Daniel Doherty - Surprise: Efforts to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in New York City Not Going So Well
Posted: 4/22/2014 6:30:00 PM EST

As it turns out, most residents of the Big Apple appreciate tradition and opportunities to ride horse-drawn carriages around places like Central Park -- a practice that has been a staple of New York City for some 150 years. Even so, that must come as quite the shock to newly elected Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio -- who, of course, tried (unsuccessfully) to eliminate the industry altogether after taking the oath of office.

Funded by animal rights activists and aided by PETA, his ongoing efforts to kick horses out of New York City for “humanitarian purposes” have met staunch resistance. The AP reports:

Mayor Bill de Blasio is pulling back the reins on his plans to quickly get rid of New York City's horse-drawn carriage industry, stung by a recent outpouring of support for the colorful coaches that have clip-clopped their way through Central Park for more than 150 years.

A campaign pledge to take on the horses during his first week as mayor was eclipsed by other issues. And as he nears his fourth month in office, he has encountered enough resistance from the usually compliant City Council to slow his plans again, now saying an industry he calls cruel and inhumane will be gone by year's end.

Why the pushback? Two reasons: an effective lobbying campaign to save the industry and…unions?

For one, a media blitz led by actor Liam Neeson has portrayed the horse-drawn carriage industry as an iconic, romantic part of New York that provides about 400 jobs, many to Irish immigrants. In a series of editorials and TV interviews, he has said the operators treat their 200 working horses like their own children.

"I can appreciate a happy and well-cared-for horse when I see one," Neeson wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Times. "It has been my experience, always, that horses, much like humans, are at their happiest and healthiest when working."

The next blow came when a series of city unions — who usually are de Blasio's staunchest allies — broke with the mayor, urging him to reconsider his decision in order to save not only the industry's hundreds of jobs but a profitable source of tourism.

Mayor de Blasio hopes to soften the blow by replacing horses (he defines their treatment as “inhumane”) with old fashioned-looking electric cars -- a pledge he actually made during the last election.

But perhaps that's a mistake; after all, his most recent (unpopular) crusade is hellbent on crushing an industry many people like, including his union buddies.

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Guy Benson - C'mon: Hagan Falsely Accuses GOP Opponent of...Praising Obamacare
Posted: 4/22/2014 5:57:00 PM EST

North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan's -- shall we say -- issues defending her voting record have been well-documented, so it's no surprise that she's turning to dishonest commercials in a flailing effort to save her political hide. But I'm not sure that anyone expected her to lean on a line of attack quite this ridiculous, via the Free Beacon:

Tillis has attacked Hagan for her support of Obamacare, but the ad suggests these attacks are hypocritical because Tillis once described Obamacare as “a great idea.” “Politicians, these days you’ve gotta watch ‘em close—real close,” says the narrator in Hagan’s ad, before playing a clip of Tillis saying “it’s a great idea” in reference to Obamacare. “That’s right. Thom Tillis called Obamacare ‘a great idea,’” the narrator continues. “So Thom Tillis thinks he can attack Kay Hagan over something he calls ‘a great idea’? Watch close, seems Thom Tillis wants it both ways.”

And now, the context:

The Tillis quote was taken from his February 6 appearance on the Bill LuMaye radio show. You can check out the full audio here. The quote in question takes place around the 9-minute mark. Here’s what Tillis said, in the context of broader GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare: “The majority of the stuff that is in Obamacare is bad, because it’s not fiscally sustainable. It’s a great idea that can’t be paid for.” He went on to describe Obamacare as a “policy that’s creating as many problems as it fixes in terms of healthcare,” and “creating the most devastating problem of a deficit that we can’t afford.”

Tillis is clearly an Obamacare opponent -- unlike Hagan, who voted for the law, repeated its false promises, and-- like a trained partisan automaton -- opposed Republican attempts to restore those pledges. So within the last few days, we've seen one Democrat fretting that some of Obamacare's least attractive qualities have yet to "hit the fan," while another laughably tries to beat up on her Republican competitor over...a sentence fragment quasi-praising the disastrous law she's supported at every turn. Allahpundit snarks: "Essentially, she’s trying to maneuver Tillis around into being the pro-ObamaCare candidate so that she can posture as a quasi-anti one. Democrats promised us that O-Care would turn the world upside down, and so it has." Here's the ad. Feel free to point and laugh at Kay Hagan:

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Guy Benson - MSNBC Host: "You Can't Keep Your Crappy Plan! Just Deal With That!"
Posted: 4/22/2014 3:26:00 PM EST

MSNBC host and renowned deep thinker Melissa Harris-Perry has a solution to Democrats' Obamacare woes. Why are the law's supporters constantly walk on eggshells, she wonders, when they can simply assert their "swagger" by angrily berating victims of President Obama's lie of the year? Brilliant stuff. I hope Democrats are taking notes (via MKH):

Virtuosic messaging. Own the lie, while reminding betrayed consumers that their canceled plans were "crappy" anyway. People who liked their existing (and often less expensive) plans that covered their medications and preferred doctors are a bunch of rubes. MHP -- a great fan of the ultimate "junk coverage," by the way -- is here to set 'em straight. Alas, it seems that many Democrats are foolishly rejecting her sound advice. The New York Times reports:

President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the $1.4 trillion effort to extend health insurance to all Americans, is challenging the traditional calculus about government benefits and political impact. Even as Mr. Obama announced that eight million Americans had enrolled in the program and urged Democrats to embrace the law, those in his party are running from it rather than on it, while Republicans are prospering by demanding its repeal.

Maybe they're running because they know that pro-Obamacare "swagger" is a big political loser. The president says the debate is over, casting opponents of the law as heartless, spiteful know-nothings. Fresh polling once again confirms that this may not be the wisest approach:

Clearly unpersuaded by the president, one Massachusetts Democrat isn't sugarcoating the predicament in which his party finds itself. Kudos to Mediaite's Noah Rothman for flagging this:

Speaking to Boston Herald Radio last week, the only member of Massachusetts’ all-Democrat congressional delegation to vote against the 2010 health care reform law, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), warned that the Obamacare — well, you know — is about to “hit the fan.” ... “There are parts of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, that were postponed because they are unpalatable,” Lynch observed. “As these provisions come into effect, the administration thus far is saying, ‘Gee, we really can’t handle this right now so we’re going to delay it.’” ... “We will lose seats in the House,” the Bay State congressman confessed when pressed on the likely political impact of the ACA. “I am fairly certain of that based on the poll numbers that are coming out from the more experienced pollsters down there. And I think we may lose the Senate.” Lynch did not mince words when he said that the Democrats’ dire political straits are “primarily because of health care.”

In short, some of the worst is yet to come -- and we're going to pay a price. But remember, the debate is over because Obamacare is on a "winning streak."

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Daniel Doherty - Dem Rep. Discussing Obamacare: “It’s Going to Hit the Fan”
Posted: 4/22/2014 3:10:00 PM EST

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) was one of the few House Democrats to vote against the Affordable Care Act. This of course gives him a certain degree of latitude to speak objectively about its shortcomings as federal law. And so during an interview with the Boston Herald last week, Rep. Lynch did just that, describing provisions in "the law of the land" as “unpalatable.” Furthermore, he predicted Americans can look forward to more tax hikes coming down the pike -- especially those with ‘cadillac’ plans -- reminding listeners that Obamacare for the first time ever made it a taxable offense to forgo health insurance.

He also raised doubts about the debunked promise peddled again and again by the White House that the government could deliver better health care outcomes -- and insure more people -- while at the same time bringing down overall costs. This was never going to happen.

“I think that’s a very tough promise to live up to under this system,” he intoned. Take a look (via The Right Scoop):

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Sarah Jean Seman - Prof Calls Republicans Racist and Misogynist, Warns They Will Close Colleges
Posted: 4/22/2014 2:45:00 PM EST

Imagine walking into a college class Monday morning and finding the professor ranting against those 'racist, misogynist, money-grubbing people' known as Republicans. Welcome to intro to creative writing at Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU).

If the GOP takes control of the House and the Senate in 2014, Professor Brent Terry warned, ‘colleges will start closing up’ and America could very well revert back not to 1955, but to 1855:'

There are a lot of people out there that do not want black people to vote, do not want Latinos to vote. Do not want old people to vote, or young people to vote. Because generally, people like you are liberal.

You want equality. You want racial equality. You want financial equality. You want to be able to use your education and go out into the world and make it better, but you’d also like to be able to get a job. All these things point toward being liberal.

Never ever in the history of the United States has it been so important to vote….

It's absolutely possible that the Republicans will take over the Senate as well as the House. And we will live in a very, very, very different kind of country if that happens. I mean, colleges will start closing up if they, if these people have their way. They don't think money should go to giving you people dangerous ideas about how the world should be run.

The professor stated maybe one true fact: Republicans do have a very good chance of maintaining control of the House and additionally winning the Senate. Perhaps this one truth fueled the frenzy of lies embedded in the rest of his lecture.

Terry referenced a study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern universities which claimed that the United States has turned from a democracy to an oligarchy:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.

Special interest groups lobby for both Democrat and Republican policies. The study even used the example of "pharmaceutical, hospital, insurance, and medical organizations" lobbying and spending money on health care issues. Rather than show all the facts accurately, the professor used the empirical data to target the GOP.

According to Campus Reform, an ECSU official said the issue is “not a university matter” since faculty have academic freedom to conduct their classes at will.

Fortunately for the future of America, at least one student identified the ignorant accusations being made and recorded the lecture.

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Christine Rousselle - Four Counties in Alabama Have More Registered Voters than Adult Residents
Posted: 4/22/2014 2:45:00 PM EST

Four counties in Alabama have more registered and active voters than the number of voting-age adults in the county. An active voter means the person has voted within the last four years.

As of March, Greene, Hale, Lowndes and Macon counties had more active, registered voters than what the census estimated as their 18-and-older population in 2012.

Active voters are those who have not been placed on inactive status. That happens when the periodic update cards from county boards are returned as undeliverable, or if they don’t vote for four years (two federal election cycles).

Each county has a three-person team that is supposed to ensure the integrity of the voter rolls—e.g. removing names when a person has died or moved out of the county. The discrepancy is being explained as "under-counting" by the U.S. Census, as some people are hesitant to talk to a census worker. Other names may be duplicates.

All four counties voted heavily for President Obama in the 2012 election. Alabama's new voter identification law goes into effect for the June 3 primary.

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Heather Ginsberg - Nevada GOP Dropped Platforms Against Abortion and Marriage Equality
Posted: 4/22/2014 1:50:00 PM EST

Last week, the Nevada Republican Party had a convention to approve their party platform and endorse a candidate for governor. After much debate, the party conventioneers decided to strip opposition to gay marriage and abortion from the party platform, while they also endorsed Gov. Brian Sandoval for re-election. Sue Lowden was also backed for the seat of lieutenant governor over Mark Hutchison, who was endorsed by Sandoval.

The new party platform was proposed by a separate committee and was then approved by a show of hands by convention-goers. There were 520 delegates in attendance, but less than half of them were present at the time of the vote on the platform.

The party chairman stated it was a successful convention. He said, “I think it was about inclusion, not exclusion…This is where the party is going.” Those members of the committee who proposed this new platform said they decided not to deal with social issues this year because the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts had already weighed in and it didn’t make sense to have the party of “personal freedom” to have the government get involved in peoples’ personal lives.

The state party platform had previously defined marriage as “between a man and a woman” and described the party as “pro-life,” but that’s no longer in there.

What seemed to be most controversial during the convention was the decision to endorse a candidate before the primary. Many were worried that this would create a riff in the party and unnecessarily pitted some members against one another.

It will be interesting to see how the decision to remove the right to life and the current definition of marriage from the party platform will affect other states. Perhaps others will follow considering the most recent polls, especially concerning marriage. And will this then come up at our next national convention? I guess we will just have to stay tuned.

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Katie Pavlich - Corrupt as Chicago: Judicial Watch Sues HHS for Obamacare Navigator Records
Posted: 4/22/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

Government watchdog Judicial Watch announced a lawsuit Tuesday morning against the Department of Health and Human Services after officials failed to comply with a November 8, 2013 Freedom of Information Act Request about Obamacare navigators. The suit was filed on March 27, 2014, but was publicly revealed today.

According to Health and Human Services 50,000 people have been hired as navigators to help Americans enroll in Obamacare through federal or state exchanges. Since navigators were hired, HHS has failed to provide a concrete record of what processes navigators must go through before being qualified to handle sensitive information of potential Obamacare enrollees. Judicial Watch is suing for information about navigator qualifications, background checks and records about the navigator program. From the November FOIA:

-Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to contracts awarded to private entities to provide navigators to assist individuals obtaining health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and
-Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to federal requirements for the above-mentioned navigators, including but not limited to background checks and qualifications.

“The Obamacare navigator program seems as corrupt as any Chicago patronage operation – and is a danger to the privacy of millions of Americans who are participating in Obamacare,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The use of Obamacare navigators and the web site should come with consumer warnings. The Obama administration’s illegal secrecy about these Obamacare navigators should make Americans very nervous."

During a Senate Judiciary hearing last year, former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted Obamacare navigators could in fact be felons. In California alone, at least 43 convicted criminals have worked as navigators and handling sensitive information of private citizens.

It has also been documented that people formerly part of ACORN, a group that was stripped of its federal funding in 2009 for alleged illegal activity like promoting underage prostitution and tax fraud, have been brought in to run Obamacare navigator programs. Further, government officials on both sides of the political aisle have learned about the potential for fraud and criminal activity in the navigator program.

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Cortney O'Brien - Sick: British Model Getting An Abortion to Become More Famous
Posted: 4/22/2014 11:30:00 AM EST

Josie Cunningham is already an infamous figure in England. Brits won't soon forget how she used NHS funds to pay for a boob job. Now, she's making a decision that is much more tragic: she is getting an abortion in order to appear on a reality show.

The model was set to appear on Britain's version of "Big Brother," until producers found out she was pregnant, Cunningham told The Mirror:

Puffing on a cigarette and rubbing her baby bump, the controversial model and call girl – who will have her abortion at a clinic this week – said: “I’m finally on the verge of becoming famous and I’m not going to ruin it now.

An abortion will further my career. This time next year I won’t have a baby. Instead, I’ll be famous, driving a bright pink Range Rover and buying a big house. Nothing will get in my way.”

How tragic that Cunningham views a child as "ruining her life" or "getting in her way" of appearing on an inconsequential reality show. Someone needs to open her eyes and plead with her that this is a serious life or death decision. It's not cosmetic surgery, it's a life-ending procedure. No TV show is worth sacrificing a child.

I hope her extra 15 minutes of fame are worth it.

Update: It looks like Big Brother has rejected Cunningham's participation in the show in light of her recent interview.

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Guy Benson - State Department: By the Way, It Looks Like Syria Used Chemical Weapons Again
Posted: 4/22/2014 10:32:00 AM EST

Syria's horrific civil war rages on, with the (unofficial) death toll rising by the day. The Obama administration's formal position on the conflict was that the "Assad must go," but that the US would not intervene unless the regime in Damascus crossed a "red line" by using chemical weapons against its people. Assad just that, a fact on the ground confirmed and acknowledged by our government, pushing America's armed forces to the precipice of a strike. With public opinion calcifying against US military involvement, the president equivocated on whether to seek Congressional authorization for an attack. On that question, 'no' gave way to 'yes,' which then evolved into 'uh oh,' as informal whip counts on the Hill looked bleak. On the brink of an enormous geopolitical humiliation, a cornered Obama had little choice but to latch onto a farcical "deal" offered by Assad and his Russian benefactor, Vladimir Putin, who managed to exploit a gaffe by Secretary of State John Kerry by turning it into official policy. The agreement called for the Assad regime to renounce and turn over the entirety of its chemical weapons stockpile on a strict timeline, supervised by the international community. The logistical chances of this task being carried out on schedule were virtually nil to begin with. The likelihood that Assad's murderous, Iran-backed government would faithfully execute its role as a partner for peace was always zero. And thus, to the surprise of no one, Kerry was forced to admit that the administration's Syria policy was a complete failure earlier this year. The White House wasn't sure it agreed with its State Department's assessment, but the results spoke for themselves:

Syria on Wednesday missed a deadline to hand over all the toxic materials it declared to the world's chemical weapons watchdog, putting the programme several weeks behind schedule and jeopardizing a final June 30 deadline. At the same time, opposition activists say the Syrian air force is attacking the country's biggest city, Aleppo, with barrel bombs, forcing many to flee. Turkey was turning away some of those refugees because camps were now full. Under a deal reached in October between Russia and the United States, which helped avert a U.S.-led missile strike against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Syria agreed to give up its entire stockpile of chemical weapons by February 5. Russia said on Tuesday its ally Damascus would ship more chemicals soon, but Western diplomats said they saw no indications that further shipments were pending.

Assad had crossed the American president's red line, bamboozled the West into accepting a sham "solution," and appeared to have gotten away with it. Indeed, US intelligence sources warned that the Obama/Putin/Assad deal had only strengthened Damascus. And now, new evidence indicates that the Assad regime may have once again employed the very weapons of which they were obligated to have rid themselves under the terms of this useless agreement:

The Obama administration said Monday it has "indications" chemical weapons were used in Syria earlier this month, and is investigating whether the Assad regime might have been responsible. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki discussed the allegations a day after French President Francois Hollande said France also had indications the regime is still using chemical weapons. Bashar Assad's government last year agreed to ship chemical weapons out of his country following a sarin gas attack, as part of a deal to de-escalate tensions with the United States and its allies. President Obama had declared the use of chemical weapons a "red line," but backed off threats of military force following the agreement. The latest attack in question allegedly occurred April 11 in the rebel-held village of Kfar Zeita....Both sides in Syria's civil war blamed each other for the attack in Kfar Zeita....The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that relies on a network of on-the-ground volunteers, said the gas attack happened during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area.

The French believe this latest outrage lands squarely on Assad's doorstep. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, who plied her trade with the Obama campaign, would prefer not to speculate, thank you:

I understand proceeding with caution. Fog of war, etc. But let's say it's definitively proven that the regime once again crossed the chemical weapons red line -- what then? It's bad enough that they're shirking their disarmament responsibilities; vowing to meet those conditions was ostensibly the only thing that spared them a punishing "unbelievably small" US reprisal. So actually unleashing the banned WMDs again would be truly brazen. Is the Obama administration prepared to do anything? Would any potential action be put before Congress? Are there repercussions for defying unambiguous threats from the President of the United States? And would a post-Assad Syria be measurably preferable to the horrible status quo? Obama has no political appetite for any of this, of course, but he may recognize that taking some action (even if it's unpopular) may not be materially worse than telegraphic more rudderless non-leadership to the American people and the world. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, you'll be pleased to know that the United States has unfrozen more than $1 billion in additional cash assets for Iran, in accordance with the interim deal the Obama administration struck with the anti-American fanatics in Tehran. Since that agreement was forged and hailed as a breakthrough by the "smart power" crowd, the Iranian regime has (a) defiantly insisted that they didn't agree to dismantle any element of their nuclear program, (b) been accused of attempting to obtain banned nuclear components, and (c) nominated this man as its ambassador to the United Nations. Terrific. I'll leave you with this:

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