Republican Governors Hit Obama Administration on Medicare Advantage Rates

In a new poll out yesterday we see that Americans are becoming less trusting of President Obama, and it seems there may be a new reason for many to worry about his honesty. At least three major governors are willing to step up and call out the president for his lies.

Governors Rick Perry, Rick Scott and Bobby Jindal all authored a letter together to the president about his latest act of political theatre. The Obama administration recently announced that the Medicare Advantage rates would experience a slight pay bump next year. But according to several insurance analysts, plan rates are expected to drop as much as 3.5 percent.

In their letter, the governors wrote, “This is on top of the 6 percent cut to fiscal year 2014 payments. Collectively, these cuts will significantly harm America’s seniors.”

Medicare Advantage is the private plan that offers Medicare benefits. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last week that 2015 reimbursement rates would increase by .4 percent for Medicare Advantage. This announcement went against previous plans to cut funds to Medicare Advantage. This program provides coverage to almost 30 percent of all Medicare recipients.

If the planned cuts had actually gone into effect, it was expected that seniors would face premium increases and benefit reductions of $35 to $75 per month.

In their letter, the governors called on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to work with Congress in order to prevent any plan cuts. It is expected that this current “pardon” for the Medicare Advantage program will be short lived.

Hopefully the governors’ letter will have some sort of impact on the way policymaking goes in the future. Perhaps democrats will learn that protecting the elderly community is not an option. Their benefits need to be protected.

ABC Refers to Chelsea Clinton's Pregnancy as American "Royal" Baby

Chelsea Clinton announced yesterday that she is expecting her first child with her husband Marc. While the majority of reactions to this news were positive, ABC took things to a whole other level when Good Morning America host Bianna Golodryga proclaimed that Americans now get to look forward to the birth of "their own royal, or, rather, presidential baby."

CBS had similar rhetoric, although stopped short of equating the birth of Bill and Hillary's first grandchild with the birth of the future King of England. Prince George of Cambridge is third in line to the throne and will become king following the death or abdication of his father, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Chelsea Clinton's baby, despite having a former U.S. president and Secretary of State as grandparents, is not assured of any kind of power.

By comparison, George Bush's daughter Jenna Bush Hager's pregnancy announcement was widely ignored by the mainstream media, despite also belonging to a family political dynasty.

Chelsea Clinton's baby is due later this year.

Glenn Beck Announces Big Movie Production Plans

Conservative radio and television host Glenn Beck will soon be making his mark in the film industry—and he’s already developing three original stories that will be made into movies.

“Everybody thinks they know who I am because of my stint on Fox — that was two years of my life,” Beck said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m much more into culture than I am into politics, and that’s where I intend on making my stand.”

Nearly three years after leaving Fox News, the controversial conservative radio host and media entrepreneur is ramping up a film division at Mercury Radio Arts, the parent company of his popular radio show and digital media operation TheBlaze. Beck, 50, tells THR he has been refurbishing The Studios at Las Colinas, a 72,000-square-foot facility in Irving, Texas, where such films asJFK and RoboCop and TV shows including Prison Break andWalker, Texas Ranger have been shot. "We're getting it ready for some big plans," he says of the property, which he purchased in June.

Beck says he is developing three original stories as theatrical films -- one set in ancient history, one in modern history and a third he considers "faith-based" -- and has optioned several other ideas, some of which could be adapted into VOD features. He adds that he has purchased rights to his 2008 best-seller The Christmas Sweater back from Sony and will turn the story into a movie for television or theatrical release.

The Christmas Sweater is a semi-fictionalized recounting of a 12-year-old Beck celebrating his last Christmas with his mother before she died. He says his later real-life problems with drugs and alcohol (he's been sober since 1994) can be traced back to that Christmas.

"The meaning of The Christmas Sweater is that there are second chances," says Beck. "It is based not only on my childhood but a dream that I had as an adult after I sobered up."

While big plans are clearly in the works, it was too soon for Beck to discuss specifics, such as who will be involved in producing the films and which artists will end up telling the “great stories that aren’t typical.”

What is clear, however, is that he’s actively veering away from politics with this new endeavor. “We're beginning to agree that Republicans and Democrats suck -- they've built this machine to grind people into the ground. I hate this stuff,” Beck told The Hollywood Reporter. “I hate politics. I hate politicians and I feel like I'm wasting my life. Don't we all know what's happening? George W. Bush was taking us down a road, and Barack Obama is taking us down that same road. What difference does it make? I don't want to waste my life anymore."

Report: Chicago's Top Cop Cooking the Books on 'Declining' Crime Rate

Since the beginning of 2014 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy have been touting a declining crime rate in the Windy City, but according to a new report by Chicago Magazine, they may be cooking the books.

"City leaders manipulated crime statistics to create the appearance of a rapidly decreasing rate of crime."

Last weekend in Chicago, 36 people were shot over a two day period.

At least 36 people were shot in Chicago, four of them fatally, in as many hours over the weekend, with more than half of the shootings occurring over a half-day period stretching into early Sunday.

Officers responded to at least 27 incidents, starting at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the West Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side involving an attack that left a 17-year-old girl dead and two other people wounded, police said. There were also fatal shootings in the South Shore neighborhood Friday night and the Washington Park neighborhood early Sunday, both on the South Side.

It looks like it's going to be another bloody summer in the city with some of the strictest gun control law in the county.

Poll: Only 4% of U.S. Adults are Newly Insured, Half Choose Obamacare Alternative

Only four percent of Americans are newly insured this year, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. Even more interesting, is the fact that nearly half of the newly insured chose to get their insurance outside of the Obamacare exchanges:


These findings are based on interviewing with more than 20,000 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from March 4-April 14. Gallup asked those who have health insurance if their policy is new for 2014, and if so, whether they had insurance last year and if they got their new insurance through a federal or state health exchange.

Overall, 11.8% of U.S. adults say they got a new health insurance policy in 2014. One-third of this group, or 4% nationally, say they did not have insurance in 2013. Another 7.5% got a new policy this year that replaced a previous policy. The rest either did not respond or were uncertain about their previous insurance status.

The key figure is the 4% who are newly insured in 2014, which most likely represents Americans' response to the individual mandate requirement the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This estimate of the newly insured broadly aligns with the reduction Gallup has seen in the national uninsured rate from 2013 to the first days of April 2014. However, the calculation of the newly insured does not take into account those who may have been insured in 2013 but not in 2014.

The ACA envisioned that the new healthcare exchanges would be the main place where uninsured Americans would get their insurance this year, but it appears that a sizable segment of the newly insured Americans used another mechanism. These sources presumably include employee policies, Medicaid, and other private policies not arranged through exchanges.

Interesting. So when is Obama's vision of his law providing healthcare for millions of uninsured Americans supposed to come to fruition? It's seem even when the White House makes something mandatory, extends the deadline for months, and fines individuals for not complying, it still can't seem to get the result intended.

Surprise: Another Major Hillary Donor Pleads Guilty to Illegal Fundraising Charges


I say "another" because this is the second such guilty plea in the span of five weeks. First, the latest development:


A wealthy hotel executive and Democratic fundraiser who supported Hillary Clinton for president pleaded guilty Thursday to charges he secretly funneled more than $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions to three unnamed candidates and coached someone to lie about it. An informant caught Sant Singh Chatwal on tape in 2010 explaining that he believed his illegal fundraising bought him access to people in power. Without the contributions "nobody will even talk to you," Chatwal said. "That's the only way to buy them, get into the system." Chatwal entered the plea to evading contribution limits and witness tampering in federal court in Brooklyn as part of a plea deal...Court papers allege that between 2007 and 2011, Chatwal used his employees, business associates and contractors who worked on his hotels to collect contributions from straw donors in Queens, Long Island and elsewhere. He then arranged to pay the donors back, a violation of the election laws. As part the scheme, an unnamed business associate submitted a bill to Chatwal for $104,745 in 2011 for purported work done for one of Chatwal's companies. Prosecutors allege that $69,000 of the total actually was reimbursement for money the associate had raised via straw donors.


In a moment of candor, caught on tape, this guy explained that throwing stacks of money at powerful politicians is the "only way to buy them, get into the system." Without your checkbook, "nobody will even talk to you," he lamented. Really? Even within the party that routinely prattles about the "corrosive influence of money in politics," and slanders Republican donors? Perish the thought. At first, I thought I'd read about Mr. Chatwal's illegal conduct back in March. But then I realized that was a story about a different deep-pocketed Clinton contributor who admitted to breaking campaign finance laws:


A major Democratic donor pleaded guilty on Monday to funneling millions of dollars in illegal campaign donations to federal and local politicians, including an unnamed 2008 presidential candidate believed to be Hillary Clinton...According to prosecutors, Thompson funded a $600,000 shadow campaign “in coordination with and in support for a federal candidate for president of the United States.” The charges did not name the candidate. Last September, the Washington Post reported that Thompson allegedly paid a marketing executive “more than $608,000 to hire ‘street teams’ to distribute posters, stickers, and yard signs beginning in February 2008 to help raise Clinton’s profile during her primary battle with then-Sen. Barack Obama.”


And while we're on the subject, how about one more? I don't think there's been any definitive connection proven between Hillary Clinton and this criminal donor just yet, but he's certainly been pumping gravy into the correct political party's coffers:


The co-owner of a luxury car dealership in La Jolla has been fined $80,000 for funneling illegal contributions to the 2012 campaigns of San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis and ex-Mayor Bob Filner, the city's Ethics Commission announced. In an agreement with the commission, Marc Chase, 52, co-owner of Symbolic Motor Car Co., admitted that he laundered money from Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura into the mayoral campaigns of Dumanis and Filner. Azano was a major customer of Chase's company. Chase served as a "straw" donor to hide Azano's name. Dumanis was defeated in the primary. Filner was elected mayor in the November runoff. Chase laundered about $165,000 into the campaigns, as well as to the county Democratic party, according to the commission. Election law forbids contributions from foreign nationals.


But what's most important to remember is that the "un-American" Koch brothers are "trying to buy America."

When Economic Conservatives Come Out Against Tax Breaks

The U.S. tax code is an overcomplicated mess. Despite most Americans feeling like it's pretty easy to do, each taxpayer takes an average of 13 hours to do their taxes. This is highlighted by a chart from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, based on Joint Economic Committee on Taxation data, on the number of temporary or expiring tax provisions in the code:

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The conservative Club For Growth, a pro-economy advocacy organization, may come out against renewing these tax breaks. Former Congressman Chris Chocola, who is now the President of the Club For Growth, has said that they might score votes for temporary tax cuts as negative votes:

This is all a mistake. Congress needs to clean up the tax code and lower marginal rates across the board, but tax-extender legislation delays any serious reform. Congress should let the extenders expire permanently, and the Club for Growth, the free-market organization I run, intends to oppose the package. If a vote occurs, we'll likely include it on our annual congressional scorecard, which goes out to more than 100,000 of our members.

Many tax extenders are government spending disguised as tax breaks, such as a three-year depreciation for racehorses. Others amount to a kind of earmark: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) just added the credit for Broadway plays. Tax-extender legislation is also the occasion for campaign contributions, as lobbyists donate to ensure their special treatment continues. Recently, a reporter tweeted a picture of the Senate Finance Committee markup of the tax extenders bill. The room was packed. It filled up so quickly that some lobbyists had to watch the proceedings in the hallway on their iPads.

There's widespread disagreement on what the Congressional Budget Office has characterized as "spending through the tax code," which Chocola notes here is "spending disguised as tax breaks." Jeff Sessions took issue recently with the definition, saying that "when you allow a person to keep money that they earn... I don't believe that's spending by the United States government." The Heritage Foundation's J.D. Foster has called the elimination of tax expenditures as a "third wave of tax hikes."

Chocola has aligned the Club For Growth against these temporary tax breaks, however, and deigned a lot of them as "spending through the tax code." The Club For Growth joins other center-right organizations as standing against many of these temporary tax cuts. Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Tax Foundation have both previously joined the fight against these temporary tax breaks.

Chocola's introduction to his WSJ op-ed lays out some of the more egregious tax cuts in the temporary extenders legislation:

A $250-a-year subsidy for those who commute to work using New York's "bike share" program. Breaks for Broadway plays like "Of Mice and Men" starring James Franco and Chris O'Dowd, up to $15 million per production. A $71 million benefit for Nascar facilities. Billions in credits for the wind-energy industry.

And the CRFB laid out a breakdown of where these tax breaks are going:

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Gosnell Movie Exposing Late-Term Abortionist Becomes Most Successful Indiegogo Film Ever

First, the gruesome story was ignored by the media. Then, the crowdfunding website Kickstarter refused to host a movie about it. Now, all those obstacles are in the past. Filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, along with producer Magdalena Segieda, launched a crowdfunding campaign to expose the radical late-term abortionist and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell just a few weeks ago, yet they've already made movie history:

Gosnell, a made for TV project on the doctor who is America's most prolific serial killer, has just smashed through the $900,000 mark - overtaking the previous record holder which had raised $898,000.

The need for this film is understated. Gosnell's grotesque actions in his dirty abortion clinics would make anyone's stomach turn. He was convicted in the deaths of three babies born alive and acquitted in the death of a fourth. Shamefully, the mainstream media decided to not treat this story as headline news, perhaps because the details would taint the precious "right" to abortion. While restlessly reporting on the Republican "war on women," they missed the real war on women being waged in Gosnell's "House of Horrors."

The fact that this film has already broken funding records, however, proves that people want to hear this tragic tale. Segieda said as much in a new press release:

"This sends a message to the media and Hollywood that they need to stop ignoring stories that don't match their political beliefs. By helping Gosnell smash these records the public are making a very strong statement about their dissatisfaction with media bias."

These bold producers aren't resting until they hit the $2.1 million mark. Help them get there: Gosnell Movie.

National Poll: Half of Respondents Say They're "Less Likely" to Vote for Another Bush

As if his emphatic support for both Common Core and amnesty wasn’t hard enough for conservatives to swallow, a recent Rasmussen poll indicates that Jeb Bush might have a serious problem on his hands if he runs for president in 2016. Namely, 50 percent of likely voters say they’re “less likely” to vote for him for reasons beyond his control:

Fifty percent (50%) of Likely U.S. Voters said in a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey last month that they are less likely to vote for Jeb Bush for president in 2016 because his father and brother have already served in the White House.

Fourteen percent (14%) said the Bush family's presidential legacy makes them more likely to vote for the former Florida governor. Thirty-four percent (34%) say it would have no impact on their voting decision. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Clearly, there are other matters Jeb must also consider before making up his mind. For example, Politico reported earlier in the week that family issues will almost certainly impact his decision:

Republican donors and operatives are chattering about Bush’s publicity-shy wife, so worried she isn’t on board with a 2016 White House run that they’re urging people in the family’s orbit to make the case.

Columba Bush has long been deeply averse to the spotlight, especially after an embarrassing encounter with U.S. Customs while her husband was still in office.

Donors also wonder whether Bush is willing to subject his family and their personal lives to the inevitable scrutiny that comes with a national campaign. Two of his children have been in the news in past years for arrests linked to drug problems and public intoxication.

Is running for president really worth the grueling schedule, the personal attacks, the time spent away from home, and the constant and at times unfair media coverage? These are questions every presidential hopeful must answer -- and answer honestly. Plus, with Christie’s stock on the rise and his image improving, fundraising and securing endorsements could only prove more difficult for Bush over time, as they both represent the moderate -- or, if you prefer, the establishment -- wing of the party.

The consensus from inside Florida is that Bush will run and Sen. Marco Rubio (a close political ally and would-be establishment rival during the primaries) will bow out. Assuming Christie jumps in and Rubio instead runs for re-election, then, it’ll be Bush vs. Christie (and perhaps Walker) fighting for the centrist/moderate/establishment vote before facing down a Tea Party challenger. As Allahpundit recently sketched out, Jeb’s path to the nomination isn’t exactly impossible to imagine if he runs -- that is, if everything goes according to plan. But the question is, will he?

If he continues to poll this well in Iowa (of all places), I suspect he will.

Bloomberg's New Anti-Gun Group Out with First Ad: 'Are Your Children Safe?'

As Katie reported on Thursday, former-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving $50 million this year to help build a new "gun safety" group and campaign, Everytown. As my colleague Bob Owens over at Bearing Arms notes, "The prevailing theory behind the effort seems to be an attempt to market gun prohibition as “gun safety,” while attempting to destroy the number one gun safety organization the world has ever known, the National Rifle Association."

The group came out with its first big ad, and it’s exactly what one would expect of an umbrella group that houses gun control organizations like Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns—it pushes all the emotional hot buttons in the gun control debate.

It’s safe to say that for this ad at least, Bloomberg would agree with the NRA about responsible gun ownership, which is something that is important to advocate. But that misses the point here, as IJR explains:

The goal [of Everytown] is to create a grassroots network of concerned mothers, mayors and Hollywood celebrities that can work to persuade Congress as effectively as the pro-gun lobby.

The difference is while groups like the NRA want to protect the rights of responsible gun owners, Everytown wants to redefine them.

They want to attack the 2nd Amendment by having gun owners register their firearms, ban ‘assault’ weapons, and make carrying guns on school, church and playground property illegal.

Since none of the measures these gun control groups are advocating would do much in the way of preventing a situation like the one in the ad from happening, what’s with the ad then? Scare tactics right out of the gate? You betcha.

Analysis: Obama Celebrates Eight Million 'Enrollments,' Again Declares Debate 'Over'


President Obama addressed the White House press corps today, announcing that with the final numbers in, Obamacare's exchanges have attracted eight million sign-ups -- 35 percent of whom are "under the age of 35," he said. Several elements of his comments were misleading:


(1) At first blush, the 35 percent stat is both significant and impressive. As recently as last month, the share of "young invincibles" signing up for plans was struggling in the 25 percent range, far short of the actuarial target of nearly 40 percent. A leap into the mid-30's, while still shy of the goal, would constitute a major step, and would bode well for the risk pools' sustainability. Alas, the president was lumping children in with this group, wildly inflating the number. Among the actual key demographic (18-34), the accurate number is...28 percent. So despite the big enrollment spike at the deadline, not nearly enough of those people were young adults to move the relevant needle.


(2) As we've explained repeatedly, the number of so-called "sign-ups" does not accurately reflect the number of people who have actually secured coverage, which requires paying the first month's premium. Delinquent payments are deleted by insurers, and people who selected (but didn't pay for) those plans are not covered. Experts have estimated that roughly 20 percent of "enrollees" fall into this category, a ballpark figure that even Kathleen Sebelius has acknowledged. And the numbers vary from state to state. In California, the nonpayment rate is 15 percent. In Delaware, it's 37 percent. In South Carolina, it's 43 percent. If the one-fifth delinquency estimate is accurate, the number of paid enrollees through Obamacare marketplaces is 6.4 million. That total is higher than I thought it would be, but it's still short of the original goal.


(3) The official percentage of those 6.4 million enrollees who previously lacked coverage -- a crucial number in measuring the law's success -- is unknown. Three outside surveys peg it at somewhere between 25 and 33 percent. Applying the high end of that range (to be generous), the math would work out to 2.1 million newly insured Americans. The president glossed over these realities in his remarks, merely stating that people were gaining coverage "for the first time, in many cases." He neither offered, nor was asked, to expound on any enrollment data specifics. Of course, tracking the law's efficacy in reducing the ranks of the uninsured will be doubly difficult thanks to the Census Bureau's White House-suggested and -approved methodology change. For those of you who read this analysis, you'll be unsurprised to learn that the president again falsely attributed the recent (and ending) health costs slowdown to his law.


(4) The torpid crew of reporters (at least those who were called upon) who asked questions regarding Obamacare uniformly stuck to superficial politics and process fluff. In response to these gimmes, Obama issued a now-familiar declaration: This! Debate! Is! Over! He did allow that not everyone is a fan of the law -- a gross understatement -- but puzzled over why Republicans continue to rudely and myopically oppose a policy that was railroaded through Congress without their consultation, against the will of a majority of the public, and that remains unpopular to this day. 'Tis a great mystery. Obama also suggested on several occasions that enduring opposition was rooted in "spite" directed at him personally. As if no viable policy arguments against, say, expanding Medicaid exist. Speaking of which, he also claimed that states would be responsible for "literally zero" of the price tag associated with expanding Medicaid. That's demonstrably false -- a fact I pointed out on Twitter before effectively being told to shut up by a quasi-prominent Obamacare defender.


(5) Finally, in response to one of the aforementioned terrible questions, the president recommended that his party robustly defend Obamacare, while simultaneously averring that it's time to "move on" and deal with other issues. A telling contradiction. We love Obamacare and will defend it passionately, but it's imperative that we change the subject! The American people, he said, are more interested in more jobs, a growing economy, and improving wages than re-fighting the Obamacare battle. Perhaps he's unaware that the latter is empirically impeding the former litany of goals he laid out. Perhaps not. The important message is that Obamacare is working, resistance is futile, and we ought not waste our energy on it anymore. Tell that to these widows, or to this poor woman:


After receiving her new health coverage in January through the New York State of Health Marketplace, Arden Heights resident Margaret Figueroa, 49, who suffers from two chronic illnesses, went to her pharmacy to fill her prescriptions. Although her insurance company, EmblemHealth, assured her she was covered, her insurance card was denied. While she had signed up for new health coverage -- because her insurance carrier dropped her old plan -- the company's internal paperwork apparently wasn't filed. She also learned that all her long-time doctors didn't accept the new insurance plan. For Ms. Figueroa, who suffers from a rare neurological disease called Arnold Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia, this has led to three months of excruciating pain, withdrawal symptoms and immobility. "It's hard," said Ms. Figueroa, through her tears Wednesday at a press conference at Rep. Michael Grimm's (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) New Dorp office. "I have been in pain. I've been vomiting. I lost 22 pounds. The pain is unbearable. My medication helps me function during the day," added Ms. Figueroa, who has undergone four brain surgeries for her conditions, which require her to take numerous amounts of medication.


Silence, subject! The debate is over. And horror stories like yours have been "debunked" by Harry Reid and the media -- a "fact" that the president helpfully mentioned today, in an effort to minimize the financial and medical hardships his signature law is inflicting on millions of people.

Progress: Obama Announces 8 Million Obamacare Enrollees

Speaking from the White House late Thursday afternoon, President Obama announced there are now 8 million people enrolled in Obamacare, a small jump up from 7.1 million at the beginning of April and after former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has left office.

"Eight million people," Obama said. "Thirty-five percent of people who enroll through the federal market place are under the age of 35. All told, independent experts now estimate that millions of Americans who were uninsured have gained coverage this year."

The White House has still not produced numbers detailed how many people have paid for their insurance plans and has not defined what exactly "enrolled" means.

Joe Biden's Son Running for Delaware Governor

Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden has announced he will run for Governor of Delaware. The race is two years away, but Beau made the announcement saying that he won’t be running for re-election as the state’s attorney general in November.

This past year, Beau faced health issues and underwent surgery to remove a small lesion from his brain. He also suffered a mild stroke in 2010. The 45 year old made the announcement about his plans for the future in a written statement today. He did not make himself available for interviews or a press conference.

Biden's announcement Thursday that he will pursue the governor's office in 2016 will have ripple effects on the First State's politics. Lt. Gov. Matt Denn, a Democrat, and Rep. John Carney, who lost a Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2008 to now-Gov. Jack Markell, also have been seen as potential gubernatorial candidates.

Biden, the eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, was first elected attorney general in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010, dedicating significant time last year to fundraising. He raised more than $1.4 million through his campaign and political action committees in 2013 and had more than $900,000 in cash on hand at the end of the year.

Even through recent weeks, Beau’s political director claimed he was planning on running for a third term for his attorney general seat. As the election is still far away, we will have to wait and see how this race will play out. Will Joe Biden’s track record affect his son’s political future?

Arkansas: Female Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Files Two Complaints Against Her Own Party

Well, if this isn't a burgeoning political headache for the party of “tolerance” and “inclusiveness,” I don't know what is. An Arkansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate has filed two complaints against state organizations affiliated with the Democratic Party. She claims Arkansas Democrats snubbed her at a dinner by refusing to let her speak, and on a separate occasion, referred to her primary opponent as “the next governor of Arkansas”…as she sat and listened.

From ABC’s affiliate KATV:

Arkansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Lynette Bryant has filed a complaint against the Democratic Party of Arkansas and the Saline County Democratic Party for "unfair treatment" against her candidacy.

So far, Bryant has filed the complaints with the NAACP and the Democratic National Committee. In the complaint, Bryant cites the denial of her request to speak at the upcoming Saline County Jefferson Jackson Dinner.

"Upon further conversation and restating my request to speak, Mr. (George 'Bucky') Ellis [Chairman of the Saline County Democratic Party] told me no, I could not Speak at the Saline County Jefferson Jackson Dinner again," writes Bryant.

Bryant also cites an instance where DPA Chair Vince Insalaco introduced Mike Ross, who is running against Bryant in the primary, as "the next governor of Arkansas" at an event that both candidates were attending.

Bryant concludes her complaint by asking the NAACP and the DNC to get involved in order to ensure a 'fair race.'

The Democratic Party of Arkansas (DPA) released a statement, which you can read here. The DPA claims they never endorse in primaries; but Dr. Bryant’s testimony is evidence she feels they’re not exactly being impartial, either. Of course, I assume her mistreatment has nothing to do with her race or gender, and everything to do with her own party’s eagerness to nominate a candidate other than her. Still, it’s rather ironic that the political party that always accuses Republicans of racism and waging a “war on women” is reportedly slighting an African-American female candidate who has every right to participate in the political process.

Obviously, if she is asking the DNC and the NAACP to get involved this is no laughing matter. She feels as if the system is rigged against her. And that’s wrong, no matter how you slice it.

Engaging in favoritism and shady campaign tactics is always indefensible. After all, Dr. Bryant should at least be afforded the right to make her pitch (and she will get that opportunity, we're told), even if the powers that be don't necessarily want to hear it.

New Poll Shows Maine GOP Governor With Slight Lead

Some good news out of Maine: A new poll by the Portland-based Pan Atlantic SMS Group shows incumbent GOP Governor Paul LePage with a slight lead over his Democrat challenger Rep. Mike Michaud. This is the first poll that has shown LePage with a lead over Michaud.

The live telephone survey of 400 Maine residents was conducted between March 31 and April 5 and included a mix of landline and cell phone interviews, according to Pan Atlantic SMS. It shows LePage with a 1.3 percentage point lead over Michaud, 38.6 percent to 37.3 percent, while independent Eliot Cutler trails both of his rivals with 20.3 percent. The governor's lead is well within the poll's 4.9 percent margin of error, meaning the poll shows LePage and Michaud in a virtual tie with more than seven months remaining before the election.

As LePage was elected by a razor-thin 10,000 vote margin in 2010 over independent candidate Eliot Cutler (who is running again in the 2014 race) and Democrat Libby Mitchell, the 2014 gubernatorial election has widely been labeled as a toss-up. Cutler is currently polling in a distant third.

LePage's election in 2010 marked the state's first Republican governor since 1994. LePage has focused much of his efforts on reforming the state's welfare system. Michaud is one of the few remaining members of the Blue Dog Coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats.

While it's certainly far too early to cast any electoral positions, the polls are moving the right way for a LePage reelection.

NY Schools Struggle Where to Put Students Who Opt Out of Standardized Tests

A battle between parents and educators has erupted over standardized testing in the state of New York. These exams have been the norm under the No Child Left Behind Act, but parents, frustrated that schools are using these tests for teacher evaluation - as opposed to the students' academic progress - are launching a boycott and instructing their children to sit out of the exams.

State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the number of students and parents refusing the standardized tests was a "small but meaningful percentage." Just take a look at a few of the more surprising numbers throughout the upper region:

School District / Number of students refusing exam / 3-8 grade enrollment / Percent of students refusing test

West Seneca 877 3,087 28.41%

Lake Shore 287 1,135 25.29%

Wilson 120 562 21.35%

Springville-Griffith 151 833 18.13%

Alden 136 800 17.00%

Hamburg 269 1,718 15.66%

East Aurora 137 882 15.53%

Downstate is no different. In in Public School 368 in Harlem, Jasmine Batista, who has two sons the school, revealed to the NY Post how the tests negatively affected her 10-year-old:

“He was concerned that he would not go on to the next grade,” she said. “He was crying, he had no appetite, he couldn't sleep. He was so happy when that test was done.”

In addition to stress, parents cited a number of other reasons for telling their kids to reject the tests:

Some are educators who are upset that the exams are being used to measure how teachers and schools perform. Some are concerned that subjects such as social studies and art are being edged out as schools focus on preparing students for math and English exams.

Now, teachers and administrators are facing the challenge of how to deal with parents who are rejecting the standardized system and what to do with children who opt out of these exams. One school district in particular, Starpoint, where 8 percent of students opted out of the English Language Arts exam, decided to add the extra expense of hiring substitute teachers to supervise children in the hall as their peers work at their desks.

Despite the hostility between parents and teachers, New York is standing by the supposed merits of standardized testing:

State Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins defended the testing as “one of many tools that should be used to measure student growth and help inform instruction.”

What do you think? Are these parents in the wrong for telling their children to refuse to take the tests, thus stretching schools' resources by having to hire extra help? Or are they right to challenge state regulations that don't seem to improve their kids' education?

One thing's for sure: Educators are going to get headaches either way.

Mention of Mass Stabbing Curiously Missing From Obama's Pennsylvania Speech

Yesterday President Obama gave a speech in Oakdale, Pennsylvania with Vice President Joe Biden about skill training. Last week, just thirty miles away in Murrysville, a student went on a mass stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional High School. Twenty people were severely injured in the incident, making it one of the worst mass stabbing events in U.S. history.

But despite being close to the scene of the tragic and horrifying event, Obama failed to mention the incident during his nearly 30 minute long remarks.

I have a feeling if there had been a recent tragedy that involved a gun at a school near the location of an Obama speech, we'd be hearing all about it. Apparently, 20 people being stabbed isn't politically expedient enough for the White House.

UPDATE: False flag?; Scary: Jews in East Ukraine Ordered to Register Themselves

This is really scary. According to a report in USA Today and Israeli media, Jews in eastern Ukraine have been ordered to register themselves. Russia took over parts of the region this week and have no plans to stop moving.The excuse being used for the registration is that Jews support independence from Russia. Jewish citizens of Ukraine who do not register are being threatened with deportation.

Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to "register" with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Israeli media.

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated," reported Ynet News, Israel's largest news website.

The leaflet begins, "Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality," and states that all people of Jewish descent over 16 years old must report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and "register."

It says the reason is because the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta, a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement that fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, "and oppose the pro-Slavic People's Republic of Donetsk," a name adopted by the militant leadership.

This latest move by Russia brings back horrific memories and Israeli officials are in talks to figure out what to do next. Sanctions imposed by the United Staters on top Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin are clearly not slowing the dangerous and rapidly escalating situation.

UPDATE: The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine has confirmed this is happening.

UPDATE: Thank goodness, it looks like it was a false flag.

The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed this as “a provocation,” which it clearly is. “It’s an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry,” says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. “I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid—this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.”

Why? The Russian government has been playing up the (real but small) role of fascists and neo-Nazis in the victory of the EuroMaidan in Kiev. The Ukrainian government, utterly powerless to fight off the Russians and their local stooges, have had to rely on other methods, like leaking taped phone calls of allegedly local separatists getting their commands from Moscow. This may be just another tactic to smear the so-called anti-Maidan in the east of Ukraine: you think we’re fascists? Well, take a look at these guys.

Meanwhile, "pals" Barack Obama and Joe Biden are busy taking selfies in their limo.


New Dem Strategy: Stop Running From Obamacare

Can Obamacare be fixed? Vulnerable Democrats are pot committed to this idea. They say most Americans do not want to repeal Obamacare and therefore the only way to make it work is to reform it. They accuse Republicans of not having a viable alternative and wasting billions of dollars on failed efforts to defund it. As a consequence, some Democrats are urging the party to stand firm on this issue, and to stop running way from a law many of them voted for.

The AP reports:

Republicans already were pushing their luck by vowing to "repeal and replace" the health care law without having a viable replacement in mind, said Thomas Mills, a Democratic consultant and blogger in North Carolina. Now, he said, Democrats have even more reasons to rise from their defensive crouch on this topic.

"Democrats need to start making the case for Obamacare," Mills said. "They all voted for it, they all own it, so they can't get away from it. So they'd better start defending it."

Even some professionals who have criticized the health care law say the political climate has changed.

"I think Democrats have the ability to steal the health care issue back from Republicans," health care industry consultant said Bob Laszewski said. "The Democratic Party can become the party of fixing Obamacare."

Perhaps. But is this a wise strategy? That is, campaigning on Obamacare if you’re a vulnerable Democrat? A Bloomberg poll released last month suggests it isn’t:

According to the poll, 73 percent of respondents who said they would repeal the health-care overhaul known as Obamacare say the law will be a "major" factor in their vote. And 73 percent said they will "definitely" vote in this year's midterm elections.

By contrast, 45 percent of respondents who support modifications and 33 percent of those who support the law as it currently stands said Obamacare will be a "major" factor in how they vote. Meanwhile, 61 percent and 54 percent of those groups' respondents, respectively, said they will "definitely" turn out to vote.

At the same time, large swaths of the progressive base aren’t feeling particularly energized to vote in this year’s midterm elections. Question: if Democrats continue to defend Obamacare -- rather than run from it -- won’t that merely incentivize Republicans to turn out in greater numbers on Election Day? It’s true that Democrats can’t hide from their voting records given the barrage of attack ads coming their way, but to invoke the Affordable Care Act on the campaign trail in a red state at all seems like political suicide. It will remind voters that millions of Americans were promised they could keep their health care plans, when in fact they couldn’t, by the same people running for re-election. Best to ignore the issue altogether, no?

The polls show pretty consistently four years after the law passed that Obamacare is not a political winner. But if Democrats want to run on it, be my guest.

NY Pizza Delivery Man Stops Robbers With Concealed Carry Weapon

A man delivering a pizza late at night in upstate New York looks like an easy target for a robber — and he probably is without a gun. The good news is, the pizza delivery man attacked by four armed robbers outside a house in Buffalo Monday did not go to work that day unarmed.

The Buffalo News reported:

A gang of robbers attacked a pizza deliveryman just before 10:30 p.m. Monday as he brought food to a house in the 400 block of Cornwall Avenue, near Erie County Medical Center.

In the front hallway of the house, one of the robbers, who wore a mask and had a brown hoodie pulled over his face, hit the deliveryman on the head with a hammer, according to police.

The masked man also displayed what appeared to be a gun, police said.

But then, the deliveryman told investigators, he pulled out his own handgun and fired a shot, striking the masked man. The rest of the gang scattered.

The pizza delivery man suffered from wounds to the head and bruises on his left hand. The masked man, 18-year-old DeJuan Coleman, is under police guard while he recovers from the gun shot wound. He will face charges of first-degree robbery.

New York is hardly the friendliest state for gun owners. On Tuesday residents protested Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) anti-gun legislation by tearing SAFE Act registration cards to pieces, and they are not the only ones disgruntled. A rising number of Americans support fewer gun laws, a January Gallup poll revealed:

Gun-control advocates often use tragedies to push anti-gun legislation. However, the poll above, conducted after the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, shows that even fewer Americans supported gun-control in the aftermath of the tragic event.

The gap between those wanting stricter gun laws and those wanting less strict laws narrowed as a result of a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who want less strict laws, now at 16% up from 5% a year ago. Support for making gun laws stricter fell to 31% from 38% last January. The January 2013 poll was conducted shortly after the December 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy, which sparked some state governments to consider new gun laws and a robust national discussion about the issue.

Since politicians continue to use heart-wrenching events to promote their political agendas, it's important that these everyday stories of citizens protecting themselves through their Second Amendment rights are told.

Trouble: White House-Touted Health Costs Slowdown 'Could be Over'


The notion that Obamacare is bending downward the so-called "cost curve" on national health spending has been debunked by the government's own numbers. At late 2013 estimate from CMS projected that aggregate healthcare-related expenses would climb by 6.1 percent this year, as opposed to 4.5 percent in the absence of the new law. Overall federal spending on healthcare will be $621 billion higher than the previous trajectory over the next decade due to Obamacare, according to the same study. President Obama vowed that his signature law would readjust the trajectory in a downward direction. But the the rise of health costs has slowed in recent years, a trend for which the Obama administration has baselessly taken credit. Once again, the White House's posturing was discredited by government accountants, who determined that Obamacare was not among the top four major factors behind the deceleration. One of the factors they did cite was a naggingly weak economy, which would obviously present messaging problems for Democrats. And now that deceleration, as we noted earlier in the month, appears to be over -- because of Obamacare. The Los Angeles Times reports:


A historic slowdown in U.S. healthcare spending in recent years may be drawing to a close. An industry report published Tuesday and healthcare experts point to a steady rise in medical care being sought by consumers seeing specialists, getting more prescriptions filled and visiting the hospital. Other factors such as millions of newly insured Americans seeking treatment for the first time and higher prices from healthcare consolidation could also help drive up costs. Experts aren't predicting an immediate return to double-digit increases in medical spending. But the emerging trend underscores how difficult it will be for policymakers, employers and health plans to control healthcare costs going forward...From 2009 to 2012, U.S. healthcare spending grew annually at less than 4%, according to federal data. That's been the lowest rate of growth in half a century, and has sparked considerable debate about the underlying reasons. Many health economists and industry officials have attributed the slowdown primarily to lingering effects of the Great Recession, when millions of Americans cut back on medical care. But the Obama administration and other experts have pointed to fundamental changes in healthcare reimbursement and the delivery of care spurred by the Affordable Care Act.


Nope. Although the story does point to potential counterweights to the new acceleration, including Obamacare's narrower choices and limited access for consumers -- a cost-saving mechanism that betrays the president's "keep your doctor" pledge for many. The newsworthiness of this this story is twofold: First, the apparent end to the years-long, recession-influenced health cost slowdown (again, not a reduction) is a big deal. Second, it's an opportunity to highlight Team Obama's willingness to disingenuously claim credit for something in an attempt to boost Obamacare. In our post about the Census Bureau's profoundly ill-timed methodology shift on quantifying America's uninsured population, we floated the following scenario:


Democrats, famously allergic to nuance when the political moment demands a cudgel, will shout from the rooftops about the "stunning" improvement in uninsured rates [as a result of the new formula]. Obamacare is working! They'll elide the crucial caveats mentioned above, plugging the exciting news into television ads, talking points and stump speeches. Sure, they'll receive multiple Pinocchios and "mostly false" ratings from fact-checkers, but when has that ever stopped them? The media's push-back will mostly be pro forma. When Republicans move to debunk the figures, Democrats will deride them as bitter and anti-science. They're from the non-partisan Census Bureau, after all.


A White House aide chastised me on Twitter, noting that the new data would reflect stats from 2013, not 2014. Correct. Which brings us back to the administration's propensity toward shameless credit claiming. They've congratulated themselves over "good news" for which Obamacare was not responsible in the very recent past. They crafted a PR strategy of celebrating inflated "enrollment" numbers for their own aggrandizement. One can easily argue that this sort of behavior is politics as usual, but one can't credibly contend that the White House and its allies won't try to exploit the forthcoming apples-to-oranges switcheroo for political gain. For its part, MSNBC has two words for the questions and concerns being raised about the Census Bureau's major, White House-assisting methodological shift in the thick of a roiling healthcare debate:



Townhall Magazine's May Issue Preview: Rick Santorum's Blue Collar Conservatism

Townhall Magazine's May issue is hitting subscriber mailbox's now! If you want to get the latest original content from Townhall's conservative talent weeks before it goes online, subscribe here now!

Below is an excerpt from this month's exclusive interview with former-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) about his new book, "Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works."

Carroll: Why did you write “Blue Collar Conservatives”?

Santorum: Because I had a sense that, coming from a blue collar town, and un- derstanding folks who work for a living, the service industry and manufacturing, and having grown up in that community, and listening to both parties talk about what they are going to do to help the economy, or what they are going to do to help people get jobs, it was apparent to me that they weren’t speaking to the very people that I grew up with.

I felt that we needed to have a message that’s not ‘cut taxes for high income people and employers and then cut benefits for people that receive some sort of government benefit and balance the budget.’ That message doesn’t speak to anybody who is either an employee or is receiving government benefits. So what do we have for them? What ideas are we going to have to create a better and stronger opportunity for them to be able to get jobs that are family sustaining, that are stable and secure?

And I thought if Republicans don’t include average working people as part of our team, then we know what the other side is going to do. They are just going to promise benefits to everybody. They are going to promise money.

I think most folks understand, no matter what income level you are, that those policies are not going to make you happy and are not a long-term successful strategy.

But it is better than nothing. And that is what Republicans have been offering: nothing. We need to offer something for those of us who are average working Americans...

You can read the whole interview in Townhall Magazine's May issue.

Is Race Still the “Third Rail” of Talk Radio?

In the May issue of Townhall Magazine, Tom Tradup explains why the conservative movement has to do a better job of long-term engagement with minority communities.

When House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently guested on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America,” he made what he surely thought was a cogent, uncontroversial observation about poverty in the United States. “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and generations of men not even thinking about working,” Ryan stated.

Suddenly, Ryan found himself the vortex of charges of “racism,” and suggestions that his remarks on the inner city and men not working were “code words” for black. New York Times columnist Charles Blow pronounced Ryan’s language “horrific.” And once again, an elected official had touched the so-called third rail of American politics: race.

As talk radio rallied to Ryan’s defense, another racially-tinged observation was made: virtually all of the voices countering attacks of racism by Ryan belonged to Caucasians. Raising the question: why aren’t more talk radio hosts in America black?

The answer, according to industry insiders, could lie with the GOP. “Too many years of election-cycle-only-visibility,” says David Webb, who hosts a weeknight talk show on Sirius XM.

“The Republican Party has to do a better job of long-term engagement in the black community,” Webb explained. “A needed to develop talk radio’s bench of black conservatives. “If the GOP can win over the community, the talkers/advocates tend to develop.”

While liberal persons of color abound in national talk media, including MSNBC’s Rev. Al Sharpton and Washington, D.C.- based talk radio host Joe Madison, black conservatives are still a fairly rare commodity on talk radio.

Conservative economist Walter Williams has filled in for market leader Rush Limbaugh but remains a guest host, at best. Denver conservative host Ken Hamblin, who billed himself as “The Black Avenger,” simply walked away from the format in 2003. And one-time WLS/Chicago host Mel Reynolds, elected to two terms in Congress but later convicted on misuse of campaign funds as well as sex with an underage intern, was last seen being arrested in Zimbabwe on pornography charges.

“Talk radio faces a two-pronged challenge,” Southern California-based talk consultant Jack Christy tells Townhall.

“Liberals historically draw low ratings, but experienced black conservative hosts are in short supply.”

So if talk radio is to broaden its appeal to minority audiences, it will need to create and develop ethnic talent, including

Hispanic conservatives, locally and nationally.

Cleveland attorney Peter Kirsanow, a member of the United States Civil Rights Commission, is an African-American conservative whose credentials include guest hosting Bill Bennett’s national morning show. He recently premiered

“The Kirsanow Report,” a daily commentary on Cleveland talk station WHK-AM.

Station general manager Mark Jaycox says it is a mutually rewarding project. “Peter and I first met at our “Constitution Under Fire” event back in the fall. A week after the event, he reached out to us. In our conversations, we explored ways he could be involved with us locally, and in short order, “The Kirsanow Report” was born: a daily 60-second feature that runs five times daily.”

Webb also believes the bottom line is focusing on content, rather than race. And if the communicator of Conservative ideas happens to be a minority, it is a bonus.

“Over the years, Fox, CNN and other networks have asked me to provide my analysis and opinion,” Webb explains.

“It’s understandable that if the issue is specific to the black community I will be asked, in the same manner that a woman will be asked, to provide perspective on a women related issue.”

But Webb adds that listeners, whatever their race, will gravitate to hosts, guests, and callers who focus on issues that

resonate with the core talk radio audience.

“Talk about keeping a family structure (not just social values),” Webb advises. “And even blended families to counter the single parent crisis, education, reducing crime in inner cities, free enterprise, employment, and bringing back companies to provide jobs.”

In defining the game plan for talk radio to attract more minorities on and off the air, Webb sounds eerily like… well… Paul Ryan. Maybe American media has a bright future after all. •

Tom Tradup is Vice President of News & Talk Programming at the Dallas-based Salem Radio Network. He can be reached at ttradup@srnradio.com

The Obama Administration Trolls

Someone in the lefty press is catching on.

Slate's John Dickerson points out that the Obama administration routinely "trolls" the GOP -- that is, deliberately misstates information about matters of public concern in order to keep what they consider favorable topics foremost in the public mind. Dickerson uses the topic of the "wage gap" as one example; I would use the topic of voting rights as another. In other words, the president and his administration are giving the press and the people purportedly factual information that they actually know is untrue as part of a deliberate strategy.

As Dickerson points out, there is something breathtakingly cynical about this approach. Not only is it wrong, it degrades the office of the presidency, and undermines whatever trust Americans still have in their elected officials -- a troubling phenomenon for a democratic republic.

Although his successors will reap the whirlwind, President Obama has obviously decided he doesn't care: The strategy is perfect to foment unrest and agitation by keeping low-information voters in a perpetual state of indignation against the GOP, and thus at least incrementally increases the chances that turnout among Democrat groups won't be as low this fall as many fear.

But it may also explain why, as Katie noted below, 60% of Americans think their President is lying to them about things that matter. After all, they're not stupid, and perhaps the President ultimately will come to realize that seeking to exploit fear powered by ignorance isn't really the best strategy for a leader to choose.

As with so many of his other policies, by choosing this course, the President is sacrificing the long-term good of this country for his own, short-term political objectives. Sad. And destructive.

Poll: 60 Percent of Americans Think Obama Lies on Important Issues

According to new polling released by Fox News, the vast majority of the country believes President Obama lies on important issues.

About six in ten American voters think Barack Obama lies to the country on important matters some or most of the time, according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday.

Thirty-seven percent think Obama lies “most of the time,” while another 24 percent say he lies “some of the time.” Twenty percent of voters say “only now and then” and 15 percent “never.”


It isn't just Obama's typical foes who think he's less than honest, Democrats and single women aren't too confident in his truth telling abilities either.

The number of voters saying Obama lies “most of the time” includes 13 percent of Democrats. It also includes 12 percent of blacks, 16 percent of liberals, 31 percent of unmarried women and 34 percent of those under age 30 -- all key Obama constituencies.


For President Obama, these numbers don't matter much, but they do matter for Democrats up for election this year who have been avid supporters of Obama's policies. Democratic support for Obamacare in particular continues to weigh on the minds of voters, especially voters who have lost the healthcare plans they were promised they could keep.