Friday, January 31, 2014

The Cowardice of Wendy Davis

National Review ^ | 01/31/2014 | Jonah Goldberg 

Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator running to replace Rick Perry as governor of Texas, owes her political stardom to two things: a pair of pink sneakers and her unstinting support for a woman’s right to terminate a late-term pregnancy in a substandard clinic. Yay, feminism!
Last year, Davis led an eleven-hour filibuster — that’s where the sneakers came in handy — to block legislation that would ban abortion after 20 weeks and require abortion clinics to meet the same standards that hospital-style surgical centers do.
This was all going on against the backdrop of the sensational Kermit Gosnell case in Pennsylvania. Gosnell ran a bloody, filthy “clinic” where he performed late-term abortions with a barbarity you’d expect to find in a Saw movie. Sometimes he’d “snip” the spines of fully-delivered babies with a pair of scissors. His instruments were so unsanitary that some women got STDs from them. Cat feces was a common sight on the procedure-room floors.
In short, you didn’t need to be an abortion-rights activist to find the story of interest, but you’d certainly expect an activist to be up to speed on it.
Working on that theory, The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack caught up with Davis last August to ask her a few questions.
McCormack noted that once you got past the squalor and filth of the clinic, Gosnell’s illegal late-term abortions weren’t all that different from legal late-term abortions in other states. “What is the difference . . . ,” McCormack asked, “between legal abortion at 23 weeks and what Gosnell did? Do you see a distinction between those two [acts]?”
“I don’t know what happened in the Gosnell case,” Davis replied. “But I do know that it happened in an ambulatory surgical center. And in Texas changing our clinics to that standard obviously isn’t going to make a difference.”
She should have stopped with “I don’t know what happened in the Gosnell case” — because in the words of the grand-jury report, the “abhorrent conditions and practices inside Gosnell’s clinic [were] directly attributable to the Pennsylvania Health Department’s refusal to treat abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical facilities.”
So the one thing she claimed to know wasn’t true. Also, what curious incuriosity. If you were suddenly a national leader on an issue you felt passionately about, wouldn’t you want to know what happened in a case that cuts to the heart of your cause?
Not Davis. Her time is better spent denouncing the ignorance of women who disagree with her. When McCormack asked what to make of the fact that a majority of American women support a ban on late-term abortions, Davis responded, “I again think that a lot of people don’t really understand the landscape of what’s happening in that arena today.”
Think about that. In the course of a short conversation, she revealed that she didn’t know what she was talking about while casually dismissing the majority of American women who disagreed with her as not knowing what they’re talking about.
Let’s fast-forward to 2014. Davis was recently interviewed by Jorge Ramos of Fusion TV. He asked her, “When does life start? When does a human being become one?”
Davis answered with a non-answer: “You know, the Supreme Court of course has answered this decision, in terms of what our protections are.” Blah blah blah.
Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics slammed Davis for being “too cowardly to give a straight answer, let alone a thoughtful one, to a straightforward question that goes to the heart of a matter she has made the signature issue of her political life.”
I agree. But Davis is merely at the forefront of the cowardice epidemic. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade earlier this month, President Obama couldn’t bring himself to say the word “abortion,” preferring instead virtually every poll-tested buzzword. Indeed, in all of the “war on women” noise, abortion is almost always wrapped in the velvety euphemisms of “women’s health” and “reproductive choice.”
It should tell you something when passionate advocates of unrestricted abortion are so uncomfortable talking about . . . abortion.
Perhaps all of the rage abortion extremists aim at their opponents is cover for a deep insecurity — maybe psychological, definitely political — about the reality of what they are defending. Senator Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) once said that life begins “when you bring your baby home” from the hospital. That is not very far from Wendy Davis’s position. But she doesn’t want to say that — certainly not in Texas! Better to change the subject to the evils of her opponents and — hey — have you seen my sneakers?
— Jonah Goldberg is the author of The Tyranny of Clichés, now on sale in paperback.

Egypt is no longer a US ally because America is in the wrong hands!

Eman Nabih ^ | January 30, 2014 | Eman Nabih 

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it. Abraham Lincoln.

America is not the US administration who practiced all kinds of human rights violations, spying on the entire world, and using barefaced double standards policy in the Middle East region.
America is not Sheikh Barrack Hussein Obama who talks About honor, principles and democracy while practicing political immorality against humanity, called Al Qaeda in Syria”freedom fighters” and conspired against Egypt’s national security with his Muslim Brothers.
America is not Susan Rice who is fond of African dictators, and claimed that she stands for human rights, while she supported war criminals committed genocides against their own people.
America is not Henry Kissinger who said “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”
America is not Hilary Clinton who threatened Egyptians of the serious and bad consequences if any other presidential candidates win the elections than Mohamed Morsi.
America is not George Bush the idiot who didn’t know the difference between Austria and Australia, invaded our countries to refresh the US economy and killed millions of Iraqis citizens under the claim of WMD that were not found even on planet Mars!
America is not the NGOS who funded and trained Egyptian political activists on destabilizing the country, applied a fake paid democracy by force and spied on their own country in favor of foreign agendas.
America is not the US working group against Egypt or the freedom house or the Carnegie endowment for international peace led by the disgusting Michele Dunne who addressed a letter to Obama, inciting his administration to punish Egypt and force sanctions against Egypt and practice influence to release Muslim brotherhood terrorists and political activists who are facing serious charges of espionage, treason, terror acts and corruption. America is certainly not this working group against Egypt, who claimed that Egypt must be punished for fighting terrorism, because this terror is a threat to America’s. I’m telling this working group against my country, that you guys are the real enemies and serious threat to your own people.
America is not the International human rights organizations who are biased to Muslim Brothers terrorists and totally blind and deaf in ignoring all this terrorist organization’s crimes against the Egyptian society since they reached power till this minute we speak.
America is not the International news agencies who rent their pages, reporters and journalists to the Muslim Brotherhood International organization, in order to pay their bills and salaries and misleading their public opinion in publishing lies and false news that only serve terrorists groups in Egypt.
America is not the US officials who are challenging more than 33 million Egyptian will in running their own internal affairs the way it suits them, and reject any foreign country’s interference in their affairs. America is definitely not those US officials who attack Egypt even when we are burying our martyrs.
America is not the government’s policy towards Egypt, which is spreading hatred and anger in Egyptians hearts towards the United States of America.
America is not those who were involved in dirty deals with Muslim Brothers regime, launching a fierce campaign attack against Egypt, and deliberately ruining Egypt’s reputation because they are panicking like rats, from what the Muslim Brothers and Mursi’s trials will reveal and expose them in front of their public opinion.
America is not Obama’s administration who refused to consider Muslim Brothers terrorist group despite all their crimes and direct link to terrorism.
America is the old veterans and brave soldiers who fight for the right cause, and realize that the worst thing a soldier can face, is not the bullet in the heart by the enemy, but it is the bullet shot at his back from inside the border. This is what our Armed Forces are receiving.
America is the good American people who believe in live freedom and peace, and let others live.
America is the people who believe in principles and their patriotism is loyal to their principles.
America is the American dream of humanity liberation, independence and treating others the way they want to be treated, with respect.
America is all those Americans who realize that fighting terrorism is not going to succeed by exporting it to our region, but it will succeed if American people stand against their government’s participation in terror, and to always remember that Egypt is fighting the same terrorism that killed their beloved on 9/11.
America is the people who Don’t participate in massacring our society, but they are strongly supporting our cause to win this battle against this pure evil dark terrorism. They remember us in their prayers and they realize that we are fighting for the same cause and we are fighting the same enemy.
America is the people who refuse to remain silent about their president haughty Eyes, lying tongue, hands that shed innocent Blood, heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run evil, false witness who breathes out lies and sows discord among brothers.
There are two Americas now. Egypt is no longer an ally to the America’s George Bush or Obama. Egypt is no longer an ally to the arrogant double standards US in the use of great power to dominate the entire world, and using of force and all kinds of pressures to force Egypt to kneel and obey the master of the world.
We have no desire to be the world’s policeman. But America does want to be the world’s peacemaker. JIMMY CARTER, State of the Union Address, Jan. 25, 1979.
Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in this world must first come to pass in the heart of America. DWIGHT D. ISENHOWER, inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1953.

Dem exodus from Washington has a common thread – ObamaCare: 12-30% of “enrollments imaginary!

Hotair ^ | 01/31/2014 | Ed Morrissey 

Perhaps it was just the retirement of Henry Waxman that made this clear, but the pattern has been evident for the last few years. Sam Baker connects the dots for National Journal, and points out the dangers for Democrats who have to defend this system for the short-, medium-, and long-term future:
Congressional Democrats began the Obama administration with a deep bench on health care issues—one whose passion and collective experience far outstripped their Republican adversaries. That dynamic has now almost entirely reversed.
Since their razor-thin Affordable Care Act victory, nearly all of the Democratic lawmakers most experienced and most passionate on health care have either left Congress or announced their plan to leave this year.
And that’s a problem for Democrats, given that their passage of Obamacare has handed them responsibility for health care for the next decade. Republicans, meanwhile, will take every opportunity to attack the law—and blame any and all of the health care system’s problems on it. …
Democratic leaders and committed liberals can and will still defend Obamacare politically, along with the basic idea of universal coverage. But there aren’t many Democrats left who—like Waxman and some of his departing Congressional colleagues—are truly invested in the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act as well as other nitty-gritty health care issues.
It’s not just the House, either, and it’s not just this cycle. Senators Max Baucus and Tom Harkin both have decided to leave on their own, as did Chris Dodd, who took over the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee after Ted Kennedy died in 2009. Harkin chairs it now, while Baucus chaired the Finance Committee that manipulated the reconciliation process in order to get ObamaCare passed. Reps. Waxman and fellow Californian George Miller are taking a powder after this term, both key allies of Nancy Pelosi on ObamaCare, while Allyson Schwartz is leaving for a shot at the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race.
It’s a dramatic brain drain on Democratic expertise on health-care politicking. At the same time, Republicans are adding more doctors to their ranks. More to the point, as ObamaCare continues to fail and people experience more pain in the market disruptions, the GOP is gaining more credibility on health issues. Even in a relatively friendly WaPo/ABC poll this month, their usually commanding lead on this issue area is down to single digits, and well below a majority.
Today’s news about the difference between sign-ups and enrollments will make Democratic credibility erode even further if they continue to rely on Obama administration PR releases:
Around one in five people who picked health insurance policies on the state and federal exchanges last year haven’t paid their first month’s premiums, according to insurers polled by CNNMoney. These folks will likely see their policy selection canceled and they’ll be left uninsured.
Some 2.1 million people signed up for a plan in time for their coverage to start January 1, according to the Obama administration. But with the payment deadlines stretching until January 31 at the latest, anywhere between 12% and 30% of those folks still haven’t paid up, insurers say.
Most consumers were given until the middle or the end of January to pay their first premium, a necessary step to actually activating enrollment. Exchange officials and insurers repeatedly stressed the importance of sending in that first payment, with some following up with the slackers by phone or letter.
The true enrollment figure likely won’t be known for a few weeks.
All of those stories about enrollments assumed that sign-ups were equivalent. That assumption, like so many others about ObamaCare, is about to get a dash of very cold water.

An open letter to the GOP on third parties and Lost causes.

The People's Cube ^ | Jan 2014 | Anonymous 

By way of introduction – let’s just say I’m one of Millions of formally loyal supporters of the GOP. We are the people who donate small amounts and volunteer to make phone calls and knock on doors and do a myriad of others things we don’t like to do just to support the Republican party. We are the ordinary folks you ignore or openly insult – the people you are taking for granted.
We’re also the folks who are standing by dumbfounded as you’re doing the Democratic socialist’s bidding of creating a whole new underclass of Dem voters granting amnesty to the illegal invaders.
Do you really think there is any point in sticking with you people since you seem to be obsessed with defeat? Do you actually think that we’ll stick by you no matter what? Did people stick with the Titanic as it was sinking below the waves?
You say we will lose if we don’t support the party – well, we’re going to be losing anyway so ‘what difference does it make?’ [To coin a phrase]
I intensely dislike traipsing around strange neighbourhoods and knocking on doors for hours on end – but I did that for the good of the party.
I cannot stand calling people on the phone to go through inane call scripts – but I did that because I thought it was important for the future of the country. I helped prepare mailers and did other grunt work because I knew the country is on the edge of a precipice.
I tried to support you people whenever I can and what did it get my brethren and me? [Aside from the derision from fellow Conservatives that think we’re fools for continuing to support you losers]
Let me fill you in on a couple totally freaking obvious facts that have escaped your well healed notice: ~ A). The Leftist-Socialist National Media is NEVER GOING TO BE YOUR FRIEND – learn this really obvious fact and put it in big block letters over your desks so you can remember it.
Say it yourselves 100 times until you learn it – they are the propaganda arm of the Socialist Democratic national party and they cannot be appeased, and they certainly won’t be your friends. They must be defeated along with the main body of the socialist national left in this country.
Those people need to be defeated, not befriended. They are playing for keeps – we need to do the same. In Alinsky’s rules for tools, he refers to us as the ‘enemy’ – well it’s time we did the same.
B). The Media and the DNC are going to label you Racists, terrorists or whatever unless you cease to be Conservatives and become a variation of their Socialist selves.
Stop trying to answer their mendacity and label it for what is and move on – for once you end up on the defensive, they will keep you there. Take a page from the leftists and push a Conservative agenda instead.
The Socialist National left is like a baseball batting machine that incessantly hurls fast balls at your head. Its an unceasing process that will never stop
The minute you shoot down one their outright Lies, two more will be on your way.
C). Never do what the enemy wants you to do – this is so blindingly so obvious the great strategist Sun Tzu didn’t bother saying this self-evident truth.
So, what do you need to do to get us to stick with you and get us back into your good graces?
Good question [{I’m glad I asked it}
1). STOP SUPPORTING AMNESTY FOR 30 MILLION NEW DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.
[Can I be any more emphatic on that point?]
Mark my words, you can either drop the insane idea of amnesty for the illegal invaders or you can destroy the party - It’s your choice.
Pushing amnesty will either create 30 Million new voters for Democratic largess or it will fractionalize the party so badly that it will no longer be the ‘Loyal opposition’ to the Socialist National left.
The GOP will be deader than a Bull Moose as a result – does that sound like a winning strategy?
Either way will mean one party Socialist Democratic national party rule for now until Armageddon.
2). Stop insanely nominating Rinocrats in the futile hope that the media will be ‘nice’ to you and not put the full weight of their propaganda machine to work shredding said candidate.
How many times do you need to repeat that insanity before you learn the lesson?
3). Stop trying to outbid the socialist with government largess
You can’t outbid people willing to destroy the nation just attain some temporary power.
It should be plain that you need to stand up for Conservative values – that is the only thing that will save the country from it’s inevitable demise at the hands of the socialists.
IF you do not do those simple things to save the party and save the nation, I will bid you a quick goodbye and be on my way – along with millions of others.
You can stuff your endless appeals for my donations, and your admonitions to volunteer will fall on deaf ears.
We may be on our way to defeat with a third party – but we will do it with our head held high and our Conservative principles intact.
There is no earthly reason to stay with a sinking ship – and you people are heading straight on for an iceberg – and sadly, you don’t seem to know it.
We can and we will leave – many already have and the exits are getting pretty jammed up.
I can envision many of my Conservative colleagues yelling back at the paper – Hey, where have you been sister? We abandoned the stupid party years ago.
Let me just say in my defense that in most abusive relationships, each has their personal breaking point – many have already reached and are beyond that point. I dare say that if the current events hold to the trends as they are now, many more will join them – as will I.
- Anonymous

Pre-existing Conditions

Should Republicans Embrace Universal Healthcare?

American Thinker ^ | 01/31/2014 | By Wes Schellenbaum 

Voters have been primed to blame the rich for their woes and expect medical insurance as a right, so the next logical step will be to morph ObamaCare into a vessel that achieves those goals: socialized medicine.
The Republican alternatives of self-reliance and invisible hand manifestations are like a Beethoven concerto played for a strip club audience demanding heavy metal to accompany overt gyrations by a near-naked entertainer.
Can Republicans entice the majority without selling their souls, not to mention the future of our great Republic, or will they allow further slide into the unsustainable, inefficient transfer-of-wealth Democratic vision?
To get logically to where I believe Republicans need to be on this issue, let us consider the status quo.
Government employees have great medical insurance. Lawmakers have legislated the best insurance for themselves, but all "public servants" have also been ordained to deserve superior insurance. While teachers, for example, complain about being underpaid for their nine months of work each year, they happily accept their twelve months of excellent health insurance.
As union members, many government employees, including teachers, overlap the second group with generally great insurance. It isn't a coincidence that unions, as big Democratic supporters, received special exemptions from ObamaCare.
In addition, Medicaid has been expanded by Obamacare, and while this insurance has never been championed as the best in the land, it does provide free coverage to an increasing number of people.
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...

Experts hail stem cell breakthrough

MSN News ^ | 1/30/14 | MSN 

A "revolutionary" new approach to creating stem cells in the laboratory could open up a new era of personalised medicine, it is claimed.
Scientists have shown it is possible to reprogramme cells into an embryonic-like state simply by altering their environment.
It means in principle that cells can have their developmental clock turned back without directly interfering with their genes - something never achieved before.
The cells become "pluripotent", having the potential ability to transform themselves into virtually any kind of tissue in the body, from brain to bone.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.uk.msn.com ...

(set-'em-free) Obama Will Take ‘Executive Action’ to Reduce Prison Population!

Cybercast News Service ^ | January 31, 2014 - 7:40 AM | Susan Jones 

Congress can pass legislation giving judges more discretion in the sentencing of prisoners, but President Obama “also has the ability to take executive action” to commute the sentences of “low-level” drug offenders—and that’s just what he plans to do, Deputy Attorney General James Cole told the New York State Bar Association annual meeting on Thursday.

“A little over a month ago, the President commuted the sentences of eight men and women who were sentenced under severe—and out of date—mandatory minimum sentencing laws,” Cole said. …

(Excerpt) Read more at cnsnews.com ...

Should we have another party before giving American away?

Dan Miller's Blog ^ | January 31, 2014 | Dan Miller 

The Republican and Democrat parties seem essentially to have merged.
republicans-sing-kumbaya
Here's a link to an article about Venezuelan politics by Daniel Duquenal. As far as I am aware, he is the only English language blogger still in Venezuela. In I am a Social Democrat, you are not, he wishes, we should all be, you can dream on, no way they are Daniel writes,

for me, who has declared Social Democrat tendencies, European style, German actually, being a true Social Democrat means that workers and employees stick together to make the country advance. This has NEVER happened in Venezuela nor it is happening today as people like Lopez, and in an even worse way Capriles (1), prefer to speak of anything but defend private enterprise the way they should if they were putting forwards the interests of the country before their political pipe dreams of attracting chavista voters. [Emphasis added.]
Noting the positions currently taken by the Venezuelan opposition parties, he writes,

The void in Venezuela is not on the left which is way overcrowded and today tightly controlled by the vengeful movement that chavismo is. As long as the desire for revenge in the bulk of chavismo electorate is not somewhat broken, this one is guaranteed 30% of registered voters, no matter what people like Leopoldo may try to pull off. The more so that he cultivated an image of tough on crime which unfortunately is not credibly associated with Social Democratic parties..... [Emphasis added.]The void in Venezuela, since at least 1963 when Uslar Pietri went down in flames, is for a true democratic right party. Heck, I would settle for a true centrist party for that matter! Some times I wonder if Maria Corina Machado will throw the gauntlet on that one, once and for all. But she is rather ineffective so far at creating a viable political organization with her "Vente Venezuela".  It is not that I am yearning for right wing party, but I truly believe that one of the main problems of forming a truly democratic landscape in Venezuela is the lack of options. With all wanting to be more populist than the other we get boredom and the temptation to elect creeps like Chavez. Not that having true political options is an insurance against election of the worst guy, but at least it helps some. [Emphasis added.]
Although still far from the political situation in Venezuela, that in the U.S. is morphing increasingly toward the left. Instead of a cult of personality constructed around Hugo Chávez, we have one constructed around President Obama. Few within the Republican establishment are trying to move it toward the right, or at least to reduce its momentum toward the left. Unfortunately, there are few on the right currently able to do either.
Andrew McCarthy, writing at PJ Media on The GOP and Social Issues: Another Perspective, argues

Democrats may disappoint their base, but they are never ashamed of it. Former terrorists, communists, race-mongering rabble-rousers, scandal-ridden pols, big-thinkers who’ve been wrong about every important policy question for decades – far from shoving them out the door and into obscurity, the left elevates them to stardom in academe, politics, media and entertainment. They are transformed into cultural icons, their sordid pasts rationalized as passionate opposition to the right’s backwardness. Leaders of the left have no yearning for approval from the right; conservatives are there to be caricatured, a constant source of new villains to keep the old “us versus them” themes fresh. [Emphasis added.]Republican leadership, by contrast, craves approval by the left, particularly the media. The GOP often seems embarrassed by its conservative base, which inconveniently resists the constant pressure to relent on matters of principle; to abide the imposition of immoral debt obligations on future generations rather than make adult spending decisions in the present; and to view modern problems as so complex that only government action can “solve” them. [Emphasis added.]
When the GOP tells social conservatives the time has come to shelve the issues that most concern them, it is essentially telling them, “How we are portrayed by the other side is of greater importance than how we serve our side – meaning: you.” Not only do social conservatives find themselves cast as “them” in the “us versus them” drama; they also see that Republicans are desperate to be accepted into the “us” club. This is doubly disheartening: Social conservatives find nothing for themselves in the GOP’s Democrat-lite approach, and they know it has no chance of winning over the media. McCain types get the occasional pat on the head, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the press will always go with real Democrats. [Emphasis added.]
The country is not as conservative as it used to be. But conservatives, including those animated by social issues, are still formidable. Republicans cannot win elections, especially presidential elections, without their enthusiastic support. . . .  I do not believe social conservatives see today’s Republicans as committed to “seriously smaller government” – certainly not enough to set their passions aside.Social conservatives’ lives do not revolve around politics; if not embraced, they abandon politics. [Emphasis added.]
Does anyone still remember (and even agree with) the Buckley Rule: "Support the most conservative candidate who is electable." I wonder.
Immigration "reform"
Immigration "reform" is currently one of the most divisive issues within the Republican party. Jim Geraghty had this to say about it in his National Review Morning Jolt e-mail this morning:

Apparently GOP Leaders Felt the Party Was Too Unified Heading into 2014Why . . . are we doing this?
Quin Hillyer: "The Buchananite Right is against doing immigration reform this year. National Review's editors are against it. William Kristol is against it. Unions have historically opposed the idea -- and most union and non-union laborers other than the illegals themselves still do. The Heritage Foundation is against it. Most conservative grassroots activists groups are against it. The always-wise Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is against it. The talk radio hosts are against it. Leading conservative (and centrist) bloggers -- Michelle Malkin, and the folks at RedState, and Mickey Kaus -- are against it. The libertarian Jack Kemp disciple Deroy Murdock is against it. Polls consistently show the public as a whole ranks immigration reform way down the list of priorities."
Fred Bauer: "If the House chooses to continue to wade into the immigration debate, this kind of racially inflammatory rhetoric will continue and likely escalate. And if Republicans are going to attack fellow GOPers as racists, one can only imagine the demagogic vitriol pouring out of the left on this issue."
Nevertheless, the Establishment is doing it. According to an article at Right Side News,

Over the past week, the House GOP leadership's commitment to amnesty has become increasingly clear. . . .Speaker Boehner and his allies are reportedly selling their immigration plan on two fronts. First, leadership is trying to get half of its Republican members "excited" to work on immigration.  Second, GOP leadership is privately courting the approval of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), perhaps the leading amnesty advocate in the House. (Politico, Jan. 24, 2014)
. . . .
One GOP strategist claimed that Speaker Boehner does not intend to force members to adopt his principles: "It's more along the lines of, 'Here are some options, is there any consensus around them?'" (Washington Examiner, Jan. 27, 2014) Although top Republican representatives who favor immigration "reform" do not trust that President Obama will carry out any enforcement measures in the bills, they hope to get bills to the floor by convincing skeptical members that the legislation will be written to force Obama to enforce the law. During his address last Thursday, Paul Ryan stated: "[w]e have to find a way to write these laws so that they are actually enforced. ... I won't get into all the details on how to do that, but we have strong opinions..." (Daily Caller, Jan. 27, 2014) [Emphasis added.]
At the Daily Caller, in an article titled Is this the best scam they can come up with, Mickey Klaus opines,

Dud Con II: Immigration reform watchers have been waiting to see how the GOP leadership tries to package legislation to trick anti-amnesty conservatives into voting for what in essence is an amnesty.** Curiosity grew after House Judiciary chair Bob Goodlatte gave the impression that the leaders were preparing some sort of “enforcement first” approach — or at least preparing to pretend they were proposing an “enforcement first” approach:If we can have a way to get [immigration enforcement] up and operating, I see no reason why we can’t also have an agreement that shows how people who are not lawfully here can be able to be lawfully here.” [E.A.]
The problem for Republican lobbyists–whose clients would deeply appreciate the surge of cheap labor an immigration bill could provide–is that Democrats will not agree to any bill that actually requires enforcement measures (like an E-verify employment-check, or a system to catch visa overstayers, or a fence) to be “up and operating” before legalization. They want legalization now  – both to please their constituents and to allow them leverage against enforcement later, once legalization has been pocketed. (Yes, they offer some other policy rationales. These fall apart on inspection.)
So how were Boehner & Co going to sell “legal status first” plan as an “enforcement first plan”?
Now we know: By pretending that legal status isn’t legal status. That’s something that not even the famously deceptive Senate Gang of 8 tried.
According to amnesty champion Paul Ryan, illegal immigrants would at first get “probationary status” along with a “work permit.” They could come ‘out of the shadows’ and live and work here. Then if measures are taken so the “border is secured” they’d get a “regular work permit.”
The idea, WaPo‘s Greg Sargent says, seems to be that “Undocumenteds will be allowed to work on probation while the border is being secured, but will not enjoy legal status.”  Why not? Apparently because their “probationary” permits might not be permanent — the immigrants “could be kicked off of probationary status if certain security benchmarks aren’t met.”
This is a joke.
. . . .
The idea is so bad there is zero chance the provision would even make it into final legislation after House-Senate talks. The entire purpose of Ryan’s exploding cigar legalization provision is to give House conservatives a reason to say immediate legal status isn’t somehow really immediate legal status.
The status quo almost certainly encourages illegal immigration -- particularly our extraordinarily porous Southern border and the strongly pushed availability of welfare benefits for illegal immigrants. Yet it is unlikely that any species of immigration "reform" now being considered will deal effectively, if at all, with those matters. Even if the Republican establishment insists that such encouragements cease, and gets legislation passed by both houses of the Congress and signed by President Obama that purports to do so, the Obama administration is no more likely to enforce such laws than it has enforced other laws it does not like. Hasn't the Republican establishment learned that yet? If it has, does it care? Apparently not and it seems to be caving.

House Republican leaders are giving their support to a limited path to legal status for some illegal immigrants, in a move one Senate Democrat said could open the door to a deal on comprehensive immigration legislation.The position was included in a document released by party leaders during their annual retreat in Maryland. The "standards for immigration reform" document ruled out a special path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Instead, it said immigrants living here illegally could remain and live legally if they pass background checks, pay fines and back taxes, learn to speak English and understand U.S. civics, and can support themselves without access to welfare.
But GOP leaders made clear that border security must be improved first. [Emphasis added.]
"None of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented," the document said.
Nevertheless, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., a big advocate for immigrant legislation on the Senate side, said the announcement could smooth the way for a deal on legislation. The Senate passed an immigration bill last year.
"While these standards are certainly not everything we would agree with, they leave a real possibility that Democrats and Republicans, in both the House and Senate, can in some way come together and pass immigration reform that both sides can accept. It is a long, hard road but the door is open," he said.
The dilution of legitimate votes through non-citizen votes is a related but no less severe problem. The citizenship of those attempting to register to vote, and of those attempting to vote, can no longer be verified if the potential voter simply claims to be a U.S. citizen. Voter ID is also taboo and no immigration "reform" dealing with either is likely to pass the Congress and be approved by President Obama; even if passed and signed by President Obama, He is likely to follow His practice of ignoring laws He does not like.
Immigration "reform" appears, to me at least, to be an existential issue -- and not only for conservatives: "reform" is likely to diminish and then eliminate whatever effectiveness the Republican party still has.  It also seem likely to destroy much of what is good about America. Here are some interesting numbers

At the current accelerated rate of immigration -- 1.1 million new immigrants every year -- Republicans will be a fringe party in about a decade.Thanks to endless polling, we have a pretty good idea of what most immigrants believe.
According to a Harris poll, 81 percent of native-born citizens think the schools should teach students to be proud of being American. Only 50 percent of naturalized U.S. citizens do.
While 67 percent of native-born Americans believe our Constitution is a higher legal authority than international law, only 37 percent of naturalized citizens agree.
No wonder they vote 2-1 for the Democrats.
The two largest immigrant groups, Hispanics and Asians, have little in common economically, culturally or historically. But they both overwhelmingly support big government, Obamacare, affirmative action and gun control.
According the 2012 National Asian American Survey, as well as a Kaiser Foundation poll, only 40 percent of the general public holds a favorable opinion of Obamacare, 42 percent unfavorable. Meanwhile, 51 percent of Asians have a favorable opinion of Obamacare, 18 percent an unfavorable one. Even Koreans support Obamacare by 57 percent to 17 percent.
Overall, 69 percent of immigrants like Obamacare, according to a 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study.
That same survey showed that only 35 percent of native-born Americans support affirmative action, compared to 58 percent of immigrants, including -- amazingly -- 64 percent of Asians (suggesting they may not be as smart as everyone thinks).
Also surprising, a Pew Research Center poll of all Hispanics, immigrant and citizen alike, found that Hispanics take a dimmer view of capitalism than even people who describe themselves as "liberal Democrats." While 47 percent of self-described "liberal Democrats" hold a negative view of capitalism, 55 percent of Hispanics do.
Pew also found that only 27 percent of Hispanics support gun rights, compared to 57 percent of non-Hispanic whites. According to Latino Decisions, large majorities of Hispanics favor a national database of gun owners, limiting the capacity of magazines and a ban on semiautomatic weapons.
Seventy-five percent of Hispanic immigrants and 55 percent of Asian immigrants support bigger government -- also according to Pew. Even after three generations in America, Hispanics still support bigger government 55 percent to 36 percent, compared to the general public, which opposes bigger government 48 percent to 41 percent.
Paul Mirengoff at Power Line quotes the same figures and observes,

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, an uninspiring figure who presided over the disastrous Republican outing of 2012, tells us that there’s a “general consensus” in his party that something big needs to happen on overhauling the country’s immigration laws. By “something big” Preibus doesn’t mean enforcing our immigration laws, which would be big indeed but requires no “overhaul.” Instead, he means amnesty at a minimum and, very possibly, amnesty plus a path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants.Is there a “general consensus” in Priebus’ party in favor of amnesty or a path to citizenship? Yes, if Priebus means among the party bigwigs who form his constituency; no if one means the rank-and-file. As Ann Coulter puts it, the only ones opposed to amnesty/path to citizenship are the people. [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
If conservatives provide the votes needed to push Priebus’ “something big” on immigration reform over the finish line (and it can’t get there without the votes of supposed conservatives), American conservatism as we know it will very probably be doomed, and given all the delusional nonsense many conservatives spout about Hispanic immigrants being natural conservatives, arguably will deserve to be. [Emphasis added.]
We may be "ready to rumble" about immigration, but are there enough of us and are they we willing to do more than grumble "rumble?" Or are they we like frogs in gradually heating water, failing to notice that it's getting less and less tolerable?
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtEA4xpIjls?feature=player_detailpage]
Video link
Conclusion
It may be too late. Part of the problem is that President Obama has, thus far, had a Teflon coating and is not being held accountable. Another part is that the Republican Party establishment is in the ascendancy and within the right there are many divisive issues -- abortion, contraception, foreign "policy," "gay marriage," people gun control, health control care, immigration, and excessive and increasing spending -- to mention only some in more or less alphabetical order. With such dissension, is there anything effective that we can do, or should we simply lie back and enjoy the familiar -- but increasingly warm -- water as we focus on what matters most to us, regardless of whether there is any way to fight about it effectively without far more unity?

Admiration!

We have a system...

It is on the way!

My Gun Permit!

The Convention

Growth in hiring

The Useful Idiots

Come on in!

Trash Talk

Income Inequality

Testimony!

I wonder...

Lectured!

Obama's Fix!

Do something!

Who ya gonna vote for?

LIES!

Teats on a Bull!

Another delay!

PRICELESS!

The Bird!

Lame Duck!

Protesters!

They seem to like him!

Congrats!

Send in the clowns!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Obamacare deadbeats: Some don't pay up (Husseincare cancellations? Pelosi knew)

CNN ^ | 1/30/14 | Tami Luhby 

Just cause they've signed up for Obamacare doesn't mean they're covered.


Around one in five people who picked health insurance policies on the state and federal exchanges last year haven't paid their first month's premiums, according to insurers polled by CNNMoney. These folks will likely see their policy selection canceled and they'll be left uninsured.


Some 2.1 million people signed up for a plan in time for their coverage to start January 1, according to the Obama administration. But with the payment deadlines stretching until January 31 at the latest, anywhere between 12% and 30% of those folks still haven't paid up, insurers say.

(Excerpt) Read more at money.cnn.com ...

Senator Mike Lee’s Tea Party Response to the president’s State of the Union speech

Mike Lee Website ^ | January 28, 2014 | Senator Mike Lee 

Good evening.
I’m Senator Mike Lee, from Utah.
In the few minutes I have tonight – I’d like to speak especially to those Americans who may feel they have been forgotten by both political parties:
Those individuals and families who work hard, play by the rules, balance their budgets, honor the Golden Rule … and don’t understand why their government in Washington can’t do the same.
You are probably as frustrated as I am about an ever-growing government that somehow thinks it is okay to lie to, spy on and even target its own citizens. Many hard-working Americans are discouraged and wondering what, if anything, can be done.
I believe we need to do what Americans have always done – come together and press for positive change. Protesting against dysfunctional government is a great American tradition, going back to the original Tea Party in Boston, about 240 years ago. Americans have a natural instinct to stand up and speak out when they know something is wrong.
In 1773, Americans had simply had it with a London-based national government that had become too big, too expensive and far too intrusive.
It is important to note, however, that had the founding generation stopped at just protesting against the kind of government Americans did not want, the Boston Tea Party would have been little more than a footnote in history. At most, it would have been remembered as just one more futile protest against an abusive national government.
Fortunately for all of us, those early patriots moved on from Boston and moved past their protest against the government they didn’t want. They marched forward on a road toward the kind of government they did want.
It took them 14 long years to get from Boston to Philadelphia, where they created, with our Constitution, the kind of government they did want.
In America, the test of any political movement is not what that movement is against, but what it is for. The founders made a point at Boston Harbor, but they made history in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
Unfortunately, in recent years, we have had no choice but to engage in a number of protests against our current president’s Washington-centered agenda.
As Americans we must always be willing to fight the Boston-type battles -— boldly calling out bad policy whenever we see it — but we must do so with an eye toward Philadelphia, maintaining a positive focus on the kind of nation we want to be and become.
Today, Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the “American Dream” is falling out of reach for far too many of us. We are facing an inequality crisis — one to which the President has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting.
This inequality crisis presents itself in three principal forms:
immobility among the poor, who are being trapped in poverty by big-government programs; insecurity in the middle class, where families are struggling just to get by and can’t seem to get ahead; and cronyist privilege at the top, where political and economic insiders twist the immense power of the federal government to profit at the expense of everyone else.
To be fair, President Obama and his party did not create all of these problems. The Republican Establishment in Washington can be just as out-of-touch as the Democratic Establishment.
However, tonight, as on numerous occasions of late, the President’s lofty rhetoric ignored the fact that his administration continues to leave poor and middle-class families further behind, while he and his allies insist that the real problem is “inequality” itself.
But where does this new inequality come from? From government — every time it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats, and special interests.
Inequality – real inequality - is trapping poor children in failing schools to benefit bureaucrats and union bosses. It’s penalizing low-income parents for getting married, or getting better jobs.
It’s guaranteeing insurance companies taxpayer bailouts if Obamacare cuts into their profits.
Inequality is blocking thousands of middle-class jobs in the energy industry as a favor to partisan donors and radical environmental activists.
Inequality is denying viable, unborn children any protection under the law, while exempting unsanitary, late-term abortion clinics from basic safety standards.
It’s denying citizens their right to define marriage in their states as traditionally or as broadly as their diverse values dictate.
It’s the federal government hurting rural communities, especially in the west, by controlling and mismanaging public lands.
It’s changing laws without congressional approval, and spying on American citizens without constitutional authority.
And of course, Obamacare – all by itself – is an inequality Godzilla that has robbed working families of their insurance, their doctors, their wages and their jobs. Many Americans are now seeing why some of us fought so hard to stop this train-wreck over the last four years.
Government-driven inequality is the reason why, as hard-working families across the country struggle to make ends meet, six of the ten wealthiest counties in America are now suburbs of Washington, D.C.
Throughout the last five years, President Obama has promised an economy for the middle class; but all he’s delivered is an economy for the middle-men.
And tonight his party cheered as he asked for more of the same, as if the solution to inequality were … well … more inequality.
Critics might push back and argue that my own party has been part of the problem, too often joining the Democrats to rig our economy to benefit the well-connected at the expense of the disconnected.
I know, because I’m one of those critics.
But I’m speaking to you tonight because I think maybe - just maybe - that’s finally starting to change.
As a nation we are, once again, at a critical turning point.
Now, as in 1773, Americans have had it with our out-of-touch national government. But if all we do is protest, our Boston Tea Party moment will occupy little more than a footnote in our history.
Hopefully our leaders, reformers and citizens will join the journey from Boston to Philadelphia – from protest to progress. Together we can march forward and take the road that leads to the kind of government we do want.
We have a new generation of leaders in Washington with positive, innovative ideas – thoughtful policy reforms to, as my friend Senator Ted Cruz says –“Make D.C. listen.” Reforms to help poor families work their way into the middle class, to help middle-class families start to get ahead, and to level the playing field and put corporate and political insiders back to work for the rest of us.
Conservative reformers like Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Paul Ryan and Congressman Jim Jordan are working on new welfare-reform ideas to help underprivileged families escape poverty.
Senator Rand Paul and I are working with some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress to reform the federal criminal-justice system – to help keep violent predators behind bars while creating opportunities for reformed, non-violent offenders to return to the families and neighborhoods that so desperately need them.
Senator John Cornyn has legislation that would empower states to improve K-12 education across the country. Senator Tim Scott has reforms to improve our job-training programs. And I’ve introduced a bill to modernize higher education, making it more accessible and affordable for lower-income and non-traditional students.
Congressman Tom Graves has a transportation-reform bill to ensure our infrastructure dollars are invested in roads and bridges, and not wasted on bureaucrats and special interests.
Congressman Mike Pompeo introduced a bill to end all federal subsidies for the energy industry. And others are working on proposals to do the same for every industry – so that business profits are won from customers, not through political connections. After all, if we’re going to reform welfare, we really should start with corporate welfare.
One proposal that should directly help you and your family is a bill I have introduced to simplify our tax code, and provide relief from the hidden double-tax Washington currently imposes on working parents, especially moms and dads in the middle class.
When it comes to healthcare, we know the best way to repeal Obamacare is to deliver better solutions.
We can’t just return to the old system. Healthcare policy used to give too much power to insurance companies; Obamacare now gives far too much power to government. We know that real reform will put healthcare dollars and decisions where they belong, in the hands of patients and families and their doctors and nurses.
So reformers in both the House and the Senate are hard at work developing new, patient-centered reforms to control healthcare costs, ensure access to affordable coverage for all Americans, and provide extra help for the poor and the sick.
All of these proposals within this new conservative reform agenda, along with many more to come, mark the road to Philadelphia. These principles and these policies will work - and will put Americans back to work.
Not just by cutting big government, but by fixing broken government. Not just by making government smaller but by promoting bigger citizens, stronger families and more heroic communities. Our goal should be an America where everyone has a fair chance to pursue happiness - and find it. That’s what it looks like when protest grows into reform.
So if you’re one of those Americans that big government is leaving behind… if you work hard, play by the rules and teach your kids to do the same, I want you to know that your family will not be forgotten anymore.
This new generation of reformers still has a long way to go to win over our Party in Washington, and even further to go to earn your trust.
I am confident that our best days as a nation are ahead of us – not because of government, but because within America’s diverse society of individuals and families, neighborhoods and churches, businesses and communities, freedom doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Freedom means we’re all in this together.
I invite you to join us on the road to a more prosperous America – together we can create the kind of government we do want and the kind of nation our children and grandchildren deserve.
Thank you very much for your time. Good night, and God bless.

Cruz: Republicans 'Should Go Ahead and Put a 'Harry Reid for Majority Leader' Bumper Sticker on Their Car'

Weekly Standard ^ | 2:00 PM, Jan 30, 2014 | DANIEL HALPER 

Ted Cruz says that anyone in favor of the so-called immigration reform bill "should go ahead and put a 'Harry Reid for Majority Leader' bumper sticker on their car."
"Right now, Republican leadership in both chambers is aggressively urging members to stand down on virtually every front: on the continuing resolution, on the budget, on the farm bill, on the debt ceiling,” says Cruz in a statement first sent to Breitbart.

They may or may not be right, but their argument is that we should focus exclusively on Obamacare and on jobs. In that context, why on earth would the House dive into immigration right now? It makes no sense, unless you're Harry Reid. Republicans are poised for an historic election this fall--a conservative tidal wave much like 2010. The biggest thing we could do to mess that up would be if the House passed an amnesty bill--or any bill perceived as an amnesty bill--that demoralized voters going into November. Rather than responding to the big-money lobbying on K Street, we need to make sure working-class Americans show up by the millions to reject Obamacare and vote out the Democrats. Amnesty will ensure they stay home.
Cruz concludes, "Amnesty is wrong in any circumstance, and if we are going to fix our broken immigration system--and we should--it makes much more sense to do so next year, so that we are negotiating a responsible solution with a Republican Senate majority rather than with Chuck Schumer. Anyone pushing an amnesty bill right now should go ahead and put a 'Harry Reid for Majority Leader' bumper sticker on their car, because that will be the likely effect if Republicans refuse to listen to the American people and foolishly change the subject from Obamacare to amnesty.”

Second wave of health-insurance disruption affects small businesses (25 MILLION cancellations)

Washington Post ^ | 1/11/14 | Ariana Eunjung Cha 

When millions of health-insurance plans were canceled last fall, the Obama administration tried to be reassuring, saying the terminations affected only the small minority of Americans who bought individual policies.


But according to industry analysts, insurers and state regulators, the disruption will be far greater, potentially affecting millions of people who receive insurance through small employers by the end of 2014.


While some cancellation notices already have gone out, insurers say the bulk of the letters will be sent in October, shortly before the next open-enrollment period begins. The timing — right before the midterm elections — could be difficult for Democrats who are already fending off Republican attacks about the Affordable Care Act and its troubled rollout.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...

Four words in the ACA could spell its doom

The Washington Post ^ | 1-29-14 | George F. Will 

Someone you probably are not familiar with has filed a suit you probably have not heard about concerning a four-word phrase you should know about. The suit could blow to smithereens something everyone has heard altogether too much about, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (hereafter, ACA).
Scott Pruitt and some kindred spirits might accelerate the ACA’s collapse by blocking another of the Obama administration’s lawless uses of the Internal Revenue Service. Pruitt was elected Oklahoma’s attorney general by promising to defend states’ prerogatives against federal encroachment, and today he and some properly litigious people elsewhere are defending a state prerogative that the ACA explicitly created. If they succeed, the ACA’s disintegration will accelerate.
Because under the ACA, insurance companies cannot refuse coverage because of an individual’s preexisting condition. Because many people might therefore wait to purchase insurance after they become sick, the ACA requires a mandate to compel people to buy insurance. And because many people cannot afford the insurance that satisfies the ACA’s criteria, the ACA mandate makes it necessary to provide subsidies for those people.
The four words that threaten disaster for the ACA say the subsidies shall be available to persons who purchase health insurance in an exchange “established by the state.” But 34 states have chosen not to establish exchanges.
So the IRS, which is charged with enforcing the ACA, has ridden to the rescue of Barack Obama’s pride and joy. Taking time off from writing regulations to restrict the political speech of Obama’s critics, the IRS has said, with its breezy indifference to legality, that subsidies shall also be dispensed to those who purchase insurance through federal exchanges the government has established in those 34 states. Pruitt is challenging the IRS in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, and...
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...

Black America: Stop The Insanity!

American Thinker ^ | 1/30/2014 | Lloyd Marcus 

Remember that spiky-haired blonde fitness guru all over TV years ago? Her famous line was "Stop the insanity!" As a commonsense-thinking black conservative, I offer the same clarion call to fellow black Americans: "Stop the insanity!"
Why do you continue sleeping with the enemy, voting for liberal Democrats whose policies imply that you are inferior, stupid, and culturally immoral? When the NAACP and Democrats claim that requiring a photo ID disenfranchises blacks, such implies we are stupid. For the life of me, I do not understand why millions of blacks are not highly insulted by this absurd claim. Do blacks fly? Do blacks drive cars? Do blacks cash checks?
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...

The Worst Republican Senator

American Spectator ^ | 5.15.2008 | Quin Hillyer 

Reposted article at Spectator.org. Every bit as relevant today as then.
South Carolina's Lindsey Graham is a flop. He pretends to be a conservative, but sells out conservatives and insults them while doing so. He pretends to be effective at reaching across party lines, but the only thing he effectively does is help the other party. He inhabits the Senate seat of Strom Thurmond, legendary for great attention to his South Carolina constituents, but Graham spends most of his time trailing behind John McCain like a valet as McCain criss-crosses the country in pursuit of the presidency. He called Ted Kennedy "one of the most principled men I've ever met." In sum, in the words of conservative movement stalwart Richard Viguerie, "Lindsey Graham is part of the problem."
What, for example, could possibly have possessed Graham, in April of 2006, to write an essay for Time magazine about the virtues of Hillary Clinton? He called her "a smart, prepared, serious senator." She is "sought out by her colleagues to form legislative partnerships." She has managed to "build unusual political alliances with...conservatives."
He praises liberals, but reserves particular venom for conservatives who disagree with him. The most infamous example came at a speech to the utterly radical Hispanic group La Raza -- it was bad enough that he spoke to them, much less...
(Excerpt) Read more at spectator.org ...

Obama's Organizers Beg for Positive Obamacare Stories!

Breitbart ^ | 30 Jan 2014, 8:14 | Joel B Pollak 

Worried by a wave of popular outrage at Obamacare, the activists of President Barack Obama's community organizing arm, Organizing for Action, are urging members to share positive stories about the president's flagship domestic policy. In an email to volunteers in Los Angeles, organizers note that "we are making a big effort to document the stories of people who have benefited from Obamacare" to counter negative stories.
(Excerpt) Read more at breitbart.com ...

Still the Noblest Calling!

Still the Noblest Calling

I visited with three old friends recently at a park in my town. It seems like only yesterday that we were all together, but actually it had been 28 years. There was a crowd at the park that day, and it took us awhile to connect, but with the aid of a computer we made it. I found Lance at Panel 54W, line 037, Lynn over at Panel 51W, line 032, and Vince down at line 103 on Panel 27W. We were gung-ho young fighter pilots in Vietnam, the cream of the crop of the US Air Force pilot training system, and now their names are on that 250-foot-long, half-size model of the Vietnam Memorial that moves around the country. I had intentionally avoided visiting the wall when it came to town in years past, because I did not trust myself to behave in a composed manner, but after nearly three decades it was time to try for some closure on this issue. I told my wife that I preferred to go alone, if that was all right, and, truth be known, I nearly backed out at that.

Standing in front of that somber wall, I tried to keep it light, reminiscing about how things were back then. We used to joke about the psychiatric term for a passionate love affair with inanimate flying objects—we flew F-100’s—and we marveled at the thought that the taxpayers actually paid us to do this “work.” We were not draftees, but college graduates there by choice, opting for the cramped confines of a jet fighter cockpit over the comfort of corporate America. In all my life I’ve not been so passionate about any other work. If that sounds like an exaggeration, then you’ve never danced the wild blue with a supersonic angel.

I vividly remember the Sunday afternoon, in the summer of ‘68, when we flew out of Travis Air Force Base, California, on a troop transport headed for Vietnam. Lynn, Lance and I crowded around the same porthole and watched the Golden Gate Bridge disappear below broken clouds. We had gone through fighter pilot school together and had done some serious bonding. In an exceedingly rare moment of youthful fighter pilot humility, I wondered if I would live to see that bridge again. For reasons I still don’t understand, I was the only one of the three who did.

Once in Vietnam, we passed the long, lonely off-duty hours at Dusty’s Pub, a lounge that we lieutenants built on the beach of the South China Sea at Tuy Hoa Air Base. The roof at Dusty’s doubled as a sun deck and the walls were non-existent. The complaint heard most often around the bar, in the standard gallows humor of a combat squadron, was that it was “...a lousy war, but it’s the only one we have.” (I’ve cleaned up the language a bit.) We sang mostly raunchy songs that never seemed to end—someone was always writing new verses—and, as an antidote to loneliness, fear in the night, and the sadness over dead friends, we often drank too much.

Vince joined us at Dusty’s Pub halfway through my tour of duty, and since he was a like-minded country kid from Montana, we hit it off. He had a wide grin, slightly stooped shoulders, and his own way of walking—he just threw his feet out and stepped on them. But what he lacked in military bearing he made up for with the heart of a tiger. He often flew as my wingman, and we volunteered for the night missions on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. One starless night, the longest, saddest night of my life, we got into a really nasty gun duel with some anti-aircraft artillery batteries. I watched Vince die in a mushroom shaped fireball that for a moment turned night into day.

Lance—a New York boy who took unmerciful grief from the rest of us because he talked like a New Yawker—crashed into the side of a mountain in the central highlands while attacking a target. Lynn, a happy-go-lucky jock from Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock College with a hound named John the Basset, returned to his base on a stormy night in July after weather aborted his mission. Two miles of wet runway weren’t enough to stop an F-100 landing at 160 knots with all it bombs still on board. He ran off the end, flipped over, and slid through the minefield at the perimeter fence, setting off a gruesome sound and light show.

At the wall, I told the guys only about the good parts of the last 28 years. Lacy, one of our associates from Dusty’s Pub, became an astronaut, and a few summers ago I watched from my back yard, near Tampa, as he blasted off. His voice over the radio from space was at least an octave lower than it was the day I heard him radio for help while swinging from his parachute hung up in a tree in Laos. Another Dusty’s patron, Rick, is now a two-star general, and I reminded them of what we used to say about the military promotion system—it’s like a septic tank, only the really big chunks floated to the top.

I didn’t tell them about how ostracized Vietnam vets are, that during that same week, one of the nation’s leading newspapers has run an article that implied we Vietnam vets were, to quote one syndicated columnist, “either suckers or psychos, victims or monsters.” I didn’t tell them that the secretary of defense they fought for back then has now declared that he was not a believer in the cause for which he assigned them all to their destiny. I didn’t tell them that a draft age kid from Arkansas, who hid out in England to dodge his duty while they were fighting and dying, is now the commander-in-chief. And I did not tell them we lost that lousy war. I gave them the same story I’ve used since the Nixon administration: “We were winning when I left.”

I relived that final day as I stared at the black onyx wall. The dawn came up like thunder after a year and 268 combat missions in the valley of the shadow. The ground trembled as 33 F-100’s roared off the runway, across the beach, and out over the South China Sea, climbing into the rising sun. On the eastern horizon a line of towering deep purple clouds stood shoulder-to-shoulder before a brilliant orange sky that slowly turned powder blue from the top down. From somewhere on that stage, above the whine of spinning turbine blades, I could hear a choir singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” in fortissimo: The “...Lord God Omnipotent reigneth...,” and He was bringing me home, while Lance and Lynn and Vince will remain as part of the dust of Southeast Asia until the end of time.

I was not the only one talking to the wall through tears. A leather-vested, bare-chested biker two panels to my left was in even worse shape. I backed about twenty-five yards away from the wall and sat down on the grass under a clear blue sky and mid-day sun that perfectly matched the tropical weather of the war zone. The wall, with all 58,200 names, consumed my field of vision. I tried to wrap my mind around the mega-tonnage of violence, carnage and ruined lives that it represented. Then I thought of how Vietnam was only one small war in the history of the human race, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of mankind’s wickedness.

My heart felt like wax in the blazing sun, and I was on the verge of becoming a spectacle in the park. I arose and walked back up to the wall to say good-bye and ran my fingers over the engraved names—Lance and Lynn and Vince—as if I could communicate with them in some kind of spiritual Braille. I wanted them to know that God, duty, honor, and country will always remain the noblest calling. Revisionist history by the elite dodgers who are trying to justify their actions cannot change that.

I have been a productive member of society since the day I left Vietnam. I am proud of what I did there, and I am especially proud of my friends—heroes who voluntarily, enthusiastically gave their all. They demonstrated no greater love to a nation who’s highbrow opinion makers are still trying to disavow them. May their names, indelibly engraved on that memorial wall, likewise be found in the Book of Life.

Surprise: California Hires Convicted Felons to Administer Obamacare!

Townhall ^ | January 29, 2014 | Guy Benson 


You may recall when Kathleen Sebelius said this, under questioning from Texas Senator John Cornyn:
(VIDEO-AT-LINK)
Cornyn: “Isn’t it true that there is no federal requirement for navigators to undergo a criminal background check, even though they will receive sensitive, personal information from individuals they help to sign up for the Affordable Care Act?”
Sebelius: “That is true. States could add an additional background check and other features but it is not part of the federal requirement.”
Cornyn: “So a convicted felon could be a navigator and could acquire sensitive personal information from an individual, unbeknownst to them?”
Sebelius: “That is possible.”
I give you California:
At least 43 convicted criminals are working as Obamacare navigators in California, including three individuals with records of significant financial crimes. Although some of the offenses are decades old, and although convicted criminals account for only 1 percent of the 3,729 certified enrollment counselors in the state, Californians still have good cause to be concerned about their privacy. Even a single crooked navigator could do significant harm to the public. That’s because when navigators sign consumers up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, they have access to lots of private information, including Social Security numbers, home addresses, and financial data — basically, everything on the wish list of identity thieves and fraudsters. Navigators also are likely to work with a population that is more vulnerable than average.
More details:
Limited statistics released by Covered California — the state’s new health-insurance exchange — showed that one navigator has repeat forgery offenses — one in 1982, then another in 1994, with a burglary in between. Another had two forgery convictions in 1988, in addition to a domestic-violence charge a decade later. Another committed welfare fraud in 1999 and had shoplifted on at least two prior occasions. Since 2000, individuals now working as navigators have committed crimes including child abuse, battery, petty theft, and evading a police officer. At least seven navigators have multiple convictions. The information released covered only certified enrollment counselors, one of the three types of navigators working in California.
National Review notes that ex-convicts securing jobs and providing for themselves is generally an unequivocally positive development -- but given the sensitive nature of this particular line of work, shouldn't former felons be excluded from the applicant pool? According to this report, "California’s Republican lawmakers unsuccessfully requested that Covered California establish a policy forbidding anyone with a prior conviction, regardless of the date, to work as a navigator." The reporter also points out another irony in all of this:
In December, Covered California wrote me a letter explaining why it could not release the public records I had requested about its navigators’ criminal histories, offering statistics as a compromise. It cited “deliberative process privilege,” and it also claimed that releasing the records would violate the privacy of the navigators. (Odd, isn’t it?, that the criminal navigators’ privacy rights are apparently valued more than consumers’ privacy rights).
The state previously resisted attempts to ascertain this information using the following reasoning: “Disclosing the names and criminal records of individuals applying to assist in Covered California’s push to enroll vast numbers in health insurance by March 31, 2014, is likely to discourage participation in this critical program and thus harm the people of California.” In other words, if the public knew about navigators' criminal records, they might be less inclined to sign up, thus endangering "this critical program." Obamacare's critics have already seized on major data security vulnerabilities that threaten consumers' personal data on Healthcare.gov. Revelations about navigators with criminal records will only serve to deepen people's skepticism about the program. A recent Fox News poll revealed that a strong majority of Americans aren't confident that Obamacare's logistical apparatus and personnel will keep users' sensitive information private.

Obama pitches retirement savings options

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ^ | January 29, 2014 | Mike Wereschagin 

".......... After the tour and speech, he signed an executive order directing Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to establish the savings bonds. Named and modeled after existing Individual Retirement Accounts or IRAs, the bonds offer tax benefits that regular savings accounts do not, don't lose value and can be withdrawn tax-free any time.
“It's safe. These balances will never go down in value,” Obama said.
Lew, whose agency will set up the bonds, accompanied the president, whose directive is one in a series of executive orders Obama said he's using to circumvent a divided Congress that's on pace to be the least productive in decades.
Obama said he hoped Congress would adjust the tax code to provide more incentives for people to save for retirement, but “I'm not going to wait for Congress.”
..........The MyRA offers an early example of Obama's limits. He wants to revamp the tax laws to give middle-class workers more motivation to invest, but he needs Congress to act on that.
The program Obama is establishing on his own doesn't offer the retirement security he desires, said Bob Fragasso, founder and CEO of Downtown firm Fragasso Financial Advisors.
“People will not retire successfully earning four, five, six percent interest,” he said.
MyRA could make a useful piece of a person's retirement plan, but if workers rely too heavily on the low-interest growth, it could undermine Obama's goal of offering more people a comfortable retirement, Fragasso said.
“Allowing people a false sense of security by peddling MyRAs does them a disservice,” Fragasso said.
Preparing for retirement security should begin in grade school, he said.....
(Excerpt) Read more at triblive.com ...

Immigration Reform Takes Center Stage For GOP

Political Realities ^ | 01/30/14 | LD Jackson 

Immigration Reform
There is a lot that has been said about immigration reform. Some advocates of performing a massive overhaul of our immigration system will tell you the system is broken. They will insist something needs to be, has to be done. It is true that we have problems in how the immigration system is working, but those problems stem from an unwillingness of our government to enforce our immigration laws in the first place. This unwillingness is much more prominent in the Obama administration, with his specific orders to refrain from many deportations. The President's excuse is that it is simply the right thing to do. My question would also be simple. The right thing to do for whom, Mr. President?
The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives seem to be determined to make immigration reform a prime issue for the next political cycle. They have been testing out different scenarios of reform on their members and immigration reform will be one of the main topics at an annual GOP retreat today.
The Hill - Top House Republicans will face growing skepticism from reform-minded conservatives when they pitch their principles for an immigration overhaul Thursday at the party’s annual retreat.In interviews over the last several days, conservatives said that while they expect the principles to be broadly acceptable, they are less inclined to support a push by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and others to advance specific legislative proposals heading into the midterm election campaign.
“I think the willingness to go so far as specific legislation has cooled considerably for different reasons over the course of the last couple weeks,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said Wednesday.
The principles will include support for giving probationary legal status to many illegal immigrants, Ryan confirmed in an interview Wednesday on MSNBC. That would be distinct from a so-called “special path to citizenship” that Republicans have long opposed.
Republican leaders have acknowledged that the reception of the rank and file at the retreat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore will be critical to the decision of whether to move forward.
“We’re going to outline our standards, principles for immigration reform and have a conversation with our members, and once that conversation is over, we’ll have a better feel for what our members have in mind,” Boehner said during a press conference.
The GOP leadership in question will just have to forgive me if I sound a little skeptical of their intentions. John Boehner says he wants to get a better feel for what the members of his caucus has in mind, but I'm not sure that will have much bearing on what legislation he decides to advance. He's already stated his derision of conservative groups. Conservatives who oppose reforming the immigration system in such a grand fashion will likely feel that same derision.
Here is an outline of what the Republican leadership is proposing.
On MSNBC, Ryan said the principles would outline a bill that would allow immigrants living in the country illegally to “come out of the shadows” to receive a probationary work permits.To get out of the probationary status and receive a regular work permit, triggers for border security and interior enforcement would have to be met and independently verified.
Those immigrants would also have to pay a fine, learn English and civics, and prove that they are not on welfare.
At that point, they would be able to apply for a green card for permanent residency through regular procedures.
In addition to border and interior security, the principles will also likely call for a guest-worker program, increased high-skilled visas and a path to legal status citizenship for children brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.
Supposedly, this is somewhat different from the amnesty proposed by the Democrats. I would ask them how it is different. They are still proposing that illegal immigrants be allowed to come "out of the shadows" and enter the legal work force. They say it isn't a special path to citizenship, but it sounds awfully close to amnesty to me. And does anyone really believe the illegal immigrants who already reside in America are going to follow this process, just so they can come "out of the shadows"? I'm not convinced that is likely to happen.
Speaking of a path to citizenship, we already have one of those. It's set forth in the immigration laws that are already on the Federal Register. If illegal immigrants have refused to follow that path, what makes us think they will follow any future path to citizenship passed through Congress and signed into law? Simply put, if the illegal immigrants already living in America were interested in citizenship, they could have already applied for, and received, that coveted status. Their inaction speaks volumes. It would behoove the Republican leadership to listen closely to what they are saying.

Happy Armed Forces Day!

townhall.com ^   | 5/19/2018 | Tim Meads  America has been honoring members of the military currently serving by celebrating this holiday ...