Daniel Doherty - Report: Ted Kennedy Jr. to Seek Public Office in CT
Posted: 4/7/2014 1:15:00 PM EST

Edward Kennedy Jr. will reportedly run for an open state Senate seat in Connecticut’s 12th District, the Associated Press reports. He is expected to make the official announcement later this week:

Ted Kennedy Jr. is planning to run for the state Senate in Connecticut in his first bid for public office, two people briefed on the decision told The Associated Press on Monday.

The son of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts will announce Tuesday he intends to seek the Democratic nomination for the 12th Senatorial District, two people said on condition of anonymity because Kennedy wants to make the announcement. Kennedy said he would announce his decision that evening at a library in Branford.

Kennedy is 52-year-old health care lawyer who lives in Branford, a coastal town near New Haven, and has been mentioned as a possible political candidate for some time. He said last month he was considering running for the seat.

Kennedy Jr. has never sought political office before, even though he’s been urged to in years past by members of his family and others. But now his children are somewhat older, it seems, so he’s finally ready to test Connecticut’s political waters. Meanwhile, his brother Patrick -- who represented residents of Rhode Island in the House of Representatives for 16 years -- is convinced he’d be a compelling candidate if he chooses to run. And as a consequence, is rather enthusiastic about his candidacy:

Patrick Kennedy said his brother's life was transformed when as a boy he lost his leg to cancer. Describing him with the phrase that was the title of a book by their uncle and former President John F. Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy said his brother became a "profile in courage": surviving a deadly cancer, having his leg amputated and later becoming a champion for people with disabilities.

"I've always thought my brother could be a really powerful leader, I'm not just talking elected-office sense, but leadership sense," he said. "He's just got such a tremendous personal story. I've always thought he'd be a very compelling political figure because he's integrated work with public policy with his own personal experience."

He added that if Kennedy Jr. does decide to run, he'll get plenty of support from the Kennedy clan.

"I haven't succeeded in getting him to take that plunge, but if he does, like everyone who knows him well, we're going to be very enthusiastic in our efforts on his behalf," he said.

One wonders why with such a famous surname the younger Kennedy doesn’t run for a more prominent political office. He certainly could. But I suppose every politician must start somewhere. Plus, if his goal in public service is to champion the causes of his progressive father, perhaps winning a state Senate seat in Connecticut isn’t the worst place to start.

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Sarah Jean Seman - Poll: Obamacare Unfavorability Swells to Nearly 60 Percent
Posted: 4/7/2014 12:45:00 PM EST

Almost 60 percent of American voters view Obamacare unfavorably, a Rasmussen report revealed Monday:

Despite the Obama administration’s claim that it has exceeded its March 31 goal of signing up seven million Americans through new health insurance exchanges, overall unfavorables for the health care law are up from 54% two weeks ago. Most voters have had an unfavorable opinion of the law in regular surveys since the beginning of last year. But the latest finding matches the all-time high first reached in mid-November.

"This law has made our healthcare system a lot better," President Obama claimed last week.

However, exactly how the law will improve the system is not clear to most Americans. Fifty-three percent believe coverage quality will decline because of Obamacare. This is the highest percentage recorded in the last three years.

In addition, 59 percent think Obamacare will increase the cost of their insurance.

President Obama quashed any idea of repealing the law Tuesday:

I’ve got to admit, I don’t get it. Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance? Why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance? Many of the tall tales that have been told about this law have been debunked...I’ve said before, I will always work with anyone who is willing to make this law work even better. But the debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.

No one is against people having health insurance. This carefully crafted rhetoric makes non-supporters of Obamacare sound heartless. In truth, it is far more heartless to force Americans to give up their freedom of choice and to pay for a government controlled service.

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Cortney O'Brien - Jay-Z’s Bling Traced to Black Supremacist Group
Posted: 4/7/2014 11:00:00 AM EST

Jay-Z may be Jamie Foxx’s new best friend. While Foxx once seemed to take joy in bragging that he got to “kill all the white people” in the film "Django Unchained" during his Saturday Night Live monologue, Jay-Z is now proudly wearing jewelry from a group who refers to white men as ‘devils.’

The NY Post spotted the rapper’s gold necklace at a recent Nets game he attended with wife Beyonce. The jewelry has since been traced to the Five Percenters, a group founded by former Malcolm X student Clarence Smith in 1964. Here’s a bit of what the Five Percenters believe, according to Michael Muhammad Knight, an author who’s written two books about the radical organization:

“The rationale is that the black man is God and created the universe, and is physically stronger and intellectually stronger and more righteous naturally.”

“Whiteness is weak and wicked and inferior — basically just an errant child who needs to be corrected.”

The Daily Mail provides more details on the group’s radical beliefs here.

Although Jay-Z is not an “active member,” according to Saladin Allah, a representative of the group’s upstate region, he seems to have no problem wearing the group’s symbol. Even if the rapper doesn’t believe in all of the group’s tenets and the necklace is just for decoration, it’s still poor judgment to wear such racist symbol. Furthermore, he doesn’t exactly seem to be denying any ties to the group:

Asked once if the group’s symbol — an eight-pointed star with the number 7 in the middle — held any meaning for him, the rapper shrugged, “A little bit.”

Jay-Z has 99 problems and poor fashion choices is one.

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Guy Benson - Video: Obamacare Consumers Decry Higher Costs, Fewer Options
Posted: 4/7/2014 10:42:00 AM EST

As vulnerable Democrats uneasily defend their votes for Obamacare, and prominent White House alumni predict significant changes to it, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is confidently asserting that Democrats are "embracing" the unpopular law. Sundry press reports tell a different story, including this assessment from a New York Times reporter:

Then again, Pelosi's wildly unrealistic Obamacare assertions have become the stuff of legend. Why might Democrats feel motivated to "disassociate" themselves with Obamacare? Beyond the polling, the law's outcomes are directly contradicting the promises upon which the law was sold -- and average people are noticing. In California, newly enrolled consumers are complaining about their new coverage network's narrow options, while taxpayers aren't pleased about footing the bill for costly and ineffective promotional campaigns:

"They can't find any doctor -- let alone a quality one -- to accept their new insurance."

And in North Carolina -- where incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan has literally run away from Obamacare questions -- many customers continue to face unexpected bouts of sticker shock:

"Almost everyone I've talked to, their insurance has gone up."

The woman in that clip appears to be one of the many uninsured Americans who are wary of Obamacare due to high prices. Numerous independent studies have shown that only a small fraction of the "newly insured" through Obamacare's exchanges lacked previous coverage. The Washington Post reported last month that as many as 90 percent of eligible uninsured Americans had declined to obtain insurance through Obamacare plans, with the largest factor being unaffordable costs. Insurance industry sources say premiums will rise substantially in 2015, as aggregate health costs surged at the fastest rate in years last quarter.

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Christine Rousselle - Classy: TN Dem. Rep Calls Rumsfeld A**hole of the Century on Twitter
Posted: 4/7/2014 9:04:00 AM EST

Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)'s Twitter bio lists him as a champion of several causes, notably civil rights, women and minority issues, and animal welfare. Notably absent from this admirable list of causes he supports is "maintaining some form of decorum on social media." This became evident on Sunday night, when Cohen retweeted a tweet asking if former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was the "a--hole of the day." Rather than rebuke the harsh language in the original tweet, the Representative added that he believes that Rumsfeld is in fact the a--hole of the century.

This is not Cohen's first major Twitter misfire: in July of 2013, he generated controversy when he tweeted that one of his African-American constituents referred to him as "black." Cohen had recently discovered that he was not the father of a girl he claimed was his daughter.

While it is certainly fine to dislike or disagree with someone, it's not too much to ask of a member of Congress to watch their language on Twitter. There are about a thousand more polite ways Rep. Cohen could have conveyed his displeasure with Rumsfeld.

Perhaps it's time to hire a social media manager?

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Daniel Doherty - Oh, Good: Exiting Inmates in Kentucky Receive Coverage Under Obamacare Upon Release
Posted: 4/7/2014 8:35:00 AM EST

Well, that’s certainly one way to boost enrollment numbers (via Jazz Shaw):

After three months in jail on a theft charge, Vincent Garcia had prepared last week to collect his wallet and keys and turn in his orange scrubs upon release.

But the 26-year-old will leave jail with something else — free health insurance.

Louisville Metro Department of Corrections last week began holding daily sign-ups for exiting inmates, and Garcia was among those qualifying for the newly expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

"This is yet another disturbing aspect of a profoundly troubling piece of legislation," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said about the controversial policy, according to USA Today. Supporters of this experiment, however, argue that dumping ex-prisoners onto Medicaid is actually a good thing: it will help defray state costs and reduce recidivism rates as those suffering from addiction and other health-related problems will continue to receive treatment. Still, many law-abiding Americans cannot afford health insurance, so the idea of rewarding criminals with “free” insurance so soon after leaving prison might not go over so well. Nevertheless, if all goes well (and even if it doesn’t), the practice is expected to be expanded to other county prisons around the state:

Barbara Gordon, of the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency, which is providing "kynectors" to help people sign up in the Louisville region, is partnering with the jail as an "experiment, and we do plan to expand it" to other jails in the 16-county area they cover or other parts of the state, she said. There is no specific enrollment goal.

Nationally, at least 70% of the roughly 10 million people released from prison or jail each year are uninsured, according to the Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan Council of State Governments Justice Center.

Medicaid is costly and not working terribly well. Swelling its rolls with new enrollees, especially when they aren’t paying into the system, is going to be a problem.

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Conn Carroll - Let American Oil Be Free
Posted: 4/7/2014 8:12:00 AM EST

In the April issue of Townhall Magazine, HotAir's Erika Johnsen explains why the ban on crude oil exports was useless in the 1970s, and is actively harmful today.

The United States’ shale revolution came almost out of nowhere.

In the space of just a few short years, innovations in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have made it economically viable to tap vast oil and gas reserves locked in tight shale formations that were previously thought unrecoverable. These advances have ushered the U.S. into a new era of energy abundance that few experts were expecting (especially not the “peak oil” scaremongers, according to whom we should have now run out of oil supplies several times over).

Energy companies are clamoring to take advantage of this newfound boom, which they could do much more efficiently if they were not beholden to backwards, reactionary, protectionist-minded regulations like the reigning ban on exports of domestically produced crude oil.

Back in the 1970s, when violence was raging across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries enacted an embargo blocking exports to the United States. The move sent shockwaves throughout the global economy.

In 1975, as gasoline prices were quadrupling and “energy independence” became the national vogue, Congress responded by banning most exports of crude oil. The ban was intended to address these temporary conditions and enhance the United States’ energy security. But particularly in the context of today’s exploding energy supplies, the ban makes absolutely zero sense.

According to federal data, we pumped an average of 7.5 million barrels of crude per day in 2013, up from 6.5 million barrels in 2012, making 2013 the year of the biggest acceleration in U.S. oil production, ever. We are on track to shortly surpass our all-time high production record, and we have more of the stuff than we know what to do with, literally.

Over the past decade, U.S. oil refineries invested tens of billions of dollars optimizing their plants based on the assumption that their crude oil supplies would be increasingly dependent on the heavier, more sour types of crude we typically import from Canada, Mexico, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

Our domestically produced crude is usually of the lighter, sweeter variety that our refining capacity is largely unequipped to handle, and even factoring in transportation costs, it still makes more sense for refineries to import these heavy crudes. That means that, if we continue to disallow exports of our own crude oil, we are facing artificially depressed crude prices and a massive glut in which our own rising production levels will be of little economic benefit.

We have so far managed to accommodate our oil boom by rapidly expanding our refinery, pipeline, and railroad capabilities, as well as exporting more oil to Canada (pretty much the only country to which our current crude-export ban does not apply), but there is only so much production growth the stopgap expansion of our infrastructure can absorb before we hit the limits of our self-restricted market.

Fortunately, this fact has not gone unnoticed in Congress, and some lawmakers have begun to address the problem. Unfortunately, this is likely to be a drawn-out battle with certain anti-free trade mercantilists from both sides of the aisle pushing the populist canard of “energy independence.”

Their biggest concern, they argue, is the effect that allowing crude oil to leave America’s shores will have on consumers’ gasoline and diesel prices. But in that case, these lawmakers should really be calling for full steam ahead on lifting the ban.

The prices we pay at the pump are already largely determined by oil prices on the global market, with a few regional factors mixed in. Because American refiners are allowed to ship gasoline and other refined products abroad (and it does not take much processing for a product to qualify for the regulatory definition of “refined”), lower domestic crude prices do not automatically translate into savings for American consumers.

Effectively, the crude oil export ban actually amounts to a subsidy for refiners, who are currently exporting products at record levels. By allowing crude oil exports, Congress would enable not only refiners but also producers to take advantage of higher worldwide prices.

The hoarding, protectionist mentality currently threatening to confine our domestic oil production is not doing us any favors, and sending our crude out into the global market would help to lower world oil prices and enhance our own energy security by diluting OPEC’s market share and price power. The federal government selectively choosing which industries and products can and cannot enjoy the benefits of free trade, in any scenario, is nothing more than another means of artificially manipulating free-market signals and dishing out another form of special treatment at the direct expense of more robust economic growth.

The Obama administration has at least hinted that the time is ripe to reexamine the merits of the ban, but if they want to accomplish President Obama’s own longstanding economic goal of increasing U.S. exports, they need to start actually doing something to convince lawmakers to get on board. •

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Sarah Jean Seman - Jeb Bush: Illegal Immigration is Not a Felony, It's an Act of Love
Posted: 4/6/2014 9:30:00 PM EST

Immigrants coming into the United States illegally are acting out of love, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said on Fox News Sunday.

Bush explained:

The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn't come legally, they come to our country because their family's dad who loves their children was worried that their children didn't have food on the table, and they wanted to make sure their family was intact. And they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family.

Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's kind of, it's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that's a different kind of crime that should be, there should be a price paid, but it shouldn't be -- it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.

There are nearly 11.7 million undocumented aliens in the United States. These immigrants could be making a contribution to the country if America were better organized, Bush claimed.

Vice President Joe Biden expressed a similar opinion to Bush's at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Legislative Summit in March:

These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to contribute fully...All they want—they just want a decent life for their kids, a chance to contribute to a free society, a chance to put down roots and help build the next great American century. I really believe that. That’s what they’re fighting for.

Biden went so far as to say that these illegal immigrants are already American citizens. Bush, on other hand, advocated for comprehensive reform which would include an enculturation of American values and civics, as well as learning the English language.

Watch the video below for more details:

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Leah Barkoukis - Celtic Tigers
Posted: 4/6/2014 11:21:00 AM EST

Editor's note: This column originally appeared in the April issue of Townhall Magazine.

Environmentalists may have Hollywood on their side and millions of dollars to finance their cause, but Irish documentary filmmakers and journalists Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney have something much more important: the truth.

Although many know the couple for their 2013 documentary “FrackNation,” telling the other side of the story environmentalists don’t want you to know was a mission they began years earlier—although it wasn’t by design.

“We were just journalists just covering another story,” McElhinney says of an assignment that brought them to Transylvania, Romania where a Canadian company wanted to open a gold mine. At the time, they had a very high regard for environmentalists and thought they were kind people who really cared about the planet, she explains. But those beliefs would soon be dashed.

“That story changed us and gave us a very particular attitude toward the environmental movement, which was a discovery that environmental NGOs lie and get away with it, and the people who suffer most because of environmental activism are poor people,” she tells Townhall. “Environmentalism is a game for rich kids and rich grownups.”

“We basically discovered that the biggest enemy of the world’s poor is not Big Business, it’s Big Environment,” McAleer adds. “They’re the ones that are going to destroy your life the most.”

The couple decided to form their own company and started making documentaries looking at the environmental movement. In 2006, they exposed the dark side of environmentalism in their film, “Mine Your Own Business.”

Although McElhinney and McAleer were not living in America at the time, nor was any part of the film shot in the country, the documentary was really well received in the U.S. and got a lot of attention, she says.

In 2009, after moving to the states, they made “Not Evil Just Wrong,” which looks at the global warming scare, the origins of the environmental movement, and the effect the DDT ban has had on the world.

While fracking is the biggest environmental scare out there right now, their latest endeavor, “FrackNation,” was born out of an encounter with “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox at a Q&A in Chicago. McAleer pointed out that there are reports of water being lit on fire decades before fracking started and wanted to know why that information wasn’t included in the film. Fox countered that it “wasn’t relevant,” but McAleer disagreed.

After uploading the exchange on YouTube, Fox took legal action and shut it down. McAleer then posted the video on Vimeo, but once again, Fox’s lawyers had it removed.

It was the filmmaker’s reaction that really got McAleer and McElhinney thinking.

“George Orwell said ‘journalism is something some- body somewhere doesn’t want published’ and I thought, ‘he doesn’t want this published, he doesn’t want that out here, what’s wrong?’ This needs journalism and we just took it from there,” McAleer explains.

And their final product knocked it out of the park, completely debunking the rumors and lies about fracking, and even picking up rave reviews from some of the most liberal media outlets. But that doesn’t mean the film hasn’t been met with opposition. Unsurprisingly, Fox called them the “birthers of fracking” and just this year a screening of “FrackNation” was cancelled at the Minnesota Frozen River Film Festival even after it had already been accepted by festival organizers.

The reason for the decision kept changing, but McAleer said in a statement after the incident that “they seem to be scared of the truth,” which is exactly what “FrackNation” reveals. McAleer and McElhinney even made a point of rejecting industry support for the film, instead relying entirely on crowdfunding. And in the name of transparency, all of their supporters were listed as executive producers in the credits.

“A lot of them [environmentalists] genuinely believe the truth is out there and they’re lying for the greater good of the cause,” McAleer said when asked why environmentalists continue to lie even when the truth about reliable energy sources is so positive. “They genuinely believe [American] fossil fuel companies are evil ... they’re ideologues.”

“They may be ideologues, but they’re not very logical,” McElhinney adds. “They say what they’re upset about is CO2 emissions but it’s not true because they’re against nuclear power, they’re against hydroelectric power, and they’re also against wood, which is a renewable energy resource. The very principles they say they hold dear, they don’t actually hold those principles dear at all. They have an irrational, illogical [mentality] about fossil fuels, when the truth is, because of fracking, CO2 emissions have dramatically gone down to pre-1980 levels. It should be a cause for celebration among environmentalists who care about CO2 emissions, but they’re not celebrating.”

The best way for people to get involved and spread the truth about fracking and the environmental movement is to show McElhinney and McAleer’s films to the cynical member in your family or the vocal friend you had an argument with.

“Show them the film and ask them to defend the anti-frackers who lied about breast cancer in the Barnett Shale,” McElhinney says. “If you want to be on the side of anti-frackers, you’re on the side of people who lied about breast cancer. I think that’s a tough sell. It’s tough to go forward in an argument after that.” •

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Christine Rousselle - "FaithVoters4Hillary" Verified Twitter Account Has Thousands of Fake Followers UPDATE: Over 12k "Followers" Purged on Sunday
Posted: 4/6/2014 9:02:00 AM EST

A verified @Faith4Hillary Twitter account purporting to be the "Faith and Value Voters for Hillary Clinton 2016" appears to have purchased a large percentage of its 42.6k followers.

The website Twitter Audit determined that more than half of the account's followers were obtained by "inorganic, fraudulent, or dishonest means," and the similar website StatusPeople calculated that only 18 percent of the account's followers were "good."

Per StatusPeople, the rest of the followers were either fake accounts or accounts that are inactive.

Additionally, the account has a comparatively small amount of interaction via retweets and favorites compared to the amount of followers listed, which is indicative that the account is not being followed by real people.

A "fake" Twitter account is an account not run by an actual person or organization and is specifically created to boost a follower count. A variety of websites sell these accounts.

Other celebrities and politicians have faced accusations of artificially pumping up their social media presence. However, as @FaithVoters4Hillary isn't Hillary Clinton's personal account and considering Clinton hasn't officially announced she will even be running in 2016, it's a bit weird that steps are being taken to portray her as a candidate with a sizable "faith and values" fan base.

We live in very interesting times.

UPDATE: The plot thickens. On Friday, when I ran the initial audit, the account @Faith4Hillary had 42.6k followers and 806 tweets. As of 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 6, the account has been purged of over 12,000 followers and currently has 30.5k followers and 835 tweets. Observe the screenshots below:



Caught ya.

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