West Virginia Will Become the 26th Right-To-Work State

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed legislation to make West Virginia the 26th right-to-work state, but was quickly overridden by the Republican legislature. For bills that don’t deal with budgetary matters or appropriations, a simple majority is needed to override a veto. The state senate had already done so. And the State House of Delegates was expected to follow suit, given that there are 64 Republican members. The law goes into effect July 1 (via Metro News):

The House of Delegates and state Senate made quick work of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s vetoes on the bills that will repeal the state’s prevailing wage and make West Virginia a right to work state in votes taken during Friday’s floor sessions.

The Republican-controlled Senate overrode both vetoes on an 18-16 party line vote while the House voted 55-44 to override prevailing wage and 54-43 to do the same with the right to work bill.

Both now will become law. On July 1, West Virginia will become the 26th state to become right to work while the current prevailing wage will be repealed in about three months.

After debating the right to work bill for more than five hours last week, House members were mainly quiet before the veto override vote.

DHS Employee: The Obama Administration Ordered Us To 'Scrub' Intelligence Of Muslims With Terror Ties

So, in the era of fighting radical Islamic terrorism, the Obama administration reportedly told workers at the Department of Homeland Security to scrub the records of Muslims with terror ties; information that’s been collected for years, according to Philip Haney. Haney broke his silence on the matter last week in The Hill, where he said that the president’s remarks that the intelligence community couldn’t connect the dots post-underwear bomber in 2009 was infuriating since these actions would remove any chance at doing so. Haney had been a DHS employee for 15 years:

Twenty-three-year old Nigerian Muslim Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab intended to detonate Northwest Airlines Flight 253, but the explosives in his underwear malfunctioned and brave passengers subdued him until he could be arrested. The graphic and traumatic defeat they planned for the United States failed, that time.

Following the attempted attack, President Obama threw the intelligence community under the bus for its failure to “connect the dots.” He said, “this was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.”

Most Americans were unaware of the enormous damage to morale at the Department of Homeland Security, where I worked, his condemnation caused. His words infuriated many of us because we knew his administration had been engaged in a bureaucratic effort to destroy the raw material—the actual intelligence we had collected for years, and erase those dots. The dots constitute the intelligence needed to keep Americans safe, and the Obama administration was ordering they be wiped away.

[…]

Just before that Christmas Day attack, in early November 2009, I was ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). These types of records are the basis for any ability to “connect dots.”

[…]

As the number of successful and attempted Islamic terrorist attacks on America increased, the type of information that the Obama administration ordered removed from travel and national security databases was the kind of information that, if properly assessed, could have prevented subsequent domestic Islamist attacks like the ones committed by Faisal Shahzad (May 2010), Detroit “honor killing” perpetrator Rahim A. Alfetlawi (2011); Amine El Khalifi, who plotted to blow up the U.S. Capitol (2012); Dzhokhar or Tamerlan Tsarnaev who conducted the Boston Marathon bombing (2013); Oklahoma beheading suspect Alton Nolen (2014); or Muhammed Yusuf Abdulazeez, who opened fire on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee (2015).

Now, this is just one account, albeit a devastating one. It shows that the Obama administration isn’t doing what many feel right now–keeping the country safe. Nevertheless, we shall see if anything more comes of this.

Ohio Machete Attacker Could Be 'Lone Wolf' Terrorist

The FBI is investigating Somali-born assailant Mohamed Barry, 30, as a possible "lone wolf" terrorist after he attacked four people at a busy Ohio restaurant Thursday night.

According to CNN:

Authorities are investigating Thursday's machete attack at a Columbus, Ohio restaurant as a potential "lone wolf" terror attack.  His motive remains unclear, but investigators are trying to determine if the Nazareth Restaurant & Deli was chosen under the mistaken belief the restaurant had a Jewish owner.

Here's Why President Obama Won't Speak at Malia's Graduation

Appearing on The Ellen Degeneres Show today, President Obama was read a love poem from his wife, Michelle, and explained why he wouldn't be speaking at his daughter Malia's graduation from the Sidwell Friends School later this spring. According to Obama, who considers his eldest daughter to be one of his best friends, he turned down an offer to speak at her graduation because he will be "sitting there with dark glasses, sobbing."

Obama also revealed that he has considered going out in disguise and talked about how hard it will be to send daughter Malia off to college in the fall.

"She's one of my best friends. It's going to be hard for me not to have her around all the time, but she's ready to go," Obama said of his 17-year-old daughter, a senior at the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in Washington. "She's just a really smart, capable person and she's ready to make her own way."

He said he declined an invitation to speak at her upcoming graduation. "I said 'absolutely not,' because I'm going to be sitting there with dark glasses, sobbing," Obama said.

Malia, 17, has not yet announced where she will be attending college, but visited some pretty prestigious schools during her college application process.

At the end of the day, despite partisan differences, it's important to remember that the president is still a human being with normal, fatherly feelings.

Pro-life Women Warn South Carolina Not to Vote for Trump

Pro-life women leaders are once again urging voters to choose “anyone but Trump” in the 2016 race. The coalition, made up of advocates from groups like Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America, sent out an urgent anti-Trump letter to voters ahead of the Iowa Caucus last month, which they say led to a “slowdown in momentum” for the outspoken billionaire. They’re hoping to have the same success in South Carolina.

Dear South Carolina voters,

As pro-life women leaders from South Carolina and across the nation, we urge Republican primary voters to support anyone but Donald Trump. On the issue of defending unborn children and protecting women from the violence of abortion, Mr. Trump cannot be trusted and there is, thankfully, an abundance of alternative candidates with proven records of pro-life leadership whom pro-life voters can support.  We have come to this conclusion after having listened patiently to numerous debates and news reports, but most importantly to Donald Trump’s own words.

The letter goes on to list a few more specific reasons as to why Trump is not the right candidate for the pro-life movement – the most egregious of which being his desire to place his sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, on the Supreme Court. Barry is hardly a pro-life warrior – she once struck down the common sense Partial Birth Abortion ban in New Jersey.

The open letter was signed by the following pro-life activists. Will they be able to disrupt Trump's current double-digit lead in The Palmetto State?

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List

Tami Fitzgerald, North Carolina State Director, Susan B. Anthony List
Maggie Gallagher
, Columnist and author

Rep. Donna Hicks, South Carolina District 37

Laura Beth Kirsop, Chairman of the Upstate Young Republicans & Pro-life Advocate
Andrea Lafferty
, President, Traditional Values Coalition
Beverly LaHaye
, Founder and Chairman, Concerned Women for America

Aimee Murphy, Founder, Life Matters Journal

Marilyn Musgrave, Fmr. Congresswoman, VP of Government Affairs, Susan B. Anthony List

Penny Nance, President and CEO, Concerned Women for America

Melissa Ohden, Abortion Survivor and Pro-life Activist & Speaker

Star Parker, Founder and President, Urbancure

Tonya Shellnutt, State Director, Concerned Women for America South Carolina
Jill Stanek
, National Campaign Chair, Susan B. Anthony List

Rep. Wendy Nanney, South Carolina District 22

Jim Gilmore Drops Out of 2016 Race

Longshot Republican presidential candidate Jim Gilmore has suspended his campaign for president after only 12 people voted for him the New Hampshire primary, reports The Des Moines Register. 

The former governor of Virginia only made it onto the debate stage twice due to his poor polling. Here's a bit more about his political history before running for the highest office in the land:

Gilmore's exit from the race marks the latest disappointing campaign in a political career that once elevated him to national prominence. Elected governor of Virginia in 1997, Gilmore was chosen by then-President-elect George W. Bush in December 2000 to take the helm of the Republican National Committee. His tenure as party chief, however, was rocky and brief, and after reportedly clashing with White House aides like Karl Rove, he resigned the post after just a year on the job.

Six candidates remain in the running. 

The next GOP contest is the South Carolina primary, where Donald Trump is ahead by double digits.

Surprise: Taxpayer Funded PBS Fails to Ask Hillary a Single Question About FBI Investigation

Well, in case you didn’t watch PBS’ Democratic debate last night, a possible felon and a disheveled 74-year-old senior citizen held another debate, where they found agreement, but also yelled at each other over how to drag America to the left on certain areas of public policy.

As taxpayers, it’s a friendly reminder that throughout the two-hour debate not a single question was asked about the Department of Justice’s investigation into Hillary’s probable mishandling of classified information. Instead, moderator Gwen Ifill decided to ask about the candidates about the resentments of white people.

To be clear, this is a pertinent question for the former first lady, who’s facing three separate federal investigations related to her private email system. Two stem from the State Department and the other emanating from the FBI. It was revealed yesterday that State slapped the Clinton Foundation with a subpoena last fall, where they asked for documents relating to projects that might have needed approval from the government while Hillary was serving as Secretary of State. Chris Cillizza explains why the latest development comes at a bad time (via WaPo):

It furthers the "where there's smoke, there's fire" argument. This hurts Clinton both coming and going. For Republicans, it hands them yet another way to suggest that something untoward is going on with Clinton. For Democrats, it increases their anxiety about the possibility of nominating someone who could fall under an ethical cloud just as the party is trying to elect them to the White House.

* It makes it increasingly difficult for Clinton, as she has done since the revelation that she had a private email server broke a year ago, to cast the questions raised about her time at State as simply a partisan fishing expedition. "There is a concerted effort to try to make partisan advantage by really trying to throw so much at me that even if little splotches of it stick, it will cloud peoples's judgment of me," Clinton told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow this week. "That is a burden I carry."

There is, without question, a desire on the part of many Republicans to cast Clinton in the worst possible light using almost any means necessary. But it strains credulity to believe that Republicans somehow concocted a way to get the State Department and the FBI to look into Clinton's tenure at State.

As I wrote in this space this week, at some point Clinton will need to directly face down the fact that it's not just Republicans who are talking about her emails or her paid speeches or the Clinton Foundation. The numbers coming out of the New Hampshire exit poll make plain that Democratic voters care about honesty in their politicians, and those that prize it the most are voting heavily against Clinton.

Yet, apparently this didn’t warrant a question from Ifill, or the co-moderator Judy Woodruff last night. So, there’s your taxpayer-funded news for you, folks.

Poll: Voters Open To Revolution To Steal Other People's Money

Katie delivered a punch to the gut when she wrote yesterday that a majority of Millennials prefers socialism to capitalism. Yes, in one sense, it makes me want to round up left-leaning members of my generation, lock them in a barn, and set it on fire (but let’s not go there). To make matters worse, we have a Vox/Morning Consult poll showing that most are open to a political revolution to steal other people’s money (via Vox):

Fifty-four percent of respondents to our online poll — which reached a sample of 1,884 registered voters nationally from Friday, January 29, through Sunday, January 31, 2016 — agreed that a "political revolution might be necessary to redistribute money from the wealthiest Americans to the middle class." Just 30 percent said they disagreed.

Liberals and liberal-leaning demographics were most likely to agree with the statement. But majorities of independents, white voters, evangelicals, and even Tea Party supporters in our sample agreed too — showing that redistribution may no longer be a dirty word in American politics.

Of course, keep in mind that responses to a poll statement in a vacuum may differ quite a bit from how people will feel after hearing political debate and messaging from both sides.

And the poll contained one troubling result for Sanders. When people were asked whether big government or big business was a bigger threat to the country's future, 55 percent named big government, compared with only 29 percent who named big business — suggesting the country hasn't moved so far to the left after all, and that an agenda that will expand government remains a tough sell.

If you watched PBS’ Democratic debate last night, a Facebook user asked if there were any areas of government that Clinton or Sanders would cut. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) gave the typical pro-efficient government talking point, which is code for I support HUGE government. Not to mention, the man is a democratic socialist; there are virtually zero areas where government should be cut for people of this persuasion. Lastly, this is the Democratic Party; folks who believe that more centralization of federal power is good, especially in the hands of a progressive few who will bring social justice to all peoples. So, we shouldn’t be shocked that they’re not going to minimize government’s scope in any way, shape, or form. Yet, I am a bit unnerved that some members of the Tea Party are voicing support for this left wing charade of revolution to redistribute wealth.

I guess the silver linings here are that a) those who call themselves Tea Partiers, who agree with this nonsense, were never true conservatives to begin with and b) big government is still more feared than big business. 

Hey, The Supreme Court Might Decide On ‘Assault Weapons’ After All

Yes, I know that there’s no such thing as assault weapons, but let’s just entertain this awful piece of liberal jargon for the sake of argument. Over at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw noted that it might be time for the high court to definitively rule on whether it was a constitutional right for Americans to own AR-15 rifles.

Second Amendment enthusiasts were again hit with disappointment last December when the Court decided to take a pass on whether to hear oral arguments on an assault weapons ban implemented in the Chicago-area city of Highland Park. Now, on the east coast, deep-blue Maryland’s 2013 assault weapons ban is back in the legal crosshairs, with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that a stricter legal standard should have been applied to ascertain its constitutionality. It’s a tremendous decision, though the current ban remains in effect while the legal camps begin arming themselves for the fight ahead.

For starters, as we rehash the legal fight over Maryland’s ban, we’ll have to take another look at the caveats placed by the Supreme Court during the landmark DC v. Heller case, which guaranteed an individual right to own firearms in the defense of one’s life or property that are not associated with a well-regulated militia. This was applied to federal enclaves; it was expanded to the states in the McDonald v. Chicago decision.

Yet, the Court noted that this right was not unlimited, and that certain limitations on weapons considered “dangerous and unusual” could pass constitutional muster. Grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades, and atomic weapons fit this category, not AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. Yet, as Dahlia Lithwick wrote in Slate, it’s dubious whether the Supremes will get involved in Kolbe v. Hogan. It’s certainly a possibility, and it offers another legal avenue for Second Amendment supporters to make their case for a broader ruling over the entire country concerning the legality of assault weapons bans. On a side note, Ms. Lithwick, like most left-of-center publications, need to brush up on their firearms nomenclature (of which I sometimes screw up) right:

Turning to Heller’s caveat that “dangerous and unusual” weapons might not be protected under the Second Amendment, the majority notes that the district court erroneously believed that semi-automatic rifles are too dangerous “based on evidence that they unleash greater destructive force than other firearms and appear to be disproportionately connected to mass shootings.” The 4th Circuit then argued that since handguns kill far more people than semi-automatic weapons, and that since Heller made handgun ownership constitutional, the less overall deadly semi-automatic assault weapons must not be dangerous and unusual either.

Writing alone in dissent Judge Robert B. King is unequivocal: “Let’s be real: The assault weapons banned by Maryland’s FSA are exceptionally lethal weapons of war. In fact, the most popular of the prohibited semiautomatic rifles, the AR-15, functions almost identically to the military’s fully automatic M16.” He also notes that the Supreme Court specifically called out M16 rifles in Heller when defining “dangerous and unusual.”

Judge King concluded his opinion on a regretful note of warning: “To put it mildly, it troubles me that, by imprudently and unnecessarily breaking from our sister courts of appeals and ordering strict scrutiny here, we are impeding Maryland’s and others’ reasonable efforts to prevent the next Newtown—or Virginia Tech, or Binghamton, or Fort Hood, or Tucson, or Aurora, or Oak Creek, or San Bernardino.”

[…]

As Linda Greenhouse mused when the court declined to take the Illinois case back in December, the fact that the court couldn’t muster four votes to review the Highland Park assault ban implies “that one or more of the justices who signed on to Justice Scalia’s strained reading of history seven years ago in District of Columbia v. Heller are reacting to the country’s bullet-ridden landscape by showing symptoms of buyer’s remorse.”

Greenhouse also argued that the split between Thomas and Scalia—who desperately wanted to hear the case—and the silent conservatives who had also voted to strike down the handgun ban in Heller, reflected “the chasm on the conservative flank between, on the one hand, two justices who embrace all-out judicial activism and, on the other, those who are willing to wait and see.”

We will all have to wait and see what happens next in the Kolbe appeal, and whether it becomes the vehicle for the high court to bless the constitutional principle that the only thing better than a nation teeming with assault weapons is the logic that holds that lethal assault weapons are so common and so very useful that they must also be safe and ordinary.

First, there are no weapons that are “less deadly semiautomatic” weapons, unless you’re referring to bolt-action rifles, commonly associated with hunting, or muzzle-loaders, of which no one has really used en masse since the 18th and 19th centuries.

Second, a handgun is a semiautomatic weapon. An AR-15 rifle is also a semiautomatic weapon; both use the same operating system, which is why this argument is so silly. Moreover, an M16 rifle, the ones used by our military, fires multiple rounds per trigger pull, hence the automatic function. That makes it a wholly different weapons system from the AR-15, not identical. And, yes, automatic firearms for civilians are legal if you are willing to undergo the long process by the ATF, wherein you pay a tax and have your weapons catalogued in a database. The background check can take up to a year or more.

Given that the both handguns and the civilian AR-15 rifle have the same operating system, will liberals honestly make the "it looks scary" argument? That would be hilarious. Additionally, as Jazz noted, there is no public safety issue here. Rifles and shotguns are rarely used in criminal acts, and gun homicides have been almost cut in half since the early 1990s. The gun homicide rate has dropped by 3.9 percent from last year, according to the FBI.

Yet, in the case that this comes before the Court, Lithwick aptly noted that if our side couldn’t muster four votes for the Highland Park case–it shows that we might have trouble regarding keeping the pro-Second Amendment wing of the Court in line.

While many of us abhor these bans, it’s very easy to see a judge make the argument for them, stating that because handguns and shotguns are still readily available for civilian use in areas with such assault weapons bans–the law might be fine given the principles of federalism. Yes, residents of Highland Park might not be able to own AR-15s, but if they can still own handguns and shotguns for personal protection, the former of which is more widely used by civilians (and more practical regarding carrying), why should we interfere with a state or local ordinance? Moreover, is the Second Amendment is truly being infringed if handguns and shotguns can still be owned in areas where these so-called assault weapons are banned? All 50 states, including Washington D.C. have carry rights*, albeit more restrictive in some areas than others, so is there really a legal question that nine lifetime appointed legal minds need to make a judgement on right now? It's perfectly legal for a handful of deep-blue states to be stupid and ban these weapon. They already have.

Of course, I’m against this argument. Law-abiding Americans should have the right to own any firearm they choose, and carry those firearms in all 50 states. I want national reciprocity, but our successes in the courts have provided a sort-of double-edged sword. A federal judge in Cook County struck down Chicago’s ordinance banning gun sales within the city limits due to infringements on Second Amendment rights, Heller, McDonald, and the Ninth Circuit ruled that current gun owners and permit holders being subjected to California’s 10-day waiting period was a violation of their right to bear arms; there is a consensus. There is little question regarding what the Second Amendment means in our court system (though that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down), so it’s quite possible that nothing may come of the Kolbe case as there is nothing to be settled. There is an opening for oral arguments; we just might be surprised. But given how SCOTUS reacted initially to Highland Park and the few petitions concerning concealed carry–we shouldn’t hold be shocked if nothing changes. If they do decide to take up Kolbe in the future, it’s tremendous news; if not, well, its just business as usual regarding gun rights on the Court. 

Yes, this is sort of a wet blanket post, but let's not try to get overly excited. The door can once again be shut in our faces.

*Oh, and that’s another Second Amendment battle the Supremes have refused to hear–which is whether “justifiable need” clauses in may issue carry states are unconstitutional.

Congress Passes North Korea Sanctions, Ryan Says "Strategic Patience" is Not Working

Congress has acted to expand sanctions against North Korea after the nations’ daring satellite launch last weekend. The bill passed the Senate Wednesday with a unanimous vote of 56-0 and then overwhelmingly in the House, 408-2.

CNN provides a few details regarding the new restrictions:

The legislation requires the President to investigate sanctionable conduct by North Korea, including proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human rights abuse, cybersecurity attacks, and other actions. It also mandates sanctions against anyone involved and steps up enforcement of these sanctions.

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the bill Friday, insisting it was a necessary step because the president’s strategy of “strategic patience” with North Korea is simply not working.

Earlier this week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee with a warning that North Korea was on a dangerous path to restarting their plutonium reactor.

In a nice change of routine, President Obama is not expected to veto the bill.

Hold Me Closer, Bernie Sanders

Some Friday fun: Here's a Bernie Sanders-themed parody of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," titled "Hold Me Closer, Bernie Sanders."

This election is something else, eh?

Pope Francis Lands in Cuba; Meets with Russian Orthodox Patriarch

Pope Francis has landed in Cuba for a brief visit before the start of his papal visit to Mexico. The Cuba trip was a relatively last-minute addition to His Holiness' itinerary, and while visiting the island nation he had a historic meeting with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. This is the first meeting between the two leaders in 962 years.

The meeting was announced last week, on February 5.

Prior to the meeting, the Bishop of Rome tweeted that Wednesday was a "day of grace" and that the meeting was a "gift from God." He also asked for prayers.

The meeting is expected to last for two hours, and is private, but Catholic News Service tweeted images of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill greeting each other. Pope Francis told Patriarch Kirill "we are brothers."

While Wednesday marked the first meeting between the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and the pope in nearly a millennia, Pope Francis has been active in his efforts to establish communication with the Orthodox churches. In 2013, Pope Francis extended an invitation to Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I to attend his papal inaugural Mass, which he did. This marked the first time an eastern patriarch had attended a papal installation since Constantinople split from Rome in 1054.

While it's uncertain as to what will come from this meeting, it's certainly a positive step forward.

Following the meeting, the Vicar of Christ will continue on to Mexico, where he is expected to stay until February 17th.

Thanks, Obama: North Carolina's Largest Health Insurance Provider Could Leave ACA Market

Katie mentioned last December how UnitedHealth Group Inc. was expecting hundreds of million in losses, and the possibility of withdrawing from the Affordable Care Act marketplace by 2017, since Obamacare isn’t becoming more affordable. More Americans are seeing paying the penalty to remain uninsured as the better economic choice than enrolling with insurance programs that have seen nothing but premium hikes.

Guy has written extensively about the unmitigated catastrophe that is the Affordable Care Act, which is a government policy saga dotted with nothing but premium hikes–even hitting plans considered cheap. The exchanges are a mess, and the enrollment projections for this year have been reduced by 8 million. Now, we have Blue Cross’s CEO bracing for financial disaster in North Carolina, of which his company is the state’s largest insurer, who might stop selling Obamacare policies altogether. Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the only insurer who sells ACA plans in all 100 counties (via The News and Observer):

Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurer, expects to report its second consecutive financial loss in the coming weeks, as the company contends with continuing cost overruns under the Affordable Care Act, CEO Brad Wilson said Wednesday.

Wilson warned that Blue Cross cannot continue sustaining financial losses indefinitely in North Carolina and may have to decide later this year whether to get out of the ACA market in 2017. Blue Cross raised rates by an average 32.5 percent this year in the state, but Wilson said that wasn’t enough to stem losses.

VIDEO: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina president and CEO J. Bradley (Brad) Wilson talks to the News and Observer editorial board Wednesday, February 10, 2016 about the first years of working with the ACA, running a profitable business and a possible insurance rate increase. Harry Lynch The News and Observer

“We can’t offer something for sale in this marketplace that we know every time it’s purchased we’re losing money,” Wilson said.

[…]

A move by Blue Cross to stop offering federally subsidized policies would force more than 300,000 North Carolina residents to try other insurers, if they still offer ACA coverage, or revert to being uninsured. A withdrawal by Blue Cross would be acutely felt, as it’s the only insurer under the ACA that offers coverage in all 100 counties in the state.

Wilson said the size of the rate increase approved this fall by the N.C. Department of Insurance for next year would likely determine Blue Cross’s ACA strategy. He said the company will have to assess whether the rate increase the agency approves “makes sense” for the company.

The expenditures Wilson’s company undertook were astronomical, with him saying, “In year one [2014], five percent of our ACA customers consumed $830 million in health care costs. That’s how much money went out of our door to pay for the heath care for the sickest five percent of the ACA population that we had; we collected $75 million in premiumsbetween what they could contribute and the government subsidy. Any way you cut it that’s an unsustainable business model.”

Folks, it’s not working. And premiums are going to spike again right around the time we all head to the polls in November.

Alabama Congressman Proposes Drug Tests for Food Stamp Recipients

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) made a proposal Thursday that will surely ruffle the feathers of those on welfare in this country.  The proposed plan would require food stamp recipients to be subject to drug testing.

"This is a compassionate way to try and help these people who have issues, instead of turning the head,"  Rep. Aderholt said.  

The food stamps program, officially known as SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides funding assistance for low-income families which totals to nearly 46 million or 1 in 9 Americans.  The average monthly SNAP payment in the U.S. is $125.35 per participant.  SNAP costs the U.S. government about $74 billion last year, double what it did in the first year of President Obama's administration.

Tom Vilsack, head of the USDA, questioned Rep. Aderholt's plan.  "What other programs that we (USDA) supports or provide assistance to are we going to require drug testing?" Vilsack said. "It's a situation of equity. We're not sure what problem we're trying to solve here."

Double Shooting At High School in Arizona, Say Police

Update: A tragic update to this story, via CNN:

Two 15-year-old female students were killed in Friday morning's shooting at Independence High School in Glendale, Arizona, said Glendale police Officer Tracey Breeden.

Original Post

Police in Glendale, Arizona are investigating reports about a double shooting at Independence High School Friday morning where two teens have reportedly been shot.



Glendale Police have indicated the situation is under control.

The campus is currently on lockdown.

More details to come.

Obama Talks Income Inequality At $33k-per-Ticket Fundraiser

Last night, President Obama held a fundraiser in the San Francisco Bay area, where he told presumably wealthy donors to be concerned about inequality and the wave of populism that’s sweeping the nation. Oh, and did I forget to mention that one ticket to this event cost $33,400 (via the Hill):

Obama has previously expressed surprise by the enthusiasm generated by Trump and Sanders. But he urged donors attending the $33,400-per-ticket fundraiser to understand that populist candidates in both parties are tapping into something real.

“Despite all the progress we've made ... what is true is that people are anxious,” the president said. “People are deeply concerned about inequality in the sense that the system is rigged against ordinary folks."

"And they're not wrong.”

Obama’s audience was full of members of the “1 percent,” the type of people Sanders, a democratic socialist, has railed against.

The fundraiser was held at the home of Steve Westly — a former California gubernatorial candidate, major Democratic donor and former eBay executive — in Atherton, Ca., annually listed as one of the wealthiest towns in America.

Yet, it’s the Republicans who are the party of the rich. I’m pretty sure both parties share that title.

Moderators Have Still Not Asked Democrats One Question About Abortion

Sen. Marco Rubio’s best moment at the Feb. 6 Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire didn’t come in the form of an answer, but a question:

"Why doesn’t the media ask Hillary Clinton why she believes that all abortions should be legal, even on the due date of that unborn child," he said.

With that important inquiry, the Florida senator proved he is doing the work the media isn’t. He exposed an obvious bias: The debate moderators so far have asked the GOP candidates about their anti-abortion views, particularly in regards to defunding Planned Parenthood, yet have not posed one question about the issue to their Democratic counterparts.

Of course, the Democrats argue there’s nothing to see here.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Clinton responded to Rubio by calling his comment “pathetic” and proceeded to give a non-answer about her record of advocating for “safe and legal” abortion.

If you think this is just a conservative, pro-life point of view, you’re mistaken. Even pro-abortion activists want to hear the candidates’ perspective on what they term “reproductive freedom.” 

"Tell the moderators to ask a question about abortion access and reproductive freedom at the Democratic debate," the group urged supporters ahead of the Milwaukee event.

It’s not like the moderators didn’t have the opportunity. Clinton was happy to brag about her support of both Planned Parenthood and NARAL at Thursday’s CNN/PBS debate, yet neither Gwen Ifill nor Judy Woodruff followed up on her comments.

Here’s what I would ask if I were sitting in the moderator chair: So, even after that undercover video investigation exposed Planned Parenthood negotiating the sale of fetal body parts, do you still feel comfortable with their endorsement?

Pro-life advocates on Twitter had some other suggestions:

Ted Cruz Releases "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Clinton" Ad

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) released a hilarious new ad lampooning the printer destruction scene from the movie Office Space. In the ad, "Hillary Clinton" destroys a computer to the tune of a Clinton-ized version of the Geto Boys song "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta."

And here's the full video:

Clever, funny, and topical. A refreshing change for a political ad, and this one might be my favorite so far this election cycle.

Unfortunately, the Geto Boys aren't too thrilled:

This post has been updated.

Facebook Refuses to Remove Nude Picture of Donald Trump

One can only wonder why someone spent untold hours of their life photoshopping a nude image of Donald Trump. The picture is making the rounds on Facebook.

Facebook's own policy regarding nudity states, "We remove photographs of people displaying genitals..."

Yet in an interesting twist, Facebook has altered their enforcement of this policy to allow an unflattering and altered image of Donald Trump in the nude to circulate on their site. The users who flag the image as nudity are receiving this message back from Facebook's team:

Once again I'm forced into the position of defending Donald Trump.

#ThanksFacebook

I wonder what would happen if there was a similar image of Hillary Clinton floating around Facebook?

Trump: 'I'm Capable of Changing To Anything I Want to Change To'


Fox News anchor Bret Baier tweeted this quote from Donald Trump's recent interview with Greta Van Susteren, prodding me to snark that it'll be fascinating to watch Trump's cult of personality cheer on his inevitable mass amnesty proposal:


In fairness, if you watch the clip, it's seems like he's mostly referring to his conduct on the campaign trail.  His "rapid change" comment comes in the context of being challenged on whether dropping F-bombs and amplifying an audience member's mockery of Ted Cruz as a "pussy" is presidential behavior.  Don't worry about that, Trump says. I'll clean up my act "as I get closer and closer to the goal:"


Lest he disappoint any of his fans who openly delight in his crass outbursts, calls for roughing up protesters, and overall boorishness, Trump tosses out some chum decrying "political correctness" midway through his answer. But he's also sworn up and down that at a later stage of this process, he'll transform himself into "the most politically correct person you've ever seen."  Two problems here: (1) Video tape is a thing that exists.  All of Trump's antics -- from the silly to the serious -- can be instantly called to mind in a general election through ads and online content, even if the billionaire drastically changes his tone.  Even if Trump disciplines himself to play an angelic choir boy for weeks on end, the public record still exists.  Democrats are giddily compiling a lowlight reel, itching to deploy it in the fall in order to underscore the point that Trump is unfit to be president.  Many Americans, especially in key voting blocs, are already heavily predisposed to agree with that proposition.

(2) Trump's self-assessment that he's "capable of changing to anything I want to change to" also applies to his political "principles."  This is a man who's reportedly switched party affiliations five times since the late 1980's.  Who's donated to Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  Who was pro-choice, was anti-gun, and was (is?) pro-Socialized healthcare.  Who identified as a Democrat in the mid-2000's.  Who praised Barack Obama and supported his "stimulus" boondoggle.  And who criticized Mitt Romney for being too harsh on the issue of immigration in 2012, right around the time that he became a DREAM Act supporter.  Now he's ostensibly all about big walls and mass deportations.  This bogus transformation is painfully obvious. As I've written before, Trump will be "a conservative" for precisely as long as he perceives that label to be beneficial to Trump, after which he'll morph into The Donald 6.0, or whatever self-serving upgrade we're up to.  Even on the central issues that have vaulted him to the top of the GOP polls, he's quite "capable of changing to anything" he wants to change to.  He says so himself.  His hardcore sycophants will blindly and brutishly go along with literally anything he does -- including murder, he's joked, mocking his own people.  But how might the many pro-Trump voters who are more reluctantly in his corner because "at least he'll do X" react if X suddenly changes to Y, at the drop of a hat?  Or is thoughtlessly discarded altogether?  That's how he operates.

In fact, in order to disqualify principled policy critiques from Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others, Trump is expanding his diagnoses of what ails the GOP to include conservatives.  Everyone's part of the problem, you see. Except for him.  He's here to fix everything.  So strong, so fast, so amazing -- believe him!  That phrase, "believe me!" is a Trump staple.  But why should anyone believe a political chameleon who brags about how effortlessly he shifts and flips?  Most political flip-flops are executed for a specific purpose, and the flip-flopper asks the audience to believe that he now earnestly and fervently holds his new position.  In Trump's case, he's reversed himself on a wide array of issues, and is effectively promising that he'll pull off additional reversals if and when the time comes.  After all, he's a dealmaker, first and foremost.  I'll leave you with two ads the Cruz campaign is running against Trump in South Carolina.  The first is a non-traditional spot needling Trump's many betrayals of conservative ideals and marriages of political convenience.  The second is a hard-hitting broadside against Trump's history of eminent domain abuse, smartly seeking to puncture the celebrity billionaire's populist cred.  Message: Donald Trump has always been out for himself and will do anything, and collude with anyone, to serve his own myopic goals -- including collaborating with government cronies to try to bully a widow out of her home so he could build a parking lot for limousines at his casino (which struggled mightily with debt and eventually shut down):


As others have said, I suspect this is the way to come after Trump.  Deploy a two-pronged approach aimed at both more doctrinaire conservatives who are flirting with him, and at independents who hear his rhetoric and think he's got their back. He doesn't.  Parting thought: Should pro-immigration reform politicians on both sides of the aisle start talking up how much they look forward to cutting deals with Trump once he's president, citing his past positions as evidence that he'll ultimately side with them once his current pander-fest expires?  It'd be some terrific trolling, at the very least. 

Cruz Introduces Bill To Give ICE Agents More Resources

Last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldaña said that her department did not have adequate resources to deal with the consequences of illegal immigration. Now, senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz is joining his colleague Sen. Jeff Sessions in introducing a bill to help the agency enforce our laws. Here’s how the ICE Agent Support Act of 2016 would help ensure justice is served, according to a new Cruz press release:

This legislation would provide ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations with dedicated, substantial revenue from statutory fines and penalties for illegal aliens that are not currently being enforced by the Obama administration, but would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year. The relevant statutory provisions call for fines and civil penalties for refusing to leave the United States after being ordered or agreeing to do so, using false documents, or engaging in marriage fraud.

These funds, Cruz and Sessions wrote, would be used by ICE to track, identify and detain criminal immigrants, and purchase weapons and vehicles necessary for the agency to do its job.

ICE came under fire last year following the tragic death of Kate Steinle. Steinle was killed by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco over the summer who had no business being in the country. He had been deported five times. Her family sued ICE after her death, along with the city sheriff and the Bureau of Land Management, insisting they should have identified and removed her murderer long before he pulled the trigger. 

Before introducing the ICE Agent Support Act, Cruz promoted Kate’s Law, which inflicts punishment on anyone who reenters the country illegally. The common sense legislation is popular with Americans. Yet, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid did everything he could to block it.

Kate’s Law, coupled with the ICE Agent Support Act, are just a couple concrete steps to guarantee that these agents have the resources necessary to protect future Kate Steinles.

Sanders Sounds Off On Hillary: "You Aren't In The White House Yet"

Thursday night’s Democratic debate on CNN, held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was full of side eyes and shouts between contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Viewers knew the event was going to be heated after Clinton lost the New Hampshire primary by double digits to the democratic socialist. With a convincing victory under his belt, Sanders had the momentum – and it showed. He was much more aggressive in his criticisms of Clinton’s record.

The first fireworks came during a discussion of health care. PBS moderators Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff asked Clinton and Sanders to weigh in on how they would ensure Americans can afford their medical bills. Clinton indicated she would continue on the success of Obamacare, then repeated her attacks on Sanders’ plans. He has advocated for people to pay $500 more in taxes to in return get a reduction of $5,000 on their health plans.

Clinton claimed such an idea is equal to “starting all over” on the work President Obama has done.

Sanders was visibly offended that Clinton told voters he wants to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

“I have fought my entire life to make sure health care is a right for all people,” he responded. “I don’t know what economists Hillary Clinton is talking to.”

Then came this moment during a discussion on the two candidates’ plans to expand government. Fed up with Clinton’s arrogant air of assumption she will be the nominee, Sanders reminded her of one thing:

I hope you noticed her smirk.

The two candidates continued to spar over other issues over the next hour and a half, including immigration, Social Security, foreign policy and campaign finance. 

With such a strong following in the south, Hillary Clinton is expected to win the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27 and perhaps put New Hampshire behind her. 

Yet, we now know Sanders is capable of pulling off surprises. Whatever happens, his supporters will likely be pleased with his passionate performance in Milwaukee tonight.

Real Housewives Star Endorses Donald Trump

Former Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice has endorsed Donald Trump. Giduice also appeared on season five of Celebrity Apprentice, which was hosted by Trump.

There's one small problem with Giudice's plan to vote for Trump: She can't legally vote in New Jesery. Giudice was convicted in 2014 on fraud charges and spent 11 months in prison before being released just before Christmas in 2015. New Jersey bars felons on probation, in prison, or on parole from voting. Giudice won't be eligible to vote until 2018.

Trump has also been endorsed by an eclectic mix of celebrities.

Retired General: 'Don't Draft Our Daughters'

When asked if women should be required to sign up for the military draft at last weekend’s GOP debate in New Hampshire, several candidates voiced their approval. After all, the military has opened all combat roles to women. 

Following the debate, Sen. Ted Cruz disagreed with his rivals. He called the proposal “nuts.”

Lt. Gen. (US Army-Ret.) William "Jerry" Boykin appears to agrees with the Texas senator. Boykin, the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, sent an urgent email to supporters on Tuesday noting how concerned he was after last weekend’s GOP debate. He said the new proposal to make women sign up for the draft proves that the military is being used as a social experiment.

Everyone in the military knows that once in, you don't get to choose where you will end up serving. As the current administration has made abundantly clear, the U.S. military is now operating as a testing ground for social change -- at the expense of military readiness. As combat infantry and Special Forces specialties are opened to women, it only follows that if a draft should occur, conscripted women would inevitably be placed in units where the mission is to find and engage the enemy, including hand-to-hand combat.

For some peace of mind, Boykin urged the current presidential candidates to sign the following pledge.

Petition to U.S. Presidential Candidates

I, the undersigned, urge you to reject mandatory registration for selective military service for women. It is unconscionable that we would even contemplate forcing our daughters to be put in in harm's way against their will. The women in our military have a long history of excellent service as volunteers. Should a draft occur, there is no need to conscript our women into service that would ultimately include infantry and Special Forces. The current national discussion on the issue places a liberal social agenda over and above military readiness and respect for the value of America's young women. Don't draft our daughters. I urge you to reject required selective service registration for all American women.

Boykin is perhaps convinced Cruz will sign it. He endorsed the Texas senator Thursday, according to Cruz's campaign.

“The next President will appoint three Supreme Court Justices,” Lt. Gen. Boykin said. “I want Ted Cruz to do that. He is a man of character, integrity, and courage.”

Other politicians are drawing attention to the issue. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is expected to introduce a bill that would block women from registering for the Selective Service. His reason was personal.

“I do not want to see my 15-year-old daughter drafted into the military,” the Utah senator told CNS News.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller disagree. Both are fully supportive of women being included in the draft.

“Every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft,” Neller testified during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

What do Americans think? 

A Rasmussen Reports poll released Wednesday found that a majority of women—52 percent—oppose being required to register for the draft. Thirty-eight percent support enrollment, while 10 percent are undecided.

Meanwhile, 61 percent of men support the government requiring women to register, the Rasmussen poll found.

Chelsea Clinton: I Left the Church at Age Six Over Abortion

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said in an interview at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser that she left the Baptist church because she was not happy that she was told about abortion when she was a 6-year-old.

From LifeNews:

“I find it quite insulting sometimes when people say to my mom, my dad or me . . . that they question our faith,’ said Chelsea. “I was raised in a Methodist church and I left the Baptist church before my dad did, because I didn’t know why they were talking to me about abortion when I was 6 in Sunday school — that’s a true story.”

“My mother is very deeply a person of faith,” Chelsea said. “It is deeply authentic and real for my mother, and it guides so much of her moral compass, but also her life’s work.”

“I recognized that there were many expressions of faith that I don’t agree with and feel [are] quite antithetical to how I read the Bible,” Chelsea said. “But I find it really challenging when people who are self-professed liberals kind of look askance at my family’s history.”

On Twitter, many people raised eyebrows at Chelsea's story:

Now, while I'm not a Baptist and I've never been to church in Arkansas, but as someone who helped teach C.C.D. classes to kindergarteners at my parish for two years while I was in high school, I am positive that nothing involving abortion was ever mentioned to my students in my classroom. It's not appropriate to discuss abortion to someone who is that young, and that topic should be saved for someone who is more mature and able to understand what is happening. Further, most 6-year-olds I taught were far more concerned with coloring than social issues.