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
When: December 5, 2013
What: Press conference to name the police commissioner
When: December 12, 2013
What: Press conference to name deputy mayor
When: December 18, 2013
What: Press conference to name budget director
When: December 19, 2013
What: Press conference to make an educational announcement
When: January 28, 2014
What: State budget hearing
How late? 15 minutes
When: March 20, 2014
What: First bill signing
How late? 45 minutes
When: March/April 2014
What: Interview with the New York Times How late? 35 minutes
When: November 6, 2014
What: JetBlue flight from JFK to Puerto Rico
How late? 20 minutes
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.
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:
New Montana DPHHS web portal debuts One Stop for Government Benefits Does not include a job board http://t.co/Cfehq6MbHy— Gordon (@cmegalodon69) December 28, 2014
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.”
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:
What's more, according to the poll, while most respondents would probably admit they don't have active spiritual lives, a plurality still do:
Weekly attendance rates, however, vary greatly by sect: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.
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.
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?
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.
"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.
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.
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.
The phrase “Thanks Obama,” just isn't getting old anytime soon.
The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.
#BlueLivesMatter: The week started off on an incredibly somber note after two NYPD officers were assassinated in Brooklyn over the weekend. The perp, Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley, had a long criminal history as well as reported mental health problems. According to statements he made on his Instagram account, Brinsley was avenging the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Tensions between law enforcement and Mayor DeBlasio were running high after the incident. Former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani reminded folks that the vast majority of law enforcement want to help the communities they serve, not hurt them. He also took a shot at the politicians who’ve been trying to separate communities from the police, saying their actions are “shameful.” Ron Hosko, former FBI assistant director and law enforcement legal defense fund president, also slammed criminals, the media, and race baiters and said that law enforcement are constantly under attack from those who seek to evade responsibility. Meanwhile, showing incredible generosity, the Yankees will be covering the education costs for one of the officer’s two sons.
In the military: President Obama’s approval rating among active duty service members has plummeted to just 15 percent. And as many as 1,300 more troops will be heading back to Iraq this year to serve in what the administration insists is an “advisory role” to help “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. Meanwhile, the State Dept is offering a $5 million reward to get back an al Qaeda terrorist that the U.S. released from Gitmo in 2006. Townhall’s Guy Benson also recently spoke with a former CIA official who defended the agency’s use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques on suspected terrorists after 9/11, saying that it saved an untold number of American lives. The Warner Bros. recently released a trailer for the upcoming film “American Sniper” about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who became the most deadly sniper in U.S. history during his four tours of duty in Iraq. There’s also an interesting new documentary out about what it’s like to be in the IDF.
Economy: Some relatively good news for the U.S. economy came out this week, with the Commerce Department releasing revised figures showing that the economy surged in the third quarter of the year. Now for the bad news: Fewer Americans are working today than before the recession began.
Campaigns and elections: Despite the endless attacks against wealthy Republican donors during the 2014 election cycle, it turns out Democrats were the party that relied more on the rich to fund their electoral pursuits. And looking ahead to 2016, did Sen. Rand Paul announce he will run for president during a Twitter Festivus celebration?
“The Interview” saga continues: Last week the FBI determined North Korea was behind the cyber attack against Sony, but they continued to deny it and threatened to strike the U.S. for “recklessly” spreading that rumor. The country also experienced major Internet outages this week just days after President Obama had promised to respond proportionally. And in light of President Obama saying that Sony had made a mistake for not releasing the film (a point Sony’s CEO said Obama was mistaken about), Townhall’s Conn Carroll wonders why the president didn’t call the entertainment network, seeing that other leaders in similar situations have done just that. In the end, Sony released the film online and in select theaters.
Cuba vows to protect cop killer: While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie urged President Obama to demand that Cuba return cop killer Joanne Chesimard before the U.S. normalizes diplomatic relations, Cuba has defiantly said no, stating their right to protect ‘persecuted’ fugitives.
Inside the Beltway: The pizza industry will continue fighting against one of Obamacare’s more onerous regulations. And the law as a whole will get another day in the Supreme Court, meaning the GOP has until June to replace it. Speaking of next year, here’s nine fights you’ll be seeing in Washington in 2015. It’s too bad retiring Sen. Tom Coburn can’t get his wish.
Immigration: A federal judge dismissed Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s lawsuit challenging President Obama’s immigration overhaul this week. What does that mean for the suit filed by Texas?
Merry Christmas: On the nice list is rock band Madison Rising, which is raising awareness for military families this holiday season. On the naughty list? You guessed it: Barack Obama. The GOP gave the president coal this year, but not for the reason you might think. Finally, we hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!
Graphics by Feven Amenu.