Thanks to a bit of public pressure, Democratic West Virginia legislators have voted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, the point at which unborn babies can feel pain.
Here’s how the interesting vote played out:
The legislation, which passed 79 to 17 with the support of 33 Democrats, was originally defeated by Democrats by a vote of 48 to 48 on February 11 when Minority Leader Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha) made the motion to Discharge the Committee and bring the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to the floor. Democrats then introduced their own bill following uproar from pro-life activists across the state and a contentious Democratic caucus meeting which, according to local media reports included “yelling and screaming, and even delegates concerned that fisticuffs might break out.
Some of the shouting likely came from Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, who said the Legislature does not have the right to tell her or any other woman what rights she has with her body:
"All of you should be ashamed of yourselves for bringing this bill to the floor of the House," she said.
Other delegates called the bill unconstitutional and politically motivated.
But, despite the emotional debate, the Democratic representatives voted in favor of the pro-life legislation, which makes it a felony to perform an abortion after 20 weeks. The sentence for a doctor caught performing the procedure is one to five years in prison.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser is grateful to the Democratic representatives who changed their votes:
“We are especially thankful to the five Democratic women representatives who, bucking pressure from the abortion lobby, voted for this compassionate, pro-woman legislation.”
If the other side is going to cave in on anything, abortion has to be the best issue in which to do so. A bit of healthy pro-life pressure and maybe even a few sincerely changed hearts in the state house allowed West Virginia to take one step closer to protecting unborn babies from these painful and deadly procedures.
Not a tiny handful. Not even an imagined majority. No, every last person who says they've been harmed by Obamacare is lying, according to the Majority Leader of the United States Senate:
He specifically cites the story of a woman we wrote about earlier in the week, whose story...hasn't been debunked. You'll recall that Rep. Gary Peters, Michigan Democrats' presumptive Senate nominee, had his lawyers pressure television stations to refuse to air an anti-Obamacare ad starring a cancer patient who's been hurt by the new law. Julie Boonstra has since explained her situation in some detail and would like to discuss her predicament with the Congressman who's acted to shut down her story. Megyn Kelly followed up on this controversy, telling viewers that Peters has "repeatedly" turned down interview requests. Note well how the Democrat on this panel stammers through rote denunciations of the Koch Brothers (she, like Reid, would rather make this about billionaire boogie men than ordinary victims) while claiming that Ms. Boonstra's story is "not factual" (via Twitchy):
We addressed the facts in our Monday post. Though Boonstra's premiums have dropped under her new plan, she views its new and unpredictable out-of-pocket costs as a financial burden that she is unable to bear. One MSM fact-checker determined that those cross-currents might even out over time -- a hypothetical outcome that's a far cry from Democrats' promise of substantially lower rates. Plus, Boonstra was denied the ability to keep a plan with which she was fully satisfied, a glaring betrayal that must be particularly frightening for a cancer patient. Unable to secure a meeting with the powerful man who's essentially calling her a liar, Boonstra dropped a letter off at Peters' home:
Here's the letter:
She makes three central points: (1) I couldn't keep my plan, so that political lie affected me personally. (2) Politicians and media members do not understand my financial situation better than I do. (3) I should be free to share my experience as I see fit. The Left begs to differ. Indeed, their new tactic -- carried out by everyone from White House spokesmen, to the Senate Majority Leader, to lefty bloggers -- is to assert that Obamacare victims are figments of conservatives' imagination, whose lies are being foisted upon the public by shady rich people. Brian Beutler of left-wing Salon excoriates conservative "hacks" for defending "misleading" ads like the one featuring Ms. Boonstra. He congratulates his fellow liberals for being on the righteous end of a "hack gap," in which right-leaning media types are much more willing to disregard facts and engage in tendentious arguments to suit their ideology. Liberals also pat themselves on the back for winning the "wonk gap," wherein they simply have more expertise on everything. (Click through for a very special look at these two "gaps" in action). Professional Democrat Greg Sargent of the Washington Post is also characteristically mopey over how conservatives are, in his mind, using a cancer patient as a "human shield." The strategy makes it difficult for lefties to poke holes in her story without looking mean-spirited, he whines. Yes, Greg, please do tell us how it feels to witness your ideological opponents use sympathetic spokespeople to make emotional appeals in furtherance of a political cause. Especially if all the details don't quite add up. Mother Jones' Kevin Drum wonders if there's a single person in America who's actually been hurt by Obamacare (Harry Reid has since weighed in), while noted vicious hack and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman dismisses Obamacare horror stories as "hooey." Over at National Review, Alec Torres humbly suggests that Krugman might try reading his own newspaper from time to time:
If Paul Krugman read the paper he writes for, he would have heard about Mike Horrigan, a lifelong Democrat and a former Obamacare supporter. As the Times wrote in December, Horrigan’s “coverage by a state high-risk insurance program was eliminated, then replaced by a more expensive plan. His wife’s individual plan was canceled for being substandard, then suddenly renewed — also at a higher price.” The Times also brought out the story of Barbara Meinwald, whose temporary plan with fewer doctors would cost her $5,000 more a year. “Meinwald also looked on the state’s health insurance exchange,” Anemonia Hartocollis writes, “but she said she found that those plans did not have a good choice of doctors, and that it was hard to even find out who the doctors were, and which hospitals were covered.” Camille Sweeney, written about in the same article, was “dismayed” that neither her pediatrician nor general practitioner was on the plans offered on her state’s exchange.
Literally tens of millions of Americans have been impacted by Obamacare's false promises. From the truly horrific stories, to the millions whose coverage was canceled (or whose plans' networks have been pared down), to the tens of millions on the individual and small group markets whose costs are increasing, vast swaths of the population have been harmed by this law -- with more pain on the horizon. If you choose to deny or ignore this empirical reality, you might just be the sort of cartoonish hack that you smugly believe only exists on "the other side." And to Krugman et al, this is what non-hackery looks like.
He also takes a shot at Americans who "watch the wrong news cast."
They came for the free gifts, for the chance to be on TV, for Barbara Walters. Vice President Joe Biden? Not so much. The New Republic’s Laura Bennett spoke with audience members as they filed into Tuesday’s live taping of The View, and she discovered that Biden was less popular than a bag of sweet potato chips:
Most of the crowd gathered at the studio yesterday hadn’t come to see the veep. They were diehard “View” fans who’d entered the ticket lottery months in advance and had no idea who the guest would be until a few days beforehand. “When I found out it would be Biden, I thought, ‘Well, at least it’s somebody,’” recalled 69-year-old Mary Ellen from Allentown, PA. “It could’ve been some singer I’ve never heard of. At another taping I went to, it was Avril Lavigne.”
The crowd then listed guests they’d much rather see such as Jon Bon Jovi, Ben Affleck, Ozzy Osbourne or Adam Levine and explained that the free swag was very enticing:
“To be honest, I was more excited that Nene Leakes was here on Friday,” one twenty something woman said. Two friends named Lori and Patty, both wearing spangled sweatshirts, had taken the train in from New Jersey for the occasion and were thrilled at the prospect of winning free gifts. Less so about Biden.
Among those presents were a bottle of apple juice, a bag of barbecue flavored sweet potato chips, and a DVD of the film Nebraska.
But, then Biden emerged, and the ambivalent audience seemed to have a change of heart:
From the moment he nestled on the couch amid the ladies of “The View,” it was clear that he had won the room.
Walters increased Biden's confidence by calling him a "superb vice president" and giving him a kiss on the cheek. The veep then told mothers to encourage their children to sign up for Obamacare, denying the health care law was a jobs killer despite the atrocious CBO report and hinted that he has not ruled out a 2016 presidential run.
After his “charming” appearance, Bennett goes on to relate how the audience cheered wildly for him - this time presumably without any prompting from the stage manager. Then, they turned full groupie. Some screamed, “We love you!” and one lady named Rose, who declared it was her fifth time as an audience member, said she’s “never washing her suit” again after Biden hugged her, calling him her “favorite guest of all time.”
The studio audience may have experienced a 360 on Biden during his time on the show, but it’s not hard to understand their hesitation prior to filming. After all, the VP has come to be remembered more for his gaffes than any policy achievements. Tell me, what exactly would he run on in 2016?
If he does throw his hat in the presidential ring, I think Biden’s going to find out the hard way that schmoozing four talk show hosts and an ABC studio audience is a lot easier than winning over a nation.
The American Foreign Service Association is asking the Obama administration to "raise the bar" on qualifications for diplomatic nominees, which shouldn't be hard considering how low the bar has been set.
The union representing America's Foreign Service professionals has a novel idea -- diplomatic nominees should have international experience and probably know a thing or two about the host country where they're being assigned.
The recommendations were part of proposed diplomatic job qualifications put out Tuesday by the American Foreign Service Association, in a bid to increase pressure on the administration to raise the bar on the quality of its ambassadorial picks. The guidelines come after a string of rocky confirmation hearings for a few of President Obama's diplomatic nominees, and amid heightened scrutiny of the time-honored presidential practice of selecting political donors and friends for these high-profile posts.
"It is essential ... that ambassadors chosen to represent the president and lead our diplomatic missions possess the attributes, experience and skills to do so successfully," the group said in its report published Tuesday.
Although the White House won't confirm or deny whether big Obama campaign fundraisers are getting cushy diplomatic nominations, the evidence shows President Obama is paying his buddies back for their work to secure his re-election in 2012 (Obama also did the same after the 2008 election). At least three of President Obama's latest ambassador nominees either know nothing about the country they are going to be working with or they've never visited the country they'll be working with. A reminder of who Obama's buddies are:
Throughout the course of President Obama's tenure in the White House, we've seen major campaign donors coincidentally appointed to fill open ambassador seats, regardless of whether a donor has any knowledge or clue about the country they're being tapped to work with.
Take for example George James Tsunis, a big Obama campaign bundler appointed to be the U.S. Ambassador to Norway who knows nothing about Norway. American Foreign Service Association
Or how about Colleen Bell, who embarrassed herself during a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill after blowing basic questions about Hungary.
As Henri Barkey at the Washington Post relates, Bell - whose resume, aside from handling big wads of cash for Barack Obama's political campaign, includes producing TV soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" - couldn't answer basic questions about American strategic interests in Hungary, a NATO and EU member going through some troubling political crises at the moment.
Noah Mamet, who helped secure half a million dollars for Obama's re-election, has been tapped to be the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina. Mamet has never been to Argentina.
The requirement of knowing basic facts about a country before becoming an ambassador seems like a joke, but in these cases the bar needs to be raised to that simple level of qualification because the bar isn't even off the ground.
And no, this isn't the first time the Foreign Service has expressed frustration with Obama's political favors to friends through ambassadorships.
Despite promises to change how Washington works, Obama has actually perfected the game of giving political allies and donors key ambassadorships in countries like England, France, Japan, Spain, Finland, and Australia. And in the eyes of foreign service association, he’s become the worst abuser, putting political allies in 44 percent of the top 185 ambassadorial positions. By comparison, 30 percent of George W. Bush’s ambassadors were political appointees and 28 percent of Bill Clinton’s political allies and donors.
The American Foreign Service Association said in its new statement on ambassador appointments, “The appointment of non-career individuals, however accomplished in their own field, to lead America’s important diplomatic missions abroad should be exceptional and circumscribed, not the routine practice it has become over the last three decades. Over this period 85 percent of ambassadorial appointments to major European countries and Japan, and nearly 60 percent of appointments to a wider group of emerging global powers such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China, have been political.
Obama being worse than his predecessors when he promised he wouldn't be? Nobody is surprised and it's no wonder our foreign policy is such a disaster. President Obama wasn't qualified to be the President of the United States and still made it, twice, why would he think his diplomatic nominees should be held to any different standard?
Alex Sink came very close to winning Florida's gubernatorial election in 2010, and is currently locked in a very tight special election battle over Florida's 13th Congressional District. She is a Democrat. At a recent election forum, she offered the following analysis of the urgent need for immigration reform:
“Immigration reform is important in our country. We have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping? We don’t need to put those employers in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers.”
Well then. Sink's defenders will say that she was merely acknowledging economic and demographic realities in her district, and that her comments contained no slight -- intended or otherwise -- against Latinos. Although she does appear to pigeonhole certain groups of people and make some racial assumptions here, I would generally be inclined to mostly give her a pass for inelegant phrasing. The problem is that Sink's defenders are precisely the sort of people who would reflexively and immediately crucify her for uttering those exact same sentences if she had an 'R' next to her name. What's more, every Republican in America would be linked to the comment, then badgered by the media to weigh in on it. That was the playbook for Todd Akin (a politician who said something stunningly ignorant) and Ted Nugent (a musician who said something odious and disgraceful). Will the media apply the will-you-denounce? model to national Democrats over Sink's remarks?
Looking forward to journos asking all elected Democrats if they'll condemn Alex Sink's demeaning characterization of Latinos. #TheirRules— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) February 25, 2014
@freddoso It’s only shameful and offensive stereotyping when they say it is.— John Ekdahl (@JohnEkdahl) February 25, 2014
Huh, a bunch of reporters (inc. me) were in the room of this and didn't see the "gaffe." How is this not true? http://t.co/37RnsB8jO1— daveweigel (@daveweigel) February 25, 2014
Hey, the potential for a gaffe firestorm over her comment didn't occur to any of the journalists who were in the room -- and there were a lot of us! Plus, what's factually wrong about what she said? If Weigel and company truly believe this verbatim statement coming from a Republican wouldn't be remorselessly demagogued to great effect, then they're willfully blind. Did it occur to him that perhaps the assembled journalists didn't instantly recognize the potential for a damaging racial gaffe because the speaker in question was a member of the "correct" party, and therefore the media's gaffe antennae weren't as perky as they might be at a Republican event? Just a thought. Also, truth is never a defense for the media gaffe police. Take one of Mitt Romney's central immigration "gaffes," for instance. On "self-deportation," his actual point wasn't especially outrageous -- many illegals had voluntarily left the US in the midst of a slowing economy, and reducing the incentives to work illegally isn't especially controversial -- but that didn't matter. The phrase "self-deportation" sounded callous and out-of-touch....so, boom: Anti-Hispanic gaffe. The same lesson applies to his "gaffe" in London, wherein he offered some accurate critiques of the city's security preparedness at the Olympic games (an area where he has some expertise). The media couldn't have cared less that he was right on the merits. It was impolitic, so they shouted incisive questions at him as he departed a cemetery, including the immortal "what about your gaffes?!?" In defense of Alex Sink, lefties are busy little bees, parsing her every word, evaluating the proper context, and smugly concluding that there's nothing to see here. Again, I would tend to agree with that conclusion, but it's tough to get past their screaming hypocrisy. Thus, as a tribute to the Left's intellectual honesty and frequently-demonstrated capacity for generosity, I ask: Why does Alex Sink hate brown people?
Sunday morning "drunch," or brunch with unlimited alcoholic drink refills, is illegal in New York City thanks to a little-known law that prohibits unlimited drinks for a set price or time that is now being enforced by the city's hospitality alliance.
A little-known New York State law prohibits “selling, serving, delivering or offering to patrons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price” according to the State Liquor Authority’s website.
But despite the law against unlimited drink specials, there is no shortage of NYC eateries aiming to draw patrons looking to tie one on before 3 p.m.
“We started getting a lot of calls from our member [restaurants] with questions about it, so it was abundantly clear to us that a lot of restaurants are not aware of the law,” said Robert Bookman, counsel to the NYC Hospitality Alliance.
The lack of restaurant owners’ knowledge of the law prompted the agency to send out an alert Monday to its member restaurants reminding them of the sometimes obscure law.
NYC residents were a quite dismayed by this revelation.
This is big government at work. There is no real reason why a restaurant shouldn't be allowed to set their own prices and drink specials for above-age customers to partake. It's not the government's job to dictate how many mimosas or cocktails a customer should be able to purchase or consume in a set period of time.
Fuhai Hong and Xiojian Zhao, economists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology respectively, are publishing a paper in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics called "Information Manipulation and Climate Agreements," which argues that manipulation of information by the media will "enhance global welfare" by inducing countries to agree to environmental accords (IEAs).
We show that the exaggeration of climate change may alleviate the problem of insufficient IEA participation. When the mass media has private information on the damage caused by climate change, in equilibrium they may manipulate this information to increase pessimism regarding climate damage even though in actual fact the damage may not be that great. Consequently, more countries will be induced to participate in an IEA in this state, thereby leading to greater global welfare ex post.
The article purports to prove, with an economic model, that the urgency of climate change and the necessity of international agreement makes it okay to lie about the projected consequences of climate change.
Progressives have advocated lying in order to get their way before, but this model is actually different from fighting lies with more lies; these two economists advocate lying even when assuming that the entire debate to this point has been entirely honest on both sides due to the asymmetric information problems and game theory involved. Now, they don't advocate "lying" - they merely propose "information manipulation," "accentuation" and "exaggeration" on the part of the media in order to enhance global welfare.
This isn't to suggest that all progressives advocate lying to further their political ideology, or even that it's particularly widespread beyond these two professors. But it's out there: there are academics who so vehemently believe that the urgency of action on climate change is so great that it justifies mass deception and lying in order to win, and are prepared to go to complex theoretical proofs in order to "prove" it.
The IRS is reminding people that the individual mandate still exists and that it must be paid and submitted with tax returns in 2015. Naturally, the individual mandate tax isn't being called the individual mandate tax. Instead, it's creepily being called the "shared responsibility tax." In other words, "you need to pay for other people's healthcare so Obamacare won't collapse" or "other people's health problems are now your problems, time to pay up." Americans for Tax Reform has the details:
President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service today quietly released a series of Obamacare “Health Care Tax Tips” warning Americans that they must obtain “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by the federal government – or face a “shared responsibility payment” when filing their tax returns in 2015. The term “shared responsibility payment” refers to the Obamacare individual mandate tax, one of at least seven tax hikes in the healthcare law that directly hit families making less than $250,000 per year.
In “Four Tax Facts about the Health Care Law for Individuals” the agency writes:
Your 2014 tax return will ask if you had insurance coverage or qualified for an exemption. If not, you may owe a shared responsibility payment when you file in 2015.
In “The Individual Shared Responsibility Payment- An Overview” the agency warns Americans they must prove they were covered each and every month of the year:
For any month in 2014 that you or any of your dependents don’t maintain coverage and don’t qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your 2014 tax return filed in 2015.
What this means is the IRS will be policing whether or not an individual has health insurance. If they don't, they must pay the tax. The IRS will also be looking at who has "Cadillac" health plans for further taxation.
My next bumper sticker: honk if I'm paying for your healthcare.
Although government meddling in our daily lives has become increasingly prevalent over the past five years, the truth is that big government bureaucrats have been telling us what to do for decades...and they've been wrong for a lot of it.
Yesterday on his Fox News show, host Neil Cavuto took the time to explain why the government needs an "oops" label because after all, they're constantly forcing the private sector to label products so consumers know what they're getting, but shouldn't Americans know when their government screws up? Absolutely.
I'm with Neil. Listen to grandma, not the food police.