Chelsea Clinton Paid Over $1,000 a Minute to Appear at a College

After discovering that Hillary Clinton charges exorbitant amounts to appear at events (actual quote: "Yikes!"), administrators from the University of Missouri at Kansas City decided to go with a slightly cheaper member of the Clinton family to headline their lunchtime gala for the opening of a women's hall of fame: Chelsea. Chelsea, a relative bargain at $65,000 compared to her mother's fee of $275,000, spoke for a whole 10 minutes, did a moderated Q&A for 20 minutes, and took pictures with VIPs for a half hour.

$65,000/60 = $1,083.33. Chelsea Clinton was paid over a thousand dollars per minute.

The event raised $38,500, but organizers claim fundraising was not the goal of the event.

While a spokesperson for Chelsea stated that the money went to the Clinton Foundation, there is apparently no reference to this in any email communication between UMKC and Chelsea's representatives nor was there any reference to this in the contract for the speech.

Is it really a question why college costs are skyrocketing?

Christie: Unlike These Other Guys, I'm Not Running To Be "Prom King"

After speaking passionately and movingly about the people in his life who’ve made his rise to national prominence possible, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) finally announced, from his high school alma mater on Tuesday, that he was running for president of the United States.

And of course, he began his remarks by touting his record as the Governor of New Jersey

“When I became governor six years ago, we had a state that was in economic calamity,” he said. “A state that had its taxes and fees raised on it 115 times in the eight years before I became governor. A state that no longer believed that any one person could make a difference in the lives of the people of this state.”

“And so we rolled up our sleeves, and we went to work,” he continued. “We balanced six budgets in a row, we refused to raise taxes on the people of this state for six years, we made the hard decisions that had to be made to improve our education system.”

And yet, he went further than merely listing his conservative credentials. At a time of immeasurable dysfunction on Capitol Hill, he also played up his reputation as a fair-minded — and effective — chief executive.

“Americans are filled with anxiety,” he said. “They’re filled with anxiety because they look to Washington, D.C., and they see a government that doesn’t even work anymore; it doesn’t even talk to each other anymore; it doesn’t even try to pretend to work anymore. We have a president in the Oval Office who ignores the Congress, and a Congress that ignores the president.”

“We need a government in Washington D.C. that says ‘you went there to work for us, not the other way around,’” he added.

Interestingly, however, he also criticized his own party, both in characteristically harsh and strong terms.

“Both parties have failed our country,” he declared. “Both parties have led us to believe that in America, a country that was built on compromise, that compromise is somehow a dirty word.”

“If Washington, Adams, and Jefferson thought compromise was a dirty word, we’d still be under the crown of England,” he added.

Similarly, too, unlike most politicians, Christie also pledged to continue being open and honest with his constituents — which is, arguably, his greatest and most refreshing quality as a presidential contender.

“We must tell each other the truth about the problems we have, and the difficulty of the solutions,” he said. “But if we tell each other the truth, we recognize that truth and hard decisions today will lead to growth and opportunity tomorrow for every American in this country.”

That line, as it happens, touched on the two overarching themes of his campaign announcement: inclusiveness and optimism. Towards the end of his remarks, however, he took a parting shot at the current occupant of the White House — and issued a warning to America.

“After seven years of a weak and feckless foreign policy run by Barack Obama, we better not turn it over to his second mate, Hillary Clinton,” he intoned. “In the end, leadership matters. It matters for our country and American leadership matters for the world. But if we’re going to lead, we got to stop worrying about being loved and start caring about being respected again, both at home and around the world.”

“I am not running for President of the United States as a surrogate for being elected Prom King of America,” he said “When I stand up on a stage like this, in front of all of you, there is one thing you will know for sure: I mean what I say and I say what I mean — and that’s what America needs right now.”

Millennials in Shock Over Hillary's Cribs

Last year, when Hillary was then just a presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, a majority of voters, 55 percent, felt she was relatable. Who knows, maybe they hadn’t heard about her exorbitant speaking fees, or, they actually fell for her ‘dead broke’ comments. But either way, the reality is she couldn’t be more unrelatable to the average American if she tried, no matter how many campaign road trips she takes in a Scooby Doo van.

To that end, Campus Reform’s Cabot Phillips decided to play a little game with millennials called “Candidates' Cribs.” Phillips stopped young people in our nation’s capital to see if they could guess which presidential candidate had lived in a series of mansions he had displayed on a poster.

A number of youngsters guessed Marco Rubio—I don’t know, maybe they heard about his “luxury speedboat”. None, however, pegged Mrs. Clinton as having been privileged enough to live in the lavish abodes displayed. And when Phillips told them the truth, the resounding response was, “What?!” and “Are you serious?!”

Check it out:

“Well, now, you’re changing my opinion on the election a little bit,” one young woman said.

HRC’s not so relatable after all.

GOPAC Returns To Its Roots In Prepping For 2016

As stated in their history, GOPAC was founded in 1979 to recruit and elect new Republican leaders at the state and local level. This was after then-Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont noticed that Republicans were sort of a dying species in 1978. Well, it’s 2014–and the GOP is stronger than ever at the state and local level. With Republicans controlling the two-thirds of the governorships and the most state legislatures since 1920, the work of GOPAC shows that the new talent is derived from the local elections that don’t get much attention in the press. It’s starting to now given that Democrats’ talent pool is shrinking rapidly.

Yet, we have a huge presidential election coming up against a huge, though flawed, political machine that’s being helmed by Hillary Clinton. Republicans at every level need to be ready for the assault. To prepare, GOPAC is returning to its roots with a series of videos called Imagine. Share. Impact, which is a throwback to the organization’s instructional tapes made by GOP between 1986-1994 (via Library of Congress):

The tapes inform the public and aspiring politicians of conservative positions and assist them in articulating and honing their language and message on a wide array of issues, as well as providing "how-to" primers on everything involved in running an effective political campaign. The recordings have proved to be extremely influential in shaping political discourse from the 1980s to the present.

At the same time, no one is listening to audiotapes, so YouTube will have to suffice.

The first of these “how-to” videos from GOPAC’s Educational Fund was released today featuring conservative radio host and commentator Hugh Hewitt, where he discusses the “S’s” of winning in 2016.

Hewitt called on politicians and public figures to embrace specificity since we’re all tired of talking points. He noted how he knows nothing about net neutrality, but all he gets from people on the subject is that they’re for or against it, and then they dole out a talking point; no one explains to him what it’s about. Another issue that will require more than talking points is reforming the tax code.

Another point he made was speed; the nation is moving a bit too slow on critical issues. Hewitt asked, “Why does government move like molasses?” Hewitt noted that he, along with the vast majority of Americans, is constantly moving. Hewitt has four jobs–and he wonders why the government simply doesn’t put forward important legislation early–and deal with it early–instead of the usual protocol of having committee hearings, maybe a dinner, and then adjourning for a recess. While government moving slowly is not necessarily a bad thing–our Founders emphasized safety over efficiency–it’s killing us regarding some important issues, like in the Middle East and the Islamic State. Hewitt mentioned that this slow speed is “ingrained” in our history since ideas took some time to reach the frontier regions of the United States in the early 19th Century. Then, there had to be time to debate these ideas that were eventually returned to Washington over an extended period of time. Maybe it’s time to retire this mindset, especially on issues that need immediate attention.

Dovetailing on the discussion bit, Hewitt also mentioned sacred spaces, especially after the same-sex marriage decision. In the aftermath, he says, we will have to debate whether people can hold certain beliefs without shunning. We don’t have time to dabble in such nonsense since the “barbarians are at the gate.” And we need to return to the notion that we can live together and disagree. Hewitt noted that he has a 33-year rule in his household regarding his sister-in-law, who’s a hard-core liberal, that they do not talk politics at the dinner table. Yet, he loves her, she’s the de facto grandmother to his children, and “that’s the way America ought to be” with regards to these issues.

Lastly, he mentioned Spanish; the vast majority of the Spanish-speaking public in this country reads media in their native language. The same goes for every single ethnic group that arrived in this country. Figuring out a way to get into this market will establish a critical foundation to expand on the GOP’s inclusion operations, especially in states like Colorado.

While Clinton has her flaws, this could be a hard fight next year. Regarding the long game, it’s possible that Democrats could have trouble finding a new deep bench of candidates after the Nancy Pelosis, the Clintons, and the Harry Reids have long passed. State-based Democratic Party apparatuses have “atrophied (especially in rural America),” and Hillary Clinton has made it her pet project to rebuild such party operations if she’s elected president. That’s a direct challenge to GOPAC’s mission.

“Ideas unite individuals to take action on a common cause. The Imagine. Share. Impact. series will keep us at the forefront of educating elected officials and their constituents on the path which leads to healthy, growing economies that create opportunities,” said GOPAC Chairman David Avella.

Let’s see if adding YouTube to their arsenal can keep the enemy from climbing the walls … for lack of a better term.

Instead of Taking Dangerous Birth Control Device Off Market, FDA Adds a Warning Label

"These symptoms, these problems are not in our heads," said Essure user Claudia Castellanos. "They are real. Our pain is real." 

A birth control method called Essure has prompted serious side effects such as hair loss, debilitating pain and constant bleeding and has even been associated with five deaths, reports MyFoxDC. Because of the unwanted threats the device poses, women fully expected the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take it off the shelves when they voiced their concerns. The government agency had other plans: a public hearing in September and a warning label will suffice.

MyFoxDC first reported on Essure’s dangerous side effects in November. Here were a few of their unnerving findings:

But more than 10,000 women are accusing the maker of an implantable birth control device of ignoring complaints from users that the product was unsafe, even before it was approved by the FDA . The women claim they've had perforated organs, chronic pain, excessive bleeding, pain and other adverse side effects from the device. Some report they've been forced to have hysterectomies to solve the problems.

At the time, Bayer, the company that produces the birth control device, dismissed these concerns as what’s to be “expected.” So uncontrollable bleeding and chronic pain are totally normal when using Essure? How comforting.

Now, months later, as the complaints persist, Bayer has offered another not so reassuring statement regarding the drug:

“Patient safety is Bayer's top priority. Given there has been a great deal of interest in the safety of Essure among some patients, we welcome this open dialogue with healthcare providers, patients, researchers, representatives from professional societies, and other members of the public to review and discuss available data regarding the benefits and risks associated with Essure.

Well-founded fear over a product’s safety is defined down by Bayer to “a great deal of interest.”

MyFoxDC spoke to three women, Claudia Castellanos, Ana Fuentes and Janet Ramirez, who were victims of Essure's painful side effects, and who now call themselves The Essure Sisters, holding rallies in protest of the device and writing to the FDA. Ramirez offered an especially emotional plea to the agency:

"Listen to the evidence and please, please remove this off the market," she said. "It is not safe." 

Despite what Bayer says, this is not just a time for “discussion.” This dangerous situation demands action. Until Bayer and the FDA at least figure out what’s causing these threatening and sometimes deadly side effects, they need to pull the product before even more damage is done.

Surprise: Iran Negotiations Miss Deadline, 'Major Disputes' Remain


Actually, blowing through deadlines is a staple of these talks, so nobody's the least bit surprised by NBC News' report from late Monday:

A senior U.S official in Vienna said negotiators will not make tomorrow's deadline on an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. And while those involved in the talks are willing to spend a few more days hammering out details, no one will agree to a long term extension. They are also not willing to renegotiate what they say Iran agreed to in April. The U.S. and five other world powers have crafted a framework of a deal with Iran to keep it from developing nuclear weapons. Despite recent statements from the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei indicating Iran could be backtracking from the "framework" agreement negotiated in Lausanne in April, the official said "the agreement will be based on the Lausanne parameters. Period." The White House echoed a similar hardline. "If the Iranians refuse to agree to final agreement that's not consistent with framework there won't be an agreement," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday.

Those so-called Lausanne parameters -- which Iran has subsequently undermined and rejected -- weren't nearly as robust as the Obama administration's original demands.  Nevertheless, the ongoing talks persist as "major disputes" continue to hamper progress, reportedly over Iran's stubborn resistance to offering concessions on inspections, sanctions relief timelines, and full transparency regarding the military dimensions of the regime's rogue nuclear program.  In recent weeks, a string of damaging revelations have cast a dark shadow over the prospects for an acceptable deal: (1) Two European intelligence reports spelled out how Iran's nuclear cheating has continued during the negotiations, (2) experts determined that Iran's nuclear stockpile has increased significantly during this period, during which Tehran's program was ostensibly "frozen" with its stockpiles reduced, (3) the State Department once again affirmed Iran's continued status as a major state sponsor of international terrorism, concluding that the regime's malignant activities have carried on "undiminished," and (4) a prominent nuclear expert warned that President Obama's assurances about a potential deal's capacity to greatly extend Iran's "breakout" horizon have been  hugely exaggerated.  The potential agreement already makes enormous concessions to Iran, including permitting the regime to maintain a vast nuclear infrastructure, phasing out Western-imposed restrictions after one decade, and effectively acknowledging Iran's impending status as a threshold nuclear state. A powerful and bipartisan group of foreign policy heavyweights, including several former Obama administration officials, wrote a letter last week warning that they would oppose any Iran accord struck by the White House unless the West secures a series of robust concessions from Tehran:

A group of influential U.S. foreign-policy strategists, including five former confidants of President Barack Obama, warned the White House Wednesday they would oppose a nuclear agreement with Iran if tough terms weren’t included in a final agreement. Among the requirements identified by the former diplomats, military officers and lawmakers were intrusive snap inspections of Iran’s nuclear and military sites, a resolution of questions surrounding secretly developed nuclear-weapons technologies and a phased reduction of international sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The group also called on the White House, in a public statement, to make clear to Iran the U.S. would use military force if Tehran moved to assemble the materials and technologies for a nuclear weapon...Among the signatories were some of Mr. Obama’s closest foreign-policy advisers from his first term, including Dennis Ross, a White House Middle East strategist; David Petraeus, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency; and Gary Samore, once the National Security Council’s nonproliferation czar. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top adviser on nuclear proliferation issues, Robert Einhorn, also signed the statement, as did retired Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011.

Meanwhile, in Syria,  this is happening

U.S. intelligence agencies believe there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect key Syrian government strongholds if Islamist fighters and other rebels try to overrun them, U.S. officials said. Analysts and policy makers have been poring over all available intelligence hoping to determine what types of chemical weapons the regime might be able to deploy and what event or events might trigger their use, according to officials briefed on the matter...Last year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad let international inspectors oversee the removal of what President Barack Obama called the regime’s most deadly chemical weapons. The deal averted U.S. airstrikes that would have come in retaliation for an Aug. 21, 2013, sarin-gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people. Since then, the U.S. officials said, the Assad regime has developed and deployed a new type of chemical bomb filled with chlorine, which Mr. Assad could now decide to use on a larger scale in key areas. U.S. officials also suspect the regime may have squirreled away at least a small reserve of the chemical precursors needed to make nerve agents sarin or VX.

The Assad disarmament plan was accidental US policy, forged on-the-fly after Secretary of State John Kerry accidentally misspoke. Syria's murderous dictator and Russia's Vladimir Putin took advantage of this flash of American weakness, hailing the "solution" as a diplomatic breakthrough that staved off the specter of war. At the time, you'll remember, President Obama was considering bombing Syria due to that regime's repeated and flagrant violation of the US' so-called "red line" on chemical weapons -- which had gone unpunished for more than a year. Assad proceeded to miss deadlines (sound familiar?), then routinely violate that exact same red line, forcing Kerry to concede that the White House policy had failed utterly. Now US intelligence officials are worried that Assad is about to step up his deployment of WMDs to an extraordinary levels, using the very sorts of WMDs he allegedly surrendered. Turns out he couldn't be trusted. And that the White House's self-congratulation was totally and humiliatingly misplaced.  Team Smart Power is still going full steam ahead with the Iran negotiations, though. What could go wrong?

Here We Go: Chris Christie To Enter 2016 Race

The AP reports:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who spent three years as president of his high school class, is returning to his alma mater to announce he's running for president of his country.

The Republican governor is set to launch his campaign Tuesday in the old gymnasium of Livingston High School in the town of Livingston, New Jersey, where he experienced some of his first political victories. Christie remains close to many of his former classmates, who had inklings even then that a career in politics was in his future.

Christie, who was strongly urged to run for president in 2012, perhaps missed the political opportunity of his lifetime when he decided not to. And unfortunately for him, scandals, persistent economic struggles at home, and sagging approval ratings have not aided his presidential dreams four years later.

As a matter of fact, many Republican primary-goers simply refuse to hear him out:

[T]oday, a staggering 55 percent of Republican primary voters say that they cannot envision voting for Mr. Christie, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, a remarkable deficit from which to embark on a national campaign. The only candidate less palatable: Donald J. Trump, the bombastic developer-turned-reality television star.

With two pillars of his presidential run — his record and his judgment — looking wobblier than ever, Mr. Christie must build a campaign around his most raw and prodigious asset: his personality.

Agreed. And yet, as the governor of a blue state, Christie has already earned plaudits from moderate Republicans — and conservatives — for his plain-talking, no-nonsense style of governance. For example, he became a kind of hero on the right after telling a parent on live television “it’s none of your damn business” where he educates his children. He also famously told New Jerseyans to “get the hell off the beach” shortly before Hurricane Sandy hit, and even called the cast of the Jersey Shorelosers.” And so perhaps one aspect to like about Christie is that he handles hostile media, and ‘gotcha’ questions, remarkably well. He's also good on late-night television. Thus, if he can raise his profile and polling numbers a little bit after today, maybe Republicans will finally look past some of the more annoying and controversial things he's said and done in the past, respectively.

Christie, for his part, will launch his candidacy today at 11:00 AM. Stay tuned.

No, Sen. Murphy, There Has Not Been One School Shooting A Week Since Sandy Hook

After the horrific church shooing in Charleston, South Carolina by Dylann Roof, anti-gun liberals somehow think this is a green light to start a dialogue about curbing sales on so-called assault weapons, despite reports saying that Roof used a .45 caliber handgun to commit his senseless act of violence that left nine people dead. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has also called for a new assault weapons ban. We’re not going to litigate the failures of the assault weapons ban again; we all know it did next to nothing to curb gun-related homicides when the sale of such beautiful rifles was erroneously banned between 1994-2004. Heck, even the New York Times published an article admitting to that fact. Regardless, that still hasn’t stopped Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) from making ridiculous, and factually inaccurate remarks regarding school shootings in the United States to garner support for his failed narrative against the Second Amendment:

Since Sandy Hook there has been a school shooting, on average, every week. How on earth can we live with ourselves if we do nothing?”

Sen. Murphy said this on the Senate floor on June 24, but is it true? According to the Washington Postthis warrants four Pinocchios. Why? Well, because Murphy used shoddy information, and as a sitting U.S. Senator–it’s incumbent upon himself and his staff to not disseminate propaganda talking points from the anti-gun left. Yes, looking at you, Everytown.

This list comprises a variety of shootings at or near a school, including: attempted and committed suicides, accidental discharges, armed robberies, gang fights, shootings resulting from altercations, and shootings similar to the rampages at Sandy Hook or in Charleston, where a person intends to kill multiple people.

When Everytown first released its tally in 2014, media organizations gave it a lot of publicity — but then had second thoughts once it became clear it was such a broad list. CNN, for instance, initially reported the “74” figure but then determined that only 15 cases were similar to Newtown.

The Fact Checker analyzed each case included in the updated list. Of the 126 cases, 25 were attempted or committed suicides. The majority of the shootings on this list were targeted attacks against individuals stemming from altercations or ongoing conflicts.

There were at least 10 incidents that were similar to shooting in Newtown, with one shooter opening fire with the intent to kill or injure multiple victims. A separate incident in June 2015 involved a couple that shot and killed a cat on a school campus, but had told law enforcement officials they would have shot students if it were “God’s will.” We did not include that in the list of 10 incidents.

Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, said he has not seen an authoritative data source or universal definition on “school shootings.”

“Federal and state statistics tend to grossly underestimate the extent of school crime and violence. Public perception tends to overstate it. Reality exists somewhere in between these two, but in terms of actual real numbers, nobody honestly knows exactly where this ‘somewhere’ is,” Trump said.

Chris Harris, Murphy’s spokesman, said it all comes down to how one defines “school shooting,” and that Murphy defines it as “gunfire on school property.”

There are many ways to define school shooting. But applying the “reasonable person” standard, as is the standard at The Fact Checker, it is difficult to see how many of the incidents included in Everytown’s list — such as suicide in a car parked on a campus or a student accidentally shooting himself when emptying his gun and putting it away in his car before school — would be considered a “school shooting” in the context of Sandy Hook.

Lawmakers have a responsibility to check out the facts in the reports they use, especially ones that come from advocacy groups. If they are aware there are definitions that are disputed, or that are defined in other ways depending on who uses them, it is incumbent on lawmakers to clarify exactly what they are talking about and not mislead the public.

Nevertheless, Murphy tweeted an unsourced figure that guns kill 86 Americans every day.

The truth is that gun-related homicides between 1993-2011 are down 39 percent, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. If you peruse Pew Research’s numbers, which used roughly the same time frame, the figure shows a 49 percent decrease in gun-related homicides, including a 75 percent decline in the victimization rate for other crimes (assaults, robberies, and sex crimes) where a firearm had been used also dropped by 75 percent within the same period (1993-2011). This doesn’t bode well for a narrative based around the notion that America has a gun violence epidemic, and that America’s schools are becoming shooting galleries. In fact, the frequency of school shootings is at the same rate as that of the 1990s.

So, where’s the fire? Surely more can be done regarding gun safety to ensure children know what to do if they come across a firearm in a public setting. More can be done to ensure that the mentally ill cannot obtain firearms, though that’s a serious ongoing debate that involves doctor-patient and constitutional issues. But we’re not drowning in our own blood due to gun violence. In fact, overall violent crime has continued to decline.

If liberals want to venture down this rabbit hole that has led to political defeat time and again, then we should all welcome it. I don’t mind expanding pro-gun, Republican representation in every level of government, do you?

U.S. Could MOP Up Iran’s Nuclear Program If Talks Disintegrate

It’s no surprise that the Iranian nuclear program talks are shaky; Guy has detailed the long, tedious, and sometime frustrating timeline of these diplomatic talks. So, given that we’re approaching the June 30th deadline–with the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei issuing demands that the U.S. could never agree to–what’s the military option, if there is one? The answer is MOP, or “Massive Ordnance Penetrator;” the largest and most powerful nonnuclear bomb we have in our arsenal (via Politico):

…at least three times in the past year, a B-2 stealth bomber has taken off from an Air Force base in Missouri and headed west to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. For these missions, the $2 billion plane was outfitted with one of the world’s largest bombs. It is a cylinder of special high-performance steel, 20 feet long and weighing 15 tons. When dropped from an altitude likely above 20,000 feet, the bomb would have approached supersonic speed before striking a mock target in the desert, smashing through rock and burrowing deep into the ground before its 6,000 pounds of high explosives detonated with devastating force.

“It boggles the mind,” says one former Pentagon official who has watched video of the tests.

Iran’s facility, known as Fordow, houses 3,000 centrifuges that can enrich uranium to a purity suitable for nuclear weapons. Fordow is not Iran’s only enrichment facility, or even its largest. But it is the best protected. And it would be all Iran needs to develop a nuclear weapon.

The mock desert target was almost certainly meant to simulate Fordow.

When Obama officials say that “all options are on the table” to stop Iran from getting a nuke, they are in effect speaking in code about the MOP. The MOP is what Secretary of State John Kerry was clearly referring to when he recently told Israeli TV that the U.S. has “designed and deployed a weapon that has the ability to deal with Iran's nuclear program.” When CNN recently put the question directly — can the MOP destroy Fordow? — to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, he was succinct: “Yes. That’s what it was designed to do.”

So, we have something on the military menu to deal with Iran in case things talks collapse, but will Obama actually use this option? Some think it’s probably best for his successor, preferably a Republican one. Yet, if the president–either Obama (let’s say he approves this for argument’s sake) or his successor–green lights this operation, it will take multiple runs to ensure that the centrifuges are destroyed at Fordow. Moreover, the Iranians know we have this capability, and might just build new nuclear sites deeper into the mountains. If that’s the case, then the United States will just build bigger, more effective bunker-busting bombs:

If the order came from the White House, it would most likely summon Whiteman Air Force Base to action. Crews there would load the internal weapons bays of several B-2 bombers with MOPs. The giant stealth planes would then depart for their nearly 7,000-mile flight to mountainous western Iran. By the time the planes actually took off, the mission would likely be old hat to the pilots: A massive flight simulator at Whiteman includes a full-size replica of a B-2 cockpit mounted on hydraulics to mimic flight motion. Its realistic wraparound cockpit computer screen can be preloaded with highly detailed graphics showing the topography and target areas the flight crew would see during the flight, allowing them to practice the bomb run—or even the entire flight—under different weather conditions or times of day.

Once over Fordow at an altitude of 20,000 feet or more, the bombers would release their massive payload. As the enormous bombs fell, they would accelerate to phenomenal speeds of perhaps 700 miles per hour or more. Guided by satellite positioning, flexible tailfins would steer the MOP to a very precise impact point likely identified by the UFAC. The bomb would strike the rock with the tip of its sharply pointed nose. Its supremely reinforced casing would protect the fuse and explosives inside from the initial impact. In effect, a 15-ton, 20-foot nail would pound into the earth at the speed of sound.

Violent as that impact may be, it would hardly be enough to get the job done. The goal is for the MOP to drill dozens or even hundreds of feet through rock before exploding. That is made possible by smart fuses, whose blasts are triggered not by impact but by conditions like time, depth, or the presence of a void indicating that the bomb has broken through an interior ceiling.

Fordow is buried deep enough that a single MOP probably would not penetrate to the centrifuge hall deep inside. That’s why several bombers would likely drop their ordnance in succession, gradually smashing a tunnel of devastation towards mountain’s soft interior. GPS precision would enable several MOPS to be landed on virtually the exact same spot in rapid succession: the most powerful jackhammer in history.

Politico also added that the capabilities of this weapon system have been constantly upgraded and refined in its ten-year lifespan. In 2012, the U.S. military didn’t have the ability to destroy an installation in Fordow; we’ve spent $100 million to retrofit our fleet of B-2 bombers to carry the 30,000+ bomb; new smart fuses set to trigger the explosives based on time and depth; and new GPS countermeasure to block Iranian jamming systems.

Here’s the Fox News and CNN reports on MOP from 2012.

SCOTUS Ruling Keeps Texas Abortion Clinics Open Without New Regulations

Just when Texas pro-lifers thought they had finally shaken off opponents to a bill that threatens the state's abortion clinics, SCOTUS has halted their celebration.

In another confusing turn of events for House Bill 2, a pro-life bill that bans abortions at 20 weeks and strengthens regulations for the state's abortion clinics, the Supreme Court of the United States just sided with the clinics and granted a stay in the case, allowing them to remain open for the time being.

The justices voted 5-4 to grant an emergency appeal from the clinics after a federal appeals court upheld new regulations and refused to keep them on hold while the clinics appealed to the Supreme Court.

More information on that "controversial" bill:

Abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 — and set to go into effect Wednesday — would have required Texas' abortion facilities to meet hospital-like standards, including minimum sizes for rooms and doorways, pipelines for anesthesia and other infrastructure.

The new restrictions would have shuttered 10 of the 19 remaining abortion clinics in Texas. 

Former Texas Governor and current Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry excoriated SCOTUS for their decision:

“The Supreme Court’s stay unnecessarily puts lives in danger by allowing unsafe facilities to continue to perform abortions. I am confident the court will ultimately uphold these commonsense measures to protect the health and safety of Texas women.”

Live Action President Lila Rose was similarly frustrated with the law's newest hurdle:

"Women and babies are being denied protections with the Supreme Court blocking pro-life legislation. Contrary to what big abortion organizations would have us believe, the possible closure of abortion facilities is due to the refusal of these corporations to adhere to sensible and ordinary medical precautions. We look forward to the day that both the legislature and the Courts use their power to protect the most vulnerable among us."

The timing of the case makes it especially significant, for it could have national implications.

The court's decision to block the regulations is a strong indication that the justices will hear the full appeal, which could be the biggest abortion case at the Supreme Court in nearly 25 years.

If the court steps in, the hearing and the eventual ruling would come amid the 2016 presidential campaign.

Pro-abortion activists who claim to be concerned about women's health continue to oppose a law that would only ensure better safety standards for patients who visit these clinics. Abortion clinics are unsafe enough considering their goal is to end unborn lives. Unregulated abortion clinics? Shudder. 

Because of HB2's common sense standards, current Texas Governor Greg Abbott expects the Supreme Court to ultimately do the right thing for the women of Texas.

“HB 2 was a constitutional exercise of Texas’ lawmaking authority that was correctly and unanimously upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Texas will continue to fight for higher-quality healthcare standards for women while protecting our most vulnerable – the unborn, and I’m confident the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold this law.”

SCOTUS: Religious Freedom Must Bow to New Rights

Last Friday's landmark Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage has set the stage for the new legal battle to be waged in the coming years: the battle for religious liberty. Now that same-sex marriage has been declared a constitutional right, those who conscientiously object to affirming same-sex relationships will soon find themselves in the same legal category as the Jim Crow racists who denied African-Americans fair treatment.

The core ideal that has been proffered in the gay rights movement — and which the Supreme Court cited in its ruling — is the ideal of equality. In the law, "equal treatment" is a principle that only applies to things that are fundamentally the same in nature. It means treating things that are the same, the same; but things that are different should, of course, be treated differently. In the debate over same-sex marriage, the left's position had been that same-sex marriage and male-female marriage are qualitatively the same thing. Consequently, they should both receive equal treatment under law. Opponents of same-sex marriage did not deny "equality" per se; they simply held that same-sex relationships were fundamentally different from male-female marriages, and therefore are not entitled to the same treatment.

But that debate is now over, at least legally speaking. The Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriages and traditional male-female marriages to be qualitatively the same, and therefore entitled to equal protection under law. Whether right or wrong, this puts all dissenters in the same legal position as the old Jim Crow racists: they are bigots whose ways cannot be tolerated.

The key question now before the courts is: Are religious objectors to same-sex marriage entitled to act publicly in ways that do not abide the Court's expanded definition of marriage? The likely answer to come from this Court, given its recent opinion, is "No."

In issuing the Court's opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote briefly of religious liberty protections. Yet he seemed to define religious liberty in terms of speech, not of public action or "free exercise." He writes:

The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.

Yet he also says:

Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.

Chief Justice John Roberts took issue with Kennedy's omission of the right to "free exercise":

The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses. Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples . . . There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.

Justice Clarence Thomas added:

Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for “religious organizations and persons . . . as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice.

The Court's conception of religious liberty, as reflected in Kennedy's opinion, is one that would neuter religion of all public consequence and press it into the private sphere. It would restrict the influence of religion to "pews, homes and hearts." Justice Alito expressed concern over this limiting of religious liberty, particularly as it regards opposition to same-sex marriage:

I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.

The fallout to come for religious liberty is, of course, not yet determined, and it is possible that Kennedy—often the Court's deciding swing vote—will show wiggle room for some religious objectors, depending on the case. But the key upshot from the Court's ruling is clear: when push truly comes to shove, the free exercise of religion must give way to the new sexual orthodoxy that is now enshrined in law.

Meanwhile, Evangelicals and other religious dissenters are preparing to pay the cost of theological faithfulness. Gov. Mike Huckabee anticipates that many pastors, university presidents, and Christian businessmen will be forced to choose between following God's will and obeying the state. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is advising churches about the legal implications of this ruling and how to navigate future waters. We have seen the curtailment of religious liberty in other highly secularized western countries, like Canada. This SCOTUS ruling looks to sets the stage for a similar curtailment of religious liberty.

When Christians are forced to choose between God and Caesar, the answer is not a difficult one. But it's a shame that here in America, this once-idealized haven for religious minorities, the awful choice between God and Caesar will likely be thrust upon millions.

Israel Intercepts Gaza Flotilla, Netanyahu Trolls Activists

The Israeli Navy intercepted a flotilla headed to Gaza, reports The Times of Israel.

The flotilla consisted of four vessels containing 50 pro-Palestinian activists. Three of the four ships turned around and went back to their points of origin, while losing contact with the lead ship, the Swedish-registered Marianne of Gothenburg. It is unclear why this happened.

The Marianne, which carried 18 activists and journalists, including former Tunisian President Moncref Marzouki, was boarded by the Israeli navy. More from The Times:

The Swedish-registered Marianne of Gothenburg will now be taken to Ashdod port, after which the activists on board will likely be deported, as Israeli officials had warned.

“In accordance with international law, the Israeli Navy advised the vessel several times to change course,” the IDF said in a statement.

“Following their refusal, forces visited and searched the vessel in international waters in order to prevent the intended breach of the maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. The forces have reported that use of force was unnecessary, and that the process was uneventful. The vessel is currently being escorted to Ashdod Port and is expected to arrive within 12-24 hours,” it went on.

As The Blaze points out, this flotilla incident was much more peaceful than in 2010, when the IDF boarded a ship of activists that resulted in the activists attacking the IDF soldiers.

The passengers on board of the Marianne claimed to be transporting humanitarian aid, except that there was no evidence of any such resources on the ship.

The activists released this:

“We once again call on the government of Israel to finally lift the blockade on Gaza,” the activists said in a statement. “Our destination remains the conscience of humanity.”

Maybe if these activists spent this much time and resources focused to getting rid of Hamas, there would be more progress in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went onto to release an epic statement and letter to the activists. In his statement, he praised the Israeli Navy while taking the activists to task:

"I would like to commend the sailors and commanders of the Israel Navy for their determined and efficient action in detaining the passengers on the ship that tried to reach the Gaza coast in contravention of the law," Netanyahu's statement began.

"This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organization and ignores all of the horrors in our region. Preventing entry by sea was done in accordance with international law and even received backing from a committee of the UN Secretary General," he continued.

Netanyahu then sent out a letter trolling the pro-Palestinian activists (emphasis mine):

"Welcome to Israel,

You seem to have gotten lost. Perhaps you meant to sail to a place not far from here -- Syria, where Assad's army is slaughtering its people every day and is supported by the murderous Iranian regime.

Here in Israel we face a reality in which terrorist organizations like Hamas try to kill innocent civilians. We defend our citizens against these attempts in accordance with international law.

Despite this, Israel transports goods and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip -- up to 800 trucks a day. In the past year we enabled the entry of over 1.6 million tons of products, an average of one ton per person in the Gaza Strip. By the way, these supplies are equivalent to 500,000 boats like the one you came in on today.

Israel provides assistance to hundreds of humanitarian projects through international organizations, including the building of clinics and hospitals.

However, we will not allow the terrorist organizations to transfer weapons into the Gaza Strip by sea. Only one year ago, we thwarted an attempt to smuggle hundreds of weapons into the Gaza Strip by ship. These weapons were meant to target innocent Israeli civilians.

There is no siege on the Gaza Strip, and you are welcome to transfer any humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip through Israel.

Barring the entrance of boats and ships into the Gaza Strip is in accordance with international law and was even backed by a committee commissioned by the United Nations Secretary General.

If you were truly concerned about human rights, you would not be sailing in support of a terrorist regime which summarily executes citizens in the Gaza Strip and uses children as human shields.

If you were to travel around in Israel, you would see for yourself that the only stable democracy in the Middle East guarantees equality for all its citizens and freedom of worship for members of all religions; it is a country that upholds international law so that its people can live in safety and its children grow up in peace and quiet
." 

Right on, Bibi. Keep it up.

Priest Reportedly Spat on at NYC Pride Parade

Fr. Jonathan Morris, a Catholic priest and Fox News contributor, was reportedly spat on while walking down the street during New York City's Pride festivities.

To Fr. Morris' credit, he was far more gracious and forgiving than I would have been after just being spat on. He's right--most people attending Pride would never think of spitting on anyone.

And this is not to condemn or judge the activities of various Pride festivities and attendees throughout the nation, but spitting on people is gross and is never acceptable behavior by anyone--regardless of the political views of the spitter or the person being spat on.

What's Next for Young Conservatives?: NeW National Conference

Powerful conservative young women got the opportunity this past week to hear from award winning authors, policy experts and renowned leaders at the NeW National Conference.

NeW- which stands for Network of enlightened Women, thrives itself on the education of young women with conservative values, cultivating a community to strengthen these values, as well as emboldening young women to speak out on campus and in their communities.

These young woman all rallied together with a strong mission at hand: Constructing an impact on society in an ever diverse and complicated nation.

Such a daunting task as making a lasting impact as a conservative woman in the work place was addressed by a talented panel of women for part of the session. Among these women was Rachel Brand (U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board), Jennifer Butler (State Policy Network) and Heather Pfitzenmaier (The Heritage Foundation). These women addressed something we all can benefit from: building and balancing fulfilling lives in the workplace.

Heather Pfitzenmaier, touched on earning your success-it doesn't just come frivolously. By working diligently and displaying such diligence, leniency will follow in the work place. Pfitzenmaier illustrated an example that as a devoted wife she wanted to follow her husband in his next job move to Michigan. Her boss, seeing her success at the Heritage Foundation trusted her ability to move and become Chair of America’s Future Foundation’s Southeast Michigan chapter.

Jennifer Butler, embodied the passion that many young and hungry millennials have by encouraging a model of the culture that you want. She states, "life is good and aren't we lucky to have choices?"

Her words ring so true. As young woman we are given the opportunity to be fruitful in all of our work. To thrive in the workplace, and to stand out. We are given the opportunity in the to "be deliberate", states Butler. We are given the opportunity to change lives.

Rachel Brand encouraged having substance behind your networking. It's not just getting phone numbers and email addresses. Substance derives from passion and all four women touched on choosing a path that is not prestigious and renowned in its company, but a path that comes from passion and ability to get as much experience as possible.

These successful woman all encouraged that as conservative millennials it is up to us to spread the positive message-to pursue and talk about the visions we wish to complete. Whether it is health care advocacy for all, or education rights, we have the power to change lives and to also find a balance in our own lives.

Townhall's very own Katie Pavlich, was also a speaker at the NeW conference, who advocated these same components for young women in an ever changing world.

Pavlich, a firm advocate for woman's rights was struck by an interesting question from a woman in the audience:

Q. "I read your book "Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women", and I wrote a paper on this assault. This class being a genders study class left my professor angry and handing me my paper back. As a student, how far can I go to challenge my professor?"

A. "You have to listen to your professors. There was one time in college where I actually had to write a paper I disagreed on to get an A."

However, despite the life of a challenged college student, Katie had great advice for young women with a conservative stance in the workplace as well. She stated, "Sometimes being civil is not the path to go to fight back on this war on anti-women," something Pavlich stands firmly for in her book "Assault and Flatter: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women".

She joked that working in Washington D.C. is like dog years, one year is like seven, giving us the opportunity to "set out this time to really invest in work" and form beliefs that you can advocate, something that Pavlich has mastered and is able to pass onto young women who seek to do the same.

The NeW National Conference this year encouraged women intellectually to not only to be conservative advocates on their college campuses, but also in the workplace. In accordance with preparedness, opportunity and drive,the New National Conference showed that a woman has the power to raise her hand and stand strong in the professional world of young conservative difference makers.

Burn: NBC Universal Parts Ways With The Donald

Donald Trump faced a flurry of backlash when he suggested in his campaign announced that immigrants from Mexico were essentially bad people. At best, his characterization of Mexicans was ill-advised stereotyping, and at worst, patently racist. Hillary Clinton, however, called the remarks “very inflammatory,” while around the same time a Mexican cabinet official labelled them “prejudiced and absurd.” Worse, the defiant business mogul still refuses to apologize. And he’s paying the price for it: on Monday, a second major television network publicly parted ways with him, politely informing him to conduct his business elsewhere:

The separation grew out of a petition launched not long after the controversy brewed. And yet, Trump may not let such a public slight go unchallenged:

Donald Trump says he’ll consider suing after NBC announced it was ending its business relationship with the Republican presidential candidate over comments he made about immigrants during his campaign kickoff.

Trump told reporters in Chicago on Monday that he’s not apologizing for claiming some Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime to the country. He says if his “strong stance” on immigration fuels NBC’s decision, he’s fine with it. He says he’ll “probably” sue.

Despite his recent clashes with the Hispanic community, however, Trump is still technically a top tier contender for the 2016 Republican nomination. A recent Fox News survey puts him squarely in second place, garnering 11 percent of the vote overall.

VIDEO: High School Graduates Rusty On Basic U.S. History

Last week, MRCTV’s Dan Joseph showed that nothing is sacred whatsoever when he trolled the graduation ceremony of Centreville High School in Northern Virginia. Before students can celebrate graduating high school, Joseph asked basic history questions, like, in what year did we declare our independence from Great Britain? Of course, the answer is 1776, but 1704, 1674 (or 1673), and 1907 were just some of the years that were given. Yet, regarding who are the Speaker of the House and the Vice President of the United States, these recent graduates fared much better.

Now, we can all mock these students for not knowing basic American history, slam Millennials for being dumb (though a lot of them have political views that make no sense), or criticize our education system for not teaching our children.

At the same time, a lot of Americans who aren’t high school graduates don’t know a lot about history, or the basic machinations of American government. As the Washington Post  reported in June of 2014, Americans had some trouble finding Ukraine on the map; 55 percent couldn’t identify the party that Abraham Lincoln belonged to during the Civil War; 53 percent of Democrats knew that FDR was indeed one of them; two-thirds couldn’t name one Supreme Court Justice; only 38 percent could name the three branches of government; and a 1999 survey by Project Vote Smart found that only 38 percent of Americans 18-25 didn't know the function of the Supreme Court, which is deciding the constitutionality of laws.

Jamie Fuller, who is now the Associate Editor at New York Magazine, who wrote the post, also mentioned that Newsweek’s 1,000-person survey in 2011, found that 29 percent couldn’t identify the vice president–and 73 percent had no clue as to why we fought the Cold War.

So, in the grand scheme of things, we’re all falling short in some area relating to U.S. history, politics, and government.

SCOTUS: EPA, You ‘Unreasonably’ Interpreted The Clean Air Act

In a five-to-four decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency “unreasonably” interpreted the Clean Air Act concerning its onerous and costly regulations it imposed on power plants. The government’s position was that cost evaluations were irrelevant, which the Court found to be “unpersuasive.” Justice Antonin Scalia authored the majority opinion.

As the EPA stepped way outside its bounds, it set back the agenda of the environmental left for now. The Court also noted that it would be up to the EPA to re-determine how “to account for cost” (SCOTUS):

Here, EPA found power-plant regulation “appropriate” because the plants’ emissions pose risks to public health and the environment and because controls capable of reducing these emissions were available. It found regulation “necessary” because the imposition of other Clean Air Act requirements did not eliminate those risks. The Agency refused to consider cost when making its decision. It estimated, however, that the cost of its regulations to power plants would be $9.6 billion a year, but the quantifiable benefits from the resulting reduction in hazardous-air-pollutant emissions would be $4 to $6 million a year. Petitioners (including 23 States) sought review of EPA’s rule in the D. C. Circuit, which upheld the Agency’s refusal to consider costs in its decision to regulate.

Held: EPA interpreted §7412(n)(1)(A) [the federal code outlining harmful air pollutants] unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants. Pp. 5–15.

(a) Agency action is unlawful if it does not rest “ ‘on a consideration of the relevant factors.’ ” Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Assn. of United States, Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co., 463 U. S. 29, 43. Even under the deferential standard of Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, which directs courts to accept an agency’s reasonable resolution of an ambiguity in a statute that the agency administers, id., at 842–843, EPA strayed well be- yond the bounds of reasonable interpretation in concluding that cost is not a factor relevant to the appropriateness of regulating power plants. Pp. 5–6.

(b) “Appropriate and necessary” is a capacious phrase. Read naturally against the backdrop of established administrative law, this phrase plainly encompasses cost. It is not rational, never mind “appropriate,” to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. Statutory context supports this reading. Section 7412(n)(1) required the EPA to conduct three studies, including one that reflects concern about cost, see §7412(n)(1)(B); and the Agency agrees that the term “appropriate and necessary” must be interpreted in light of all three studies. Pp. 6–9.

(c) EPA’s counterarguments are unpersuasive. That other Clean Air Act provisions expressly mention cost only shows that §7412(n)(1)(A)’s broad reference to appropriateness encompasses multiple relevant factors, one of which is cost. Similarly, the modest principle of Whitman v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., 531 U. S. 457—when the Clean Air Act expressly directs EPA to regulate on the basis of a discrete factor that does not include cost, the Act should not be read as implicitly allowing consideration of cost anyway—has no bearing on this case. Furthermore, the possibility of considering cost at a later stage, when deciding how much to regulate power plants, does not establish its irrelevance at this stage. And although the Clean Air Act makes cost irrelevant to the initial decision to regulate sources other than power plants, the whole point of having a separate provision for power plants was to treat power plants differently.

Via Scalia:

Read naturally in the present context, the phrase “appropriate and necessary” requires at least some attention to cost. One would not say that it is even rational, never mind “appropriate,” to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. In addition, “cost” includes more than the expense of complying with regulations; any disadvantage could be termed a cost. EPA’s interpretation precludes the Agency from considering any type of cost— including, for instance, harms that regulation might do to human health or the environment. The Government concedes that if the Agency were to find that emissions from power plants do damage to human health, but that the technologies needed to eliminate these emissions do even more damage to human health, it would still deem regulation appropriate. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 70. No regulation is “appropriate” if it does significantly more harm than good.

Our reasoning so far establishes that it was unreasonable for EPA to read §7412(n)(1)(A) to mean that cost is irrelevant to the initial decision to regulate power plants. The Agency must consider cost—including, most importantly, cost of compliance—before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary. We need not and do not hold that the law unambiguously required the Agency, when making this preliminary estimate, to con- duct a formal cost-benefit analysis in which each ad- vantage and disadvantage is assigned a monetary value. It will be up to the Agency to decide (as always, within the limits of reasonable interpretation) how to account for cost.

Some of the respondents supporting EPA ask us to uphold EPA’s action because the accompanying regulatory impact analysis shows that, once the rule’s ancillary benefits are considered, benefits plainly outweigh costs. The dissent similarly relies on these ancillary benefits when insisting that “the outcome here [was] a rule whose benefits exceed its costs.” Post, at 16. As we have just explained, however, we may uphold agency action only upon the grounds on which the agency acted. Even if the Agency could have considered ancillary benefits when deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary—a point we need not address—it plainly did not do so here. In the Agency’s own words, the administrative record “utterly refutes [the] assertion that [ancillary benefits] form the basis for the appropriate and necessary finding.” 77 Fed. Reg. 9323. The Government concedes, moreover, that “EPA did not rely on the [regulatory impact analysis] when deciding to regulate power plants,” and that “[e]ven if EPA had considered costs, it would not necessarily have adopted . . . the approach set forth in [that analysis].” Brief for Federal Respondents 53–54.

We hold that EPA interpreted §7412(n)(1)(A) unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants. We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit and remand the cases for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

The New York Times reported that the decision reverses the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the EPA ‘s regulations were “reasonable,” though Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in his dissent that attention to the statute highlighting costs was “a matter of common sense, common parlance and common practice.”

As for EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, she was confident that the Supreme Court would side with the government (in the end, not true), but was not too concerned about a decision that would go against the EPA either (via the Hill):

On a Friday appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” EPA head Gina McCarthy said she was confident the Supreme Court would rule in the EPA’s favor.

But she was not too concerned about what would happen if the ruling went against the EPA.

“This is a rule that actually regulates toxic pollution emissions from primarily coal facilities, and we think we’re going to win because we did a great job on it,” she said.

“But even if we don’t, it was three years ago. Most of them are already in compliance, investments have been made, and we’ll catch up. And we’re still going to get at the toxic pollution from these facilities,” she continued.

Furthermore, the EPA’s carbon limits for power plants are expected to shut down more than half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants, which would also reduce the other air pollutants.

Here’s some more the cold water; Ace of Spades’ Gabriel Malor described as “hollow” since most power plants have either closed due these regulations, or paid heavily in legal fees during the course of this case.

Supreme Court Approves Use of Lethal Injection Drug

The Supreme Court decided today in a 5-4 decision that drugs used by the State of Oklahoma in lethal injections are not a violation of the Eighth Amendment and are not an example of cruel and unusual punishment. Scalia, Kennedy, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito (who authored the decision) voted in affirmation while Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Bryer dissented.

From Reuters:

The court, in a 5-4 decision with its conservative justices in the majority, handed a loss to three inmates who objected to the use of a sedative called midazolam, saying it cannot achieve the level of unconsciousness required for surgery, making it unsuitable for executions.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote on behalf of the court that the inmates had, among other things, failed to show that there was an alternative method of execution available that would be less painful.

In a dissenting opinion, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said the court should consider whether the death penalty itself is constitutional. He was joined by one of his colleagues, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Oklahoma's lethal injection procedures came in to question following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. Lockett's execution took more than an hour before he eventually succumbed to a heart attack.

Due to the shortage of drugs used to carry out executions, states have had to develop new protocols for lethal injection. Utah, alternatively, recently re-approved the firing squad as an option for condemned inmates to pick for their execution method.

SCOTUScare “Does Real Violence to the Rule of Law”

On this week's Townhall Review:

After horrible tragedies, like the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, most partisan politicians give some daylight between the tragedy and their own agenda. Not Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Michael Medved explains. Mike Gallagher speaks with Pastor Dimas Salaberrios who personally assisted those hurting in the wake of the shooting. Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, discusses his new book with Michael Medved. Bill Bennett turns to Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol to talk about why, on Iran, George W. Bush was right and Barack Obama is wrong. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal shares his personal faith conversion with Michael Medved. Hugh Hewitt talks with Hoover Institution’s Lanhee Chen about the Supreme Court’s disgraceful 6-3 decision to embrace Obamacare–again. Chen argues that Justice Roberts’ contortions of language do real violence to the rule of law. Guest host Larry Elder on the Dennis Prager Show believes that race is not an epidemic in the U.S., but Democrats have a lot to gain by treating it that way.

Islamic Terror Warnings Issued Ahead of July 4th Weekend

Late last week there were three terror attacks carried out in three different countries after ISIS called for attacks on western targets during the Islamic holiday of Rahmadan.

After the attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement encouraging Americans to stay vigilant as the Independence Day, or July 4th, weekend approaches. 

"Today’s terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait are a reminder of the evolving global terrorist threats. We stand in support of the people of those countries and mourn the loss of those killed. Particularly with the upcoming July 4th holiday, here in the United States the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI continue to communicate with state and local law enforcement about what we know and see. We are encouraging all law enforcement to be vigilant and prepared. We will also adjust security measures, seen and unseen, as necessary to protect the American people," Johnson said. "We continue to encourage all Americans to attend public events and celebrate this country during this summer season, but always remain vigilant. 'If You See Something Say Something™' is more than a slogan. In our great country, acts of mass violence will never divert, discourage or frighten us. Today President Obama eulogizes the Reverend Clementa Pickney in Charleston. The alleged killer sought to divide us. Instead, his actions appear to have had the opposite effect in South Carolina, where people of different races have come together to denounce the tragedy and mourn those killed."

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have issued official warnings about the upcoming holiday weekend. 

Federal authorities have warned local law enforcement officials across the country about a heightened concern involving possible terror attacks targeting the July 4th holiday, a U.S. law enforcement official said.

While there was no specific or credible threat of attack, the official said the intelligence bulletin prepared by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI alerted local colleagues to the ongoing threats posed by the Islamic State and other homegrown extremists. The official was not authorized to comment publicly.

The bulletins are frequently issued in advance of major U.S. holidays out of an abundance of caution and concern that operatives may exploit the timing to generate greater attention.

The warning comes as federal investigators have worked to disrupt a number of Islamic State-inspired plots, including a planned assault earlier this month on police officers in Boston. In that case, authorities fatally shot Usaamah Rahim as he allegedly planned to attack police with military-style knives.

"No credible threat" means nothing when it comes to lone-wolf attacks inspired by ISIS or other radical Islamic terror attacks. They can strike at anytime. There wasn't a "credible" threat against the May 2015 Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas either when we saw two terrorists open fire on the event. Luckily, they were immediately killed by prepared police in the parking lot.

Two weeks ago House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes told CBS the United States faces its highest threat since after 9/11. Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Michael McCaul has echoed that sentiment.

Obama Takes ACA Victory Tour to Tennessee, Where 28,000 Lost Insurance Coverage

The Supreme Court gave President Obama a reason to be giddy about the status of his signature health care legislation on Friday, upholding Obamacare subsidies for individuals living in states without state based Obamacare exchanges. He promptly held a presser at the White House, beaming that the Affordable Care Act was “here to stay.” Now, it appears he’s taking his victory tour to Tennessee.

Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), a former nurse, suggested that maybe the president should have done a little research before choosing her state to promote his pride and joy.

“During his visit to Tennessee, perhaps President Obama will explain why Obamacare customers in our state have been told to expect a 36 percent premium increase next year, despite the President’s promise that his law would save families an average of $2,500 per year. Or maybe he will address the 28,000 Tennesseans who lost their insurance coverage in a single day despite his pledge that ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.’ Whatever the case, the President has picked the wrong location to take a victory lap on the Supreme Court’s irresponsible ruling and my conservative colleagues and I will not relent in the fight to fully repeal Obamacare.”

Ouch. 

The ACA's trail of destruction doesn’t end there. A nationwide CNN poll revealed that twice as many Americans were hurt by Obamacare than benefited from it.

The pinch was especially felt in Tennessee, where state-sponsored insurance programs, which thousands of residents relied on, were effectively shut down thanks to ACA. Here’s how families found out:

Letters are going out this week to explain the changes to people covered by AccessTN, a program for people who have pre-existing medical conditions, and by CoverRX, a prescription benefits program. The 16,000 people enrolled in CoverTN, a limited benefits plan, have already been notified it will end Dec. 31. Many families also have received notice they will no longer be able to buy into CoverKids.

No wonder why Rep. Black is sending a message to President Obama that no speech can put a Band Aid on what these families endured.

“I don’t know what the President will say during his visit to the Volunteer State, but no amount of spin can change the fact that Obamacare is failing to live up to its most basic promises and is hurting too many Tennesseans.”

It Begins: New Calls To Strip Churches of Tax Exempt Status After Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

For years conservatives and proponents of religious liberty in America have warned that if same-sex marriage became legal, the left would then pursue revoking the tax exempt status for religious institutions, particularly Christian churches, around the country.

Just days after the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that gay marriage is a constitutional right, progressive activists like Mark Oppenheimer of the New York Times are calling for tax exempt statutes to be stripped. 

The Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage makes it clearer than ever that the government shouldn't be subsidizing religion and non-profits.

Rather than try to rescue tax-exempt status for organizations that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality, we need to take a more radical step. It’s time to abolish, or greatly diminish, their tax-exempt statuses.

Defenders of tax exemptions and deductions argues that if we got rid of them charitable giving would drop. It surely would, although how much, we can’t say. But of course government revenue would go up, and that money could be used to, say, house the homeless and feed the hungry. We’d have fewer church soup kitchens — but countries that truly care about poverty don’t rely on churches to run soup kitchens.

So yes, the logic of gay-marriage rights could lead to a reexamination of conservative churches’ tax exemptions (although, as long as the IRS is afraid of challenging Scientology’s exemption, everyone else is probably safe). But when that day comes, it will be long overdue. I can see keeping some exemptions; hospitals, in particular, are an indispensable, and noncontroversial, public good. And localities could always carve out sensible property-tax exceptions for nonprofits their communities need. But it’s time for most nonprofits, like those of us who faithfully cut checks to them, to pay their fair share.

Incredible. 

The left will claim they aren't singling out religious institutions through their calls for the revocation of tax exempt statuses because they include non-profits, but the fact is that a majority of non-profits in the country  are religious. The Salvation Army, which truly helps the homeless and addicted clean up their lives and get off the streets, is one example.

Meanwhile, the ACLU said over the weekend it will no longer defend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s after a unanimous vote in the Senate.

Although Justice Kennedy did carve out an exception for religious liberty in his opinion on same-sex marriage last week, it won't be enough to protect it going forward.

"Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate. The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex," Kennedy said in the opinion.

Religious liberty is under attack in America and the next five years will serve as a battleground to protect or destroy it. If religious liberty is in fact destroyed, America will no longer hold onto one of the most important principles that makes it an exceptional nation more tolerant than the rest in the world. We are at a tipping point.

ACLU: We're Not Defending RFRA Anymore

In the wake of the Obergefell v. Hodges  ruling by the Supreme Court, which asserted that there is a constitutional right to gay marriage (specifically states must recognize marriage licenses between two people of the same sex that were issued out-of-state, or in any jurisdiction of the country), the American Civil Liberties Union is no longer going to support federal religious freedom laws.

As their deputy legal director, Louise Melling, wrote in the Washington Post on June 25, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has been used as a tool of discrimination and must be amended so that it cannot be used in a way to discriminate against others. First, she detailed the case of Iknoor Singh, who is a Hofstra University student who wanted to join the U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. He’s also a member of the Sikhism faith. The Army said he could not join unless he removed his turban, shaved his beard, and cut his hair; all things that go directly against his religion. The ACLU sued the Army on behalf of Mr. Singh and won. Melling used this to cite a classic example of an infringement of religious freedom. Indeed, she’s right. And the ACLU was right to invoke RFRA in their lawsuit. Yet, Melling also said that’s the RFRA of olden times:

The RFRA was passed in 1993 after two Native Americans were fired from their jobs and denied unemployment benefits because they used peyote, an illegal drug, in their religious ceremonies. The Supreme Court rejected a claim they had brought under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, but Congress disagreed with the justices and enacted the RFRA with near-unanimous support.

The ACLU supported the RFRA’s passage at the time because it didn’t believe the Constitution, as newly interpreted by the Supreme Court, would protect people such as Iknoor Singh, whose religious expression does not harm anyone else. But we can no longer support the law in its current form. For more than 15 years, we have been concerned about how the RFRA could be used to discriminate against others.

In the states, legislators, governors and businesses are citing state religious freedom restoration acts to justify all manner of discrimination against gay men and lesbians, including at commercial establishments. At the federal level, the Justice Department — under both the Bush and Obama administrations — has said that the government would violate the RFRA if it were to require that organizations not discriminate in hiring on religious grounds in order to receive government funding.

Accommodating his faith doesn’t hurt anyone else; it just requires making an exception to a rule of uniformity that was never truly uniform. Not so in these other cases. Hobby Lobby employees are harmed because they now lack a benefit guaranteed by law. People turned away by an inn or bakery suffer the harm of being told that their kind isn’t welcome. And a teenage immigrant is harmed by not being provided care or even told about other health-care options.

Yes, religious freedom needs protection. But religious liberty doesn’t mean the right to discriminate or to impose one’s views on others. The RFRA wasn’t meant to force employees to pay a price for their employer’s faith, or to allow businesses to refuse to serve gay and transgender people, or to sanction government-funded discrimination. In the civil rights era, we rejected the claims of those who said it would violate their religion to integrate. We can’t let the RFRA be used as a tool for a different result now.

This resurrects the Indiana RFRA fight all over again, where we saw the ugly aspect of what happens when two sides can no longer have a discussion with one another. Forty percent of states have similar RFRA statutes, and the federal law was introduced by then-Rep. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), passed unanimously in the House, and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton after the Senate sent it to his desk by a 97-3 vote.

As for Hobby Lobby, the company didn’t gut contraceptives coverage for their workers; just the ones they feel are abortifacients. They still pay for 16 forms of contraception.

Regarding gay marriage and discrimination, RFRA has never really been grounded in those areas. Additionally, the courts have rejected, even in states with RFRA statutes, the religious exemption argument for marriage-related businesses, which are often the target for the ire of the political left concerning the gay marriage argument. Moreover, 21 states have public accommodation laws, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation by government entities and private enterprises that provide a public service. There are local ordinances as well.

Ace of Spades’ Gabriel Malor aptly noted that it’s unlikely that Indiana RFRA, or any RFRA law, would unleash a “parade of horribles” due to these public accommodation laws, which any state legislature, city council, or county government can pass.

“RFRA is a shield, not a sword,” wrote Malor. Maybe the ACLU is viewing RFRA in exactly the wrong light, and it’s gross naiveté to suggest that the left won’t force their views upon the rest of the public. Oh wait; they’re kind of already* doing that.

*I'll let Guy Benson and Mary Katharine Ham explain the rest.

Ryan: Obamacare Will ‘Collapse Under Its Own Weight’

“Today, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to say,” President Obama said on Thursday after the Supreme Court upheld the state subsidies provision in the Affordable Care Act. In other words, time for Republicans to give up the fight against the health law.

But appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Rep. Paul Ryan seemed unfazed.

Ryan said the current law is not fixable, and, citing the rationing of Medicare, denial of choice, double-digit annual increases in premiums, and the consolidation of insurance companies, he argued that the country won’t stand for it.

“This law’s going to collapse under its own weight,” he said. “I am as motivated as ever before to repeal and replace this law, and that’s what we’re working on.”

Ryan told host John Dickerson that, despite media reports to the contrary, the GOP has plenty of ideas for legitimate replacements to the law, something that he plans to move forward on in 2017 if a Republican is elected president.

“There are a number of alternative ObamaCare bills out there right now, in Congress. So I just disagree with that notion,” said Paul, who was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2012.

“In 2016, we need to show the country what exactly we would replace this law with, so that when we win the election in 2016, we will have the ability to do it in 2017,” he continued, encouraging GOP presidential candidates to talk at length about what they want to do to replace ObamaCare with a system that works better.

As of early June, support for the law stood at a mere 39 percent, which ties an all-time low, last hit in April of 2012. 

#LoveWins? Not in Syria

While many in the United States and abroad rejoiced at the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling on Friday, the Islamic State sadistically “celebrated” in Syria by throwing gay men off of buildings.

In a new video, which has since been removed from YouTube, ISIS sympathizers are seen hurling four gay men off a rooftop while hundreds gathered below to watch the gruesome executions.

ISIS extremists then took to Twitter to share photos from the execution along with the hashtag #LoveWins.

Sick.