Those who have been following the story of Saeed Abedini, the American pastor who was sentenced to eight years in a brutal Iranian prison for his Christian faith, were shocked to learn his name was not even mentioned during negotiations with Iran last month.
Secretary of State John Kerry was pressed on the matter during a hearing on Tuesday, but said the United States didn’t link Abedini’s case “directly to the nuclear issue because we believe that prejudices them. We don’t want them to become hostages or pawns.” He later said the United State has never abandoned its efforts to secure the release of Abedini and two other Americans currently imprisoned in Iran. “It is a constant process and we are engaged in that effort,” he said.
On Thursday, however, members of Congress heard from Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh.
“When I spoke in front of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in March of this year," she said, "I had anticipated that I would battle the Iranian government for my husband’s freedom. I never anticipated that I would also have to battle my own government and that the journey would become even much more difficult than it had been. My husband is suffering because he’s a Christian. He’s suffering because he’s an American. Yet his own government did not fight for him when his captors were across the table from them.”
Her husband’s health is quickly deteriorating as he’s being tortured—physically and psychologically. Additionally, he’s living in deplorable conditions in the prison, being denied medical treatment and faces direct threats to his life almost daily.
To watch her powerful testimony, click here.
Department of Labor records appear to show that MSNBC television personality Ed Schultz collected at least $177,000 from labor unions last year -- and has received $75,000 from the AFL-CIO this year alone.
Coincidentally (or not!), Schultz is an outspoken supporter of unions; indeed, AFL-CIO president Rich Trumka appeared on his show just yesterday. In any case, MSNBC seems to think the payments are just for speaking fees or advertising on Schultz's web site or radio show:
“Independent from MSNBC, Ed's radio show and website sell advertising to a variety of clients — both union and non-union," [MSNBC spokesperson Lauren] Skowronski said. "Also as previously noted, Ed has donated the honorarium from speaking engagements to charity, per network policy.”
But if one looks at the chart below, provided by TruthRevolt.org after a search of Labor Department records, some of the entries look a little funny. What is a television and radio host doing in "Union Administration"? And if Schultz isn't an attorney, what kind of "Representational Activities" is he providing?
In any case, one would think MSNBC might be slightly more curious (or even alarmed) at the prospect of one of their major on-air talents receiving generous payments from organizations that he's supposed to be covering . . . especially if those payments aren't disclosed when Schultz interviews leaders of unions that are paying him or when he aligns himself with causes they seek to have promoted.
It was a catchy political pitch and a chance to calm nerves about his dramatic and complicated plan to bring historic change to America’s health insurance system. "If you like your health careplan, you can keep it," President Barack Obama said -- many times -- of his landmark new law. But the promise was impossible to keep...PolitiFact has named "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it," the Lie of the Year for 2013. Readers in a separate online poll overwhelmingly agreed with the choice.
Richly deserved, champ. Well done. And based on what's coming, this exact same line should be a strong contender for 2014's lie of the year, too -- although 'keep your doctor' might be the early favorite. You may be wondering why 'keep your plan' didn't bring home this honor in 2010, back when it was first perpetrated upon the American people in furtherance of a political fraud. Answer: Because over the last few years, Politifact has been rating Obama's pants-on-fire claim "half true." Back in 2008, they actually gave Obama's verbatim campaign promise an unqualified "true" score. They've also been slapping Republicans for correctly identifying the very lie that they've belatedly awoken to, just in the nick of time. Thanks, Politifact:
In 2012, Leader Cantor said Obamacare would cause people to lose policies they had and liked. Politifact rated him "mostly false."— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) December 12, 2013
Flashback: We called it. All of it.
Yahoo! is spreading peace and holiday cheer with their front page hit on Megyn Kelly. The Yahoo! author seems to have gone to the Katie Couric school of journalism: the "some people are saying" or "some people feel that..." or, in this case, "a number of critics" approach that simply allows them to impose whatever they believe in the article as fact. It's a joke.
Megyn's statement during the segment is a perfect response to those who are irrationaly ruled by their fragile emotions: "Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change."
The holiday line-up includes "Santa Klutz," who luckily has Mrs. Claus to check his insurance list twice, and the "three wise Millennials" who cleverly signed up for their plans before heading to their Christmas keg party.
DoYouGotInsurance.com seems to be the gift that keeps on giving...
Most transparent administration evah...nobody's laughing.
UPDATE - The House has voted overwhelmingly to pass the Ryan-Murray budget agreement. The final score: 332 yeas (169 R / 163 D), and just 94 nays (62 R / 32 D). A blowout. Should conservatives be angry or at peace over this outcome? Read the background below...
The Republican-led House of Representatives will vote this evening on a bipartisan two-year budget proposal hammered out by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in advance of their conference committee deadline. Let's be frank: This "compromise" is a fig leaf that benefits the GOP politically more than it advances any real conservative policy goals. As such, conservatives are beating the hell out of each other over the deal -- because beating the hell out of each other seems to be the Right's raison detre these days. In one corner, you have Bill Kristol, Pete Wehner and Yuval Levin:
It seems to me that the details look a fair bit better than the general outline that had been reported in the press over the past week or so, particularly on the question of whether the entitlement cuts that would replace some discretionary sequester cuts could be expected to actually materialize. As it stands, this strikes me as more or less a very small-scale version of the sort of thing that Republicans hoped might be made possible by the sequester but Democrats insisted could not be: a trade of discretionary savings for mandatory savings without real tax increases...A deal that keeps in place 92 percent of the sequester, replaces the rest (and adds more savings) with fairly durable mandatory savings and other small reforms, and avoids the tax increases the Democrats want would, I think, advance that cause a little. There’s not much to celebrate here, and there won’t be until the Democrats no longer control the Senate and the White House, but there’s not much to bemoan either, and this deal would make it more likely that the Democrats will lose that control.
Across the ring stands our own Conn Carroll, and conservative groups from AFP, to Freedomworks, to Heritage Action, to the Club for Growth who are coming out hard against the bargain. Some critics are also pointing out that by rushing this plan to the floor for a vote, Boehner is violating one of the governing pledges he made upon ascending to the Speakership:
The "they" Boehner begins lambasting at the (0:45) mark of that video is outside conservative organizations like the ones enumerated above. While I happen to concur that some of these groups helped erect unrealistic expectations over the ill-conceived "de-fund Obamacare" shutdown melee -- perhaps, in some cases, for cynical reasons -- I'm not sure how Boehner antagonizing the grassroots helps matters. Some of his own allies seem to share that frustration:
Three responses to Boehner from staff on plan-backing side: "Thank you so much for making this harder." "PLEASE SHUT UP." and "wtf."— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) December 12, 2013
Dan covered Paul Ryan's spat with Marco Rubio over the latter's quick critique the budget plan, and now the House Budget Committee Chairman's staff is seeking to tamp down conservative anger over a "point of order"-related provision buried within the compromise that would make it slightly easier for Harry Reid to move a tax increase out of the Senate. Team Ryan insists that the Senate GOP's ability to filibuster a tax hike remains intact. It wouldn't be Christmas in DC without a giant Republican clusterfark, would it? Over on the Democratic side, Nancy Pelosi is encouraging her members to, um, "embrace the suck" and back the plan. Most indications I've seen suggest that the budget compromise will pass with a combination of Republican and Democratic votes. Whether Boehner will need to break the so-called "Hastert Rule" to pull it over the finish line (meaning, a majority of House Republicans vote 'no') remains to be seen. A senior GOP aide with knowledge of the preliminary whip count tells me they expect "more than half" of the GOP caucus will support the measure. If Ryan-Murray indeed advances through the House, Senate sources say they expect Harry Reid will take it up next week. Stay tuned for the final tally, which will come down around 6 pm ET. In the meantime, here's Boehner's follow-up rant, laying into conservative groups. His "are you kidding me?" outburst comes roughly 90 seconds in:
Ryan-Murray takes "giant steps" in the right direction? C'mon -- even Paul Ryan isn't trying to dress this thing up as some big win. Again, being a filthy, gutless RINO, I actually sympathize with Boehner's message here -- at least as far as it pertains to the shutdown mess. But what purpose does this public statement serve?
To be perfectly honest, I didn't get what all the fuss was about on Twitter at first. But I'm sure you guys will.
Obamacare supporters would probably dismiss this devastating story as nothing more than a mere “anecdote,” an unfortunate consequence of a law that someday, we’re told, will insure millions more American than ever before. So therefore the ends justify the means. But this is yet another example of how some Americans, all of whom were promised they could keep their health care plans, cannot and will not be able to. (By the way, despite the rosy projections, many Obamacare enrollees who think they have insurance coverage starting next year might not. If that proves true, the White House will have a great deal of explaining to do).
Anyway, meet John Gisler. He reportedly tried to sign his middle-aged son (who has a "rare degenerative condition") up for coverage at Healthcare.gov more than 50 times. Finally, he just called it quits (via WaPo):
After three months and more than 50 phone calls, John Gisler gave up on buying coverage through HealthCare.gov.
Gisler wanted to purchase a plan for his 45-year-old son, who has a rare degenerative condition affecting his coordination and speech. His current coverage through Utah’s high-risk insurance pool plan ends Dec. 31. By that time, the Obama administration expects enrollees to transition into health plans sold through the new health-care law.
But so far, Gisler hasn’t succeeded in purchasing coverage -- but not for a lack of effort.
“We’ve had three separate applications that failed to make it through,” Gisler says. “I have a notebook with all the calls I’ve made, maybe 50 or 100. It just goes on and on.”
Earlier this week, Gisler quit trying. Worried about a potential gap in coverage, he decided to forgo his son’s $3,000 tax credit and buy outside of the exchange from a local insurance broker.
The Gisler family has been hit hard: (1) They can’t keep their previous coverage, which presumably they liked; (2) they will (almost certainly) pay more for health insurance in 2014 after forgoing a substantial tax credit; and (3) they had the misfortune and bad luck of experiencing technological snags, managerial incompetence, and a non-functioning website first-hand for months. How many other families are facing similar ordeals? Thousands? Millions? We simply don’t know yet.
Of pressing importance for CNN's Brianna Keilar.
Wife of US Pastor Held in Iran: 'I Never Thought I’d Have to Battle My Own Gov't For My Husband’s Freedom' | Leah Barkoukis
Politifact: On Second Thought, Obama's 'Keep Your Plan' Pledge is 2013's 'Lie of the Year' | Guy Benson
Conservatives Clash as House Prepares to Vote on Ryan-Murray Budget Deal -- UPDATE: House passes 332-94 | Guy Benson
New White House Push: Sign Up For Obamacare Because It Will Give Your Mother "Piece of Mind" | Daniel Doherty
Heartbreaking: Dad Gives Up Trying to Obtain Health Insurance For His Ailing Son on the Exchanges | Daniel Doherty