Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he’s making progress with Republican leaders on funding the government — then needled John Boehner and Mitch McConnell over whether they can corral their conservative members and avoid a second government shutdown.
“We’ve heard there are going to be no government shutdowns from the leaders, but members of their caucuses are really saying some very scary things. So the question is whether the Republican leaders will be able to stand up to the radical forces within their own party,” Reid said on Monday afternoon.
“It’s a large number of members of the Republican caucus over here and of course the Republican caucus in the House. Can these Republican leaders stand up to these people who are intent on holding our government hostage?”
Translation: “Ted Cruz scares the crap out of us; will the gentleman from Kentucky please make him go away since we can’t seem to do so?”
The real problem is that McConnell may actually play into this nonsense. Sometimes I think he worries more about crushing Cruz than crushing the Democrats.
It is quite amusing that the Democrats are trotting out the same old talking points that led them to such spectacular defeat a couple of weeks ago. The beauty of it is that not one major player of theirs seems to grasp that they were annihilated two weeks ago. If they want to stick to the playbook, I say let them do it until they’ve talked themselves out of the White House too.
Here’s a gem that shows Politico and its ilk still stuck heavily in the denial stage of grief too (emphasis mine):
The confluence of the fast-approaching deadline and the timing of Obama’s immigration action are now muddling the prospects for a drama-free shutdown prevention effort that House Speaker Boehner of Ohio and Senate GOP Leader McConnell of Kentucky had hoped would set the tone for Republican control of Congress beginning in January. And given how last year’s shutdown damaged the GOP’s brand, Democrats are wasting no time in exploiting the unrest in the GOP.
The brand was so damaged that it now controls the Senate, House and a majority of the statehouses and state legislatures in the United States.
I say bring on some more brand-damaging behavior.
Declaring that ISIS “cannot live on hate alone,” Secretary of State John Kerry declared today that stopping the terror group includes choking off the fertile recruitment grounds of “people who are gullible enough to believe that terrorists enjoy a glamorous lifestyle and pliable enough to do whatever they are told.”
“Last year, two young men left Great Britain to join ISIL. Among the books that they ordered before departing was Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies,” Kerry said in keynote remarks today at the Transformational Trends Strategic Forum. “So, let’s be honest: Those recruiting for ISIL aren’t looking for people who are devout and knowledgeable about the tenets of Islam.”
“ISIL insists that its acts of murder, torture, slavery, rape and desecration are in response to the commands of God, a claim that is, to use an old Boston expression, garbage,” he said. “Much depends on the ability of respected figures from every branch of Islam to help potential recruits understand that ISIL is against everything that faith teaches and in favor of everything that it abhors.”
Kerry stressed at the beginning of his talk, though, that “every part of the globe merits our attention.”
“And I’m not exaggerating. I will assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council next April and we’re already planning a two-year stint of the priorities for the Arctic and that includes, I might add, priorities that extend to the Antarctic,” he said.
He called the Middle East and North Africa “the region that I know a lot of Americans wish was out of the headlines.”
“You all remember that great moment in A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup, besieged by tough questions, snaps, ‘You can’t handle the truth.’ Well, it might be heresy in today’s Washington of simple story lines and hyperbolic headlines, but I think the American people do want the truth. I think they demand it and I think they deserve it,” Kerry said.
“So, when it comes to the Middle East, this is my view of reality. A truth, if you want. We have to be deeply engaged — deeply engaged in this region because it is directly in the interest of our national security and our economy, and it is also in keeping with who we are.”
Kerry lamented that the Obama administration “has been faulted for not having the perfect answer to every question related to the coalition’s campaign” against ISIS.
“Fair enough. But as a student of history, I cannot recall the United States entering into any major confrontation with advanced knowledge of all the possibilities,” he said.
“ISIL’s leaders assumed that the world would be too intimidated to oppose them. Well, let us be clear — we are not intimidated. You are not intimidated. Our friends and partners are not intimidated. ISIL is very, very wrong.”
Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. Senate scrambled on Monday to gather one last vote to pass a bill that authorizes the project that would help send Canadian oil to the U.S. Gulf, a task made harder after President Barack Obama made his toughest comments yet on the topic.
All eyes were on Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who is retiring. He had originally told backers he would vote “no.” But unions and the oil industry were pressuring him, an aide to a top Republican backer of the pipeline said. Rockefeller’s office did not immediately answer questions about his stance.
Senator Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who is co-sponsoring the bill and faces a runoff for another six-year term next month, worked hard to gather the 60th vote needed to pass a bill that the House of Representatives approved on Friday.
An incumbent Senator desperate to win a runoff election sees the passage of this bill as her 11th hour savior. One would think that would send a message to the president about yielding on this issue.
We are not, however, going to be seeing any Clinton-esque triangulation from The Lightbringer. He remains blissfully unaware that his course for America was rejected with a resounding, “Oh HELL no!” at the beginning of the month and has no plans to stop being an irrational ideologue. Keystone XL runs counter to the interests of his big money green supporters, therefore he will do everything he can to block it.
So for those of you who thought he might back off on immigration…
The State Department today deflected questions about Nigeria’s incapacity to handle the Boko Haram threat by stressing the U.S. is still providing “multifaceted” support to a strictly “Nigerian-led effort.”
The U.S. sent crews to help locate more than 200 high school girls after their infamous kidnapping from a Chibok school in April. Terrorists say the girls have been sold off by this point.
Last week, Boko Haram returned to Chibok and took control of the town in Borno state. Villagers who fled reported that many had been killed.
State Department press office director Jeff Rathke told reporters today that Washington is “aware” of the reports.
“We condemn Boko Haram’s attacks on Chibok, a community that has suffered far too much already and we extend our condolences to the families of the victims,” Rathke said.
“Now, with respect to the fight against Boko Haram, the United States remains committed to helping the government of Nigeria address the threat that Boko Haram poses and to find and free those who have been abducted in Chibok and elsewhere,” he added. “So we continue to support Nigerian efforts to — to bring them — bring them home and we are providing assistance both through humanitarian programs, through sharing of intelligence, and advising on strategic communications and — and other issues.”
“We also continue to encourage Nigerian authorities to adopt a comprehensive approach to violent extremists.”
The U.S. government has criticized Nigeria for not respecting human rights when it’s gone after Boko Haram.
Asked “where does this thing stand” given the continued gains by the al-Qaeda affiliate, Rathke said the support for the Nigerian government covers “a range of aspects, including humanitarian programs including sharing of certain intelligence information.”
“We have also provided and approved sales of military equipment to the armed forces after careful scrutiny. So, we have a multifaceted approach to this Nigerian-led effort. And we — our hearts certainly go out to the — to the families of the victims and to the girls themselves, and all of those who have been abducted,” he said.
Last week, Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S. Ade Adefuye complained that the U.S. has been refusing to sell needed arms to the country.
Adefuye said that the administration “has up till today refused to grant Nigeria’s request to purchase lethal equipment that would have brought down the terrorists within a short time on the basis of the allegations that Nigeria’s defence forces have been violating human rights of Boko Haram suspects when captured or arrested.”
The Obama administration has long criticized the Nigerian government forces in the same breath as the al-Qaeda-allied terrorists, including Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield telling a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee a year ago that the U.S. government is “concerned by reports that some Nigerian security forces have committed gross human rights violations in response to Boko Haram.” At the same hearing, Nigerian activists testified that Boko Haram is beheading Christians with chainsaws.
Rathke said the U.S. commitment includes approximately $19 million in fiscal year 2014 for “vulnerable and conflicted — conflict-affected households in Nigeria.”
“Some of that goes through USAID, some of it through other — through other channels. But, you know, we have been providing, in addition to that, about $54 million in humanitarian assistance to neighboring countries, where that are significant refugee populations,” he said. “So this is something to which we remain committed, and we’ll continue that support.”
When pressed on why the U.S. has never been able to locate the large group of kidnapped schoolgirls, Rathke called it “an enormous challenge.”
“And we continue to support the Nigerian-led efforts, but it’s our view this has to be a Nigerian-led effort,” he said. “So we’ll continue to provide the support that I outlined because we consider — consider this an important opportunity to help Nigeria achieve success. But it’s a Nigerian-led operation.”
“…We have a longstanding and important relationship with Nigeria and we value that highly. We are standing with the government and the people of Nigeria in the face of the lethal and inhumane attacks that Boko Haram has unleashed. And we’re working closely with the Nigerian Government and with the governments of neighboring states to counter these threats… We’ve begun training a new army battalion. We’ve held numerous high-level discussions with Nigerian authorities on ways to meet the Boko Haram threat. So I think, you know, that record is clear.”
The past few days have been replete with coverage across conservative media of provocative comments offered by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber. On several occasions, Gruber was recorded speaking to friendly audiences as he confessed intentionally deceiving the public regarding the details of Obamacare. A sampling:
If you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in – you made it explicit, that healthy people are going to pay in and sick people are going to get money, it never would have passed.
Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically – you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever – but basically, that was really really critical to getting the thing to pass.
The American voter is too stupid to understand the difference.
It’s a very clever exploitation of the lack of understanding of the American voter.
Ostensibly, the exposure of Gruber’s comments stands as a big win for Republicans, although poorly timed just after the mid-term elections. However, an inconvenient truth which seems to have gone largely unnoticed is that Jonathan Gruber had his fingerprints all over another deceptively crafted socialist health care program – Romneycare. Conservative News and Views expounds:
[Fox News] also aired a clip from a nearly hour-long speech Gruber gave on 18 January 2012 to a conference at Noblis, a “think tank” at Falls Church, Virginia. (The name might derive from the French expression, Noblesse oblige.) There Gruber described the Massachusetts health-care plan, or “Romneycare.” He and others founded this plan on “a three-legged stool”:
- Forbidding insurers to “discriminate” against those with pre-existing illness,
- A minimum-coverage mandate for individuals, and
- Subsidies so those same people could afford to obey that mandate.
He said the Massachusetts plan worked well, and he always planned to have it work for the federal government.Then he made one salient admission:
The dirty secret is, the feds paid for our program.
Specifically, Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) arranged 400 million dollars in annual grants to Massachusetts to fund this plan. And again, Mitt Romney knew this.
Indeed, not only did the Republican Party’s nominee for president in 2012 endorse and sign into law a Gruber-approved policy as deceptively crafted as Obamacare, but many Republicans holding office today confess to supporting many aspects of Obamacare which they would preserve in a “repeal.” Mandatory coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage mandates, anything politically popular, many Republicans would keep.
Here’s the real lesson from the Gruber story which needs to worm its way past “the stupidity of the American voter,” as articulated by Wrong About Everything podcast co-host and progressive operative Javier Morillo-Alicea:
No one talks frankly about legislation, period. We can sit here and act all high and mighty… What [Gruber] was saying is the kind of thing that happens in the halls of legislatures, state and federal, all the time – figuring out how [to] make [bills] palatable… that’s just part of negotiations. He just got caught talking about the sausage-making.
In other words, the Republican reaction to the Gruber story is a bit like Captain Louis Renault declaring in Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to find out that gambling is going on in here.” The fact is, the deceptive tactics which Gruber shamelessly reveals prove non-partisan and properly ought to be attributed to the bulk of the political class, not just Obama and the Democrats.
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here.)
You may have seen this at Breitbart over the weekend, but it’s so good I thought I’d post it here.
The film Downfall from which the parody excerpts are lifted is so good it almost made me wish I had taken German rather than French in high school. And this particular take off is hysterical (“I should have given his mother free condoms,” Hitler screams.)
But, as in all parody, there is truth hiding behind the laughter. We laugh because of the contrast between Hitler’s out of control ranting and the overwritten dialog that has nothing to do with what is actually being said. But there is also the notion that Hitler is the personification of evil and his malevolence imparts a dark coloring to the object of the parody
Gruber isn’t a Nazi. But his contemptible efforts to hide, to obfuscate, to obstruct the truth from being known about the most important social program passed by Congress in the last 50 years is a betrayal unworthy of a public servant.
Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of this video is that the target so richly deserves what he’s getting.
President Obama now dismisses Jonathan Gruber as some guy he barely ever heard of, but that wasn’t always his story.
At the Brookings Institution’s “Restoring America’s Promise of Opportunity, Prosperity and Growth” conference in April of 2006, the future president bragged about using one Jonathan Gruber’s ideas.
Obama said, “You have already drawn some of the brightest minds from academia and policy circles, many of them I have stolen ideas from liberally, people ranging from Robert Gordon to Austan Goolsbee; Jon Gruber; my dear friend, Jim Wallis here, who can inform what are sometimes dry policy debates with a prophetic voice.”
A new poll shows that almost half (46%) of Americans want Obama to wait for the new Republican majority in the House and the Senate to act on immigration rather than act unilaterally.
Forty-six percent surveyed by USA Today think Obama should hold off and allow the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate to act on immigration reform. By contrast, 42 percent of Americans say Obama should act now.
To what extent this can be seen as a repudiation of Obama’s desire to act unilaterally on immigration, is unclear. A good follow up question in that survey might have been “If the Senate and House failed to do anything about immigration next year, do you support the President taking unilateral action?”
Once the GOP has the majority in the Senate, it’s hard to image what they might put forward. Would it be sufficient to keep Obama from acting unilaterally? I’m going to guess not.
The poll also reveals the typical partisan breakdown: “On the issue of immigration, Democrats overwhelmingly want Obama to take action now, 60%-28%. Republicans by an even wider margin want him to wait, 76%-17%. Independents split with 44% supporting acting now, 46% endorsing delay.”
Anticipating violence in response to any grand jury verdict in the Michael Brown case, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) today declared a state of emergency effective immediately.
According to Gov. Nixon’s statement, the state of emergency means that the National Guard will be deployed and the state will have a unified command to protect life and property.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JEREMIAH W. (JAY) NIXON, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Laws of the State of Missouri, including Sections 44.010 through 44.130, RSMo, do hereby declare a State of Emergency exists in the State of Missouri.
I further direct the Missouri State Highway Patrol together with the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to operate as a Unified Command to protect civil rights and ensure public safety in the City of Ferguson and the St. Louis region.
I further order that the St. Louis County Police Department shall have command and operational control over security in the City of Ferguson relating to areas of protests, acts of civil disobedience and conduct otherwise arising from such activities.
I further order that the Unified Command may exercise operational authority in such other jurisdictions it deems necessary to protect civil rights and ensure public safety and that other law enforcement agencies shall assist the Unified Command when so requested and shall cooperate with operational directives of the Unified Command.
The order automatically expires in 30 days unless the governor rescinds or extends it.
US Attorney General Eric Holder did nothing to quell the potential for violence. He connected the shooting of Michael Brown by police Officer Darren Wilson to “the struggle” for civil rights and said that that struggle “goes on.”
Brown was shot moments after robbing a convenience store, and may have attacked Officer Wilson and tried to get his gun. According to medical examiners, Brown had a substantial amount of marijuana in his system at the time of the incident in which his life ended.
Today is House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) birthday, and he got a special greeting from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.):
Happy 65th Birthday, @SpeakerBoehner! Welcome to Medicare and Social Security!
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) November 17, 2014
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) November 17, 2014
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) November 17, 2014
Jonathan Gruber Really Wasn’t On the White House Staff. He Made a Whole Lot More Money Than Anyone Who Was.
MIT professor Jonathan Gruber is a member of the one percent. Deroy Murdock counts up the cash that the Obamacare architect was paid by state and federal entities, mostly federal, to mislead the “stupid” American people into passing the law that he knew depended on most people not knowing what was in it.
$103,500 from the U.S. Department of State
$392,000 from the state of Minnesota
$392,600 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources
$400,000 from the state of Vermont
$400,000 from the state of Wisconsin
$481,050 from the state of Michigan
$1,730,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice (that medical hotbed)
$2,050,000 from the U.S. National Institutes of Health
Lying to the American people for fun and profit…mostly profit. All tolled up, Gruber made a whopping $5.8 million on Obamacare advocacy.
Of course Gruber wasn’t on the White House staff. The president’s current salary is only $400,000. Gruber would have had to take a massive pay cut to leave his consultancy gigs.
True story: When I was communications director at the Republican Party of Texas, we moved the party headquarters from one building in Austin to another. During that move, we discovered some old party publications that provided talking points on how demographics would shape Texas in the future. The paper stated that demographers expected that changes in the population would hand Texas permanently to the Democrats within a decade or two.
The publication was dated to the early 1980s. It echoed the talking points that the Texas Democratic Party has used forever, to justify why they believe that they don’t have to modulate their leftist stances on any issues. Demographics will eventually hand the state to them.
But they’re wrong. Since that time, the opposite has happened even as Texas’ population has become more diverse. What was a Democrat stronghold is now a Republican bastion, and has not elected any Democrat to any statewide office in a generation.
Democrat Kevin Baker writes in the NYT that the Democrats’ setbacks aren’t limited to Texas, and that demographics will not save them across the nation.
DEMOGRAPHICS is not enough.
For years now, it’s been an article of faith among Democrats that the future belongs to them, thanks to the country’s changing demographic mix. The rising percentage of voters who are women, Americans of color and especially Latinos were always about to turn the country deep “blue.”
I never believed this — largely because I have been hearing it since 1971. That was the year the 26th Amendment passed, lowering the voting age to 18. Democrats had already been the dominant political party since the 1930s, and now with young people getting the vote, a permanent Democratic majority was guaranteed, right?
The future failed to arrive on time again this fall. Democrats lost all over America, and they lost big, by much wider margins than predicted. They lost statewide races in the Midwest where Democrats have won repeatedly in presidential elections for more than 20 years. They lost in races against radical right-wing Republicans they might have been expected to defeat, like Sam Brownback in Kansas and Paul R. LePage in Maine.
Nor was this month’s election an anomaly. It was the third disastrous midterm for Democrats in the past 20 years. The party suffered similar or even worse losses at all levels of government in 1994 and 2010, along with a lesser catastrophe in 2002. It now holds fewer elected offices at both the federal and state level than it has at any time since the 1920s.
Baker writes that Democrats believe that demographics will rescue them in 2016, when “their base will go to the polls in greater numbers, and when demographics — again — will render the country less white, more Latin and more female.”
But will that happen? In my opinion that depends very much on the candidates. Hillary Clinton might bring out much of that base for the Democrats, but she is probably the most overrated politician in the world. She was so “inevitable” in 2008 that she was easily beaten by a rookie who happened to have a good stump speech. And Obama won in large part because the Republicans nominated the uninspiring John McCain, and he mostly ran a terrible and indecisive campaign. In 2016, it’s the Republicans who will have a deep bench and could have any of several historic candidates on the ticket.
Baker goes on to note that the Democrats are at a historic weak point nationally, after dominating for decades from the Senate and House to statehouses. The Democrats have declined nationally as the nation has become more diverse.
Baker, though, has no real prescriptions to fix the problem. Instead, he wants Democrats who took credit for electrification, the GI Bill and for ever increasing government control of our lives and businesses, to offer more of the same.
Today’s Democratic Party, with its finely calibrated, top-down fixes, does not offer anything so transformative. It seems scared of its own shadow, which is probably why it keeps reassuring itself that its triumph is inevitable. It needs instead to fully acknowledge just how devastating the recession was for working people everywhere in America, and what a generation of largely flat wages did to their aspirations even before that. It needs to take on hard fights, even against powerful forces, like pharmaceutical and insurance companies that presume to tell us the limits of what our health care can be or energy companies that would tell us what the world’s climate can endure. It means carving out a place of respect for working men and women in our globalized, finance-driven world.
There’s a lot to unpack in that — especially for a party that wants government control of our healthcare and just about everything else — but it boils down to pining for more class warfare and soaking the rich either through more regulation and mandates or higher taxes.
But when you do the math, the rich cannot pay much more than the huge share of our taxes than they are already paying.
The Democrats’ idea people are out of ideas. So, demographics!!!
A new video has surfaced from 2013 showing Officer Darren Wilson arresting a man for filming him serving a summons.
Mike Arman posted the video last week. It shows Wilson coming onto his property when the following exchange took place:
“If you wanna take a picture of me one more time, I’m gonna lock your ass up.”
“Sir, I’m not taking a picture, I’m recording this incident sir,” Arman responded. “Do I not have the right to record?”
“No, you don’t; come on,” Wilson said, and arrested him.
By the way, it is entirely legal to video tape a police officer.
The Guardian reports that Arman was arrested for failing to comply with Wilson’s order. In an interview, he claimed the charges were dropped “after he told his lawyer he had video footage of the incident.” Arman has been charged with resisting arrest before and has a criminal record.
“I was working on my porch with my toolbelt on and was being cordial,” Arman said of the incident. “But I wanted to safeguard myself by recording what happened.” Filming police officers carrying out their duties is widely considered to be legal and protected by the first amendment of the US constitution.
Initially, a spokesman for the Ferguson Police Department responded to the video and said “I don’t think that is him.” However a police report confirms that Officer Wilson did arrest Arman at his home in October of 2013. “The report states Wilson had arrived to issue a court summons regarding derelict vehicles that were being left on the property in violation of city rules. ”
Wilson wrote in his report that Arman was “upset” and wanted to record the incident. The officer told him that a voice recording “would be acceptable” but Arman “refused to answer any questions or co-operate as he lifted the phone to begin a video recording of myself” and “stated that I must state my name to him” as Wilson asked for more information on the vehicles.
Arman was driven to the police department and charged with failure to comply and breaching regulations on pit bull dogs. Wilson was unable to enter Arman’s backyard “due to pit bulls.” Arman said that charged was dropped when he showed that his dog was a bull dog and not a pit bull.
The Drug Enforcement Agency added to the NFL’s problems over the weekend. On a day that saw the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots each take key wins to stand atop the league, the DEA launched surprise raids on several traveling teams, according to the Washington Post. The raids were triggered by the class-action lawsuit that was filed against the league by more than 1,300 former players.
Federal drug agents conducted surprise inspections of National Football League team medical staffs on Sunday as part of an ongoing investigation into prescription drug abuse in the league. The inspections, which entailed bag searches and questioning of team doctors by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, were based on the suspicion that NFL teams dispense drugs illegally to keep players on the field in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, according to a senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation.
The medical staffs were part of travel parties whose teams were playing at stadiums across the country. The law enforcement official said DEA agents, working in cooperation with the Transportation Security Administration, inspected multiple teams but would not specify which ones were inspected or where.
Inspected teams include the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all of which played on the road Sunday. That’s key, because the DEA’s investigation centers on whether team doctors are registering the drugs that they may administer to football players in the states where they play when they’re traveling.
Federal law prohibits anyone but a physician or nurse practitioner from distributing prescription drugs, and they must meet myriad regulations for acquiring, storing, labeling and transporting them. It is also illegal for a physician to distribute prescription drugs outside of his geographic area of practice. And it is illegal for trainers to dispense or even handle controlled substances in any way.
At first blush, then, this looks like a hunt for technicalities as well as possible actual violations. Some players allege that team doctors have given them unlabeled medications during games, and filling out prescriptions in players’ names without their knowledge. They also allege that trainers have been known to pass out pills in team hotels and locker rooms and team planes after games.
Team doctors and trainers are presumably certified to practice in the states where the teams they serve are located (if they’re not, the DEA isn’t the only legal authority that would like to have words with them). Is the DEA saying that team docs have to get certified in every state where their team might possibly play a game, or they’re in violation of the law, even if everything else they do is otherwise legal?
Going after the football league is a curious choice, for an administration that has released thousands of known violent illegal aliens back into the wild — and misled the public about that.
Melissa Francis is now an anchor at Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel, but during the debate over Obamacare, she worked at CBNC.
While she worked at the business-oriented cable channel, Harvard-educated Francis says that she noticed that the numbers that President Obama and the Democrats were offering in support of the healthcare bill did not add up.
“You can’t add millions of people and have it not cost everyone. You can’t add people who have pre-existing conditions and not charge more,” Francis says she noticed at the time, adding that the American people might have supported the bill even if they knew all of that, but the administration was not revealing all of the facts needed to make a sound judgement on the bill.
Francis told Fox and Friends today that she pursued that line of questioning whenever she conducted interviews on Obamacare, until one day when she got a call to speak to her manager in his office.
“I got told that I needed to stop. And I said ‘Why? This is math, not politics,’” Francis recalls.
“They said that I was ‘disrespecting the office of the president,’ that was the exact language that they used.”
Francis says that after that day, she felt that her job at CNBC was under threat, and she no longer pursued tough questions regarding Obamacare. Francis moved to Fox in 2012.
She says that recent videos of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber bragging that he and the Democrats misled Americans about Obamacare’s costs, and bragging that they exploited the “stupidity” of the American people, hit home with her because of how CNBC censored her.
CNBC has issued a sarcastic, non-denial statement regarding Francis’ explosive accusation.
A CNBC rep said, “That’s laughable, but we take notice, because as the fastest-growing network in prime time, we’re always on the lookout for high quality comedy writers and actresses.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said the GOP is delivering “an insult to the American people’s intellect” through its opposition to immigration reform.
Jackson Lee, the ranking member on the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee, rallied with local leaders in Houston on Sunday for President Obama’s promised executive action on immigration.
The congresswoman argued that schools, hospitals, the arts, businesses and families were suffering because Congress hadn’t passed comprehensive immigration reform.
On Saturday, she told CNN that ”it’s interesting that when it serves the will of the Republican Party, not the will of the American people, they are able to use lame duck politics, they are willing to go against the president.”
“But when it serves a broader view, such as comprehensive immigration reform, there is no interest, if you will, in working with the president. It is quite a story for the American people to understand,” she said. “Every movement to improve the lives of Americans Republicans have been against. And they have been against it if the president has been for it.”
Jackson Lee said “Democrats have been working with Republicans from the moment the president was sworn in” on an immigration reform bill.
“Having served on immigration subcommittees for almost two decades, I can tell you that we have been pushing for comprehensive immigration reform through a number of presidents, but the Republicans have continuously blocked it. And what they are saying now is an insult to the American people’s intellect,” she continued.
“They should carry the Constitution around. There are three branches of government. I carry this book around. And I recognize the legislative powers but the president has executive powers. Those powers include interpreting how the law will be enforced, which is what this executive order may do, expanding the opportunities for parents of citizen children so that children are not ripped away from their parents, looking at the potential of giving documentation to farm workers so America’s farms will not continue to suffer as they are doing.”
Jackson Lee said she’s been talking with White House lawyers and is “quite confident” that Obama’s actions can pass the legal test.
“And therefore, I am not in any way intimidated by the attacks of Republicans and the reason is because the Republicans have been intimidating and attacking forever,” she said. “…The Constitution is going to be, I think, the storyteller. The president has executive power to be able to do this and use prosecutorial discretion.”
President Obama said in a statement Sunday afternoon that ISIS’ “actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith” which an executed American “adopted as his own.”
Peter Kassig, 26, who founded a humanitarian aid organization to assist Syrian refugees, previously served in Iraq as a Ranger in the U.S. Army. ISIS released a video of his beheading Sunday, more than a year after his capture in Raqqah.
He reportedly converted to Islam while in captivity, a report now often heard of Islamic State captives trying to survive.
News stories generally have referred to him as Peter, but his parents referred to him as Abdul-Rahman as well as his given name.
“We are heartbroken to learn that our son, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, has lost his life as a result of his love for the Syrian people and his desire to ease their suffering,” Ed and Paula Kassig said in a statement. “Our heart also goes out to the families of the Syrians who lost their lives, along with our son.”
Eighteen Syrians were also beheaded in the Kassig video.
Obama’s statement referred to the Indianapolis native as “Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter.”
“Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity. Like Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff before him, his life and deeds stand in stark contrast to everything that ISIL represents,” Obama said. “While ISIL revels in the slaughter of innocents, including Muslims, and is bent only on sowing death and destruction, Abdul-Rahman was a humanitarian who worked to save the lives of Syrians injured and dispossessed by the Syrian conflict. While ISIL exploits the tragedy in Syria to advance their own selfish aims, Abdul-Rahman was so moved by the anguish and suffering of Syrian civilians that he traveled to Lebanon to work in a hospital treating refugees.”
“Later, he established an aid group, SERA, to provide assistance to Syrian refugees and displaced persons in Lebanon and Syria. These were the selfless acts of an individual who cared deeply about the plight of the Syrian people.”
Obama said while mourning “we also recall that the indomitable spirit of goodness and perseverance that burned so brightly in Abdul-Rahman Kassig, and which binds humanity together, ultimately is the light that will prevail over the darkness of ISIL.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a statement on “Abdul-Rahman AKA Peter Kassig.”
“Like his fellow veterans of the 9/11 generation, his strong desire to continue making a difference in the world after serving in uniform — to continue leading a life of purpose — is an inspiration to us all,” Hagel said. “His brutal murder is one more reminder of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) ruthless barbarity; there is no starker contrast between the inhumanity of ISIL and the bright and generous spirit of the young man they murdered.”
Ever since he won the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama has consistently conflated legal and illegal immigration and treated both as an unmitigated good for the economy.
But that was not always the case.
In one of his two autobiographies, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming the American Dream, the future president sounded a very different note.
The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro reports that then-Senator Obama wrote that “[T]here’s no denying that many blacks share the same anxieties as many whites about the wave of illegal immigration flooding our Southern border — a sense that what’s happening now is fundamentally different from what has gone on before.
“Not all these fears are irrational.
“The number of immigrants added to the labor force every year is of a magnitude not seen in this country for over a century. If this huge influx of mostly low-skilled workers provides some benefits to the economy as a whole — especially by keeping our workforce young, in contrast to increasingly geriatric Europe and Japan — it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already overburdened safety net,” Sen. Obama wrote.
None of those arguments appear to be slowing President Obama now as he threatens to grant amnesty to an estimated 5 million illegal aliens via executive order. Such a move would be illegal, according to Obama himself.
Granting those illegal aliens legal status would allow them to openly seek jobs in an already stressed American economy, thereby directly competing with American citizens mostly at the lower skilled end of the job market — the workers Obama claimed to care about in his book. At the same time, Obama is vocally supporting a major increase in the minimum wage, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates could cost 500,000 jobs. Taken together, these two policies stand to squeeze some of America’s most vulnerable workers the hardest.
2006 vintage Obama would probably accuse the current incarnation of the president of illegally favoring foreign workers over American ones, to play on economic populism.
Officials are now reporting that Dr. Martin Salia, the surgeon flown from Sierra Leon to Nebraska for Ebola treatment, has died from the deadly virus. Salia is the second person to die from the disease in the United States.
The Washington Post reported that while in Sierra Leon, Salia initially tested negative but then subsequently tested positive for Ebola. “When Martin Salia’s Ebola test came back negative, his friends and colleagues threw their arms around him. They shook his hand. They patted him on the back. They removed their protective gear and cried.” But after his symptoms did not disappear, he tested again only to find out that he was positive for Ebola.
“We were celebrating. If the test says you are Ebola-free, we assume you are Ebola-free,” said Komba Songu M’Briwa, who cared for Salia at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center in Freetown. “Then everything fell apart.”
Apparently, doctors in Sierra Leone were unaware that initial testing could render a false negative result.
In many cases, a negative test at that stage means nothing because “there aren’t enough copies of the virus in the blood for the test to pick up,” said Ermias Belay, the head of the CDC’s Ebola response team in Sierra Leone.
Salia’s colleagues did not know where he contacted the disease. He did not treat Ebola patients at the United Methodist Hospital where he worked, but doctors were aware any of their patients could have the disease. Salia wore gloves while he was treating patients, but not the full protective gear.
The enhanced screening process in place in the U.S. seems to ignore the possibility that a traveler could arrive in the U.S. with symptoms and test negative for the virus only to test positive later, after they have been released into the unsuspected public.
Two American Muslim advocacy groups are protesting their inclusion on the United Arab Emirates’ list of terrorist organizations.
The blacklist followed the passage of Federal Law No. 7, which mandated circulation of the list to increase public awareness about extremist groups and threats.
“The law was issued by President Sheikh Khalifa and the Cabinet’s own resolution on the designation of terrorist organisations that allows the publication of such lists in the media for the purposes of transparency and to raise awareness about these organizations,” reported government-owned Abu Dhabi newspaper The National.
Groups on the list included the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, Daesh (ISIS), Al-Shabaab, AQAP, Boko Haram, Pakistan’s Haqqani network, Abu Sayyaf, al-Qaeda in Iran and the al-Nusra Front.
It also included several Islamic societies in Europe, including the Finnish Islamic Association, the Islamic Council Norway, Britain’s Cordoba Foundation, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, Muslim Association of Britain, the Union of Islamic Organisations of France, the Islamic Society of Germany and the Islamic Society in Denmark.
Two American groups were on the list: the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society.
The Muslim American Society doubted the report in a statement issued before the list was published in a government newspaper.
“The Muslim American Society was shocked to read news reports claiming that the United Arab Emirates has listed the Muslim American Society, along with numerous other organizations, as a terrorist organization,” the group said. “The Muslim American Society is a religious community service organization that serves people in the United States. We have no dealings with the United Arab Emirates, and hence are perplexed by this news.”
MAS said they would wait for an “official response” from the UAE, but added they would “like to seek the help of our government to address this issue.”
CAIR issued a statement saying the group is “seeking clarification from the government of the United Arab Emirates about this shocking and bizarre report.”
“There is absolutely no factual basis for the inclusion CAIR and other American and European civil rights and advocacy groups on this list,” CAIR said.
“Like the rest of the mainstream institutions representing the American Muslim community, CAIR’s advocacy model is the antithesis of the narrative of violent extremists,” the statement continued.
“We call on the United Arab Emirates cabinet to review this list and remove organizations such as CAIR, the Muslim American Society and other civil society organizations that peacefully promote civil and democratic rights and that oppose terrorism whenever it occurs, wherever it occurs and whoever carries it out.”
Dubai ruler and UAE vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum wrote in a September editorial in local papers that extremism needed to be rooted out by focusing not just on militant groups but on organizations propagating harmful ideology.
“Only one thing can stop a suicidal youth who is ready to die for ISIS: A stronger ideology that guides him onto the right path and convinces him that God created us to improve our world, not to destroy it,” he wrote.
Egypt cheered the terror listing of the Muslim Brotherhood and lauded “outstanding coordination and cooperation” between the two countries “in all fields, including in the fight against terrorism.”
“Egypt welcomes the UAE government’s decision to include a number of organisations on the list of terrorist organizations,” foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said today.
Islamic Relief Worldwide, which the UAE list noted was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, protested their inclusion in a statement. Israel banned the group’s from conducting operations there this past summer because of Hamas ties.
“Islamic Relief is a purely humanitarian organisation and categorically denies links with terrorism,” IRW said. “We will be engaging with the UAE authorities to seek the removal of this wrongful designation.”
As the second Obamacare enrollment period gets underway, Gallup finds that the law is deeply under water.
According to Gallup, just 37% of Americans approve of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. 56% percent disapprove.
The 37% approval is down a point from January 2014. Just 33% of independents support Obamacare.
A majority of the American people disapproved of the law when Democrats passed it with zero Republican votes, and President Obama signed it into law.
Over the past week, several videos have surfaced in which the architect of the law, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, brags that he and the Democrats exploited the “stupidity” of the “American people” in order to pass the law. But as the law has never held majority support, any “stupidity” exploited must have belonged to the Democrats and their supporters who backed the law. The majority of Americans never did support it.
President Obama has tried word games to distance his administration from Gruber, by claiming that the professor was not on the White House staff when the law was passed. That’s true, narrowly, and a lie at the same time: Gruber was not on staff, but he was paid about $400,000 in consultancy fees to help write the law. According to Gruber, President Obama was in the room when Obamacare’s controversial “Cadillac tax” was created.
President Obama told reporters in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday that he “just heard about” about the flap with MIT Jonathan Gruber saying that “stupid” Americans were misled by the healthcare law.
“No, I did not,” the president said when asked if he led Americans astray in order to get his signature legislation passed.
“I get well briefed before I come out here. The fact that some adviser who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters, is no reflection on the actual process that was run,” Obama said.
“The one thing we can’t say is that we did not have a lengthy debate about healthcare in the United States of America, or that it was not adequately covered. I mean, I would just advise all of — every press outlet here: Go back and pull up every clip, every story, and I think it’s fair to say that there was not a provision in the healthcare law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent.”
Obama added that “there were folks who disagreed with some of these various positions.”
“It was a tough debate,” he continued. “But the good news is — and I know this wasn’t part of your question — but since some folks back home who don’t have health insurance may be watching, open enrollment just started, which means that those who did not take advantage of the marketplaces the first time around, they’ve got another chance to sign up for affordable health care; they may be eligible for a tax credit.”
The president touted Healthcare.gov, which saw epic technical fails in its launch, as something that “works really well now.”
“Healthcare is working. More than 10 million people have already gotten health insurance; millions more are eligible. And contrary to some of the predictions of the naysayers, not only is the program working, but we’ve actually seen healthcare inflation lower than it’s been in 50 years, which is contributing to us reducing the deficit, and has the effect of making premiums for families lower that they otherwise would have been if they have health insurance,” Obama said. “All right?”
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told NBC on Sunday that the legislation was about “three fundamental things.”
“And these are things that have bipartisan agreement — affordability, access and quality,” Burwell said. “That’s what the American people want. And actually there’s bipartisan agreement.”
She was asked twice if Gruber will be welcome back to consult on healthcare policy.
“Certainly right now in terms of the work that we’re doing at HHS, we’re doing our work and focusing on what we are doing and our modeling,” Burwell replied. “With regard to Mr. Gruber and his comments, I think I’ve been clear. That’s something we fundamentally disagree with.”
Any situation short of the Islamic State obtaining nuclear weapons, and the United States knowing about that, appears to mean that President Obama will not order American ground troops into battle to destroy the terrorist group.
Over the weekend, ISIS beheaded a third American, former Army Ranger turned aid worker Peter Kassig. But a day before that news broke, President Obama outlined an extreme scenario under which he would order troops to fight ISIS on the ground in Iraq and Syria. The president made his remarks at the G20 Summit in Australia Saturday.
Obama says that he would send ground troops into the fight, if ISIS gets its hands on a nuclear weapon.
Obama said, “There are always circumstances, in which the United States might need to deploy US ground troops. If we discovered that ISIL had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then yes, you can anticipate that not only would Chairman Dempsey recommend me sending U.S. ground troops to get that weapon out of their hands, but I would order it.”
Obama chuckled as he spoke about ISIS obtaining nuclear weapons.
ISIS has beheaded three Americans and two Englishmen. It has murdered thousands of Iraqi and Syrian civilians and military. ISIS has sold women into sex slavery and has destroyed historical monuments and sites. ISIS has also threatened to attack Americans in the United States itself.
On Saturday, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted about the “irrelevance” of “this Gruber guy,” also known as MIT professor and Obamacare crafter Jonathan Gruber. He’s been caught on camera many times now banking on the “stupidity of the American voter” to get the healthcare bill through.
“It’s sad to me that good political journalists are spending so much time on these irrelevant comments by this guy Gruber,” Murphy tweeted, to which CNN’s Jake Tapper responded, “Respectfully, it’s sad to me that some politicians would claim the comments are irrelevant.” Murphy later replied:
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 15, 2014
@ChrisMurphyCT he helped write the bill, and he’s describing ways it was misrepresented to the public. Re: Cadillac tax, bending cost curve
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 15, 2014
— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) November 15, 2014
— Morgen (@morgenr) November 15, 2014
@KPhed he was one of the people who helped craft the bill. No one at the WH disputes this.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 15, 2014
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 15, 2014
Pete Souza tweeted this photo while traveling with the President in Australia and it is the subject of our newest caption contest. The photo was Sunday’s “PIC DU JOUR” on Mike Allen’s Politico Playbook. (aka “The Bible” of D.C.)
Speaking of bibles, in case you forgot from where the title of this contest originated, here is a link to Politico from April 11, 2008 with “the gaffe” in full context as spoken by presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama at a San Francisco fundraiser. If only the media had done their job…..
Now back to the business at hand. The expression on the face of this adorable koala bear means he is doing a lot of thinking between those big ears. Your mission is to speculate about those thoughts in addition to writing an overall caption.
Moving along, here are the winners from our last caption contest which was very popular and highly competitive.
Cfbleachers was the grand prize winner with:
“Let me take your elbow, Barry. I understand you and your guards enjoy an escort service.”
KUCE came in second with:
Putin – Thank you Barack for helping me relive my glorious youth when Carter was President.
Texan was third with:
Vlad “out of the way, punk! This is MY photo op.
Due to the outcome and all the excitement surrounding the midterm election, we held a special “creative contest.” Here you were asked to rewrite President Obama’s post-election speech to reflect what really happened on November 4, 2014.
The winner was RockThisTown with this zinger:
”I’ve maxed out the race card, so I’m cutting it in half & will never use it again.”
EEEEAAAKK …. That is the sound of Obama’s koala telling PJ Media readers to start writing because he has become an anxious “bitter clinger” and is BEARing arms.
Over the weekend, the Department “scrambled” to secure its unclassified email system after evidence was found that suggested hackers were “poking around.”
A senior State Department official described that technicians had found “activity of concern” in the unclassified email system. None of the classified email system was compromised, said the anonymous official.
The discovery was not publicized. At first the State Department announced that there would be some routine “maintenance” to the unclassified network. But after AP reported the breach, the Department admitted there had been an intrusion.
But on Sunday, after the Associated Press first reported the breach, officials acknowledged they had found traces of suspicious activity in their system and were updating security in the middle of a scheduled outage. In a sign of how complete the shutdown was, duty officers were using Gmail accounts.
NextGov is reporting the actual State Department hacking occurred at the same time as the White House hacking. “The State Department’s unclassified email system was compromised in recent weeks, at the same time as a White House network, and officials took the State system offline Friday, according to department officials.”
Sources said the White House hacking was the work of Russian hackers but the Russians deny it.
Asked last month about the accusation that Russians were behind the White House computer hacking, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin responded, “Is there any evidence?”
“We’ve been hearing a series of groundless allegations against Russia recently,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “So we can’t take them seriously any longer unless there’s proof.”
The State Department is expected to address the security concerns once improvements have been completed on Monday or Tuesday.
Little noticed after the midterm vote, which saw the GOP take control of the Senate and increase their majority in the House, was a referendum in sky blue Oregon to repeal the law that granted illegal immigrants the right to obtain a driver’s license.
Even though the Democrats increased their majority in the state legislature and a Democratic governor was reelected, the measure for repeal passed by a 2-1 margin.
This is a stark warning to President Obama and the Democrats that if he acts alone to amnesty 5 million illegals, his march to irrelevancy will be complete, and the party he leads could pay an awful price in 2016.
The state law had seemed to be popular. It easily passed last year with bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled Legislature and was signed Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, who was re-elected Nov. 4.
Opponents barely gathered enough signatures to put the repeal question on the ballot. Immigrant rights groups outspent their opponents 10-1.
Still, the measure failed in every county but the state’s most liberal one, Multnomah, home to Portland. Even there it trailed significantly behind other Democratic candidates and causes.
“It was really the epitome of a grassroots effort,” said Cynthia Kendoll, one of the activists who led the campaign against licenses. “There’s such a disconnect between what people really want and what’s happening.”
Obama made his postelection pledge on immigration despite the drubbing that Democrats took across the country. He said he had to act because Congress has deadlocked on immigration for years.
A bipartisan Senate bill to provide citizenship to many of the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally died in the Republican-controlled House, and with the GOP now holding a majority in the Senate, many believe it is unlikely any broad immigration measure could make it to Obama before the end of his term.
Allowing immigrants in the U.S. illegally to remain in the country generally polls well. Even 57 percent of the conservative-leaning national electorate that voted Nov. 4 favors legalization, according to exit polling for the Associated Press and other news organizations.
Immigration has been seen as a winning issue for Democrats because Hispanic and Asian populations account for an increasing share of the electorate, especially in presidential years.
Eleven other states have granted driver’s licenses to people in the U.S. illegally, and 17 allow them to pay in-state tuition at public universities.
But Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., which advocates more restrictions on immigration, says voters often are befuddled by complex immigration proposals and polling questions, overstating the actual support for an immigration overhaul.
The Oregon vote, he said, is proof of that.
“Whenever the public gets that sort of clear-cut, black-and-white issue for tougher controls — even in Oregon, when they’re legalizing dope — they support them,” Krikorian said. “It really highlights how this issue is not a Republican-liberal issue like, say, taxes and abortion, but an up-down issue, elites versus the public.”
Krikorian is right. If you look at this most recent Pew Poll on illegal immigrants, you might be surprised to see 71% supporting granting illegal aliens legal status. But the caveat “if certain requirements are met” is the kicker.
This Pew Poll from late last summer approaches the question a little differently:
The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted August 20-24 among 1,501 adults, finds that 33% say the priority should be on better border security and tougher enforcement of immigration laws, while 23% prioritize creating a way for people in the U.S. illegally to become citizens if they meet certain conditions. About four-in-ten (41%) say both should be given equal priority.
These priorities have changed since Feb. 2013, early in Obama’s second term. The share saying that both approaches should be given equal priority has fallen from 47% to 41%. Over the same period, the percentage prioritizing enhanced border security and stronger enforcement of immigration laws has risen eight points, from 25% to 33%. There has been little change in the percentage saying the priority should be creating a path to citizenship for people in the U.S. illegally (25% in Feb. 2013, 23% today).
If you give the voter the choice between legalization or border enforcement, legalization loses. Most of those “certain requirements” that have to be met before legalization occurs have to do with securing the border first. When the voter is confronted with an “either/or” proposition, they choose border enforcement going away.
One poll taken recently shows that 74% of Americans want the president to work with Congress rather than acting alone on immigration. What will be the reaction to the president’s unilateral amnesty plan? It’s likely that even some members of his own party will scurry for cover while the people punish the Democrats in 2016.
From our “Some Muslims Believe the Craziest Things” department comes words of wisdom from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Giving a speech before some Latin American Muslims, Erdogan decided to give a little history lesson. He claims that America was discovered by Muslims in the 12th century — there’s even proof via none other than Christopher Columbus, who supposedly wrote in his journal about a mosque on a hill in Cuba.
“Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus,” the conservative president said in a televised speech during an Istanbul summit of Muslim leaders from Latin America.
“Muslim sailors arrived in America from 1178. Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan said that Ankara was even prepared to build a mosque at the site mentioned by the Genoese explorer.
“I would like to talk about it to my Cuban brothers. A mosque would go perfectly on the hill today,” the Turkish leader said.
History books say that Columbus set foot on the American continent in 1492 as he was seeking a new maritime route to India.
A tiny minority of Muslim scholars have recently suggested a prior Muslim presence in the Americas, although no pre-Columbian ruin of an Islamic structure has ever been found.
In a controversial article published in 1996, historian Youssef Mroueh refers to a diary entry from Columbus that mentions a mosque in Cuba. But the passage is widely understood to be a metaphorical reference to the shape of the landscape.
We’ve heard Muslims take credit for all sorts of western inventions, including the airplane (invented 1000 years ago), the windmill, and various medical advances, so Erdogan’s fantasy about Muslims discovering America plows familiar ground.
It may be that Muslims are so aggrieved about their lowly status compared to a few hundred years ago when their armies were feared, their civilization was cultivated, and their mathematicians were light years beyond Europe, that they feel they have to define their worth by making stuff up. It’s a massive inferiority complex that also leads to their young men beheading foreigners and flying airplanes into buildings.
Reuters reports that the Islamic State claims that it has beheaded American Peter Kassig. The terrorist group has published a video that does not show the act itself, but shows a man’s head. On the 15-minute video, a British-accented terrorist says that Kassig has been killed and will be buried in Dabiq, Syria.
“This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen,” the terrorist says in the video while standing over the severed head. “Here we are burying the first American crusader in Dabiq. Eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.”
Kassig was a former Army Ranger and veteran of the war in Iraq. The 26-year-old from Indiana went to Syria as a medic and treated people who had been wounded in Syria’s civil war. He was reportedly captured by ISIS on October 1, 2013. Kassig is the third American beheaded by ISIS, following James Foley and Steven Sotloff. ISIS has also beheaded two British men, David Haines and Alan Henning.
Kassig reportedly converted to Islam while in captivity, and had adopted the name Abdul Rahman Kassig.
The video, which has not been authenticated by U.S. intelligence yet, also shows several beheadings of Syrians captured by ISIS. Those killings are carried out in mass-killing style and shown in the video.
The video included a direct ISIS threat to kill Americans in the United States:
“To Obama, the dog of Rome, today we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar and tomorrow we will be slaughtering your soldiers,” the terrorist says in the video.
“And with Allah’s permission … the Islamic State will soon … begin to slaughter your people in your streets.”
Aside from a system-wide problem with customer access at times, the healthcare.gov website functioned relatively smoothly as open enrollment began on Saturday.
For half a billion dollars, you might expect a little more. After all, if Amazon or Expedia experienced problems like this, they’d probably go out of business.
But in the US government, the managers will probably be promoted.
Things were not running as smoothly across the country in state exchanges. The Washington state Obamacare exchange was forced to shut down when it began calculating subsidies incorrectly. They want to open it again today, but aren’t sure the software fix will be ready.
In Louisiana, customers couldn’t log in to their accounts until after one.
Three USA Today employees tried creating accounts at healthcare.gov with varying degrees of success:
Brokers at the Health Insurance Store of Louisiana in Baton Rouge weren’t able to do that until early afternoon. Owner Will Chapman says none of the 10 agents or their clients could log into accounts until about 1 p.m. CT Saturday.
“We’d go in with an e-mail account, set up an account, verify it and create a password, but when go back to actually log in with that information, it says your password is invalid,” says Chapman.
After a lengthy wait on hold for the call center around midday, Chapman says, they were told the problem was systemwide.
“The vast majority of users are having a smooth experience during the first day of Open Enrollment on HealthCare.gov as they fill out applications, browse and enroll in plans,” HHS spokesman Aaron Albright said in an e-mailed statement. “We expect to experience the normal issues that any other complicated technology project does upon launch and have seen a small number so far.”
Albright said the department “will continue to work every day to make the consumer experience simpler and easier.”
Three USA TODAY staff members created accounts in Virginia on Saturday morning. One of the three was blocked from logging in, just as the agents in Louisiana experienced, After a five-minute wait on hold, a call center employee unlocked the account but warned it couldn’t be logged into for another two hours.
After 2½ hours, attempts to log into the account again failed, so the password was reset again — to no avail.
After a USA TODAY reporter’s third call to the call center after password changes failed to make log in possible, the woman answering the phone said she needed to send the case to “an advanced resolution specialist” who would call back “within five to seven business days.”
In other Obamacare news, one of the HHS’s top technology officers who helped design the flawed website has been subpoenaed to appear before a Senate committee.
Former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park will be questioned over his role in developing healthcare.gov.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the subpoena for the Obama administration’s former top tech advisor, demanding that he testify about his oversight of the ObamaCare website, including its security protocols.
The subpoena comes after Park’s previous refusals to testify and his recent cancellation of a meeting with House lawmakers after it became clear that the briefing would be public, the committee said.
“The Obama administration has failed to provide this committee with information about the security of the ObamaCare website,” Smith said in a statement on Tuesday. “What is the White House trying to hide?”
“The American people deserve to know their personal information on HealthCare.gov is absolutely secure,” he added.
Park was brought in to help repair the website after its notorious launch last year, but has maintained that he did not have detailed knowledge of the site ahead of time.
A staff report issued by the Science Committee on Tuesday, however, asserted that he “communicated regularly” with government officials and contractors involved with the site’s development and co-chaired a steering committee for ObamaCare tech issues.
“Given the emails provided to Congress by [the Department of Health and Human Services], it appears that Mr. Park purposefully and willfully misrepresented his role and responsibilities with the HealthCare.gov website,” the committee claimed in the report.
The subpoena requires Park to appear in an Oversight subcommittee on Nov. 19.
Though the committee claims that Park has refused to appear on five previous occasions, he offered to voluntarily testify just last month.
“[I]f the subcommittee desires additional information, there is no need to resort to subpoenas,” White house counsel Neil Eggleston wrote in the letter, after the committee voted to authorize a subpoena. “Mr. Park will be pleased to testify at a subcommittee hearing in November.”
The subpoena comes weeks after news that a hacker broke into a HealthCare.gov test server in July and inserted software designed to attack other networks. No personal information was stolen and the ObamaCare website did not even seem to be targeted in the attack, officials said after disclosing the attack in September.
Is there anything or anyone associated with Obamacare that’s up front and honest? I’m beginning to feel like Diogenes, wandering around with a lantern looking for an honest man.
I don’t think I’ll find any who had anything to do with Obamacare.
Russian President Vladimir Putin got an earful from several western leaders about his Ukraine intervention at the G-20 Summit this weekend and, in a rather petulant move, decided to leave the confab early, skipping the official lunch scheduled for Sunday.
Last month, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott threatened to “shirtfront” Mr. Putin when he saw him. It made Abbott look a little ridiculous when a photo was snapped of he and Putin engrossed in what appeared to be friendly conversation. Abbott says he told Putin that Russia could not “recreate lost glories” of the Tsar or of the old Soviet Union. You can imagine how that went over with Putin.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was even more blunt:
During a tense 50 minute meeting Mr Cameron warned that Russia is risking its relations with the West and must end its support for Russian separatists.
Mr Putin denied that Russian troops have entered Ukraine and claimed that he is prepared to accept a ceasefire and stop the flow of Russian weapons across the border. He also said that he is prepared to recognise Ukraine as a “single political space”.
Mr Cameron is said to be “realistic” about Mr Putin’s comments after he previously broke pledges to end Russian action in Ukraine.
The meeting at the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, follows a tense build up in which Mr Cameron compared Russia to Nazi Germany.
Tensions escalated further when Russia stationed a fleet of warships off the coast of Australia in an apparent show of strength ahead of the summit.
In interviews hours before the meeting, Mr Cameron suggested that he cannot trust Mr Putin and described Russia’s decision to send a fleet of warships to Australia as “international machismo”.
Asked if he trusts Mr Putin, the Prime Minister told ITV News: “I take people as I find them. The sad thing is that to date undertakings given in the Minsk agreement have not been followed but the right thing to do is to continue to engage.
“So far we haven’t seen his actions follow up the statements that he’s given on previous occasions.
“The point is and the reason for meeting is that this issue matters and it’s very important Russia understands what’s at stake and gets a very clear message.
“There’s a real choice here, there’s a different and better way for Russia to behave that could lead to an easing of relations, but at the moment he’s not taking that path.”
What is it with these western leaders who think they can appeal to Putin’s better nature and get him to behave himself? Obama and Kerry are hopeless in this regard, but Cameron isn’t far behind in the wishful thinking brigade. The former KGB agent is wholly uninterested in anything the west has to say about his Ukraine policies and, given the provocative — dare I say “warlike” — military moves off the coast of Australia and over the skies of Europe, it would appear that Mr. Putin doesn’t care how Russia is perceived in the world.
The west is supposed to be considering further sanctions against Russia, but it doesn’t appear likely that they will be able to come to an agreement on how to punish Putin. Considering how ineffective previous sanctions have been, it’s probably just as well.
And we were all wondering why this information was deliberately delayed until after the election? Not.
I get enormous satisfaction from the fact that the efforts by President Obama to mask bad news about Obamacare before the election didn’t do any good anyway; the Democrats still took a massive thumping. And those most vulnerable Democrats he was trying to protect — red state Democratic Senators — all went down to defeat.
About 12 hours before the federal Obamacare website opened for business and began to offer insurance policies, the administration released data on premium increases consumers can expect. And as the New York Times reports, most people who purchased insurance through healthcare.gov or the state exchanges are looking at increases of up to 20%.
An analysis of the data by The New York Times suggests that although consumers will often be able to find new health plans with prices comparable to those they now pay, the situation varies greatly from state to state and even among counties in the same state.
“Consumers should shop around,” said Marilyn B. Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal insurance exchange serving three dozen states. “With new options available this year, they’re likely to find a better deal.” She asserted that the data showed that “the Affordable Care Act is working.”
But Republicans quickly pounced on the data as evidence of the opposite.
“Last year, many who liked their plan were surprised to learn they couldn’t keep it,” said Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, who is in line to become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “This year, many who like their plan will likely have to pay more to keep it.”
The new data means that many of the seven million people who have bought insurance through federal and state exchanges will have to change to different health plans if they want to avoid paying more — an inconvenience for consumers just becoming accustomed to their coverage.
A 40-year-old in Nashville, with the cheapest midlevel, or silver plan, will pay $220 a month next year, compared to $181 a month this year, for the same plan.
The least expensive plan is offered by another insurer, Community Health Alliance, one of the so-called co-op plans created under the federal law. It offers coverage for a monthly premium of $194.
But the lower premium means that consumers will have to pay a much larger annual deductible, $4,000, rather than $2,000. A policyholder who becomes seriously ill or has a costly chronic condition could pay hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.
We’ve been hearing for a couple of months that Obamacare premiums were going to be on the rise, but what wasn’t known was the extent of the price increases. Of course, finding another plan with comparable costs to your current plan necessarily means seeing your deductible — already higher for most people than under their old plans pre-Obamacare — climb even higher. The goal is to force Americans not to use medical services unless they absolutely have to. Call it “pocketbook rationing” — not going to the doctor or delaying a procedure because your out of pocket expenses are too great.
They have already drastically reduced estimates of the number of Americans who will sign up for Obamacare this year. The CBO estimated 13 million total consumers would be enrolled in Obamacare by the end of 2015. The administration is now saying they expect no more than between 9 million and 9.9 million to be enrolled. That figure is not quite low enough to send Obamacare into a death spiral, but it could very well lead to even higher premiums next year.
It’s sad to me that good political journalists are spending so much time on these irrelevant comments by this guy Gruber.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 15, 2014
@ChrisMurphyCT respectfully, it’s sad to me that some politicians would claim the comments are irrelevant
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 15, 2014
@DeontrezAlbury i don’t have a preference. if you don’t care about being misled, that’s fine, but reporters have a responsibility to report
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 15, 2014
@DeontrezAlbury if that were true it would have come out before not after the midterm elections, no?
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 15, 2014
.@ChrisMurphyCT It’s sad to me that Democratic Senators are spending so much time telling journalists what not to cover.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 15, 2014
.@ChrisMurphyCT The “this guy Gruber” is a nice touch, though.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 15, 2014
For the first time, Washington National Cathedral hosted Friday Muslim prayers where speakers called for religious unity in the face of Muslim extremism.
The cathedral is the seat of the Episcopal Church in the capital and has hosted Jewish and Eastern Orthodox services in the past. I can find no mention of a Roman Catholic mass being celebrated there, although it’s entirely possible.
Many of their services are ecumenical. But you wonder about the irony inherent in holding a Muslim prayer service in a Christian cathedral that, if held in many parts of the Muslim world, would have resulted in riots and bloodshed.
From the Washington Post:
In a corner of Washington National Cathedral, several hundred Muslim worshipers and other invited guests gathered Friday afternoon for a first-ever recitation of weekly Muslim prayers at the iconic Christian sanctuary and to hear leaders of both faiths call for religious unity in the face of extremist violence and hate.
The Arabic call to prayer echoed among the vaulted stone arches and faded away, followed by an impassioned sermon from Ebrahim Rasool, a Muslim scholar who is South Africa’s ambassador to the United States. Rasool called on Muslims, Christians and others to come together and make “common cause” in the fight against extremists who appropriate Islam.
“We come to this cathedral with sensitivity and humility but keenly aware that it is not a time for platitudes, because mischief is threatening the world,” Rasool said. “The challenge for us today is to reconstitute a middle ground of good people . . . whose very existence threatens extremism.”
The event was closed to the public, and there was heavy security, with police checking every name and bag. Organizers from several area Muslim institutions said there had been concerns about security and threats after the event was publicized and that they and cathedral officials wanted to limit it to a small and selected group.
Nevertheless, the carefully scripted ceremony was marred once when one well-dressed, middle-age woman in the audience suddenly rose and began shouting that “America was founded on Christian principles. . . . Leave our church alone!” She was swiftly ushered out by security aides, and the service continued.
Numerous speakers, including cathedral officials and local Muslim leaders, echoed Rasool’s message about the urgent need for religious understanding and collaboration. Most made pointed references to the symbolism of the majestic Christian building, where rugs had been laid for prayer.
The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral, spoke of Saint Benedict, who he said believed equally in the importance of prayer and hospitality. Marveling at the sounds of Arabic prayers, which he called “a beautiful sacred language in a beautiful sacred space,” Hall said he hoped the service would serve as the start of more efforts to work together for good.
Hate to break it to the Very Reverend Mr. Hall but Arabic is no more a “sacred language” than English. Even the Arabs don’t describe their language as “sacred,” although classical Arabic is considered the language of the Koran and is thus “sacred” in that sense. Maybe he was just being nice to his Arabic guests.
Jonathan Gruber missed his calling. He would have been an outstanding used car salesman.
Jake Tapper of CNN uncovered another video where Gruber celebrates his subterfuge — this time, in hiding whom the so-called “Cadillac Tax” on employee based insurance plans would hit.
“Economists have called for 40 years to get rid of the regressive, inefficient and expensive tax subsidy provided for employer provider health insurance,” Gruber said at the Pioneer Institute for public policy research in Boston. The subsidy is “terrible policy,” Gruber said.
“It turns out politically it’s really hard to get rid of,” Gruber said. “And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans.”
It should be noted that advocates of a single-payer system have been wanting to get rid of the tax break for employers because it makes it too easy for companies to offer their workers good insurance policies. By forcing employers and their workers to pay the full price for premiums, many smaller companies will be forced to drop their group plans and throw their employees on to the state exchanges.
Gruber’s perfidy is incredible, as evidenced by his rationale for mislabeling the Cadillac Tax:
(The White House press secretary said at a press briefing in 2010: “I would disagree with your notion that it is a tax on an individual since the proposal is written as a tax on an insurance company that offers a plan.”)
The second way was have the tax kick in “late, starting in 2018. But by starting it late, we were able to tie the cap for Cadillac Tax to CPI, not medical inflation,” Gruber said. CPI is the consumer price index, which is lower than medical inflation.
Gruber explains that by drafting the bill this way, they were able to pass something that would initially only impact some employer plans though it would eventually hit almost every employer plan. And by that time, those who object to the tax will be obligated to figure out how to come up with the money that repealing the tax will take from the treasury, or risk significantly adding to the national debt.
“What that means is the tax that starts out hitting only 8% of the insurance plans essentially amounts over the next 20 years essentially getting rid of the exclusion for employer sponsored plans,” Gruber said. “This was the only political way we were ever going to take on one of the worst public policies in America.”
Unions and employers who object in 2018, he noted, “at that point if they want to get rid of it they’re going to have to fill a trillion dollar hole in the deficit…It’s on the books now.”
(When the Cadillac tax was first rolled out, it was explained by Obamacare backers as a tax that would only impact those with “high end plans” — not all employer sponsored plans. A White House economic adviser in 2009 set “the record straight” by saying “the excise tax levied on insurance companies for high-premium plans, the so-called ‘Cadillac tax,’ will affect only a small portion of the very highest cost health plans — a total of 3% of premiums in 2013.”)
The level of cynicism and arrogance it takes to pull this off is astonishing. You want to reach into the video and wipe that supercilious smirk off his face as he gleefully recounts how he bamboozled Americans.
Republicans should call this jerk to testify and then make him squirm by playing back each and every video.
Watch the video on the next page.