Yesterday Republican Senator Marco Rubio took to the Senate floor to address the ongoing crisis in Venezuela and to push back against Democratic Senator Tom Harkin's praise of Cuba after visiting the country and touting its healthcare system.
First Rubio took on Harkin, who is the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He spent last week touring Cuban healthcare facilities and right on cue, came back to the United States to spout communist propaganda about the system. Harkin claims Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S. and says Cubans have a longer lifespan, failing to point out the information he received about the system in Cuba comes only from dishonest Cuban regime officials. The truth about Cuba's horrid healthcare conditions were detailed in the March 2010 edition of Townhall Magazine. Humberto Fontova has also done extensive work exposing lies about Cuba's health system, which you can read about here.
Liberals pushing for free health care often cite Fidel Castro's fiefdom as evidence of how to do it right. Problem is, foreign leaders, celebrities, patients and media are shown only the good stuff that is maintained for PR purposes and for the Cuban elite.
After annihilating the argument that the Cuban system is one the United States should emulate, Rubio took on Hugo Chavez protege and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for ongoing violence against protestors. How are the two related? The Castro regime is playing a large role in helping Maduro perpetrate violence against Venezuelan protestors. Rubio pointed out Cuban tactics, like shooting protestors in the head and killing them, are being used in Venezuela.
California State Senator Ron Calderon has surrendered himself to federal authorities. The 24-count indictment was filed against him last week.
Calderon was taken into custody by federal authorities earlier today after he was charged last week with several counts of federal bribery and corruption allegations.
The Democratic state senator represents the city of Montebello.
Prosecutors say Calderon accepted roughly $100,000 in cash bribes, chartered plane trips, high-end golf trips and gourmet meals in exchange for either his support or opposition for legislation.
The specific charges Calderon faces are mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering and aiding in the filing of false tax returns.
The state senator is also accused of paying his daughter $39,000 for a bogus office job and paying roughly $30,000 for his son’s education.
The senator’s brother also faces charges in connection with the scheme.
“The charges allege that the defendants traded influence for cash, and used kickbacks and other tactics to keep the system working in their favor,” said Bill Lewis, FBI assistant director in charge.
If convicted Calderon could face 396 years in prison and his brother faces up to 160 years. Look at this local news report for all the details of the alleged bribery case.
Although the election for mayor of Chicago isn’t until 2015, potential candidates are making their way out of the shadows. Many are under the impression that Rahm Emanuel will win re-election handily, mostly because of his work with President Obama. But it appears someone else with close ties to the president may be entering the race.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle may be a formidable challenger to Mr. Emanuel. Though Mrs. Preckwinkle says she will be seeking a second term on the county board this November, it is not unheard of to see a quick switch to the mayoral election in February of the following year.
Preckwinkle supported President Obama’s campaign for state senate in 1996 and his failed congressional run in 2000. She also takes credit for getting Obama to join Jeremiah Wright’s church. In 2008 she said, “It’s a church that would provide you with lots of social connections and prominent parishoners…It’s a good place for a politician to be a member.”
Although she was an Obama delegate the 2008 Democratic National Convention, it seems she is not as much of an Obama fan as she once was. But there’s no mistaking that other famous liberals still find her an appealing candidate. Bill Ayers said, “I love Toni Preckwinkle.” He has also been heard saying she would be a great opponent to Emanuel.
If she won, she would be the city’s first black female mayor. But let’s be honest, she isn’t going to be any better than Rahm Emanuel if her past shows us anything.
“This is a non-story,” CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said in November about Benghazi. “[It] was a tragedy. It’s not a scandal. Republicans are going to investigate this until the end of the Obama administration. They will find nothing, because there’s nothing to be found there.”
The next month, National Security Adviser Susan Rice took a similar position in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes”: “I don’t have time to think about a false controversy.”
But is it really a “non-story” that only Republicans want to continue to investigate? Far from it.
According to a recent Fox News survey, 66 percent of respondents think Congress should continue to investigate Benghazi, and 50 percent of Democrats want investigations to continue.
The question read: “Should Congress continue to investigate the Obama administration's handling of the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of four Americans?”
House Republicans are doing their part to continue fighting for answers and justice. The House Select Committee on Intelligence investigation is ongoing, and more hearings may be coming, according to Fox News.
H/T: Weasel Zippers
Things aren't looking so good for Wendy Davis in her quest for the governor's mansion. A new poll shows that she's down by 11 points to Republican opponent Greg Abbott.
From the Washington Examiner:
A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll found that 47 percent of voters back Abbott, while 36 percent say they'd vote for Davis. The poll found that 17 percent had no opinion on who they'd vote for in the November election.
The new poll shows the Republican attorney general gaining momentum in the historically red state of Texas. In October, the same poll found Abbott with a six-percentage-point lead over Davis.
Since October, Texans have found out that Davis embellished aspects of her personal story, flip-flopped on abortion bans, and associated with a group committing illegal voter registration on her behalf.
Davis was barely reelected to her seat in the Texas State Senate in 2012. She gained national prominence following an 11-hour filibuster against a bill that would restrict abortion access in Texas.
I can't imagine why Texans wouldn't support this woman in office.
The Arizona Legislature passed a bill that would amend the definition of religious freedom and provide a wider birth of protection for entities that seek to deny service because of a moral conviction.
Under Senate Bill 1062 'exercise of religion' is expanded to include the 'practice or observation of religion.'
It also makes this key rewrite:
a religious assembly or institutionANY INDIVIDUAL. ASSOCIATION. PARTNERSHIP. CORPORATION. CHURCH. RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY OR INSTITUTION. ESTATE. TRUST. FOUNDATION OR OTHER LEGAL ENTITY.
This redefinition would be a huge First Amendment victory. Businesses and organizations are usually mute when it comes to religious freedom. This bill would safeguard individuals such as Elaine Huguenin, a photographer who was fined more than $6K after she declined to shoot photographs of a same-sex marriage ceremony in 2006.
It would also protect companies such as Sweet Cakes By Melissa, a Christian-owned bakery in Oregon that was slammed with fines after refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Bureau of Labor and Industries found:
The bakery is not a religious institution under the law and that the business’ policy of refusing to make same-sex wedding cakes represents unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.
According to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council the "legislation will likely have profound, negative effects on our business community for years to come." Tough words to swallow considering Sweet Cakes was forced to close after the lawsuit suffocated the business.
The truth is, there are hundreds of photographers and bakeries in any given city. Why force a businesses to compromise its sincere religious beliefs?
Even the Los Angeles Times, a paper thriving in the heart of a gay community, expressed support for allowing "expressive professions" freedom of choice:
The 1st Amendment protects not only the right to express one's own views but also a right not to be compelled to convey someone else's....
Much as we support same-sex marriage and oppose discrimination, we do see a distinction between businesses that provide the same product or service to all comers and those that collaborate in the creation of a personalized message. We acknowledge that drawing that line will sometimes be difficult.
Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy President explained:
It's a shame we even need a bill like this in America. But growing hostility against freedom in our nation, and the increasing use of government to threaten and punish its own citizens, has made it necessary.
I urge Governor Brewer to send a clear message to the country that in Arizona, everyone, regardless of their faith, will be protected in Arizona by signing SB 1062.
The clock is ticking. The Senate is expected to officially deliver the bill to Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today, and she will have five days to sign or veto the bill.
Last week, after Republicans in Congress attacked the program, the FCC announced it would be suspending a proposed pilot study in Columbia, South Carolina, that would have required television and radio stations to tell the government how they make editorial decisions in newsrooms.
"Any suggestion that the FCC intends to regulate the speech of news media or plans to put monitors in America's newsrooms is false," an FCC spokesman told reporters.
But that is not quite true, as The Washington Examiner's Byron York reports today. Mignon Clyburn, an Obama-appointed FCC commissioner (and daughter of Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn), has long been a champion of using FCC commissioned studies on media ownership to push for new government regulations that would increase minority ownership. York writes:
From all appearances, Clyburn's goal was more minority ownership — not a new Fairness Doctrine. In her July 2009 confirmation hearing, she said "the Fairness Doctrine should not be reinstated in any form, any way, shape or form." She added that, "The FCC, I believe, is not in the business of censoring speech or content on the basis of political views and opinions." But that did not mean she was not looking to change media content on the basis of her political views and opinions. She just advocated doing it by changing media ownership rather than overt Fairness Doctrine-style regulation.
York is dead right about Clyburn's intent to use the FCC to promoter her own progressive political views and opinions. But Clyburn was not the first to advance such a plan and the power for the FCC to dictate such changes is the exact same source they used to institute the Fairness Doctrine in the first place.
In 2007, the Center for American Progress, then run by now-President Obama advisor John Podesta, produced a 40-page report detailing how the FCC could use existing statutory authority to weaken conservative voices on talk radio in favor of more progressive opinions. The CAP report read:
Ownership diversity is perhaps the single most important variable contributing to the structural imbalance based on the data. Quantitative analysis conducted by Free Press of all 10,506 licensed commercial radio stations reveals that stations owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows.
First, from a regulatory perspective, the Fairness Doctrine was never formally repealed. The FCC did announce in 1987 that it would no longer enforce certain regulations under the umbrella of the Fairness Doctrine, and in 1989 a circuit court upheld the FCC decision. The Supreme Court, however, has never overruled the cases that authorized the FCC’s enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine. Many legal experts argue that the FCC has the authority to enforce it again—thus it technically would not be considered repealed. ... Thus, the public obligations inherent in the Fairness Doctrine are still in existence and operative, at least on paper.
CAP's top policy recommendation for increasing minority ownership? Creating "local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations," tighter controls on radio licensing, and forcing commercial radio to pay fees "to support public broadcasting."
One of CAP's recommendations for stricter radio licensing is particularly applicable to Clyburn's survey push. CAP recommended the FCC, "Require radio broadcast licensees to regularly show that they are operating on behalf of the public interest and provide public documentation and viewing of how they are meeting these obligations."
Conservatives have every reason to believe Obama is out to silence them. Clyburn and the FCC are just implementing a plan Obama's new advisor Podesta drew up years ago to do just that.
After deadly clashes with government forces for months, demands that new constitutional amendments in the Ukraine include the right for the people to bear arms are growing.
The Ukrainian Gun Owners Association has released a statement saying, "Today every citizen of Ukraine understands why our country has hundreds of thousands of policemen. Last illusions were crushed when riot police used rubber batons and boots at the Independence Square on peaceful citizens. After such actions we realize that it is not enough to only adopt the Gun Law. As of today Ukrainian Gun Owners Association will start to work on the preparation of amendments to the Constitution, which will provide an unconditional right for Ukrainian citizens to bear arms. People should have the right to bear arms, which will be put in written into the Constitution. Authorities should not and will not be stronger than its people! Armed people are treated with respect"
As Robert Heinlein once said, an armed society is a polite society.
Here is one of the proposed amendments from the UGOA. You can read about the rest here, but will need to translate the text first.
Amend Article 27, paragraph four as follows:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of owning a firearm to protect their life and health, housing and property, life and health of other people's constitutional rights and freedoms in the case of usurpation of power , the encroachments on the constitutional order , sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine . Exercising the right to free possession of firearms is governed by applicable law and may be limited only by the court on the individual. "
Currently, gun laws in the Ukraine are categorized as restrictive and only "licensed gun owners may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition." Ukrainians who apply for a firearms license must show "genuine reason" for why they are doing so, which must approved by the State.
H/T Mary Chastain
Democrat Congressman Gary Peters is running for US Senate in Michigan, where he's facing a strong Republican opponent in former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. Like other Democrats across the America, Peters is worried sick about the political impact Obamacare -- a law for which Peters voted in 2010. Unlike many others, however, he's taken the extraordinary step of dispatching a team of lawyers to bully Michigan broadcasters into refusing to air a television ad that's critical of the healthcare overhaul. The spot is being run by Americans for Prosperity and features a cancer patient who was among the millions whose previous health plans were dropped as a result of Obamacare. The mother who's battling leukemia says politicians broke their word about the law, and that she's hurting because of it:
After relating her story publicly in an ad produced by the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), Peters dispatched lawyers to prevent the spot from running on local television stations. Boonstra, who says she is now struggling to pay out of pocket for her rising healthcare costs, told the Washington Free Beacon she is stunned by Peters’ efforts to censor her story. “I’m appalled. I’m appalled as a mom, as a woman, and as a cancer patient, as someone living with cancer … who has stood before this nation to say, ‘I cannot afford that out of pocket expense,’” said Boonstra, who said she was given a 20 percent chance of surviving her disease. “As a Michigan resident, to silence my voice, I’m absolutely appalled.” Peters, who is running for a seat in the Senate, instructed his legal council earlier this week to demand that stations stop running the AFP ad until additional evidence of the cancer victim’s claims could be produced. “For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should immediately require AFP to provide the factual documentation for its claims if you are going to continue airing this advertising,” read the letter from Peters’ lawyers.
Liberals are angry and distraught -- not over Boonstra's predicament and sense of betrayal, it would seem, but over how effective her message is. So they're hinting that broadcasters who run this ad might be jeopardizing their FCC license by doing so. This behavior would fall into the category of "gangster government," as coined by Michael Barone. Democrats and some media members are further insisting that Boonstra doesn't understand her own situation as well as they do. Obamacare actually improves her situation, they say. Stunned by the tactics and arrogance of her detractors, the cancer victim says she's outraged that Peters is trying to shut her up, and continues to assert that the law "is hurting me." She cites her dropped plan (a broken promise that in and of itself gives her standing to attack the law), as well as unpredictable costs as evidence of the damage she's suffered. The Washington Post's fact checker -- whose analysis is cited in the letter from Peters' attorneys -- concludes that because her new premiums are lower, Boonstra's overall costs "could well even out" over time thanks to Obamacare's coverage out-of-pocket costs caps (which have been delayed for a year).
First of all, "could" is not the same as "will." Will her premiums creep or jump higher in the future? That's not a bad bet. Also, while she is fortunate to have reduced premiums, millions of others are experiencing the opposite effect on that front. Secondly, Boonstra says her new plan's out-of-pocket costs are unaffordable in spite of the limits, and says the unpredictability of month-to-month expenses is a hardship. Finally, Obamacare advocates erected an impossible standard of no downsides or losers, to which they're rightly being held in the court of public opinion. Having heard the endless vows and slogans from Democrats, Boonstra assumed that she could keep her plan and doctor, and would also see her medical costs drop substantially. Instead, she lost the plan she liked, was forced to track down a new plan that would include her specialist, and doesn't know how she's going to cover high payments that will come directly out of her pocket. Here she is on The Kelly File, responding to the Democrat in the segment who suggests that she simply doesn't know what's best for her:
This mom with cancer was unquestionably misled about the healthcare law. She says it is harming her coverage and finances. Democrats' solution to their political fix is to accuse her of misleading (intimating that she'd best shut her mouth and be grateful for all they've done for her) in order to block television stations from airing her story. In case you'd forgotten, the White House attacked the veracity of another angry female cancer patient back in November. In what universe is this considered a winning strategy?
CNN host Carol Costello is just dripping with contempt.