Seemingly taking a page from Hillary Clinton's playbook, President Obama said in an interview today on Good Morning America that parents in Central America who may be considering sending their children north to attempt to cross the border into the U.S. should not do so as their children will be sent back.
Our message absolutely is "don't sent your children, unaccompanied, on trains or through a bunch of smugglers." That is our direct message to the families in Central America. Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they'll get sent back; more importantly, they may not make it."
Border officials expect upwards of 90,000 unaccompanied minors will attempt to cross the border in 2014. That is an astronomical increase of the just over 5,000 unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border in 2004. Unaccompanied minors are being kept in cages in overwhelmed, overcrowded shelters, which politicians on both sides of the aisle have declared a humanitarian crisis.
Earlier this month, Clinton did not try to hide her disapproval of Obama's handling of this immigration crisis.
Moments later, Clinton articulated a bottom-line policy that disagrees sharply with President Obama's observable priorities.
'We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn't mean the child gets to stay,' Clinton said.
There's no denying the tragedy and absurdity of the situation at the U.S.'s southern border. The president's rhetoric regarding promises of "amnesty" and "DREAMers" has only encouraged families to risk the lives of their children in an attempt to cross the border. It is about time Obama has stopped with these mixed messages.
Vox, a oft-criticized lefty "explanatory journalism" site, brings good good tidings of great joy for Obamacare's
8 million 6.5 million 2.6 million newly- enrolled exchange consumers. Namely, many of them will face the choice of switching plans or possibly paying significantly more for coverage in 2015.
Unless they change their insurance plans next year, many people with insurance subsidies could see their premiums go up more than they expect, according to a new report from Avalere Health...Annual changes to insurance premiums aren't uniform across plans. That means the "benchmark plan" can change from year to year — with financial consequences for those with subsidies. These consequences will be most acutely felt by low-income enrollees. "Two-thirds of people enrolling in silver plans are choosing one of the two lowest cost silver options," said Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere. Take Sue, an imaginary Maryland resident who enrolled in her state's benchmark plan for 2014. With her subsidy, she was paying $58 a month for health insurance. But in 2015, her plan is going from the second-cheapest silver option to the ninth-cheapest. The subsidy, now pegged to a different plan, won't cover as much of Sue's premium as it used to. Her share of the premium will climb to $94, a 62 percent increase.
The piece includes this chart depicting what "Sue" would experience if she didn't change her plan:
The article goes on to that new HHS regulations "would require insurers to notify enrollees of their new expected premium payment prior to renewal," so customers would get a heads-up that simply renewing their existing plan could cost them a bundle. But the White House is also seeking to offer an automatic renewal option for Healthcare.gov enrollees, which may discourage people from looking at the fine print until their higher bill shows up in the mail. The Vox author dutifully notes that 2015 premium growth has been thus far been "modest by historical standards." Setting aside the facts that (a) we were all promised sharp premium decreases under Obamacare, and (b) many consumers across the country are likely to experience double-digit hikes, crowing about less-bad-than-they-could-be rate increases ignores the issue of high out-of-pocket costs for consumers who choose plans with relatively low monthly payments. Media reports have detailed this issue, and a friend who is entering the individual market recently puts a human face on those statistics. Under her previous individual market plan, she paid $90 per month along with a $1,500 deductible. Her new Obamacare-compliant plan features a monthly payment of $130, and her deductible will soar to $6,500 -- more than quadruple the previous amount. In practice, she'll have to pay more than six grand out of her pocket before the coverage she's faithfully paying for each month (at an elevated rate) even kicks in. Such are the wages of the "Affordable" Care Act for this healthy young woman buying coverage in the Southwest. Meanwhile, insurers in Michigan have announced their projected premiums for next year, and they're all going in one direction. The reasons behind the increases should not surprise anyone who's been paying attention:
All insurers in the state are hiking their premiums, from 2.7 percent up to 21.6 percent. Michigan’s largest insurers, Blue Care Network and Blue Cross Blue Shield, are hiking premiums by an average of 9.3 percent and 9.7 percent in 2015 for a whopping three-quarters of Michigan residents that purchase their coverage on or off the state’s Obamacare exchange. Blue Cross executive Terry Burke said the hikes are needed to account for ever-rising health care costs and uncertainty related to the Obamacare expansion bringing in sicker-than-average patients. “We’ve got a big influx of people and we don’t know what their claims conditions are,” Burke told the South Bend Tribune. “The actuaries are concerned about that risk mix.” The next largest insurer, Humana, is hiking rates by 18 percent on average for its 16,600 customers. Smaller insurers are upping their premium rates in a wider range, from around 3 percent to as high as 21 percent.
The DC also reports that a top healthcare economist expects "that the full brunt of Obamacare rate hikes will hit in 2017, the year after temporary risk mitigation provisions — and a potential insurer bailout — end." CNBC's Jake Novak argues that the biggest winners under Obamacare thus far are insurance companies. Finally, here's a family practitioner from Pennsylvania explaining why he's facing thousands of dollars in Obamacare mandate-related fines, and why he believes the law is stamping out small medical practices:
This story’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with. Amid changing narratives and false reporting, her fate (and that of her family’s) has been in limbo for days. That being said, we seem to have crossed the Rubicon, so to speak. The Guardian reports that Ibrahim and her family have been granted certain protections and safe harbor at the US embassy in Khartoum:
The husband of a Sudanese Christian woman facing threats after her apostasy death sentence was overturned has expressed relief that the family has been given refuge at the US embassy in Khartoum.
"Really, it's good," Daniel Wani, the American husband of Meriam Ibrahim, told Agence France-Presse by telephone on Friday, adding that embassy staff had been "very helpful and very nice".
He said his wife and two children, who could be heard in the background, were doing well at the heavily guarded facility.
So now what? She may indeed be safe and secure at the US embassy -- but she can’t stay there indefinitely. Strangely, the Sudanese government isn’t eager to put this unpleasant episode behind them (despite international condemnation and outcry) and in fact only freed Ibrahim and her family under the condition that they remain in the country. Reuters reports:
Ibrahim waved at reporters as she and her family left the police station where she had been held for questioning and while she found a guarantor to ensure she did not flee Sudan.
“Mariam was released after a guarantor was found, but, of course, she would not be able to leave the country,” lawyer Mostafa said.
Despite lifting her death sentence after huge international pressure, Sudan still does not recognize Ibrahim as a Christian and therefore does not recognize her marriage, as Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men under the Islamic laws applied in the African country.
The ball, then, is firmly in the hands of the Sudanese government. Let’s hope the State Department -- and foreign governments around the world -- keep applying the pressure.
Yesterday the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against President Obama's NLRB appointment power grab. Last night Charles Krathammer called Obama's disregard for separation of power, Congress and the constitution "arrogant," and suggested if he was a Republican, he'd be impeached by now.
"He doesn't care about the constitution," Krauthammer said. "He got really smacked down."
Krauthammer stressed that the NLRB decision by SCOTUS is important because it bleeds into other issues and backs up Speaker Boehner's lawsuit against the President for repeated government overreach.
"I think he [Obama] knows he's way beyond the bounds. No one can read this decision and not know this was a major abuse of power but I don't think he cares. He's in his second term, he's not running against, they will never impeach him," Krauthammer said. "There will be presidents after him and if he gets away with all of this overreach, creating laws, rewriting laws, ignoring laws it will be a terrible defeat for the country and for the rule of law. And I think that's the worst part of this, if this were a Republican he'd be impeached now over all of these abuses."
According to a local news report from KVOA News 4 out of Tucson, Arizona, at least one Mexican military helicopter crossed into the United States early Thursday morning, shot at Border Patrol agents using lethal force and then flew back to Mexico. Once the helicopter was back on the ground in Mexico, an apology was issued.
"The incident occurred after midnight and before 6 a.m. Helicopter flew into the U.S. and fired on two U.S. Border Patrol agents. The incident occurred west of the San Miguel Gate on the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation," Border Patrol Tucson Sector Union President Art del Cueto told KVOA News 4 in a statement. "The agents were unharmed. The helicopter went back into Mexico. Mexico then contacted U.S. authorities and apologized for the incident."
U.S. Border Patrol Spokesperson Andy Adame issued a similar statement and said the incident is under investigation.
According to a recent story in the Washington Times, armed Mexican soldiers regularly cross over into the United States, which prompt stand offs and altercations with U.S. Border Patrol agents.
According to Homeland Security numbers, there have been 300 incursions by Mexican police or troops since Jan. 1, 2004. The Mexicans were armed in slightly more than half of those incidents, totaling 525 people. There was a verbal or physical altercation between U.S. authorities and the Mexicans in 81 instances — totaling 320 Mexican police or troops.
Despite those regular occurences, the use of force in this case against U.S. Border Patrol agents is highly concerning. An immediate explanation is in order from the Mexican government.
Meanwhile, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi is still rotting in a Mexican jail.
Top Senate Democrats are sick of waiting for the House to take up comprehensive immigration reform. If Republicans don’t act in July, President Obama will, they warn. After all, he still has a pen and phone, right?
Via The Hill:
"We're at the end of the line," Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol. "We're not bluffing by setting a legislative deadline for them to act.
"Their first job is to govern," Menendez added, "and in the absence of governing, then you see executive actions."
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) piled on. Noting that a year has passed since the Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill with broad bipartisan support, he urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring a similar bill to the floor.
"I don't know how much more time he thinks he needs, but I hope that Speaker Boehner will speak up today," Durbin said. "And if he does not, the president will borrow the power that is needed to solve the problems of immigration."
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made similar remarks in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd:
“[W]e’re not just going to sit around and wait interminably for Congress,” he said. “We’ve been waiting a year already. The president has tasked his Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson with reviewing what options are available to the president, what is at his disposal using his executive authority to try to address some of the problems that have been created by our broken immigration system.”
Given the current unaccompanied child immigration crisis at the Southwestern border, however, Boehner says passing any legislation this year will only be more difficult.
“The president's making this harder and harder every day for us to try to deal with this in a responsible way," Boehner said. "We've got a humanitarian disaster on the border. Most of it, at the president's own making, in my opinion, and so it makes our jobs much more difficult because of the actions he's taken or not taken with regard to the border."
Parents with school-aged children have a growing disdain for the Common Core State Standards, a new Rasmussen report found.
Just 34% of American Adults with children of elementary or secondary school age now favor requiring all schools nationwide to meet the same Common Core education standards. That’s an 18-point drop from 52% in early November of last year.
The Common Core website claimed it is a myth that “adopting common standards means bringing all states’ standards down to the lowest common denominator.” Parents and school teachers, however, are still incredulous. Principals in Hawaii even predicted a 30 percent drop in math and reading scores in the wake of the standards implementation.
A state with very low academic standards, such as West Virginia, may very well improve its system by adopting Common Core. At the same time, however, a state with high academic excellence, such as Massachusetts, will almost undoubtedly be hampered.
Forty-seven percent of parents oppose the “imposition of the national standard,” according to Rasmussen.
Federal overreach corrupted Common Core’s well-intentioned goal, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) stated June 5 when she overthrew the standards:
“President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core in an attempt to influence state education standards. The results are predictable. What should have been a bipartisan policy is now widely regarded as the president’s plan to establish federal control of curricula, testing and teaching strategies.
We cannot ignore the widespread concern of citizens, parents, educators and legislators who have expressed fear that adopting Common Core gives up local control of Oklahoma’s public schools. The words ‘Common Core’ in Oklahoma are now so divisive that they have become a distraction that interferes with our mission of providing the best education possible for our children.”
Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Louisiana have all rejected the nationalized standards in favor of more specialized and state-oriented systems.
Last week, we lambasted the media's abysmally biased, lazy and context-free coverage of developments related to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. A quick precis: The press engaged in a feeding frenzy on freshly-released, but months-old, allegations from partisan prosecutors against Walker -- without prominently mentioning (or mentioning at all, in some cases) that those accusations had been comprehensively rejected and thrown out of both state and federal court by judges. The secret "John Doe" investigation was ordered halted, with zero charges filed against anyone. Indeed, investigators' case was so baseless that all of the inquiry's subpoenas were quashed. The media also failed to mention that the trigger for the documents' release was a lawsuit against the prosecutors by a target of the probe, which had been green-lighted by a judge who determined the misconduct suit was likely to succeed. In other words, Walker had been totally unjustly bombarded by a heavy salvo of breathless, damaging-looking headlines, and was left to attempt to push back against local and national journalists' elixir of deliberate mendacity and negligence. And now, I give you this "oh, by the way" postscript to last Friday's hype tornado:
Gov. Scott Walker has not been a target of the John Doe investigation into alleged illegal campaign finance coordination, an attorney for the special prosecutor overseeing the probe said Thursday. Randall Crocker, the lawyer for special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, noted the investigation has been halted, saying, "At the time the investigation was halted, Governor Walker was not a target of the investigation. At no time has he been served with a subpoena." Crocker issued the statement a week after a court document Schmitz wrote late last year and made public late last week identified Walker as being part of an alleged "criminal scheme" to coordinate with outside groups and violate campaign finance laws. Crocker said no conclusions have been made about whether there is enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime.
You know who did draw conclusions about "whether there is enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime"? Two different judges, who both emphatically reached the same determination and shut down the whole enterprise. Those rulings are being appealed, so Walker haters are clinging to that thread to keep hope alive. Nevertheless, today's clarification from the special prosecutor's office is significant. Not only was Walker never close to being convicted, indicted, or charged with anything -- he was never even a target of the inquiry. That utterly blows up media's (already scandalously misleading) headlines about the governor allegedly being "at the center" of a "criminal scheme." Walker's camp is pointedly and rightly claiming vindication:
In Crocker's statement Thursday, he wrote "it is wrong for any person to point to this sentence in a legal argument as a finding by the special prosecutor that Governor Walker has engaged in a criminal scheme. lt is not such a finding." Walker campaign communications director Tom Evenson highlighted that line from Crocker's letter. "After the media's slanderous reporting last week, today’s statement by prosecutors should serve as an opportunity for the media to correct the record and report the real facts of this story," Evenson said.
The question now becomes whether the damage has already been done. Rush Limbaugh's "drive by media" formulation springs to mind in this case: The Wisconsin and Beltway media raced toward this rubbish story, pumping Walker's reputation full of rhetorical bullets, then sped off. That bell cannot be un-rung, particularly in Wisconsin, where the inaccurate coverage reached saturation levels. Scott Walker has made his accomplishments in office the centerpiece of his (re)-re-election campaign. His historic budget reforms have erased structural shortfalls, helped create a sizable surplus, placed the state on a more sustainable path, relieved the burden on current and future taxpayers, and afforded school districts needed flexibility. The sky has not fallen, despite the Left's apocalyptic predictions. Unemployment is down and job creation is up on Walker's watch, with a majority of Wisconsinites saying their state is on the right track. Walker's latest round of sweeping tax cuts benefited all state taxpayers and are widely popular. His Democratic opponent is declining to campaign on the very issue that originally prompted liberals' furious protests and recall effort, opting instead to brazenly lie about Walker's record on other issues. Polls have consistently shown Walker with a modest lead in the race, but we've yet to see how last week's baseless furor will impact the campaign. As for the media's role, editors at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel -- Wisconsin's largest newspaper -- are playing defense over last week's terrible coverage. Charlie Sykes explains why their excuses ring hollow:
As the paper’s many critics have pointed out, the real "news" is that the released documents detail a months-old prosecution theory that has failed to gain any legal traction. Are the documents news? Yes. But should early stories have explained that news in the clear context of the judicial rulings? Yes. By not doing so, did the Journal Sentinel fuel a misleading national wave of negative stories about Walker? Yes. Stanley’s answer to such criticism? He basically argues that the judicial rulings are old news, previously reported by the paper. But in advancing that line, Stanley acknowledges that the newsroom was 100% aware of the rulings when the documents were released last week. This makes the paper’s initial stories all the more reprehensible. While the newsroom knew that two separate judges had rejected the prosecution theory, it buried that crucial fact. Stanley acts as though the mere existence of the earlier stories provides the context that local and national readers would have needed last week.
Photo retrieved from: www.sc.edu/sotu
Despite hopes to freeze tuition at the University of South Carolina, it appears students will be forced to pay higher tuition, meal, and housing costs this year to compensate for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other state mandates.
A press release from the university states:
USC will start FY2015 applying nearly $18 million toward the additional costs of state-mandated employee pay raises, health and retirement benefits and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA will require the university to extend coverage to all employees who work 30+ hours a week. This provision alone will cost $4.5 million and the university simply cannot afford to shoulder that expense.
Instead, students and their families will bear the burden by paying the 3.2 percent increment for the upcoming school year. This equates to a $342/year increase for in-state students and $912/year increase for out-of-state students. The extra revenue will help cover both the ACA implementation and the rising cost of state-mandated employee pay raises.
University President Harris Pastides explains to students, parents, faculty, and South Carolina lawmakers the importance of keeping costs down:
"We are now at a critical tipping point. The current trajectory is no longer sustainable for our students, parents and taxpayers. We must ensure all South Carolinians have access to an affordable college education and the opportunity to earn workforce-ready baccalaureate degrees. Our state's future economic prosperity depends on it."
As a current student at the University of South Carolina, it concerns me that these mandates are making my school less affordable to attend. Across the country, we have seen tuitions continue to rise and the value of the education received decline.
Will somebody remind me again where “affordable” fits into the Affordable Care Act?
Well, the Mississippi primary is over – and Thad Cochran has survived. The aging U.S. Senator from the Hospitality State fought for his political life against State Sen. Chris McDaniel. Public Policy Polling reported that 55% of Mississippi GOP voters wanted someone else to represent them in Washington, D.C. So, how did this guy survive? Is Thad Cochran a Mississippi tick?
Of course, the McDaniel campaign slammed Cochran for hugging the pork barrel too much, but Mississippi has a slightly different electorate; the voters like it when their lawmakers bring home the bacon (via National Review):
Mississippi has always been more culturally than economically conservative, and voters have long rewarded the ability of their lawmakers to send federal dollars back home. Cochran, a former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has delivered.Eliana Johnson, who wrote the piece, also mentioned the state’s history of having legislators with very long tenures – and that voters rejected term-limits on local politicians, “opting instead for the rewards that come with a lawmaker’s seniority.” That doesn’t necessarily bode well for a successful Tea Party insurgency, hence why Cochran netted 49.5% of the vote after the first bout in this campaign.
Tradition-bound Mississippi, however, isn’t at the forefront of national political trends. A letter to the editor of the Jackson-based Clarion-Ledger published last month summed up a pervasive sentiment among Republicans in the state. “The pragmatic choice simply boils down to this: if you want to keep the only powerful influence Mississippi has on national issues, vote for Thad Cochran,” a Jackson resident wrote. “He has brought immeasurable benefits to our State through years of developing Congressional muscle. If you want to make Mississippi increasingly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, vote for Chris McDaniel.”
But, now the runoff is over. So, why couldn’t McDaniel finish Thad off? In any other state with closed primaries, he would’ve been, but anyone who hadn’t voted in the June 3rd Democratic primary could've participated in the runoff, which meant the Cochran campaign could do outreach into the African-American communities; something he's done before and proved to be his winning move (via NYT c. 1984):
Mr. Reagan's popularity has been a great boon to Mr. Cochran, who has strongly supported the President in Congress. But aides to the Senator say they are relying on more than Mr. Reagan's coattails. Attention to Black VotersIn Belzoni, Mississippi, the city’s first black mayor was not shocked that African-Americans were enthused to support Cochran:
Senator Cochran has bolstered his standing by careful attention to constitutent [sic] services. He has courted black voters by running frequent advertisements on black radio stations across the state, and by fielding a staff that includes several black aides.
''In the campaign, Cochran has actually tried to put some distance between himself and Reagan,'' said Leslie McLemore, a professor of political science at Jackson State University. ''He knows he has to have blacks and Democrats and independents to win in a state like Mississippi.''
The former mayor was not surprised by African-Americans’ enthusiasm for Mr. Cochran. The returns showed that Humphreys County, a predominantly African-American area, went for the senator, 811 to 214.
“Cochran has been very responsive to the community, to the constituency and the state regardless of race,” he said.
Now, Cochran may have remembered this in 1984, but he was aloof in 2014. Additionally, when asked about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss in Virginia, which was nothing short of incredible; he admitted he wasn’t following the race.
Molly Ball of the Atlantic captured this detachment aspect perfectly with her piece about Sen. Cochran, who re-introduced himself to Ball about thirty minutes after she interviewed him.
In the end, McDaniel couldn’t go against the tide of history. It seems Mississippi voters will honor their cultural ties to keep their politicians right where they are, regardless of their quirks.
Chris McDaniel refuses to concede, saying he wants "to be certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters." Mississippi has no recount provision in their election laws, so it’s off to the courts where many are saying the McDaniel campaign will make their case on the unenforceable statute that says: “No person shall be eligible to participate in any primary election unless he intends to support the nominations made in which he participates.”
As Jaime Fuller wrote in the Washington Post, this issue is more or less settled, with the 5th Circuit Court ruling that a ballot can only be tossed under this provision if poll workers were able to know that voters were planning on supporting someone else “a few months down the road.”
Additionally, McDaniel is mum about who he voted for after his participation in the 2003 Democratic primary.
Nevertheless, McDaniel supporters can be furious about the leaflets that smeared their candidate. They can be mad that Cochran reached out to voters who aren’t Republicans, but that’s not necessarily illegal; a bit dirty, but nothing resembling explicit ballot stuffing. Cochran just expanded the electorate, which is something the Tea Party has little interest of doing. On the other hand, they're the base of the GOP. As the vanguard of American conservatism, it's not required.
Right now, the general election will see Cochran face off against former Rep. Travis Childers, who’s anti-Obamacare, pro-Second Amendment, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and “disenchanted” with national Democrats.
Will anti-Cochran voters break for him? If they do - and Childers wins- it’ll be the first time a Democrat has represented Mississippi since 1988. Let's see what happens.
Preparations for Assaults on Iranian Dissidents in Iraq by Iran’s Forces and Proxies | Raymond Tanter