This was not unexpected, of course, but for those unfamiliar with the legislation, here are the nuts and bolts of the committee-approved bill:
The Senate Judiciary Committee gave final approval Tuesday to a sweeping immigration reform bill, setting up a debate on the Senate floor for early June.
Three Republicans joined 10 Democrats to support the bill, which would create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, invest billions in new border security measures and overhaul the legal immigration system.
The vote came after the committee deliberated for five days and considered more than 150 amendments. But the Gang of Eight, which drafted the legislation, held together and fended off all but minor changes.
Earlier in the evening, safe passage of the bill seemed somewhat uncertain when Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy refused to withhold an amendment that would, according to Politico, “allow gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born spouses for green cards.” Certainly, it was one of the more controversial measures under consideration, and he wisely -- albeit begrudgingly -- dropped it when it became patently obvious the bill would die in committee if he didn’t.
“I don’t want to be the senator who asks Americans to choose between the love of their life and the love of their country,” he said.
Here’s a significant and little-known news item from yesterday that unsurprisingly flew under the radar: Vermont became the third U.S. state -- and the first via the legislative process -- to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Life News has the details:
With Governor Peter Shumlin’s signature on a bill the state legislature approved, Vermont [yesterday] becomes the third state after Oregon and Washington to legalize assisted suicide.
Shumlin signed a bill [yesterday] legalizing physician-assisted suicide for patients deemed to have a “terminal condition.” The move immediately drew opposition from leading pro-life groups.
As it should. Catherine Glenn Foster, litigation counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom and a Townhall columnist, explained some of the problems with the bill mere hours before the initiative passed the state legislature:
Defenders of the bill contend that there is no risk of its misuse because it applies only to a person with a “terminal illness.” Yet we have seen the definition of “terminal illness” expanded “broad enough to include an 18-year-old who is insulin dependent or dependent on kidney dialysis, or a young adult with stable HIV/AIDS. Each of these patients could live for decades with appropriate medical treatment.”
And defenders say that because the bill is only for a person who has the capacity to choose life or death, its provisions will be difficult to abuse.
In saying this, they miss the fact that the person killing himself or herself takes “prescribed medication,” which necessitates the involvement of a second party—a doctor. That opens the door for people, particularly those who depend on others in some way and are most in need of care and protection, to be influenced toward death, whether by an unscrupulous physician or a well-intentioned but coercive family member.
In other words, it’s not uncommon for “terminal” patients to feel persuaded -- or perhaps even coerced -- into taking life-ending drugs. Why? Because they’ve determined that their own lives have become, well, a source of financial distress and/or inconvenience to those whom are closest to them. How sad. It’s no surprise, then, that the American Medical Association is staunchly opposed to such practices, which obviously undermine the sanctity and dignity of human life. Back to the Life News article:
The American Medical Association has also remained firm in its opposition to physician-assisted suicide. Regarding the issue, the AMA states, “Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”
And yet now this newly passed “health care” law is perhaps on Vermont’s statute books forever. Splendid. Of course, partisans on both sides of the aisle can debate the merits of physician-assisted suicide, and whether or not it is morally defensible (which I don’t believe it is), but there is absolutely no denying the fact that this loosely-worded law is in many respects deeply flawed. And, as a result, I suspect it will have devastating consequences -- not only for patients themselves who ingest these lethal and toxic substances, but for their families and loved ones as well.
After a short and sweet special election campaign in South Carolina’s first congressional district -- a race that was too close to call as recently as Monday -- former Governor Mark Sanford has been declared tonight’s winner. Hooray?
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has redeemed a political career sidelined by scandal by winning his old congressional seat.
Sanford defeated Elizabeth Colbert (KOHL'-buhrt) Busch Tuesday in the state's 1st Congressional District. Colbert Busch is the sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert (kohl-BEHR'). With 71 percent of precincts reporting, Sanford has 54 percent of the vote.
At one time, Sanford was mentioned as a possible GOP presidential contender.
But his career unraveled when, as governor four years ago, he disappeared for five days, telling his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He returned to admit he had been in Argentina with his mistress. Sanford later paid a $70,000 ethics fine, the largest in state history.
Sanford has never lost a political race.
Though Sanford’s electoral prospects were looking rather bleak for a while, it seems the former governor has pulled it off. Stay tuned for Guy’s post-election analysis.
Any meaningful discussion about the dearth of full-time jobs in America seems to be, well, permanently on the backburner. Meanwhile, immigration, gun control and Jason Collins are front-and-center stories, despite the fact that according to a recent Gallup survey, 19 percent (number two on the list!) say “Unemployment/Jobs” are the country’s biggest problems (via Breitbart):
A new poll conducted by global management firm Accenture finds that 41% of U.S. workers who graduated from college in the last two years are underemployed and working in jobs that did not require a college degree.
The poll also found that just 16% of college students who will graduate this year had already landed a job. Worse, 32% of the 2011 and 2012 college graduates who are employed make $25,000 or less in annual salary.
Low earnings like that make climbing out of student debt difficult. Indeed, 34% of those surveyed said they have student loan debt of $30,000 or less and 17% owed between $30,000 and $50,000.
With job prospects bleak and personal debt so high, 32% of the students who will graduate in 2013 say they plan to move back home after graduation. Indeed, 44% of those who graduated college in 2011 and 2012 say they currently live at home with their parents.
The survey was based on 1,010 students slated to graduate in 2013 and 1,005 students who graduated college in 2011 and 2012.
Question: How many young people in America (a) take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, (b) attend college, (c) graduate (although many don’t, of course), and (D) wind up working jobs they hate that don’t require a college degree? In short, a lot. And yet no one in the mainstream media seems to give a darn, presumably because they all have jobs. I’m not suggesting that curbing gun violence in America and fixing our broken immigration system aren’t important issues we need to address -- they no doubt are -- but this simple statistic belies the oft-peddled falsehood that the economy (and by extension, the private sector) is “doin’ fine.” What exactly has the president and the Congress been doing recently to help businesses grow, hire and expand? And why aren’t they talking more about how few college graduates are actually finding full-time, permanent work? I’m hearing crickets.
America, I’ve often heard, has always been a forward looking nation. But if chronic joblessness isn’t addressed soon (and the next generation keeps on living with mom and dad until their 30 presumably because they can’t find good jobs) what exactly will we have to look forward to? An aging population coupled with an ever-shrinking workforce? Sounds lovely. And, incidentally, a lot like Greece.
After Ted Cruz got elected to the United States Senate last November I had a suspicion that we’d inevitably see a story like this in the not-too-distant future. Turns out I was right; I just didn’t expect to read it so soon (via NRO’s Robert Costa):
Freshman senator Ted Cruz is considering a presidential run, according to his friends and confidants.
Cruz won’t talk about it publicly, and even privately he’s cagey about revealing too much of his thought process or intentions. But his interest is undeniable.
“If you don’t think this is real, then you’re not paying attention,” says a Republican insider. “Cruz already has grassroots on his side, and in this climate, that’s all he may need.”
“There’s not a lot of hesitation there,” adds a Cruz donor who has known the Texan for decades. “He’s fearless.”
Cruz, for his part, now joins a long list of conservative and Tea Party types mulling president runs in 2016. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal -- just to name three -- seem to be at the top of the list. However, if Cruz does officially enter the race, he could shake up the primaries in new and exciting ways, not least because he’d almost certainly be considered the most conservative candidate vying for the nomination. From the NRO article:
That ideological purity and Cruz’s presidential maneuvers make aides close to other Republican contenders nervous. The backroom Republican consensus is that a Cruz insurgency would hardly be a quixotic publicity stunt. He’d outflank almost all of the other candidates on the right, and his debating skills, which once won him national awards, would be formidable. It doesn’t hurt that much of the media already hates him with a passion.
It’s probably a good rule of thumb to remember that the more the media hates you, the more conservatives will support you. Costa, meanwhile, also notes that in many respects Cruz would be a “Barry Goldwater type” -- that is, a candidate who would challenge and shake-up “the establishment” -- and therefore hopefully usher in a new, 21st century conservative political awakening. But because of his close-knit ties to political financiers such as Peter Thiel, for example -- and, as noted above, his exceptional debating and speaking skills -- he’d be a formidable contender. So while it’s only 2013, and the prospect of a Ted Cruz presidential run is perhaps years away, it should not be taken lightly. This guy might run.
C’mon are we really surprised? Question: When was the last time you heard a spokesman for the nation’s largest abortion provider say “abortion” and “Planned Parenthood” in the same sentence? I don’t think I ever have. After all, Planned Parenthood’s rhetoric is finely tuned and clothed in euphemism. Put simply, the organization rarely -- if ever -- publicly states on record they perform abortions; they stand for “choice” and “women’s health” and “reproductive rights,” remember? And, evidently, this linguistic sleight-of-hand seems to be paying off:
Half of Americans don’t know Planned Parenthood does abortions — let alone that it is the biggest abortion business in the United States.
That figure comes from a new Polling Company survey that the firm conducted for the National Right to Life Committee. It found that a substantial majority of registered voters say that they are familiar with Planned Parenthood and a majority has a favorable impression of the abortion giant.
But that favorable opinion might change if Americans actually knew Planned Parenthood is an abortion company. However, the same poll found that a majority did not know that Planned Parenthood performs abortions.
“The polling reflects the results of Planned Parenthood’s campaign to publicly minimize and obfuscate its involvement with abortion.” said David N. O’Steen, Ph.D., National Right to Life Executive Director.
O’Steen told LifeNews that his organization’s poll found 88% of respondents said that they were familiar with Planned Parenthood, with 41% saying that they were very familiar and 47% saying that they were somewhat familiar. Forty percent said they knew someone who had received services at a Planned Parenthood. Although 63% said that they had a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, including 38% of those who identified themselves as pro-life, 55% of those polled did not know that Planned Parenthood performs abortions.
One would hope that anyone who cares about “life” issues would know at least two things: (1) abortions are routinely performed in many of Planned Parenthood's clinics and (b) the organization receives hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to carry out these “procedures.” In other words, if you pay taxes -- as many of us do -- you’re contributing in some way to extinguishing innocent human life. An outrage. Meanwhile, the fact that more than half the general public is completely oblivious to these two salient facts is in many ways a constant reminder how much work pro-life activists have cut out for them.
I wonder: If more people actually knew what went on in many of Planned Parenthood’s clinics (they clearly don’t, according to the survey above) would they still support and vote for candidates who stand with them? President Obama recently asserted that Planned Parenthood isn’t "going anywhere.” And maybe he’s right. But as pro-life activists continue to shine a light on what goes on in some of our nation's late-term abortion clinics, one wonders how much longer the public can tolerate such unadulterated evil.
UPDATE: An insightful reader emails to inform me that the same survey found that 50 percent of pro-life respondents were also unaware that Planned Parenthood performed abortions. Wow. Somehow I completely missed this yesterday and I apologize. My post has since been updated to reflect this important and shocking statistic.
UPDATE II: Exit question via the same reader: If so few people know what actually goes on inside Planned Parenthood clinics, what does that say about the organization in general and their successful campaign to obfuscate what they do?
That certainly seems to be the general consensus on the Left. Consider, for example, this piece by the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. Responding to Keith Hennessey’s must-read editorial debunking the so-called “Bush is stupid” myth (a contention, I might add, he doesn’t necessarily dispute), Klein had this to say about our 43th president:
But all this just goes to show that raw intelligence is overrated. Bush was smart. Plenty of the people around him were smart. But he was a bad president. Presidential scholars rank him 38th — and, remember, there have only been 43 presidents (Barack Obama is the 44th, but his term isn’t up yet). He left office with dismal approval ratings, though he’s since rebounded from unbelievably unpopular to merely unpopular.
No industry on earth had the IQ-scores-per-capita of the financial industry in 2007. And we saw how that turned out. To see Bush’s failures — or Wall Street’s failures — as a failure of insufficient intelligence is comforting, but very wrong. These are stories about how smart people can lead themselves and others down the wrong paths. To a large degree, they wouldn’t be able to do it if they weren’t smart, but that just proves that not all mistakes are dumb, and that being smart isn’t the same thing as being wise, right or capable.
One could make the case that President Bush made his fair share of mistakes -- as all presidents do. But to unequivocally assert four short years after leaving office that he was a “bad” president strikes me as overly simplistic. Sometimes it takes decades -- even centuries -- for president’s to be vindicated by history. (Calvin Coolidge is perhaps a good example of this phenomenon). Yes, the invasion of Iraq is regarded by many as a mistake -- but what happens if in, say, fifty years from now Iraq rises from the ashes of violence and hopelessness and becomes a free, stable, and prosperous democracy? Do you think that would have any impact whatsoever on how posterity remembers the Bush years?
Of course, this is not to say that Bush belongs in the American Parthenon; I’m merely pointing out the fact that he made many controversial decisions during his years in office, and whether or not those decisions were the right ones still remains to be seen.
Which brings me to my next point: Over at The Corner, historian Victor Davis Hanson makes the case that the Bush years weren’t all bad, and that his much-deserved and forthcoming “rehabilitation” will almost certainly come sooner rather than later:
The 2006–7 decision to surge in Iraq under David Petraeus, when the Congress, the Iraq Study Group, and many in his administration and the Joint Chiefs were against it, was Churchillian and saved Iraq from a Somalia-like fate. Bush’s efforts to fund and deliver new anti-AIDs drugs to Africa to ward off a continental pandemic saved tens of millions of lives. Historians will argue over the catalysts for the September 2008 meltdown, but [not] about the fact that up to that point the economy had performed well for the first seven years of the Bush tenure, or that we were on a trajectory of radically reducing the deficit to a very small percentage of GDP without stalling the economy or spiking unemployment. The real problem, however, was the increased rate of federal spending in the first term, not just for the 9/11 response, but the vast jumps in discretionary domestic spending; the $4 trillion total in new debt over eight years (small in Obama terms) discredited both the tax cuts that had actually increased revenue, and the conservative brand of fiscal restraint. …
… Even Bush’s critics are shrugging that he was generous and well intentioned; he certainly lacked the petty vindictiveness of both his predecessor and successor. That may be why Bush is a model ex-president (unlike Carter or Clinton) and, in terms of presidential history, following the rehabilitative model of Harry Truman — a similarly blunt-speaking centrist who kept us safe in dangerous times and left office unappreciated because of an unpopular, indecisive war, wild unhinged demagoguery against him, a lack of eloquence, and a subsequent presidential candidate of his own party who campaigned as much against as for the sitting president.
In Bush’s case his warranted rehabilitation will come even more quickly than Truman’s, in part because in comparative terms his successor, Barack Obama, is no Ike.
There were certainly “bad” elements of Bush’s presidency -- the deficits, the spending, the federal response to Katrina, and so forth -- but to suggest Bush was a “bad” president is wildly presumptuous in my view and impossible to know at this point in time. Perhaps this is why President Bush himself isn’t too concerned about his own legacy; he’s confident future generations will vindicate him.
Hopefully some of us will still be around to see if he was right.
Live Action has released yet another shocking video taking you behind-the-scenes into America’s million dollar abortion industry. (An industry, incidentally, President Obama defended and literally blessed a few nights ago). Lila Rose, a pro-life activist and president of the organization, said on Twitter that this is the “most shocking, heartrending footage we’ve captured yet.” And I certainly can’t disagree. I can personally attest that this clip is almost impossible to watch without averting one’s eyes or looking away. The degree to which these abortion clinic workers caught on camera will use euphemism and other tactics to rationalize what they do is, as Live Action notes, inhuman.
Needless to say, this video confirms once again what everybody already knows -- namely, that abortion in America is anything but “safe, legal, and rare.” These kinds of late-term “procedures” are, in fact, as common as the cold, and kudos to the activists working with Live Action for bringing these horrifying details to light.
As it happens, I stayed up later than I expected Saturday evening watching
President Obama bash conservatives the oh-so-glamorous White House Correspondents Dinner. Certainly. I thought it was pretty funny at times (see below), but I'd also be lying if I said I didn’t find the whole spectacle a little distasteful. (Allahpundit’s snarky headline over at Hot Air, by the way, pretty much captures the essence of what this event, year after year, is really all about). Surprise.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin had this to say about the festivities last night:
Yep, sounds about right. In any case, here are four comedic highlights you probably won’t want to miss:
(1) The “House of Cards” spoof:
(2) The “Joe Biden being Joe Biden” mash-up:
(3) Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming film “Obama”
(4) And finally, the tail-end of Conan O’Brien’s keynote speech. Fast forward to the 24:10 mark:
Put another way, 20 percent of U.S. households are on food stamps. What could possibly go wrong? Via CNS News:
The latest available data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that a record number 23 million households in the United States are now on food stamps.
The most recent Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) statistics of the number of households receiving food stamps shows that 23,087,886 households participated in January 2013 - an increase of 889,154 families from January 2012 when the number of households totaled 22,188,732.
The most recent statistics from the United States Census Bureau-- from December 2012-- puts the number of households in the United States at 115,310,000. If you divide 115,310,000 by 23,087,866, that equals one out of every five households now receiving food stamps.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, food stamp rolls in America recently surpassed the population of Spain. A record number 47,692,896 Americans are now enrolled in the program and the cost of food stamp fraud has more than doubled in just three years.
This is a huge problem, to put it nicely. Not only are tens of millions of Americans relying on government subsidies to feed themselves, but even worse, food stamp fraud is widespread and evidently getting worse. In New York, for example, it is not uncommon for recipients to use EBT cards to purchase alcohol, strippers, and yes, lap dances. There seems to be zero accountability and transparency in many of our cities and states. Why is this not surprising?
Obviously, I am not opposed to bestowing federal benefits on the poor to subsidize their basic needs -- that’s precisely what SNAP was designed for -- but c’mon. Do 47 million Americans really need to be on food stamps? What’s more, does the Left really expect me -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to believe that every single one of these individuals would suffer or starve or even die without government aid? After all, welfare didn’t even exist for most of our country’s history. Faith-based organizations and concerned citizens for centuries took care of the poor and destitute, fostering a culture of compassion that has all but disappeared in recent years, only to be replaced by -- you guessed it -- the welfare state. So how exactly is that working out for us? Last time I checked poverty rates are on the rise, and food stamp usage merely begets more food stamp recipients. Splendid.
It goes without saying that this program needs to be thoroughly reviewed and reformed, and that starts, first and foremost, by preventing government bureaucrats from actively recruiting would-be recipients. The program, in theory, should only be reserved for those who truly need it. But apparently, such a simple and commonsensical idea is too radical even to be considered, much less implemented. Maybe when, say, 100 million Americans are collecting food stamps we’ll finally get somewhere -- and acknowledge, once and for all, that this is a problem. Until then, though, I suspect the EBT gravy train is only going to get more crowded.
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