Am hoping to present that towards the end of this year.” He added that it was a good thing they didn’t do it sooner because they have learned a “huge amount” from Falcon and Dragon.

He said the goal is to send 100 metric tons of useful payload to the surface of Mars. “This obviously requires a very big spaceship and booster system,” he said. “At first, I was thinking we would just scale up Falcon Heavy, but it looks like it probably makes more sense just to have a single monster boost stage.”

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High Fives to Chris Christie for the Most Awkward Thing on the Internet This Week

Monday, January 5th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

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It’s either super adorable or terribly awkward, depending on whether you love or hate Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor was caught on camera moving in for a celebratory hug when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones failed to return his high fives after the team’s come-from-behind win on Sunday. Gov. Christie watched from the Cowboys owner’s box as his favorite team defeated the Detroit Lions to advance to the NFC Divisional playoffs.

Whatever you think about Christie cavorting with the Dallas Cowboys, the missed high fives, and his potential presidential run, you have to admit he’s looking rather svelte nearly two years after his Lap-Band weight loss surgery. Christie has reportedly lost 85 lbs. since the February, 2013 surgery.

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