The New York Times calls this Obamacare provision a "little known" fact. Indeed:
In a little-noticed outcome of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, jails and prisons around the country are beginning to sign up inmates for health insurance under the law, taking advantage of the expansion of Medicaid that allows states to extend coverage to single and childless adults — a major part of the prison population. State and counties are enrolling inmates for two main reasons. Although Medicaid does not cover standard health care for inmates, it can pay for their hospital stays beyond 24 hours — meaning states can transfer millions of dollars of obligations to the federal government.
But the most important benefit of the program, corrections officials say, is that inmates who are enrolled in Medicaid while in jail or prison can have coverage after they get out. People coming out of jail or prison have disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases, especially mental illness and addictive disorders. Few, however, have insurance, and many would qualify for Medicaid under the income test for the program — 138 percent of the poverty line — in the 25 states that have elected to expand their programs. Health care experts estimate that up to 35 percent of those newly eligible for Medicaid under Mr. Obama’s health care law are people with histories of criminal justice system involvement...
The Times quotes conservative health policy expert Avik Roy discussing the public relations problem this may raise: “There can be little doubt that it would be controversial if it was widely understood that a substantial proportion of the Medicaid expansion that taxpayers are funding would be directed toward convicted criminals,” he said. The piece notes that many critics of the "Affordable" Care Act contend that its massive expansion of Medicaid only taxes an already-overburdened program, and that shifting state-level obligations for prisoner care will negatively impact the federal budget. Medicaid is, in fact, a broken system. It does not reduce uncompensated care at emergency rooms (which is often used as an non-factual selling point of the expansion), and its beneficiaries do not experience better health outcomes than their uninsured counterparts. Defenders of this 'care for convicts' program will no doubt argue that it is a humane endeavor that helps reduce criminal recidivism. Here's one such claim from the story:
“For those newly covered, it will open up treatment doors for them” and potentially save money in the long run by reducing recidivism, said Dr. Fred Osher, director of health systems and services policy for the Council of State Governments Justice Center. He added that a 2009 study in Washington State found that low-income adults who received treatment for addiction had significantly fewer arrests than those who were untreated.
I would like to see additional scholarship on this question. The promise of "potentially" saving money "in the long run" sounds nebulous and aspirational (like many liberal policies), not empirical. Taxpayers already foot the bill for inmates' medical treatment behind bars, but the Medicaid gambit permanently extends many convicts' taxpayer-funded care beyond the duration of their sentences. The Times story describes the city of Chicago's new standing policy to automatically enroll inmates as part of the post-arrest intake process. Roy suspects -- rightly, I think -- that this won't sit well with many Americans. Obamacare will reduce incomes for a large majority of American wage-earners, raise costs for two-thirds of small businesses, and is badly failing to attract the uninsured. It will come as cold comfort to law-abiding taxpayers that their rising healthcare costs are being used to subsidize care for criminals.
In an effort to recruit and inspire Western jihadis to carry out attacks in their own countries, Al Qaeda is planning to launch a new magazine in English called Resurgence.
An announcement with the name of the new magazine was posted on YouTube, but that video has since been removed as it violated YouTube’s policy on violence. Imagine that.
NBC News has more details:
If the magazine is launched, it will mark the first English-language publication from the central branch of the terror group. Al Qaeda’s media wing, as-Sahab, which released the 80 second video on the internet this weekend, has for years released messages from senior leaders of the terror group like Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The brief video appears to combine audio from a 1965 Malcolm X speech justifying violence — including the quote “talk the language that they understand” – with images of U.S. soldiers, Islamic militants, a purported attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan and the Boston Marathon bombings.
The announcement comes as al Qaeda central has been devastated by drone strikes in western Pakistan over the past several years and the U.S. commando raid that killed the group’s founder and leader, Osama bin Laden, and suggests that the main branch of the organization is trying to reestablish its waning influence over Islamic militants.
Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism analyst for NBC, said the video appeared to be modelled after Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s online publication, Inspire.
“The announcement appears to be a tacit acknowledgement of the success of Inspire,” Kohlmann said in the NBC report.
“Clearly, al Qaeda's central leadership is seeking to try and recruit Americans from within U.S. borders, including indirectly if necessary — the homegrown terrorism model,” he added.
“Its simplicity appeals in many ways,” Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at Swedish National Defence College, told The Telegraph. “It focuses on the raw emotions of victimhood in the Muslim world which reinforces the al-Qaeda narrative that the West is aggressively at war with Islam.”
It has now been almost 1 year and 3 months since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Now the shooter’s father is finally speaking out about his son. In an interview with The New Yorker, Peter Lanza, the father of Adam Lanza, is giving Americans a different look into the killers’ life.
Now speaking out, Peter said that he now wishes his son was never born,
“That didn’t come right away. That’s not a natural thing, when you’re thinking about your kid. But, God, there’s no question.”
Mr. Lanza has met with two victims’ families, one of which told him they forgave Adam. Peter couldn’t believe their kindness. And when asked if they had a funeral for Adam, Peter said that is something that no one knows and no one ever will.
Apparently Adam’s plan was to enlist in the military when he turned 18, but that didn’t happen. His father told The New Yorker, that Adam was “just a normal little weird kid.” The father of the murderer told the media outlet that he believes that Adam would have killed him too, had he been given the opportunity. Mr. Lanza even went as far to say that Adam shot his mother four times, giving one bullet to each member of the family.
Clearly this is a sad story that will continue to haunt us. With more information now coming out about the shooter, perhaps proper legislation can be passed in order to prevent this type of thing from happening again.
CBS News' Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, known during the Obama administration for her work on Solyndra, Benghazi and Operation Fast and Furious, has resigned from her position at the network.
I have resigned from CBS.— Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) March 10, 2014
According to POLITICO, the resignation comes as a result of frustration over perceived liberal bias at CBS News.
CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has reached an agreement to resign from CBS News ahead of contract, bringing an end to months of hard-fought negotiations, sources familiar with her departure told POLITICO on Monday.
Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network's liberal bias, an outsized influence by the network's corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said. She increasingly felt like her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her reporting on air.
At the same time, Attkisson's own reporting on the Obama administration, which some staffers characterized as agenda-driven, had led network executives to doubt the impartiality of her reporting. She is currently at work on a book -- tentatively titled "Stonewalled: One Reporter's Fight for Truth in Obama's Washington" -- which addresses the challenges of reporting critically on the Obama administration.
As noted above, Attkisson has been at CBS for two decades. During her time at the network, she has heavily scrutinized both Democrat and Republican administrations. Back in 2008, Attkisson debunked Hillary Clinton's infamous claim that she dodged sniper fire in Bosnia. During the Bush administration, Attkisson won an Emmy for her reporting on shady Republican fundraising. In 2012, she won an Edward R. Murrow award and an Emmy for her reporting on Operation Fast and Furious. She has been equally critical of both political parties in Washington D.C.
This is an incredible loss for CBS and no doubt another network's gain. Hopefully she'll land at a place where her important work will be aired and promoted.
This post has been updated.
Some Democrats, like Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, are so in the tank for President Obama that they will excuse any use of executive power no matter how badly it shreds the Constitution.
For example, last week after Obama again delayed Obamacare regulations on health insurance plans, Drum wrote, "As regular readers know, I don't have much patience with right-wing paranoia about how President Obama is ripping apart our democracy by relentlessly issuing executive orders and reinterpreting agency rules."
But other liberals, who have actually studied law, are beginning to develop their own "paranoia" about where Obama's "I will act on my own" strategy is headed.
George Washington University Law School professor and frequent Rachel Maddow Show guest Jonathan Turley, for example, wrote in this Sunday's Los Angeles Times:
The United States is at a constitutional tipping point: The rise of an uber presidency unchecked by the other two branches. This massive shift of authority threatens the stability and functionality of our tripartite system of checks and balances.
I happen to agree with many of the president's policies. However, in our system, it is often more important how we do something than what we do. Priorities and policies and presidents change. Democrats will rue the day of their acquiescence to this shift of power when a future president negates an environmental law, or an anti-discrimination law, or tax laws.
To be clear, President Obama is not a dictator, but there is a danger in his aggregation of executive power.
Turley goes on to list a number of policy areas that Obama has exceeded his constitutional role, including immigration, education, energy, and drug policy. You can read a very similar list here.
And Turley is not alone.
University of Michigan Law School professor Nicholas Bagley, who writes at the liberal Incidental Economist blog, admitted last week:
The lack of a persuasive legal justification matters most not for the current political battles, but for the future. Because the Constitution doesn’t crisply detail what the “take Care” clause means, the phrase accrues meaning through practice. The Obama administration’s repeated delays of the ACA now stand as precedent for future administrations that would also like to postpone statutes. The more the administration delays the ACA, the firmer that precedent becomes.
There’s a risk, then, that the delays will transfer to the executive branch considerable power to refashion statutes. That could spell trouble for health-care reform down the line. What if a future president were to postpone portions of the law that were essential to the law’s ongoing success? Or provisions that protected consumers from sharp insurance practices? The recent delays might give him legal cover to do so.
The worry isn’t confined to health care. The ACA delays stand as potential support for postponing the effective date of any law, whether it’s a tax-reform statute, a new immigration law, or climate-change legislation. But that freewheeling authority to delay substantive law would mark a dramatic shift in the allocation of lawmaking power in our constitutional structure.
Even the author of Living Originalism, Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin, has voiced concerns, warning in the Boston University Law Review, that "[n]ew exertions of executive power crafted to deal with a dysfunctional Congress may serve as justifications for future Presidents to act unilaterally later on."
Democrats better hope they win the White House forever. Because the next Republican president, whomever he or she is, is taking notes on Obama's executive power grabs now. And Democrats will not like how that president will uses them.
Good news for the pro-life community via the Herald-Dispatch: The West Virginia state senate -- comprised of 24 Democrats and 10 Republicans -- passed legislation (HB4588) on Saturday to ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation. The Washington Post also notes that West Virginia is the first state in the nation (controlled by Democrats) to do so, citing fetal pain as a reason:
A West Virginia House Bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy cleared the Senate Saturday, 25-9.
The House still had to give the bill final approval as of press time.
The bill would make West Virginia one of 10 states that asserts a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.
“We were an outlier state in that we didn’t have any regulations,” said Sen. Evan Jenkins, R-Cabell. “Now we’re part of this growing movement."
Legal challenges, however, are expected -- even though it’s up in the air if the state’s Democratic governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, will sign the bill:
On Wednesday, The Associated Press asked Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin if he would sign the abortion bill. He said he would take a look at it if it passed the Senate floor. The House passed the bill in February.
We’ll see if he does. But the legislation does pose problems for national Democrats in general, and the DNC in particular. Will they endorse this life-giving measure passed by both chambers -- or will they decide to go on-the-record, criticizing their own party in the process for taking steps to ensure that viable, unborn babies are protected in the womb? There’s no easy choice here for a party that emphatically and unequivocally supports abortion rights.
Remember, the bill could not have passed without supportive Democrats, as they control the state legislature. And while West Virginia is turning into a red state, watching Democrats pass this initiative is significant in and of itself, no?
Anyway, here's an excerpt from the statement West Virginians for Life (WVFL) blasted out over the weekend:
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act will protect West Virginia’s unborn babies, who can feel pain, and asserts a compelling state interest in protecting the unborn child from pain. Scientific research demonstrates that unborn babies can feel pain beginning by at least 20 weeks after conception. “It is important that West Virginia has asserted its legitimate concern for the well-being of these innocent babies by protecting them from pain,” said Wanda Franz, President of WVFL.
The NSA and Benghazi scandals were everywhere, calls for abolishing the IRS were ubiquitous and I must have heard the word “Obamacare” about a thousand times. One word I didn’t hear too often at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, however, was “abortion.”
In a year that featured successful pro-life legislation and a record number of abortion clinic closures, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one surprised that I had to look far and wide to find a pro-life message at the biggest conservative gathering of the year. As Guy wrote earlier, CPAC seemed to ignore an encouraging CNN poll that revealed 58 percent of Americans are against abortion in all or most situations and organizers are already receiving some fiery feedback for the overall omission. Indeed, at the event, I found only two pro-life organizations represented in the exhibition hall and hardly any anti-abortion material. As for the most anticipated speakers, they usually saved one or two lines to promote a pro-life message - and that was that. Here were a few of them:
Gov. Mike Huckabee: “I know that life begins at conception. And I know that a society that sacrifices its own children is no better than the ancient Philistines.”
Sen. Marco Rubio: “There is nothing moral or acceptable about a government that forces women to have abortions.”
Gov. Sarah Palin: “We’re the party that protects even our littlest sisters in the womb.”
These bold one-liners were effectual, but they were scarce.
Now, I know all of the above speakers are staunch defenders of the unborn. I also know that they were only allotted 10-15 minutes on average to address the audience. But, surely the sanctity of life deserves more than 5-second sound bites?
One refreshing exception was CPAC Co-Chair Carly Fiorina whose pro-life beliefs featured heavily in her remarks. This “proud pro-life woman” at one point proclaimed:
“I accept and respect that not all women agree with me [...] What I am not prepared to accept is that we are waging a war on women, just because we know that abortion at five months is inhumane to both mother and child.”
When I finally heard someone talking at length about the need to defend our unborn, I was pleasantly surprised and shouted a mental, “You go girl!”
The overall lack of pro-life discussion motivated me to try and seek it myself. When I interviewed Governor Rick Perry, I took advantage of the opportunity to ask him about his state’s pro-life legislation HB2, which has already accounted for several abortion clinic closures in the Lone Star State. He responded with some beautiful remarks:
“I hope that America is going to go through and reevaluate the whole issue of life. There is a powerful message for a society that respects life. There is no more powerful way to send that message than to protect innocents.”
Governor Perry went on to speak about the horrors of the 55 million lives that have been taken since Roe v. Wade. I thank him for his speaking up on behalf of the voiceless.
If I perhaps just did not visit the right corners of the conference and missed any encouraging pro-life discussions, then please let me know. But, from what I saw, the issue was mostly MIA.
Hopefully next year, pro-life messages won’t be pleasantly surprising - they’ll be pleasantly expected.
Provocative comments over the weekend from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will provide grist for the 'grassroots vs. establishment' mill for some time. In an interview with the New York Times about the 2014 election cycle, McConnell predicted that Tea Party-backed Senate candidates will get wiped out in GOP primaries this year:
This election season, Republicans led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are taking a much harder line as they sense the majority within reach. Top congressional Republicans and their allies are challenging the advocacy groups head on in an aggressive effort to undermine their credibility. The goal is to deny them any Senate primary victories, cut into their fund-raising and diminish them as a future force in Republican politics. “I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” Mr. McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said in an interview, referring to the network of activist organizations working against him and two Republican incumbents in Kansas and Mississippi while engaging in a handful of other contests. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”
McConnell may be proven correct -- more on that in a moment -- but this was still an unwise thing to say. Making such inflammatory comments about fellow conservatives, especially in the Times of all places, only serves to fan the flames of intra-party distrust and resentment. The timing and intensity of McConnell's smack down is redolent of House Speaker John Boehner's rant against certain conservative organizations during the Ryan/Murray budget debate. Though there was merit to his argument, unleashing a ferocious internecine attack while trying to whip votes for a compromise bill seemed ill-advised. (Boehner's defenders may point out that he delivered his stern message and won the vote handily). In McConnell's case, I suspect that his remarks were prompted by some combination of (a) electoral chest-thumping typical of in-cycle politicians posturing for donors and supporters, and (b) personal frustration. In spite of his strong conservative record over many years of public service, McConnell has been relentlessly attacked as a spineless, Democrat-enabling squish by primary opponent Matt Bevin. Candidates in the Bevin mold are being backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group reviled by many Republican incumbents. When McConnell lashes out at Tea Party candidates, he's almost certainly directing his ire at SCF (see update -- I was correct about this).
Whether McConnell's bravado is borne out by voters remains to be seen. In Texas, a righty challenger to conservative Sen. John Cornyn got blown out in the primary just last week. A new poll shows McConnell leading Kentucky's GOP primary by almost 40 points. Targeted Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts holds a sizable lead over his challenger in Kansas, in spite of the revelation that Roberts no longer owns a home in the state he represents. Mississippi may present the SCF's best chance to pick off an incumbent, as a Human Events poll showed Sen. Thad Cochran tied with challenger Chris McDaniel in December. Attacks are flying in that race: The 76-year-old Cochran admitted to being largely ignorant about the Tea Party, while McDaniel has been accused of attending (and possibly addressing) an extremist event. Elsewhere, contested incumbent-free GOP primaries remain up for grabs in places like Georgia, North Carolina and Alaska. Strong, mainstream conservatives have risen to the head of the primary pack in other races, including in Arkansas (Rep. Tom Cotton) and Colorado (Rep. Cory Gardner).
It's entirely possible that McConnell may be looking at internal polling indicating that "establishment"-backed Republicans are poised to sweep the board over the coming months, but I'm not sure what is gained by inciting a large element of the base. 'McConnell the anti-conservative RINO' is a grotesque caricature. Why give it any oxygen? Yes, the "true conservative" crowd throws a lot of punches, then squeals when anyone shoves back; but as the party's Senate leader, McConnell should be more circumspect about how he discusses internal party tensions. Plus, what the polls say today could very well fluctuate. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were considered extreme long shots by the smart set; those one-time scrappy underdogs are both called "Senator" today. The truth is that Tea Party candidates have cost Republicans dearly over the last few years in places like Delaware, Missouri, and Nevada. But they've also strengthened the GOP in Florida, Texas and Wisconsin -- and we're rarely reminded of establishment nominees who've run terrible campaigns and lost general elections. Facing a real opportunity to oust Democrats from the Senate majority in 2014, the entire center-right coalition must embrace a unity of purpose heading into the fall. The (not unusual) climate of primary acrimony will end, and competitors on both ends of the GOP divide will reconcile out of strategic necessity. But personal attacks and gratuitous goading from either side will make that process more difficult. Mitch McConnell, of all people, should know that. I'll leave you with this. "Flatline:"
I’ve always been and continue to be a big supporter of the Tea Party and the conservative change it’s bringing to Washington. One of the biggest obstacles to that change, however, is the Senate Conservatives Fund, a rogue political operation that has co-opted the Liberty movement for its own enrichment to the detriment of the conservative cause. This is a point that I have been making repeatedly and energetically over the past several months, because in my view this group has deceived a lot of good people. They claim to share our goals but undermine them at every turn. I think they should be stopped, and I don’t mind saying so.
UPDATE II - My thoughts, via Fox News this afternoon:
Anti-gun NBC anchor Bob Costas, the guy who infamously went on a rant about America's
gangster gun culture before the Super Bowl last year, wants the world to know that he isn't a hypocrite for utilizing armed security. Afterall, he argued yesterday during an interview on Fox News, he's never had a personal armed guard. More from AWR Hawkins:
On March 9th NBC's Bob Costas dismissed criticism of his having armed guards while disparaging "gun culture" by saying his guards were NBC and NFL security, not "personal" bodyguards.
He did this while being interviewed by Fox News's Howard Kurtz, who brought up Costas's December 2012 halftime criticism of "the NFL's gun culture."
Kurtz said, "You were accused of injecting politics into halftime, and Fox News's Greg Gutfeld said you were 'a hypocritical buffoon' because you're in New York, and you're surrounded by armed guards, and you don't have to worry about safety."
Costas responded, "In truth, Greg was accurate if you consider one-hundred-eighty degrees from the truth accurate. I have never had a personal bodyguard a single day in my life. There are security people at NFL games that the NFL employs, and there is always massive security at an Olympics, and there... is NBC security."
The problem with this explanation is that Gutfeld did not say Costas hired a "personal bodyguard." Rather, he said Costas "doesn't have to worry about being armed. People are armed for him."
It seems Costas isn't opposed to security, or a "gun culture" where he works. Armed security is apparently perfectly acceptable so long as someone works at NBC or in big NFL stadiums. The good news is, Costas admitted during his interview with Kurtz that he should have clarified in his rant the difference between law abiding American gun culture and NFL gun culture (you can read more about the difference here), but in the past Costas has smeared America's gun culture as being the problem, rather than acknowledging and distinguishing the real problem: a disrespect for firearms inside the NFL.
"There's gun culture int he United States which is corrosive."
"A gun culture in this country, now it plays itself out in many ways but it's a mentality about and toward guns that almost always leads to tragedy rather than safety."
North Korea’s state-run media reported today that the Supreme Leader was elected to the nation’s legislature on Sunday. (This was the DPRK’s first parliamentary “election” since before his father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il, passed away in 2011). And guess what? There were no dissenting votes in his home district.
With no one else on the ballot, state media reported Monday that supreme leader Kim Jong Un was not only elected to the highest legislative body in North Korea, he won with the unanimous approval of his district, which had 100% turnout.
North Koreans went to the polls on Sunday to approve the new roster of deputies for the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's legislature. The vote, more a political ritual than an election by Western standards, is generally held once every five years.
Though results for the other seats in the assembly had not yet been announced, North Korea's media quickly reported Kim had won in his district — located on the symbolic Mount Paekdu — without a single dissenting ballot.
Serious question: Why even bother hosting elections in the first place? If virtually everyone is required to participate -- even citizens living overseas -- and there is only one candidate on the ballot in each parliamentary district, what’s the point? To give off the illusion North Koreans have a "choice" in who “represents” them when, in fact, they do not? Please. Fraudulent elections, as a general rule, only engender more negative press from the West than usual.
Nevertheless, the state media spun the election results pretty much as you might expect:
"This is an expression of all the service personnel and people's absolute support and profound trust in supreme leader Kim Jong Un as they single-mindedly remain loyal to him," the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.
The Korean Central News Agency isn’t fooling anyone. After all, if support for Kim Jong Un is so widespread and universal, why do thousands of North Koreans try to escape every year? And why, for that matter, do so many North Korean troops stand locked and loaded at the border making sure they don’t escape?
The penalties for trying to flee the country are severe. But the penalties for not showing up to vote -- or, worse, voting ‘no’ instead of 'yes' on the ballot for their district's pre-approved candidate -- are perhaps even worse.
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