tipsheet
Christine Rousselle - North Carolina's Ultrasound Law Blocked
Posted: 12/28/2014 6:17:00 PM EST

A provision of a North Carolina law that required women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound and view its results has been blocked earlier this week by the Fourth Circuit court of appeals.

In its ruling, the Fourth Circuit determined that the law prohibits a physician’s right to free speech by mandating what conversations doctors are required to have with their patients, “while simultaneously threatening harm to the patient’s psychological health, interfering with the physician’s professional judgment, and compromising the doctor-patient relationship.”

The court also expressed that such a measure seeks to actively humiliate women who do not wish to see this ultrasound and hear their doctors discuss it by forcing her to close “her eyes and covering her ears while her physician — a person to whom she should be encouraged to listen —recites information to her.”

The parts of the law that require a 24-hour waiting period and counseling before an abortion remain in effect. The law was passed in 2011.

It's odd to me that people are ready and willing to keep women in the dark about what is actually happening to their bodies. Abortion is a medical procedure, and should be treated like other medical procedures. An abortionist in Oklahoma was recently arrested after selling abortion drugs to undercover police officers--who weren't even pregnant. This would be unheard of in any other medical scenario. Lying by omission doesn't serve the best interest of women.

Matt Vespa - Officer Rafael Ramos Has Been Put To Rest, Thousands Gathered To Pay Respects
Posted: 12/28/2014 3:15:00 PM EST

The funeral for New York Police Officer Rafael Ramos was held yesterday. Thousands attended the funeral, including police officers from other states–even Canada. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Vice President Joe Biden, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were also in attendance.

Following weeks of demonstrations in the aftermath of the Staten Island Grand Jury’s decision not to file charges against officers in the Eric Garner case, Gov. Cuomo praised police in his remarks:

“I frankly was amazed at the discipline and professionalism that the NYPD demonstrated. The NYPD protected the right of freedom of speech even though they themselves were the target of false and abusive chants and tirades by some. What a beautiful testament to their professionalism.”

Vice President Biden told the Ramos family, “Our hearts ache for you.” He also reassured Ramos’ sons that he would always be with them in their lives:

Justin, and Jayden, you’ve shown tremendous courage and character in these past few days. You are your father’s sons. And he was so, so very proud of you from everything that I have heard. And just know, as hard as it is to believe, he will be part of your life the entirety of your life.

When Mayor de Blasio delivered his remarks, which lasted about ten minutes, he also said “our hearts are aching today” (via NYT):

At the most difficult time in his mayoralty, with his leadership questioned by police and protesters alike, Mr. de Blasio appeared to take pains to avoid standing out.

There were no bold pronouncements, and the mayor did not promise — on this day, anyway — to lead the city out of its current strife. After telling the family of the officer, Rafael Ramos, that “our hearts are aching today,” Mr. de Blasio offered plain-spoken praise for the Police Department, whose support for him, never strong, has crumbled in recent weeks.

“I extend my condolences to another family, the family of the N.Y.P.D. that is hurting so deeply right now,” the mayor said. In a 10-minute speech, he quoted from the New Testament, saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and described how police officers “help make a place that otherwise would be torn with strife a place of peace.”

Yet, officers outside were not moved; some turned their backs to the mayor. NYPD Commissioner William Bratton was not happy with this display saying, “I think it was very inappropriate at that event. That funeral was held to honor Officer Ramos. To bring politics, to bring issues into that event was very inappropriate, and I do not support it.”

At the same time, anything becomes highly politicized once Al Sharpton decides to get involved.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch commented on this incident saying, “The feeling is real, but today is about mourning, tomorrow is about debate.”

Yet, we shouldn’t expect too much from the mayor, especially when he arrived late to the wake of Officer Rafael Ramos on December 26. In fact, some publications, like the New York Times, figured he had skipped the event. They issued a correction once the mayor showed up. He was reportedly two hours late.

Correction: December 26, 2014

An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Mayor Bill de Blasio did not attend the wake. Mr. de Blasio had not at the time that version of the article was published, but he did attend later in the evening.

The mayor’s schedule wasn’t posted until 9pm, which was around the time de Blasio arrived at the Queens church where the wake was being held.

Back in November, de Blasio’s history of lateness was starting to undermine his mayoralty (via WSJ):

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ’s chronic tardiness—he was late this week to a memorial service for Rockaways air crash victims—has reignited questions about his management skills and his image as a leader.

On Wednesday [Nov 12, 2014], Mr. de Blasio apologized for arriving late to a service commemorating the 13th anniversary of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Queens. The victims’ family members described his tardiness as disrespectful and hurtful.

The mayor’s lateness routinely exceeds allowances for city traffic and his busy schedule. He has a long history of tardiness, from infuriating people in Italy gathered for a speech in his ancestors’ hometown this summer to keeping U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer waiting for him at an event in Brooklyn last week.

Harris Stratyner, a psychologist and clinical associate professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said tardiness could reflect poor organizational skills, or an inability to shift easily among tasks, or, a sign of passive aggressiveness, whereby a late arrival is a deliberate slight to others.

Mr. de Blasio isn't the only mayor, or elected official, with a record of lateness. In the 1960s, after Mayor John Lindsay showed up an hour later to a news conference, journalists left the room en masse as a sign of protest, recalled George Arzt, then a reporter for the New York Post.

“We were very much annoyed by Lindsay always being late,” Mr. Arzt said. “After that, he would only be late by a half hour,” he added with a laugh.

Mr. Arzt, who served as a consultant on Mr. de Blasio’s 2009 successful campaign for public advocate, said Mr. de Blasio was late to events then, too.

The article mentioned how Mayors, Koch, Guiliani, and Bloomberg were always aware of being prompt in their mayoral duties; Koch thought it was an indication of your managing style and organizational skills.

I guess we have an explanation on the botched snow removal in the aftermath of Winter Storm Janus last January.

A history of de Blasio’s lateness was documented by New York magazine:

When: November 3, 2013

What: Pre-election rally

How late? Over an hour

Excuse: A mysterious 5 a.m. phone call interrupted his sleep.

---

When: December 4, 2013

What: Press conference to name the first deputy mayor

How late? 31 minutes

Excuse: None

---

When: December 5, 2013

What: Press conference to name the police commissioner

How late? 50 minutes

Excuse: None

---

When: December 12, 2013

What: Press conference to name deputy mayor

How late? 34 minutes

Excuse: None

---

When: December 18, 2013

What: Press conference to name budget director

How late? 19 minutes

Excuse: None

---

When: December 19, 2013

What: Press conference to make an educational announcement

How late? 39 minutes

Excuse: None

---

When: January 28, 2014

What: State budget hearing

How late? 15 minutes

Excuse: None

---

When: March 20, 2014

What: First bill signing

How late? 45 minutes

Excuse: None

---

When: March/April 2014

What: Interview with the New York Times How late? 35 minutes

Excuse: None

---

When: November 6, 2014

What: JetBlue flight from JFK to Puerto Rico

How late? 20 minutes

Excuse: None

---

When: November 12, 2014

What: Memorial for victims of Flight 587

How late? 20 minutes

Excuse: He had a “rough night” and the boat he was traveling on got stuck in some bad fog.


Total lateness: 368 minutes, or 6.1 hours.

Is de Blasio too late to mend the fences with the NYPD? Time will tell.

Sarah Jean Seman - Montana's New Gov. Website Offers Obamacare, Food Stamps, TANF in One Stop
Posted: 12/28/2014 11:43:00 AM EST

Welcome to Montana's new one-stop wonder. The website where residents can apply for Obamacare, food stamps, and housing assistance in one convenient location. 

The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services' recently launched website streamlines the application process for various government assistance programs. The new system allows individuals to enter their information just once to apply for these three programs:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - Formerly Food Stamps

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - Cash assistance

Health Coverage Assistance - Medicaid, Healthy Montana Kids, health insurance assistance and tax credits through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace

The website encourages applicants to learn more about each program, but don't try clicking on the Health Coverage Assistance link, it's experiencing a few technical difficulties: 

This tweet about sums it up:

Leah Barkoukis - New Al Qaeda Magazine Urges Bombing More Planes, Lone Wolf Attacks
Posted: 12/28/2014 9:03:00 AM EST

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is out with a new issue of Inspire, its online English language magazine that’s dedicated to promoting ‘jihad in America.’ And predictably, the group continues to be fixated on airplanes.

“Destination airport, and Guess What’s on the Menu?” is the title to the opening spread of the cover story about how to bomb passenger planes in the slick, professionally designed new issue ofInspiremagazine published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Releasing the digital magazine on Christmas Eve is unlikely a coincidence; it’s the 5th anniversary of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's Christmas Day 2009 bombing attempt on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it was on its landing approach to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

The entire issue is devoted to inspiring lone wolf jihadists in the US and the West, and especially urges attacks on commercial passenger planes. A lengthy section provides detailed instructions on how to build a new bomb AQAP purports can be “hidden” not only on aircraft, but also to blow up other targets with the intent of causing ripples throughout US and Western economies.

The magazine, titled “Neurotmesis: Cutting the Nerves and Isolating the Head,” lists several domestic and international airlines as targets, as well as “direct economic targets,” “economic personalities” and “wealthy entrepreneurs or company owners.”

Also notable in this issue is their detailed instructions for how to make “The Hidden Bomb” and turn kitchens into the new lab for doing so.

“Initially, what we faced as a main problem was: How can a lone Mujahid acquire the required explosive materials. For several months, we conducted a number of experiments. As a result we came up with these simple materials that are readily available around the globe, even inside America - and this is our goal,” AQAP said.

“We spared no effort in simplifying the idea in such we made it 'another meal prepared in the kitchen' so that every determined Muslim can prepare.”

Detailed instructions such as these were used by the Boston Marathon bombers in 2013 to carry out their attack. Dzokhar Tsarnaev admitted to investigators that he and his brother learned to make pressure cooker bombs from an Inspire issue, which ran a feature article titled “How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.” 

Daniel Doherty - Holiday Poll: 75 Percent of Respondents Still See Themselves as Christ-Followers
Posted: 12/27/2014 6:52:00 PM EST

Despite hints and whispers to the contrary, the Christian sect is seemingly alive and well in the United States of America. Check out this recent Gallup poll:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

What's more, according to the poll, while most respondents would probably admit they don't have active spiritual lives, a plurality still do:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Weekly attendance rates, however, vary greatly by sect:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Meanwhile, a Rasmussen Reports poll discovered last spring that an astonishing percentage of Americans actually believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Equally as fascinating, perhaps, almost three-fourths of respondents also told the Pew Research Center in 2013 that Jesus' mother, Mary, was a virgin. This means, among other things, that despite the slight uptick in secularism from last year (see the first graph shown above), Christianity in America doesn't appear to be going anywhere, anytime soon.

Cortney O'Brien - Tragic: Faulty Prenatal Tests Often Lead to Abortion
Posted: 12/27/2014 4:00:00 PM EST

Mothers are aborting their babies based on prenatal test results that reveal their children would be born with genetic defects. A new study, however, proves that these results are wrong 50 percent of the time, meaning these mothers are often aborting perfectly healthy babies. The New York Daily News reported on this tragic trend:

The New England Center for Investigative Reporting found that some women are terminating their pregnancies based on a test result for a genetic condition — even though the center’s study shows that the tests can be wrong 50% of the time. Shockingly, the group also found that the rate of false positives increased as the conditions became rarer.

This rate is devastating for women who are relying on these tests to determine whether or not to keep their unborn babies:

A recent study of 356 women by Natera, which makes the Panorama prenatal test, showed that 6.2% terminated their pregnancy based on noninvasive test results alone.

Illumina, which makes the Verifi test, told the Daily News that it “has always emphasized the need for confirmatory testing.”

Here's just one reason for the inaccurate conclusions:

One of the problems is that test results are often misread. Two Boston obstetricians recently sent cell samples from two nonpregnant women to five testing companies — and three out of the five companies said the women were carrying healthy baby girls.

Unborn children who are diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted a shocking 90 percent of the time. I wonder how many of those children were misdiagnosed? How sad one test determined whether they would live or die.

Also disheartening, is the fact that prenatal tests can also produce false negatives. Parents who assumed their children would be healthy find themselves dealing with serious genetic diseases. A little preparation would have been helpful.

I hope mothers who decide to get prenatal results take this study into account. Don't make a terrible choice based on one, unreliable test.

Conn Carroll - What Exactly Does The Establishment Want Conservatives To Compromise On?
Posted: 12/27/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

Utah billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr., does not like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).

“He’s been a tremendous embarrassment to our family, to our state, to our country to have him as a U.S. senator," Huntsman, last seen feeding Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) false rumors about Mitt Romney, told Politico

Huntsman, Politico reports, is actively recruting "establishment" Republicans to challenge Lee in the 2016 primary. Lee's crime? His role in the 2012 shutdown seems to irk Huntsman the most, but other establishment Republicans in the state seem to want him to compromise more with President Obama.

"Strictly speaking on behalf of businesses, the frustration is when you have people who refuse  ... to work together to come up with solutions that can move us forward," Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce CEO Lane Beattie told Politico. "He has to, from a legislative standpoint in Congress, learn what it takes to make a change - make a difference. You can try all the bills in the world, but if you don't get anything done, what's the purpose unless you are influencing someone?"

And it is true. Obama has not signed into law any legislation authored by Lee. Not that Lee hasn't tried to be bipartisan. As Politico notes, Lee has worked with both Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) on housing and criminal justice reform respectively. Those bills just weren't priorities for Majority Leader Reid so they never went anywhere.

But as Republicans take over the Senate, you should expect to see Lee's influence more. Lee's "Conservative Reform Agenda" is highly thought of by Senate Republican policy leaders and you can expect to see legislation based on his ideas move forward on taxes, higher education, transportation, and welfare reform.

Will Obama sign any of these bills? Probably not.

But what exactly does the Republican establishment want to see Obama sign? Tax reform that raises revenue? A higher gas tax? Amnesty for illegal immigrants? More power for the Department of Education to force Common Core on the states?

What exactly do establishment Republicans like Huntsman and Beattie plan to run on in 2016?

Kevin Glass - How Republicans Can Break the "Obama Coalition" In 2016
Posted: 12/27/2014 9:00:00 AM EST
Much has been made of the "Obama coalition," the demographic mix that carried President Obama to two electoral victories. The media has reported that Republicans face an uphill battle against this supposedly emergent, dominant electoral force.

In a most recent entry, the Associated Press reports:

Despite Democrats' midterm shellacking and talk of a "depressed" liberal base, many in the party still like their starting position for 2016. Ruy Teixiera, a Democratic demographer, points to a group of states worth 242 electoral votes that the Democratic presidential nominee has won in every election since 1992. Hold them all, and the party is just 28 votes shy of the majority needed to win the White House next time.

However...

"The notion of demographics as destiny is overblown," said Republican pollster and media strategist Wes Anderson. "Just like (Bush aide Karl) Rove was wrong with that 'permanent majority' talk, Democrats have to remember that the pendulum is always swinging."

As someone who lived through the "permanent majority" era promised by Karl Rove, I can say this is definitely true. Progressives who believe that, say, Hillary Clinton will be able to motivate the same coalition and turn them out in the same number might be severely overplaying the nature of the Obama coalition. President Obama's genius was being able to turn voters out to the polls who typically aren't interested in voting. Time will tell if anyone other than President Obama will have that unique appeal.

Matt Vespa - MRCTV Asks UVA Students About Botched Rolling Stone Piece
Posted: 12/26/2014 8:15:00 PM EST

MRCTV’s Dan Joseph went to the University of Virginia to speak to students about the discredited Rolling Stone piece that delved into the alleged gang rape of Jackie and the school’s response to it. To make a long story short, the school, Jackie’s friends, and Greek life are portrayed in a very negative light.

To make matter worse, the story devolved into an absolute disaster. Other publications, like the New Republic and the Washington Post, noted the shoddy journalism by RS’s Sabrina Rubin Erdely, specifically when it became known that she didn’t contact any of the alleged attackers. Rolling Stone also botched the apology, saying they had “misplaced” trust in Jackie before tweaking it to put responsibility on them for getting it right.

So, what did Dan Joseph find out when he interviewed students on campus? Unsurprisingly, he found that students were angered by RS’s awful journalism. Some felt that this exercise in journalistic negligence didn’t take away from the validity of Jackie’s claims. Then again, while other students refused to question her claims, they didn’t take it as absolute fact either.

One female student said UVA never struck her as a school infested by rape culture. She also felt RS was more concerned with tearing down UVA than supporting Jackie–and that she doesn’t feel for her safety when she goes to parties.

One of the people Joseph interviewed was none other than Alex Stock (“Andy”) from Erdely’s article who noted that the story–and how it reflects on the school–is just not true. He also mentioned that his portrayal in the piece, along with his friends Kathryn Hendley (“Cindy”) Ryan Duffin (“Randall”), is also patently false. Erdely reported them as being distant, apathetic, and more concerned about their social standing at the school on the night of Jackie’s alleged attack. It was actually Jackie who didn’t want to go to the authorities. He also said the school isn’t the rape capital of the country.

When Joseph asked if the accused deserve due process, another female student said, “Well, I think that we need to be careful of believing them over believing the survivor.”

Two other female students in the video noted that there’s anger on campus at RS from the fraternities for not doing their job in checking all the facts; others were mad at RS’s botched apology.

Another freshman said it’s been a stressful time, and noted that not everyone knows the full gravity of the situation. 

Well, bad journalism can do that.

Another student mentioned that it’s probably the “darkest semester” he’s experienced since enrolling at the school.

Yet, even when the story began to collapse, some feminists refused to acknowledge the journalistic malpractice that had taken place here. Enter Feministing’s Chloe Angyal, who actually had the audacity to thank Erdely for writing this article. Oh, and society hates women, or something:

I have to thank you, Sabrina, for writing this. I think you've done a tremendous act of public service, and I'm genuinely very, very grateful. It is hard to read an article like this and avoid the conclusion that we live in a culture that hates women, just hates us. It's hard to read an article like this and conclude that the men in this culture, the boys and men in this culture, are raised to see women as not just less than them but in some cases as less than human. But one thing really stood out to me, which is the statistic about how boys and men in frats are three times more likely to commit sexual violence. But I think as Raul says -- you know what, I just used a euphemism there, and I shouldn't do that. They are three times more likely to commit rape. And I think Raul makes a really interesting point. This is not just about party schools. And it would be at our peril to pretend that this is just a frat problem. Yes, it at frats and football teams, but it also happens on the chess team and in dance companies. This is not just a frat problem. This is an American problem.

Angyal wrote a post on Feministing about why women coming forward about being sexually assaulted should be believed since they rarely lie about rape. It’s a somewhat better read that Zerlina Maxwell’s irresponsible piece where she basically says due process be damned. Speaking of statistics, some of the ones relating to rape and sexual assault are incredibly shaky. 

Yet, that’s not the issue here. The issue is that Erdely wrote a piece that was insanely inaccurate, it didn’t do activists fighting sexual assault any favors, it will make it harder for women to come forward, and it will distort–or ruin– the reputations of individuals and institutions involved. Now, Erdely's article is indefensible; Angyal has rarely tweeted anything about it since Dec. 11.

Maybe it’s due to the fact that Erdely’s account of the alleged attack comes perilously close to fabrication.

Exit question via Charles Cooke of NRO: does truth matter to the feminist left?

If not, addressing this issue will be like navigating through a minefield.  

Sarah Jean Seman - Shocker: Americans Want to Choose Their Own Health Care
Posted: 12/26/2014 6:00:00 PM EST

In a nation driven by the free market, it should come as no surprise that Obamacare is not getting any more popular. People don’t want to be told what they should or shouldn’t, can or cannot buy—and the same goes for their health insurance plans.

According to a Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday, American’s are as pro-choice when it comes to health care as ever, and they do not want the government mandating coverage:

Seventy-five percent (75%) say individuals should have the right to choose between different types of health insurance including some that cost more and cover just about all medical procedures and some that cost less while covering only major medical procedures. Just 10% disagree, while slightly more (15%) are undecided.

Even more (83%) believe individuals should have the right to choose between different types of health insurance including some with high deductibles and lower premiums and others with lower deductibles and higher premiums. Only six percent (6%) oppose this kind of choice, while 10% are not sure.

Support for these choices is little changed in nearly two years of regular tracking.

Most voters (76%) also believe that employers and individuals should be allowed to buy health insurance plans across state lines, something that is not allowed under the new health care law. That’s the highest level of support measured since April.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a new law which might limit an individual's choice even more, according to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC):

CMS has proposed a new rule that includes an overly reaching provision allowing CMS to re-enroll anyone who has not made the annual trek back to healthcare.gov in a cheaper plan of CMS’ choosing….

To be clear, a citizen will sign up once for a private plan with a healthcare provider, only to have that plan changed by the federal government. Moreover, CMS will change your plan after the open enrollment period ends, leaving you and your family stuck with a potentially unwanted plan for the year.

Don’t forget, the penalty for not having health care coverage will increase every year. In 2014, the maximum fee per family was $285. In 2015, the fee will increase to $325 per adult or two percent of income, in 2016 this rises to 2.5 percent of income. The penalty continues to rise until it caps at the average national premium for the bronze plan.

Even more comforting news: bronze plan premiums are expected to increase by some 15 percent in 2015.

The phrase “Thanks Obama,” just isn't getting old anytime soon.