Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California's 14th District, sent out a tweet this morning that compared access to contraception to the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian girls by the militant group Boko Haram. Speier included an infographic from the United Nations along with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which is a reference to the kidnapping of 230 girls from the Chibok Government Secondary School.
Does anyone with a functioning brain think that Boko Haram, a group whose name translates to "Western education is forbidden," would not have kidnapped those girls if only the girls were given access to abortions and contraception?
Yes, societies do prosper with education. Absolutely. To suggest, however, that education is only possible with access to contraception (which the UN classifies as carcinogenic) and other reproductive health care is offensive. Countries that forbid or restrict the education of women need a cultural shift to empower women—distributing pills isn't going to cut it.
The annual ESPYs awards are held to honor the year’s most inspiring athletes. Wednesday’s award presentation was no different, recognizing talents like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Superbowl winners the Seattle Seahawks, and the United States men’s national soccer team that represented us so impressively at the World Cup. But, the show's host, a singer known as Drake, managed to briefly turn attention away from these sports stars' incredible achievements by invoking racism during his monologue.
The segment in question started with a rather harmless joke about Richard Sherman being vain, to a slightly offensive joke about white people drinking almond milk, then a downright accusatory jab at the Washington Redskins owners for their “racist" team name:
“No, I love Richard Sherman man,” Drake went on. “Sherman’s my guy! Like, he’s so entertaining! Richard Sherman pissed off more white people this year than a crowded parking lot at Whole Foods. (They hate when they can’t get their almond milk, you know what I’m saying?)
“Now look, some rough words in football this year,” Drake said. “Riley Cooper said some things. Richie Incognito said some things. I just want to stress that there’s no room for racism in the NFL — unless you own a team in Washington, D.C. Then it’s a go.”
The audience reaction was hushed and, when the camera panned to the crowd, it showed attendees squirming in their seats.
Political correctness has no place in culture and certainly no place on the football field. Being constantly concerned with offending people just puts everyone on edge - like Drake's uncomfortable ESPYs audience. Many people have offered their opinions one way or another in regards to a Redskins name change, but if the team is forced to change its name, where does it end? Dr. Ben Carson penned a wonderful piece on “The Insidious Effect of Political Correctness,” in which he writes, “Political correctness is antithetical to our founding principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Its most powerful tool is intimidation.” I can't put it any better.
Drake is a singer by profession. Perhaps because he now has experience hosting Saturday Night Live, he also thinks he’s a comedian.
Watch his whole monologue here and decide for yourself:
The acting head of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said in sworn testimony yesterday that the federal agency will need almost $20 billion to process its backlog claims and “properly” care for our veterans. And since we’re sending US soldiers at war pink slips because of "budget cuts," that shouldn’t be a problem, right?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs needs $17.6 billion in additional funding over the next three years to eliminate long waiting times for veterans’ health care appointments, the embattled agency's acting chief said Wednesday.
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that the $17.6 billion request would only last through the 2017 fiscal year.
But to keep ahead of the rising population of veterans needing VA care, even more money will be needed in the future, Mr. Gibson said.
Hot Air’s Mary Katharine Ham puts that figure into perspective:
The almost $18 billion we’re talking about here is about 2 and a half times the amount spent on the entire 2012 election, which liberals decry as an astronomical amount and an unconscionable stain on our process. It’s the amount at which Uber was valued in its public offering, which many called insane, despite its being an actual successful company with global aspirations that actually serves people a superior product. And, it’s slightly more than it would take you to buy all of the NBA. All its franchises.
In other words, it's a ton of money. And yet this request comes at a time when reports are surfacing that executives at the agency were receiving performance-based bonuses. In some cases, too, these so-called “executives” were almost certainly rollin’ in the dough at the expense of those whom they were allegedly serving and caring for. As the LA Times reported at the time:
An “outlandish bonus culture" pervades the Department of Veterans Affairs, with no senior manager receiving less than a fully satisfactory performance review last year despite problems, including long waits for patient care and cost overruns for construction projects, the chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee said at a Capitol Hill hearing Friday.
The VA paid out more than $2.8 million in "performance awards" in the last fiscal year to executives, some of whom are now under scrutiny for misrepresenting veterans’ wait times for healthcare.
Translation: Bigwigs at the agency were coming home with bonus pay while veterans died waiting for care. And now the agency wants more money?
On a personal note, out of all the scandals we cover, this one upsets me the most. I’ve never served in the military. But it’s self-evident that those who do -- especially those deployed in war zones and overseas -- take extraordinary risks so people like me (and perhaps people like you) don’t have to. They deserve better. And yet how did we get to this point? How it is, according to a year-long study released by Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) office last month, more than 1,000 veterans have died over the past ten years from neglect and malfeasance?
History demonstrates that tossing more money at a man-made government problem -- and then washing our collective hands clean of it -- is not a workable solution. The VA needs to be restructured and reformed from within, and that, I trust, can be reasonably accomplished with the ample funding they already receive.
The VA scandal hasn't magically disappeared, even as much of the political class has moved on to fixating on brighter shiny objects -- like the crucial fake issue of birth control "access." More details continue to emerge about the outrageous corruption, shoddy care, and retaliatory culture that has infected the VA system. One whistleblower who testified before Congress this week alleges that the agency's systemic fabrication of data isn't limited to misrepresenting wait times for healthcare; bogus data procedures are also being employed to make the VA disability claims backlog look less severe than it is. CBS News had the story:
"They were instructing us to change the dates of claims -- on any claims, regardless of the circumstances -- if they were older than a certain date," Kristen Ruell told a House Committee. CBS' correspondent also notes that when investigators from the VA's inspector general did a spot check at a facility in Philadelphia last month, they "found a room full of claims-related mail from veterans, up to three years old, and still containing documents not scanned into the system." Ms. Ruell isn't the first person to level this accusation. We highlighted a McClatchy report last month in which a whistleblower made precisely the same claim about the claims backlog. Administration officials have seized on the falsified data to crow about major "improvements," which were really just another mirage. They're cooking the books, fraudulently changing dates, and stacking piles of documents for years, then congratulating themselves over their gerry-rigged stats. In her testimony, Ruell also described the punishment she faced for sounding internal alarm bells: "I raised many issues...instead of solving problems, I was, and continue to be, retaliated against...the VA's problems are the result of morally bankrupt managers who through time and degree have moved up into powerful positions, where they have the power and continue to ruin people's lives." Meanwhile a VA nurse from upstate New York who's embroiled in bitter fight with the agency says she witnessed abusive and substandard care, reported it, and was instructed by managers to step down from her position:
In November, Riviello, a nurse manager, and nurses on her team were advocating for removal of a patient's restraints, she said. The patient had been strapped down at 6:30 in the morning, and remained that way hours later...The patient in question had suffered sexual trauma during her military service, and was breathing with the assistance of a tracheostomy tube. Riviello believed being restrained and under the supervision of a male attendant, as the patient was, could be particularly damaging. But the patient's doctor decided she should remain restrained until after a staff meeting at noon to discuss her situation. The meeting didn't happen. The patient wet herself and began removing her clothes. The male attendant told Riviello he was uncomfortable with the situation. So Riviello made the call to remove the restraints. The patient was cooperative, she said...She reported the incident to her supervisor, who said not to worry. Riviello later complained to a patient safety officer. Within days, Riviello was told to step down as a nurse manager and to convince her staff it was her own idea, she said. Stepping down resulted in a loss of about $6,000 a year in pay. "This is a physician-driven facility," Riviello said she was told. "Physicians don't want to work with you." The move stripped Riviello not only of her work but also of her lifelong identity as a nurse, she said.
Riviello also alleges that dying patients were mistreated and mistakes were covered up: "Dying patients who were supposed to receive morphine to alleviate pain, but instead got a salt-and-water mixture. A nurse treating hospice patients stole the vials of morphine, according to Riviello. She said managers delayed reporting the problem," the Albany Times Union reports. Rep. Jeff Miller, the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, told WMAL-AM radio that when his staff arrived for an unannounced spot audit at a regional VA hospital on July 2, they were ushered into a room with "active" microphones and cameras. They also discovered a list on which whistleblowers' names were circled, along with an instruction for workers to "ignore" the investigators. Audio of the interview:
There are many qualified, diligent and compassionate medical professionals who populate the VA. It is a shame that their reputations are being indirectly tarnished by this scandal, but the myopic corruption and negligence of the VA bureaucracy is quite obviously out of hand. The agency's leadership is a disgrace and its culture is toxic. It will take a Herculean effort to reform this mess; the CNN reporter who's covered this scandal from day one says he thinks the agency may be beyond fixing. Undeterred by facts, Obamacare advocates bragged about the VA as a model of government-run healthcare done right. In spite of the still-unfolding horror show at the VA, many of these people are still ideologically committed to exponentially expanding this failure by moving American toward a VA-style, government-administered healthcare system. If they can't get it right for the veterans to whom we owe so much, and around whom there's a strong political consensus, how do they plan to manage a sprawling system for 300 million people? I'll leave you with an always-timely pre-buttal to the inevitable Statist rejoinder: No, funding isn't the issue here.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told reporters last night that he would fight any immigration bill that did not contain legislative language repealing President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“No legislation should be considered unless it specifically prohibits Obama from expanding” DACA, “which allows those who have come here illegally to stay,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told Breitbart News. “That should be a prerequisite for any bill considered to address this crisis.”
While Cruz's sentiment is appreciated, I don't see how any legislative language repealing DACA would change anything. Under current federal law, as written, Obama's DACA program is already completely illegal.
Obama is justifying his DACA program, and all of his many refusals to enforce immigration law, on his inherent presidential “prosecutorial discretion” power to pick and choose how federal law is implemented. Under this theory, Obama could functionally legalize every illegal immigrant in the country and not a single word in federal law could stop him. The only check on this power is political, not legal.
Not even Congress' power of the purse can stop Obama's total lawlessness. Testifying yesterday before the House Rules Committee, George Washington University law professor, and Democrat, Jonathan Turley detailed how Obama has used the judicial doctrine of standing to nullify Congress' power of the purse as well:
The "power of the purse" is the classic example of congressional power within the separation of powers. However, with modern appropriations rules, it has become something of a constitutional mythology in many cases. Due to modern budget rules, it is practically difficult for Congress to immediately alter government programs with appropriations changes. There are billions sloshing in federal budgets that can be moved to fill gaps in funding.
As reported by The Washington Post, "the Obama administration plans to use $454 million in Prevention Fund dollars to help pay for the federal health insurance exchange. That's 45 percent of the $1 billion in Prevention Fund spending available in 2013." The unilateral action to move hundreds of millions from an appropriated to a non-appropriated purpose led even leading Democratic Members to denounce the act as a "violation of both the letter and spirit of his landmark law." However that open disregard of the power of the purse resulted in nothing of consequence for the Administration. Congress was simply circumvented and the President effectively self-appropriated federal funds for his own priorities.
In other words, if Obama wants $3.7 billion to speed up the pace of illegal immigration into the United States, he has already asserted his authority to find that money himself. He does not need Congress at all.
Fortunately many conservatives are wising up to Obama's game.
“There are people in the House who fully believe that if the president isn’t willing to enforce current law, then why would we pass anything?” Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) told National Review's Joel Gehrke.
The sentiment is the same on the Senate side, where an aide told Gehrke, “The conservative position is for the president to do something first before we spend another dime. The president said [in 2012] that he was not going to deport children who are here illegally in this country; we now have a massive spike of children who are coming here illegally to this country.”
Until Obama admits his entire DACA program is blatantly illegal, and that his funding of Obamacare exchanges was also blatantly illegal, and then acts to enforce federal laws and appropriations as written (including telling insurance companies there will be no Obamacare risk corridor bailout), there simply is zero reason for Republicans in Congress to do anything.
Obama has repeatedly proven through both his actions and rhetoric that he could care less what federal law, or appropriations, say. He is going to do what he wants to do anyway.
Republicans must refuse to legitimize this farce.
New polling from the Pew Research Center shows the majority of Americans disapprove of President Obama's handling of the unaccompanied child crisis on the southwest border with Mexico.
President Obama gets very low ratings for his handling of the issue. Just 28% of the public approves of the way he is handling the surge of children from Central America, while twice as many (56%) disapprove. That is one of the lowest ratings for his handling of any issue since he became president. But Obama’s overall job rating is virtually unchanged from April: 44% approve of his job performance while 49% disapprove.
Further, polling shows people from all political stripes want the processing of children to be sped up and believe children should be sent home to their parents in Central America.
Most Republicans (60%) and independents (56%) think legal processing of the children should be sped up even if it means some children who are eligible for asylum are deported. Democrats are divided: 46% favor an expedited legal process, but about as many (47%) favor maintaining the current policy, though that might result in a lengthy legal process and a long stay in the U.S. for the children.
President Obama has asked Congress for $4 billion to deal with the crisis.
Late last week I reported 16 MS-13 gang members exploiting the unaccompanied minor crisis were being housed at a Border Patrol processing center in Nogales, Arizona. The gang members were discovered after graffiti was left on bathroom walls. Further investigation shows gang members from different criminal organizations were also discovered after a fight broke out between two rival MS-13 and 18th Street gang members in a shared holding cell. The gang members admitted in interviews with Border Patrol agents they had engaged in murder and torture in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala before heading north to the United States. It was also confirmed through sources gang members have been using the processing center as a recruitment hub for new members.
Now, Border Patrol documents newly obtained exclusively by Townhall detail the crimes MS-13 and other gang members in the Nogales processing center admit to committing.
In an interview with Border Patrol agents, 15-year-old self admitted MS-13 member with the last name Aguilar said he killed a member of rival gang 18th Street six months ago with a fully automatic Uzi before coming to the United States.
"He claims he walked over to the wounded rival, and emptied the magazine into the rival's body," interview documents show.
Aguilar also admitted to, "being involved in extortion for the gang," and "collecting money from local vendors and threatening them if they refused to pay."
Another MS-13 member with the last name Garcia admitted to receiving a phone call while in the processing center from El Salvador with orders to carry out a murder on a rival gang member.
"Garcia stated he received a call from homeboy who is incarcerated in an El Salvadoran prison. This individual ordered Garcia to kill a rival 18th Street gang member," documents state. "Garcia stated his plans were to reunite in Los Angeles with is father."
MS-13 gang members aren't the only violent criminals present in the processing center. Gang members from the 18th Street gang are also being housed there. One young minor with the last name Gonzales admitted to killing a rival gang member two years ago after receiving orders to do so from inside an El Salvador prison. Another with the last name Vasquez, who said his final destination in Maryland to reunite with his father living in the U.S. illegally, admitted to scouting and planning hits on rival gang members before entering the U.S. and said his brother, who is also an 18th Street member, coached him about how to cross the southern border into the U.S. He paid a Mexican soldier 200 pesos at a checkpoint in order to get through Mexico from El Salvador. Vasquez earned the tattoo shown below after murdering an MS-13 member.
By U.S. legal standards many gang members operating in Central American countries and traveling north are classified as minors due to being under the age of 18. However, many young males are actively engaged in violent cartel and criminal activity, yet are treated as children when processed through the Department of Health and Human Services or Department of Homeland Security systems. Due to current policy, these "minor" gang members cannot be separated by Border Patrol agents from the rest of the general population of children. According to the FBI, MS-13 regularly targets middle and high school students for recruitment. The FBI also lists 18th Street as one of the most violent gangs in the country. Business Insider describes 18th Street as having special focus on document fraud and homicide.
According to sources inside the processing center, these unaccompanied MS-13 and 18th Street minors are being held for placement inside the United States.
As if things couldn't get any worse at this point, not only does Border Patrol have a gang problem inside processing facilities, agents now have a gang rivalry problem between MS-13 and 18th Street on their hands.
"I am very proud of the men and women of the United States Border Patrol. The American taxpayer gets a very good bang for his buck from us," a source said under the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. "The handling of the unaccompanied juveniles has been nothing short of a miracle, the USBP has been the leading force in that effort."
Hundreds of unaccompanied minors are crossing into the U.S. daily, and one of the major security concerns with the influx of illegal immigration is that we have no idea who is coming here. Because of this, Ronald Colburn, former national deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, says all the progress that was made after 9/11 is now gone.
“We’re back to a pre-9/11 situation basically, and this administration did that in the past five years,” he says. “All of the good that was done after 9/11 up to now has been reversed singlehandedly.”
Colburn, who spent more than 30 years working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says the resulting national-security risk has to do with the “clutter” of people at the border. He says all of the gains made since 9/11 came as a result of reducing the number of people crossing the border. The Border Patrol’s task is to sort through the haystack of people as they come across, he says. “What this situation on the border is doing is growing the haystack, is adding clutter, so that those dangerous needles get through because we’re tied up capturing, instead, juvenile children from Guatemala and El Salvador,” he says. “When you see the cartels — the Zetas and MS-13 and the Gulf Cartel — laughing about this on the Internet, you know what’s behind it.”
This, my friends, is the fruit of Obama's lawlessness.
Who can forget the lofty rhetoric and endless campaign promises from 2007-2008? The 'Obama for America' hype was a once-in-a-generation grassroots movement that mesmerized Americans of all political stripes. After the slump of two foreign wars and a devastating economic crisis, the public was eager -- no, thirsting -- for a new kind of leader who would restore American greatness and rebuild America's image around the world. That man was Barack Obama.
Six years after he was elected, however, the “Hope and Change” slogan that once carried him to victory has been relegated to the ash heap of history. Now, it seems, the very phrase itself is met only with scorn and derision.
For what it's worth, Vice President Joe Biden essentially admitted as much today at the Make Progress Conference, inadvertently suggesting that perhaps the administration's biggest regret was its failure to bring change to America:
Change is still possible, Biden implied in the clip above, but that task will almost certainly fall to others -- and other administrations. Oof.
Nobody cares about Hillary Clinton’s book "Hard Choices", comedian Jon Stewart stated on “The Daily Show” Tuesday.
“I think I speak for everybody when I say, no one cares. They just want to know if you are running for president.”
The claim certainly seems true enough based on the memoirs’ dramatic sales drop, which hardly bodes well for a potential presidential nominee. The overall downward trajectory of her favorability ratings won’t offer her much cushion either. Still, many citizens are keeping their fingers crossed on bated breath for that special announcement.
“You know what I sense,” Stewart told the former Secretary of State, “a little confusion. You know it takes me back to my days post-college. You know there are ways that we can decide…”
At this point, he pushes the massive book "Hard Choices" a little further away, and pulls out...a career aptitude test.
Just watch (spoiler: she'd prefer a home office with very few corners):