Field trips are generally a fun break from the ordinary school routine. But for some British students, not going on a field trip could have put a dark stain on their permanent records.
In a letter sent to students at Littleton Green Community School, students and parents were warned that skipping a religious education field trip would result in a "racial discrimination note" on their permanent records.
Refusal to allow your child to attend this trip will result in a Racial Discrimination note being attached to your child's education record, which will remain on this file throughout their school career.
The field trip involved some elements of Islam, which concerned some parents.
Islam, of course, is not a race, so it is confusing as to why a child would be labeled as a racist over not attending a field trip. Furthermore, it is ridiculous to label a child as a racist over the actions of their parents.
The headmistress of the school, who sent the original letter, eventually withdrew the threat and apologized to her students.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker criticized the partisan climate in Washington and distinguished proper checks and balances from today's gridlock. He said, "If you want to get big bold reform done ... you need a team to help you do that."
Governor Walker gave the talk while touring to promote his book, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge. (The Christian Science Monitor provides some quick takes on the book here.)
The author's tour has itself been deemed newsworthy because many have speculated it hints at 2016 presidential ambitions. Governor Walker himself has been outspoken about how governors make better presidential candidates in general.
Yet his comments today about divided government are unique. Governor Walker is right that the "conventional wisdom" is that divided government is good. The logic follows that if one party controls all three branches then the federal government could devolve into a tyranny of the majority. Nevertheless, The Washington Post reports that he challenges that idea head-on (emphasis mine):
But, he added, "I think they've seen the last few years that that's not necessarily a good thing. Instead of sufficient checks and balances, what that's gotten is a lot of gridlock."
Walker was referring to divided government in Washington, which contrasts with the situation in Wisconsin. Republicans have controlled both chambers of the state legislature there since 2010. The unified structure has allowed Walker to spearhead an ambitious GOP agenda, including his most controversial law, a measure that curbed collective bargaining for most public employees.
His perspective is unique because his state is controlled by one party. Governor Walker took this idea to its logical conclusion in talking about the importance of Congressional races preceding the 2016 election (emphasis mine again):
Walker said he is focused on 2014 not just because of his own election, but also because what happens in 2016 won't "matter as much" if there isn't a likelihood that a Republican president would have control of both chambers in Congress.
Do Americans agree with Governor Scott Walker? Is it time to forget divided government and celebrate one-party control? It will not be clear until 2014.
For the nearly one million Californians being kicked off their health insurance there will be no “fix.” The state health insurance exchange board unanimously voted Thursday to decline President Obama’s request to extend health policies past the original Dec. 31 deadline.
Complying with the one-year extension would merely prolong the inevitable, as, "a short-term fix isn’t what is needed for this issue,“ Covered California’s executive director Peter Lee said.
The president’s plan could make matters worse, board member Susan Kennedy explained:
“There’s no way to make the federal law work without this transition to ACA-compliant plans. Delaying the transition isn’t going to help anyone; it just delays the problems. I actually think that it’s going to make a bad situation worse if we complicate it further.”
The board did opt to extend the deadline to purchase insurance policies from Dec. 15 to Dec. 26. It also bummed the payment deadline from Jan. 1 to Jan. 5.
While Obama’s healthcare bill caused these cancellations in the first place, the blame seems to have shifted away from the president. As captured by the SFGate:
"It's outrageous that this board would acknowledge that half of canceled policyholders will have rate hikes, then block them from continuing their coverage for another year," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, which is based in Santa Monica.
The action shows that the agency is more on the side of insurers, "not the policyholders, by standing in the way of President Obama's call for action," Court said in a statement. "Shame on them."
Seven additional states have rejected Obama's request as of Nov. 19. AIS Health compiled these statements (emphasis added):
Georgia. Commissioner Ralph Hudgens (R) said, “While I encourage insurers to offer consumers as many options as permitted, I lack the statutory authority to force insurers to provide the stop-gap measure that the President created yesterday. Insurance companies have spent years preparing for Obama’s law, now the President has given them six weeks to temporarily undo its damage.”
Massachusetts. “To change course at this time, and delay certain market reforms, could cause confusion and significant market disruption,” Insurance Commissioner Joseph Murphy said Nov. 18.
Minnesota. “Making the program changes offered by the president last week would be unworkable for your members and would likely cause more expensive health coverage for Minnesotans,” Gov. Mark Dayton (D) wrote to the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, the Duluth News-Tribune reported Nov. 19.
Rhode Island. “All plans available in 2014, whether through HealthSource RI or in the private market, have been through a rigorous review process designed to ensure that they meet the standards set forth in the Affordable Care Act,” said a Nov. 15 joint statement from Rhode Island Health Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Hittner, M.D., and HealthSource RI Director Christine Ferguson. “We have decided to continue in the direction we are going, and therefore will not be adopting the option made available to us by the President.”
Texas. According to multiple news reports, Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber said, “Because Texas is not enforcing the Affordable Care Act, it remains to be seen how President Obama's executive order will impact the marketplace and consumers. Whether a company offers or withdraws a policy is a business decision for that company. We will be closely monitoring the impact of these latest developments on consumers and the industry.”
Vermont. Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) said, "This is a state by state decision and the state of Vermont has made the decision to continue with its expanded options plan which allows current individual purchasers (direct pay, Safety Net, Catamount and sole proprietors) to extend their existing policies through March 31, 2014….The state of Vermont is confident that the State’s current options plan will meet the coverage needs of Vermonters in 2014.”
Washington state. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler (D) said, “I do not believe his [Obama’s] proposal is a good deal for the state of Washington. In the interest of keeping the consumer protections we have enacted and ensuring that we keep health insurance costs down for all consumers, we are staying the course. We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies.”
Veteran House Democratic aides are sick over the insurance prices they’ll pay under Obamacare, and they’re scrambling to find a cure. “In a shock to the system, the older staff in my office (folks over 59) have now found out their personal health insurance costs (even with the government contribution) have gone up 3-4 times what they were paying before,” Minh Ta, chief of staff to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), wrote to fellow Democratic chiefs of staff in an email message obtained by POLITICO. “Simply unacceptable.” In the email, Ta noted that older congressional staffs may leave their jobs because of the change to their health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, and federal regulations, many congressional staffers — designated as “official” aides — were forced to move out of the old heavily subsidized Federal Employees Health Benefits program and into the District of Columbia’s health insurance marketplace exchange. Others designated as “unofficial” were allowed to stay in the FEHB program.
Welcome to the Obamacare party, people who helped their bosses foist this monstrosity upon an unwilling public. Many of these legislative aides are now saddled with much higher -- "unacceptable!" -- health costs, now that they're fending for themselves on DC's Obamacare exchange. There's a reason why poll after poll shows the president and his healthcare law plummeting to new lows; it's somewhat comforting to know that at least some people on Capitol Hill aren't insulated from the fallout. That said, it is most unfortunate that Republican staffers are living through the same tribulations thanks to a law they've fought tooth-and-nail from day one. Beyond the spiking costs for individuals and families, taxpayers are on the hook for an avalanche of new government spending because of Obamacare. One item on that list is the cost of fixing the broken websites, which had already cost $1.6 billion by the launch date ($600 billion for Healthcare.gov, and more than $1 billion for the state exchanges). Since 30 to 40 percent of the federal site is still being built, with massive repair efforts underway across the country, that price tag will swell immensely. Government experts can't say how much it will cost just yet, but outside observers are confident it will be a lot:
Technology experts say healing what ails the Healthcare.gov website will be a tougher task than the Obama administration acknowledges. "It's going to cost a lot of tax dollars to get this done," says Bill Curtis, senior vice president and chief scientist at CAST, a French software analysis company with offices in the U.S. Curtis says programmers and systems analysts start fixing troubled websites by addressing the glitches they can see. But based on his analysis of the site, he believes the ongoing repairs are likely to reveal even deeper problems, making it tough to predict when all the site's issues will be resolved.
In an interesting twist, one of the few elements of Healthcare.gov that was not catastrophically broken was the so-called "anonymous shopper" browsing function, wherein potential consumers could check and compare rates. Obamacare's IT chief testified under oath that this element of the website was scrapped because it failed so terribly in testing that they couldn't in good conscience roll it out to the public (this is the same guy who admitted that at least one-third of the web system still isn't built). But a CNN exclusive reveals that the "anonymous shopper" function actually passed its pre-launch test, raising questions about whether Henry Chao committed perjury. If this portion of the Obamacare web experience was working fine technologically, why would they jettison it? It's pretty simple, really -- sticker shock, and pure politics:
The laws’ supporters and enforcers don’t want you to know that, because it would violate the President’s incessantly repeated promise that nothing would change for the people that Obamacare doesn’t directly help. If you shop for Obamacare-based coverage without knowing if you qualify for subsidies, you might be discouraged by the law’s steep costs. So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums.
The premium and out-of-pocket costs were going to look so steep, the administration chose to hide those numbers from the public until after people had logged on and gotten a sense of how much taxpayer assistance they'd receive to help pay for the costly coverage. They tossed out one of the few working elements of their website rollout to spare themselves the humiliation of another major broken promise, then lied about it to Congress.
James Carville threw in the towel on defending the Obamacare rollout last night on Fox Business, calling the disaster a "joke" and a "self-inflicted wound."
"I look at these polls, and I got to tell you, I think it is all self-inflicted. I think this rollout, which I think they got to get right, was a disaster, it was a joke,” he told Fox Business Network on Thursday. “And there was a way to talk about, you know, how many people would get to keep their health insurance in a way that wasn’t causing this much trouble. I’m one of the few people who have believed, and continue to believe, that in the end this thing will work pretty good.”
"And I think the president has himself to blame as much as anybody,” he said. “I don’t think he was done in, in this instance by the Republicans, or done in by the media, done in by anything. It was just a massive mess-up that’s cost him and cost the Democratic Party some grief. Maybe temporarily I hope, but it’s certainly caused some grief out there.”
Adding insult to injury, Carville called for people to hold President Obama accountable for the rollout, not Republicans, who the White House has repeatedly blamed for ongoing issues with Heathcare.gov.
“I think the president has himself to blame as much as anybody. I don't think he was done in, in this instance by the Republicans, or done in by the media, done in by anything.”
Up until now, Carville has done his best to defend the administration in the wake of health insurance cancellation notices landing in the mailboxes of millions of Americans. He's still defending the law as a whole, but isn't giving anymore excuses about the ongoing failures of the Obamacare exchange.
With immigration reform still on the agenda, many people have decided to make their opinions on the issues clear. One of those people, who really has no say in any decision making process, is Mark Zuckerberg. The creator of Facebook was at an event this week called “Hackathon” promoting his ideas about the American immigration system, specifically amnesty.
The event hosted at LinkedIn’s headquarters invites 20 young immigrants who came to the country illegally as children (Dreamers) to spend 25 hours coding web tools to advocate for immigration reform.
In his kickoff speech Zuckerberg said, “I think this is one of the biggest civil rights issue of our time…We’re at a pretty critical moment in the movement right now where it’s really important to keep pushing ahead.”
Zuckerberg recently started a political advocacy group that is funded by many of the tech industry’s biggest names. This group works to promote legislation that includes a path to citizenship for more than 11 million immigrants currently living in the U.S.
I guess Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t really know the definition of a civil right. It is not a right for every citizen on this earth to be able to live in the United States. There is a process in place for people to enter this country legally, to provide the chance for opportunity. However, this country would not be able to sustain itself if anyone could come here whenever they wanted. The melting pot society is a great one. But if the U.S. can’t continue to be a place of opportunity due to a drain on our system with too many citizens, haven’t we ruined what America was supposed to be in the first place?
A follow-up to Dan's post from yesterday. Barack Obama's shameless flip-flopping on political tactics based on immediate expediency isn't news. See, for instance, Senator Obama's comments on raising the debt ceiling in 2006. Both parties have been somewhat hypocritical on judicial filibusters, tidily trading arguments when White House control exchanged hands in 2009. Up until yesterday, Obama's statements had been as contradictory and partisan as anyone else's -- but then came his White House statement placing a presidential imprimatur on Harry Reid's nuclear action. Yesterday's extreme measure was made necessary by the actions of intransigent Republicans, he argued, whose obstructionism had "gummed up the works." His core argument was that Democrats had no choice by to nuke the filibuster through a radical rules change in order to alleviate the Senate's "unprecedented," incurable gridlock:
He claimed Republicans have obstructed "everything," regardless of the merits. This is a straw man argument on steroids. On judicial nominees, the Senate has confirmed 215 Obama picks while successfully filibustering six. That's a far cry from "everything." But the rationalization was irrelevant, really. The Left had its heart set on this raw power grab, and Democrats needed to throw a big bone to their depressed base. They got their pound of flesh -- for now. We'll see how much liberals enjoy the "Reid rule" when they are no longer the majority party. But how did Senator Barack Obama assess Republicans' discussion of detonating a similar "nuclear" strike in 2005 when Democrats were in the minority?
In the process of decrying "ends justify the means" politics -- the irony is rich -- in a floor speech, Obama intoned:
“The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster – if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate – then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.”
To recap: In 2005, the nuclear option would exacerbate Congress' toxic climate of partisanship and gridlock. In 2013, the nuclear option is a solution to Congress' toxic climate of partisanship and gridlock. Got it. Parting thought:
Two words: “Justice Cruz” #51— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) November 21, 2013
Yesterday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced that the GOP will make Obamacare the defining issue of 2014, promising to "tattoo Obamacare on each of their foreheads."
And earlier in the week, House Republican leadership circulated a "House Republican Playbook" memo, outlining how members should message against Obamacare for 2014.
But what was missing from both the RNC press conference, and the House Republican playbook, was any mention of what policy alternative Republicans will offer voters in its place.
And you shouldn't expect Republicans to coalesce around any alternative anytime soon. Here's why:
1. Democrats Are Dying For A Villain To Run Against. President Obama is at his most effective when he has an opponent to demonize. Right now, he doesn't really have one, other than the insurance companies, and he needs them as allies or Obamacare will completely collapse.
That is why, as The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported Wednesday, "the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is set to launch a new campaign designed to refocus the debate on the Republican position on health care, which Dems will widely label as 'Cruz Care.'"
It doesn't matter what the actual policies in any Republican plan are, Democrats will label whatever Republicans come up with as "Cruz Care." Democrats will then tie Cruz, who is highly unpopular among independents across the country, to every Republican candidate. Why would Republicans want to help Democrats do this?
2. Congressional Republicans Are Not Popular. Americans' opinion of Congress has never been lower. That will color any solution congressional Republicans present. If you are a candidate challenging a Democratic incumbent, why would you want to defend a plan created by a body with an 11 percent approval rating?
3. Obama Will Veto Any Republican Plan Anyway. Obama has already made it abundantly clear that he will veto any health care law that he believes would undermine Obamacare. The only Obamacare fixes Obama will not veto, are fixes that would expand the size and scope of the federal government. Any Republican plan that could pass the House would have to go in the polar opposite direction, shrinking the size and scope of the federal government.
Bottom line: There will be no significant changes to federal health care statutes until after Obama is out of office. So there is no point for Republicans to outline a health care legislative vision that has no change of becoming law.
Instead, Republican health care policy will be defined in the 2016 presidential primary. Who ever emerges as the party's candidate in 2016 will have their own health care plan, and Republicans will own, and run, on that.
Appearing on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight earlier this week, actor Richard Dreyfuss made some refreshing comments about the National Rifle Association, saying that they are best group to turn to for solutions on gun violence while noting they are experts and were founded in order to education people about firearms.
"I don't think the NRA is a villian," Dreyfuss said. "I think we should turn this over to the people who are expert at this and the original mandate of the NRA was to train responsible gun ownership and the NRA should handle it. They should train excellence in gun ownership."
He did take a dig at "people killing weapons," but instead of suggesting a ban on them, he suggested they be held in an armory controlled by the NRA, not the government.
"The NRA should be thought of, or think of themselves, as heroes and take care of this problem," Dreyfuss said.
Nearly one million people go through NRA firearms training courses each year and the organization has a youth program whose instructors have taught more than 15 million children across the country about firearms safety.
In civilian training, the NRA continues to be the leader in firearms education. Over 50,000 Certified Instructors now train about 750,000 gun owners a year. Courses are available in basic rifle, pistol, shotgun, muzzleloading firearms, personal protection, and even ammunition reloading. Additionally, nearly 1,000 Certified Coaches are specially trained to work with young competitive shooters. Since the establishment of the lifesaving Eddie Eagle® Gun Safety Program in 1988, more than 12 million pre-kindergarten to sixth grade children have learned that if they see a firearm in an unsupervised situation, they should "STOP. DON'T TOUCH. LEAVE THE AREA. TELL AN ADULT." Over the past seven years, Refuse To Be A Victim® seminars have helped more than 15,000 men and women develop their own personal safety plan using common sense strategies.
The Obama administration has announced a delay in next year's Obamacare enrollment period (known as open enrollment in the private sector) until after the 2014 midterm elections are over. This change does not effect those trying to sign up now and does not delay a fine from going into effect for those who don't sign up for some kind health insurance by early next year. More from Fox News:
The Obama administration plans to delay the start of next year's ObamaCare enrollment period, a move pitched as a way to give consumers and insurance companies more time to study their options -- but which also conveniently pushes the second round of enrollment past the 2014 midterm elections.
A Department of Health and Human Services official confirmed the change to Fox News. The decision does not affect those trying to enroll this year, despite the myriad problems with the launch of the law and HealthCare.gov. Rather, it affects those who will sign up late next year for 2015 coverage.
The administration will allow consumers to start signing up on Nov. 15, 2014, as opposed to Oct. 15. Enrollment will last until Jan. 15, 2015, instead of Dec. 7.
An HHS official told Fox News the move will give insurers "the benefit of more time to evaluate their experiences during the 2014 plan year" and let them take into account late-filing customers when setting their 2015 rates.
The official added: "This change is good news for consumers, who will have more time to learn about plans before enrolling and an open enrollment period that's a week longer."
Despite claiming this move is about give consumers "more time" to make a decision about a health plan, this delay in sign up is purely to further protect vulnerable Democrats who are up for re-election in 2014. Healthcare experts have warned rate shock for 2015 will be worst than for 2014. Those rates will be submitted to Health and Human Services in April 2014. Open enrollment prior to the 2014 elections, when consumers become very focused on the cost of their health insurance plans, would be another political nightmare for Obamacare supporters up for reelection as healthcare premiums continue to skyrocket.
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