Morning Joe Roundtable: Delaying Keystone Decision Makes Very Little Sense

The bombshell announcement last week that the White House would delay (once again) making a decision vis-à-vis the Keystone XL Pipeline until after the 2014 midterm election is leaving many pundits on cable television scratching their heads. One the one hand, the decision ostensibly makes sense; progressive mega donors have pledged lots of money to re-elect Democrats who oppose the project, and thus green lighting the pipeline would significantly imperil the size of the party’s war chest come November. On the other hand, many vulnerable red state Senate Democrats support the project and desperately need an issue to campaign on that is popular with the public. This is it. But because the administration feels as if they’re in a ‘damned if we do, damned if we don’t’ situation, they’re punting until after the midterms. Go figure.

But is this a wise decision? That’s the question Joe Scarborough and the crew debated at some length earlier today (via WFB):

Joe Scarborough, for his part, is baffled by the White House’s incessant foot-dragging. He argues that the progressive Left is not going to vote for Republicans anyway -- or against incumbent Democrats -- so it’s not the end of the world if the Keystone Pipeline does get approved. It’s only the “far Left” contingent, he posits, that will rue its construction. So why further jeopardize control of the upper chamber by punting on a Democrat-friendly issue, Scarborough asks, when approving the project makes sense both economically and politically?

If anything, the White House’s decision will put additional pressure on vulnerable House and Senate Democrats to come up with inventive new ways to convince voters to re-elect them. Unfortunately for them, however, the construction of the Keystone Pipeline XL won’t be one of them.

Number of Tenured Teachers in CA Fired for Poor Performance in Last Decade: 19

If students don't put in the work they need to and therefore receive failing grades, they don't get to move ahead. If only the same could be said for the teachers.

The Permanent Employment Statute in California has all but assured teachers that, once they reach tenure, they can stop trying. Just look at these shameful figures:

In the last ten years, only 91 teachers out of about 300,000 (.003 percent) who have attained permanence lost their jobs in California. Of those, only 19 (.0007 percent) have been dismissed for poor performance. Is it possible that Golden State teachers are that good? Such an astronomical permanence rate doesn’t square with the performance of California’s fourth- and eighth-graders, whose scores on National Assessment of Educational Progress tests persistently rank near the bottom.

Yes, even though these California elementary school teachers routinely earn poor reviews, they face no repercussions. It is this unfair practice nine California public school children are trying to abolish in Vergara v. California. If they succeed, permananence and other union-backed statutes such as time-consuming dismissals and seniority-based layoffs, will be ruled unconstitutional.

The California Teachers Association has come out strongly against this case, accusing backers of the lawsuit as being the "who's who of billionaire boys club" who are only concerned with "privatizing public schools and attacking teachers and their unions."

But, it's hard to see how policies that keep bad teachers right where they are is beneficial to students who are eager to learn. Superior Court judge Rolf Treu will rule on the case by July 10. Here's hoping he chooses children's futures over teachers' "rights."

Video: No, the Obamacare Debate is Not "Over"


Try as they might, President Obama and his media allies cannot tell Americans how to think. On two recent occasions, Obama has attempted to proclaim an end to the national conversation over his unpopular health law. Polling continues to show that most Americans disapprove of the law -- with a sizable plurality favoring complete repeal, and a majority backing major changes. With a nod to Animal House's Bluto, I explained on Fox News why Obama's unseemly attempts to stifle and delegitimize debate won't work (via Right Sightings' Steven Laboe):



In a football-spiking story that could have been written by the White House press team, National Journal's Lucia Graves -- supposedly a news correspondent -- gleefully declares that all of Obamacare's "good news" is, in fact, bad news for "conservative pundits." She proudly touts a colleague's column about the law's "winning streak," arguing that we've been "hyperbolic" in overselling the negative impacts of the law. Setting aside the irony of an Obamacare supporter chastising others for overselling anything, Graves' evidence of conservative hyperbole are (a) the law's strong enrollment numbers, and (b) a USA Today report indicating that 2015 premium spikes may be less dramatic than expected. Let's examine each:


Enrollment: Eight million "sign-ups" is undoubtedly better than most people expected, but as we've explained, once non-payments are factored in, the actual enrollment figure is likely closer to 6.4 million -- quite a bit shy of the administration's goal. More importantly, the White House still won't say what percentage of these people previously lacked coverage, which is the best indicator of whether the law is truly "working," as the president constantly avers. Independent studies have concluded that the large majority of these "new" enrollees already had insurance before Obamacare. Based on the available data, it's entirely possible that the previously-uninunsured population that obtained coverage through the new exchanges amounts to between 1.6 and 2.1 million. "Success." Also, in spite of the president's misleading statistics about "under 35" enrollments, just 28 percent of exchange sign-ups came from the crucial 18-34 "young invincibles" demographic. The White House was hoping for closer to 40 percent; a significant miss. This all passes as "good news" for people who are desperate to nourish a political narrative.


Premiums: As for the possibility of lower-than-expected premium increases, Graves says most righties' predictions of sharp premium jumps were based on a "thinly sourced" article in The Hill, which we wrote about here. But that wasn't our only source -- not by a long shot. In February, Reuters quoted insurance executives predicting "double digit" rate shock in "many states" next year. The news agency followed up earlier this month with a piece describing how insurers are bracing for a "backlash" over rising costs. Bloomberg has followed the trend, too, with a Morgan Stanley analysis pointing to significant hikes for many Americans in the small group market. The Associated Press published a piece a few weeks ago about how rural Americans, in particular, are in for a rough ride. And we haven't even mentioned unaffordable "out-of-pocket" costs, or the impacts of so-called access shock, as people discover that their preferred doctors and hospitals are no longer in network. Nor have we addressed the upcoming waves of cancellation notices, which will materialize over the coming months and years. But since she is so giddy about it, let's take a peek at the analysis Graves trumpets as such fantastic news for Obamacare:


Axene says that as insurers dig through the new health exchange enrollees to figure out their ages and health conditions to determine next year's premiums, he expects an overall increase of 6% to 8.5%...Axene warns there could be wide variations in actual costs. "In some states, there's a very wide spread between the high rate and the low rate — in Manhattan, it was 2-to-1 — but these are averages," he says. He's also been able to get an early read on some of the people who have been enrolling, though the March and early-April exchange enrollees' data aren't yet available. The early enrollees tended to be people with "higher morbidity," he says — about 6-8% had higher-than-average health care needs. But that had been expected, and probably won't play a large part in next year's premiums. However, insurance costs are likely to rise more in coming years as reinsurance and risk corridors disappear in 2017.


State-to-state rate increases will be highly variable, and premiums could really head north once measures that use taxpayer dollars to mitigate insurers' losses phase out. Furthermore, Mr. Axene -- who is the primary source for this piece touted 'round the lefty blogosphere -- says that he hopes Obamacare "bending the cost curve down" will negate this trend. The law is not bending the cost curve down, and the recent (Obamacare-unrelated) slowdown in rising health costs may be over. Finally, because we're being lectured about expectations management, let's recall that the president repeatedly promised that health costs would decrease substantially as a result of his $2 trillion law. The average family, he said, would save $2,500. Nancy Pelosi intoned that "everybody will have lower rates." Now Obamacare backers are pounding their chests over one man's opinion that average premium increases may -- may -- "only" be seven percent for some Americans. How many single mothers will receive their higher health bills and exclaim, Wow! My rates only increased by seven percent this year -- what a huge success! Those pundits sure missed the boat! (Perhaps Democrats can take this uplifting message on the trail with them in the fall). The more likely scenario involves middle class families -- many of whom are already worrying about keeping their doctors and budgeting for higher deductibles -- eyeballing the new prices and reacting thusly: What the hell? Our premiums are going up again? Weren't we told the new law was going to reverse the endless upward climb? Why, yes. Yes you were. Here's your "winning streak," America:


Surprise! Doctors Forced to Rush Patients Through Appointments Thanks to Obamacare

Since before Obamacare was signed in 2010, conservatives have warned the law would turn doctors' offices into DMV style clinics with physicians rapidly rushing through patients in order to survive under the legislation. Further, grave warnings were given about doctors retiring early due to Obamacare making the industry too expensive to practice in. Four years later, 6 out of 10 doctors say they'll be retiring early and now, patients are being rushed through appointments, including at the offices of specialists.

Joan Eisenstodt didn't have a stopwatch when she went to see an ear, nose and throat specialist recently, but she is certain the physician was not in the exam room with her for more than three or four minutes.

"He looked up my nose, said it was inflamed, told me to see the nurse for a prescription and was gone," said the 66-year-old Washington, D.C., consultant, who was suffering from an acute sinus infection.

When she started protesting the doctor's choice of medication, "He just cut me off totally," she said. "I've never been in and out from a visit faster."

These days, stories like Eisenstodt's are increasingly common. Patients — and physicians — say they feel the time crunch as never before as doctors rush through appointments as if on roller skates to see more patients and perform more procedures to make up for flat or declining reimbursements.

It's not unusual for primary care doctors' appointments to be scheduled at 15-minute intervals. Some physicians who work for hospitals say they've been asked to see patients every 11 minutes.

And the problem may worsen as millions of consumers who gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act begin to seek care — some of whom may have seen doctors rarely, if at all, and have a slew of untreated problems.


Because liberals don't seem to understand the concept of supply vs. demand, they failed to recognize early on that an influx of new patients without new doctors would cause a shortage and lessen the quality of care. Well, here we are.

Obamacare was sold on the idea that the government shouldn't come between a patient and their doctor. Further, people were told the law would get them more treatment and expanded care, not less. Primary care and specialty care offices are already seeing the devastating effects of government meddling in the healthcare system. We're seeing exactly the opposite of what was promised on every single level.


Study Shows Ethanol Produces Worse 'Global Warming' Pollution Than Gasoline

Well, this is going to be a heartbreaker for the hysterical global warming crowd. According to a new study, emissions from burning corn are worse for the environment and produce more CO2 or 'global warming' gases than the burning of traditional gasoline.

Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration's conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

A $500,000 study paid for by the federal government and released Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

The federal government has already dumped billions of dollars into facilities and programs producing biofuels in the name of preventing climate change but as usual, is having the opposite effect than originally intended.

Just last week, biofuel industry producers told the New York Times 2016 was the year they were looking most forward to bring cleaner energy to the United States. Oops.

“The whole purpose of the Renewable Fuel Standard was to encourage investment to create brand-new technologies that would help the United States become more energy-independent and use cleaner and more efficient fuels. We feel like we are just on the verge of doing that and now the E.P.A. is talking about changing the rules," Executive Vice President of the heavily subsidized biofuel company Abengoa Christopher Standlee said to the paper.

Al Gore, call your office.

New Study of Young Adults Finds Link Between Casual Marijuana Use and Brain Abnormalities

There are plenty of studies out there demonstrating the effects long-term marijuana use has on users, but for the first time, researchers at Northwestern University looked into the relationship between casual marijuana use and brain changes. What they discovered, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, is significant. The researchers found that young adults who used marijuana even once or twice a week showed “significant abnormalities in two important brain structures,” Fox News reports.

“There were abnormalities in their working memory, which is fundamental to everything you do,” Dr. Hans Breiter, co-senior study author and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com. “When you make judgments or decisions, plan things, do mathematics – anything you do always involves working memory. It’s one of the core fundamental aspects of our brains that we use every day. So given those findings, we decided we need to look at casual, recreational use.”

FoxNews.com has the details:

For their most recent study, Breiter and his team analyzed a very small sample of patients between the ages of 18 and 25: 20 marijuana users and 20 well-matched control subjects. The marijuana users had a wide range of usage routines, with some using the drug just once or twice a week and others using it every single day.

Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers analyzed the participants’ brains, focusing on the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the amygdala – two key brain regions responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape.

According to Breiter, all three were abnormal in the casual marijuana users.

“For the NAC, all three measures were abnormal, and they were abnormal in a dose-dependent way, meaning the changes were greater with the amount of marijuana used,” Breiter said. “The amygdala had abnormalities for shape and density, and only volume correlated with use. But if you looked at all three types of measures, it showed the relationships between them were quite abnormal in the marijuana users, compared to the normal controls.”

Because these brain regions are central for motivation, the findings from Northwestern help support the well-known theory that marijuana use leads to a condition called amotivation. Also called amotivational syndrome, this psychological condition causes people to become less oriented towards their goals and purposes in life, as well as seem less focused in general.

Since the results were alarming, Breiter stressed that more studies need to be done examining a larger study sample, to see what happens longitudinally, to determine what the effects on the brain are if users quit, and so on.

“This study is just a beginning pilot study, but at the same time, the results that came out are the same as a canary in a coal mine,” Breiter told FoxNews.com. “...The interaction of marijuana with brain development could be a significant problem.

As many states consider following Colorado and Washington’s lead in legalizing recreational marijuana use, more research in this area is especially critical.

Update: Are Colorado legislators already having second thoughts?

ICYMI: Gun Owners Shred NY SAFE Act Forms on Registration Deadline Day

Governor Andrew Cuomo found defiance instead of compliance this week in New York as gun owners showed him just what they think of his "SAFE" Act. Tuesday marked the deadline for gun owners to register their "assault weapons" under the anti-gun legislation. But, they had a slightly different way of marking the occasion:

Roughly 70 opponents of the law who gathered outside the Walter J. Mahoney State Office Building in downtown Buffalo late Tuesday afternoon to shred State Police registration forms for assault weapons.

So, why is this law so unpopular? Well, barring the fact that "assault weapon" is merely a political term, the SAFE Act has already resulted in 1,200 felony charges. Turns out New Yorkers don't like legislation that essentially turns them from law-abiding citizens using their right to bear arms one day, and criminals the next.

“They have been shredding the Constitution for years,” said Rus Thompson, who led Tuesday’s rally. “You shred the Constitution, we’ll shred any form you want us to fill out. They can’t arrest a million people. What are they going to do?”

“Nobody is going to comply with this,” added Tim Swedenhjelm, a gun owner and a 30-year range safety officer from Springville. “We don’t call them ‘assault rifles’ because they’re not ‘assault rifles.’ Assault rifles are automatic weapons. These are not automatic weapons. When I hear politicians call them assault rifles, you know they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

It seems not even law enforcement is on the governor's side. Sheriff Timothy B. Howard of Erie County told The Buffalo News that, even though officers are required to report any individuals who don't register their firearms, his deputies aren't exactly going out of their way to do so:

I am not encouraging them to do it. At the same time, their own consciences should be their guide. I am not forcing my conscience on them. That is a decision they should make.”

Earth to Cuomo: You don't respect people's rights, they don't respect you.

Obamacare's "Unfolding Fiscal Disaster"

Obamacare is more than just a new entitlement. Charles Blahous of economic policy think tank Economics 21 writes about just how large of an impact that its provisions will have on the economy in the future. Spending on Obamacare's coverage expansion is immediately a massive entitlement expansion, and will only get worse.

Blahaus contrasts Obamacare with our other major entitlement programs and finds that ACA spends more than all but Medicare, and does so much faster:

.

After these initial rollouts, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid costs grew far faster than originally envisioned, sometimes due to subsequent legislation, sometimes due to unanticipated healthcare cost growth. It wouldn’t be surprising for either factor to affect the ACA, which would be even more problematic for reasons given below.

When new enrollment figures were released last week, the national discussion focused on whether the ACA is fulfilling its coverage expansion goals. The largely unwritten and more important story, however, is that the ACA is rapidly becoming a colossal fiscal disaster as enrollment proceeds heedless of the concurrent collapse of the law’s financing structure.

With the Obamacare rollout largely solidified and Republicans likely unable to make any major dent in the legislation until after the 2016 election - and everything might hinge on a win there - this will continue to be a drain on the federal budget, and just one more massive health entitlement.

If the rosy economic and long term health projections don't pan out, spending on coverage expansion is going to look much worse.

PETA Uses Children to Shame First Lady for Using Real Eggs in WH Easter Egg Roll

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are disappointed with First Lady Michelle Obama. Why? Because she is using real chicken eggs Monday in the 136th White House Easter Egg Roll.

Who better to address this horrendous decision than three adorable children who seem to know just want to say…

PETA is known for using a variety of tactics to promote their message. These include suggesting to turn serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s house into a vegan restaurant, using Martin Luther King Jr. day to promote the rights of abused animals, and giving books full of graphic images of mutilated cows to elementary school children.

It is very unlikely Michelle Obama will take PETA’s advice and use plastic eggs in the roll. After all, she is using the event to promote her Let’s Move! initiative, which supports consuming eggs as part of a healthy breakfast.

Paying Attention Now? Gosnell Movie Campaign Reaches $1 Million After MSM Ignore Gruesome Abortion Story

Shortly after becoming the most successful crowdfunding campaign ever on Indiegogo, the Gosnell Movie project spearheaded by filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney to expose late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell and his 40 year history of filthy abortion clinics and butchering of babies, has just reached $1 million in funds. That means they are nearly halfway to their goal of completing a movie about America's most prolific serial killer that the mainstream media all but ignored.

By reaching the $1 million mark, the Gosnell campaign also becomes the largest non-celebrity film on any crowdfunding website. McElhinney reacted to this incredible feat:

"We now have 11,000 people who through small contributions are sending a message to the media and Hollywood that they are tired of seeing the news being suppressed to protect uncomfortable truths."

To make a contribution to this impressive and important campaign, click here.

Kansas Students and Parents Not Thrilled About Michelle Obama Speaking at High School Graduation Ceremony

An invitation to Michelle Obama to speak at the Topeka Unified School District 501 graduation ceremony by the district has some parents and students crying foul. The First Lady's appearance caused the district to combine all five schools' graduation ceremonies into one mega-ceremony, and may force limitations on the number of tickets that can be distributed to friends and families. A petition drive has been started to request that the district reconsider their plans about the combined ceremony, or have Michelle Obama speak at a separate event from the graduation. The First Lady was invited to speak on the anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision that struck down segregation in schools.

Parents are concerned that the First Lady's visit would overshadow the fact that their children are graduating from high school, and the individual schools are upset with the fact that their unique graduation traditions will be set aside for the combined ceremony.

"I'm a single mother who has raised him for 18 years by myself," said Tina Hernandez, parent of Topeka High School senior Dauby Knight. "I've told him education is the only way out. This is one of the biggest days of their lives. They've taken the glory and shine from the children and put on Mrs. Obama. She doesn't know our kids."

Taylor Gifford, a senior at Topeka High School, started the petition drive not for political reasons, but because she is the oldest of eight children and is worried that her siblings and relatives would be shut out of the ceremony due to the new ticket limits. Graduates in years past have not been subjected to a ticket limit and were free to bring unlimited friends and family members to the ceremony. While no formal ticket limit has been set, families were advised last week to plan on receiving four tickets.

Gifford said her initial reaction to the news was excitement, saying she was "freaking out" about the prospect of the first lady speaking at graduation. When rumors of limited tickets surfaced, Gifford felt like the focus was being shifted from the students to Obama.

"People think it's a great opportunity, but it's the graduates' time. They are getting that diploma that they worked so hard for," Gifford said. "Families are feeling that they are being cheated out of the loved ones special day."

This is definitely a tricky situation, and it's easy to see where both sides are coming from. While the students are lucky that a figure like Michelle Obama is willing to speak at their graduation ceremony, it appears that this is creating a logistical nightmare for parents and students--who should be the main focus of the event. High school graduation is, for some of these students, the biggest event of their lives so far, and represents a major accomplishment that should be celebrated with as many people as possible. I think the obvious solution would be to revert to the original plan of separate graduation ceremonies for each school (meaning that graduates would be able to invite as many people as they wish), with the First Lady speaking at a different event that graduates can choose to attend.

Author and Terror Expert: We Are Less Safe Than a Year Ago

Runners will take their marks Monday at the start of the 2014 Boston Marathon, no doubt with last year’s cruel memories still fresh in their minds. Since Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev exploded two pressure cooker bombs at the finish line in 2013, killing three people and injuring almost 300 others, can participants feel any safer running the route this time around? Author and terror expert Robert Spencer thinks the answer is a tragic "no." Tuesday I had the chance to speak with Spencer about his new book, Arab Winter Comes to America. In both his book and during our conversation, he gave our country a poor grade for its efforts to stop terrorism. His harshest critique for the current state of Americans’ safety, was that political correctness under the Obama administration has left the United States vulnerable to attacks.

It’s been a year since the Boston Bombing. Would you say we are any safer in America?

“We are less safe, because the Boston bombing was a massive failure on the part of the FBI. They were told Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a follower of radical Islam. The Russians told us they were jihad. If the FBI had been able to investigate, maybe they’d look a little harder and could have thwarted the bombing.They didn’t find anything, so they stopped the investigation. [...] Islam stopped being mentioned in counterterror training.”

Would you say the Boston bombing victims were also victims of political correctness?

“Absolutely. 100 percent.”

How easy is it for a terrorist to enter our country and become an American citizen?

“As easy as saying it to me just now was.”

In a piece he penned at Jihad Watch, Spencer noted that just this week Somali Muslims protest counter-terror efforts in Kenya. He noted that, while Kenyan police might be cracking down too hard on Muslims after recent bombings, these charges of police injustice are similar to charges Muslim groups have made in the U.S. — that the FBI and police target Muslims indiscriminately:

So we see Muslims ostensibly opposing jihad terrorism, and yet protesting against counter-terror efforts in the U.S., Israel, Kenya and elsewhere. One might almost get the impression that these charges of brutality and disproportion are always leveled against any counter-jihad action, as a tactic to clear away all obstacles before the advancing jihad.

Spencer wondered how the US could stand to allow radical protesters within our borders.

“This is nothing short of grotesque. What kind of people are these allowed into our country?”

How many “extreme” Muslims would you say are in the US?

“There’s no telling - the situation is so fluid.”

Another example of someone with radical Islamist views who wreaked havoc on our country, was Nidal Malik Hasan. Hasan, who was a major in the United States Army, had touted his extreme views prior to murdering 13 people, yet our government did not act:

The US was waging a "war on Islam", Nidal Hasan explained to fellow graduate students at a military medical college in Maryland, before mounting a defence of Osama bin Laden and endorsing suicide bombers.

As his disgusted audience "erupted", he was halted by their lecturer after just two minutes. Yet two years later Hasan, still a member of the Army he had denounced, would violently conclude his demonstration.

What does one have to do before he or she is denied rights in our country?

“You’re innocent until proven guilty. But this (Hasan terrorist act) is an example of a politically correct culture, where’s there’s Islamophobia in the media. This could have been a career ender for them if they reported it. Career suicide.”

Media bias is something you talk about in your book. What if the Boston bombing had been carried out by Christian extremists? Would there be a difference in how the media covered it?

“It would’ve been a huge thing. They would’ve started an investigation of what’s going on in churches.”

What are a few of the unanswered questions about the Boston bombers?

“What are the connections of the Boston bombers to the Chechen jihad? Did they receive training? If so, who did they receive training from? How were they able to elude police, throw bombs back?”

The answers to those questions likely lie behind the dangerous veil of political correctness.

Keystone Pipeline Delayed Again

Yesterday the Obama administration delayed the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, once again. This time, the review period was extended, pushing back a potential decision until after the November elections.

Of course this is not the first delay the pipeline has faced. Back in November of 2011 the administration announced that they wouldn’t have a final decision until after the 2012 elections. Well I hate to tell you guys, but that was a year and a half ago! You are really late.

The State Department said they needed more time to review the public comments and to assess the impact of the pending lawsuit in Nebraska that could change the proposed route of the pipeline. Roughly 2.5 million comments were submitted to the State Department for review. Not shockingly, the department did not provide a specific date they expect to finish the review.

Of course the environmental lobby is loving this. But supporters of the pipeline are not going to sit by and let President Obama get away with this.

In criticizing the delay, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said: "Here's the single greatest shovel-ready project in America — one that could create thousands of jobs right away — but the President simply isn't interested."

He added: "Apparently radical activists carry more weight than Americans desperate to get back on the job."

President Obama has said he will make the final decision on pipeline construction based on the national interest. Let’s hope that creating more jobs and adding a new source of energy for the country will be enough to convince the president, and not is green allies.

There are plenty of democrats who support the pipeline.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who faces a tough re-election bid in November, said "today's decision by the Administration amounts to nothing short of an indefinite delay of the Keystone Pipeline."

Another democrat friend of the pipeline is Heidi Heitkamp of South Dakota.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., one of 11 Senate Democrats who signed a letter to Obama seeking a specific timeframe for a Keystone decision, expressed frustration with the latest delay.

"It's absolutely ridiculous that this well-over-five-year-long process is continuing for an undetermined amount of time," she said.

Mr. Obama, do you not see that this is one issue that has truly united the party. You always talk of bipartisanship, but when the parties work together you ignore it and continue to delay a great project. I wonder if we will even have an answer before the 2016 elections. Sorry, I am a bit pessimistic lately.

Ouch: College Students Give Obama a Cold Reception in Pennsylvania

The president's speeches may need to be accompanied by a laugh track from now on, considering the crickets he received at his appearance in Community College of Allegheny County, in Oakdale, Pa., on Wednesday. Although he tried to tout his new spending program, both Obama's talking points and attempts at humor didn't go over so well:

At the end, when the president walked back from the podium to smile and wave at the roughly 60 people in the bleachers 20 feet behind him, he faced a unfriendly wall of faces. The White House video of the bleacher’s front rank shows three men with their hands crossed, one with his hands stuck in his pockets and one who let his arms fall by his sides.

Hm, I guess not all millennials are as enthralled with the 'Hope and Change' president as they were in 2008. The community college students standing behind the president weren't the only ones who were unimpressed:

Some of Obama’s applause lines fell so flat that no one is heard to respond, not even among the main audience, which was padded with his political supporters.

“I mean, there’s been great progress in this area. You’ve earned a great nickname — ‘Roboburgh’ — because you’ve got high-tech plants and workplaces that are adding jobs faster than workers can fill them,” Obama said, to silence.

His punchlines were just as popular:

The White House’s transcript of Obama’s speech includes the laugh lines that few of the almost 300 attendees laughed at.

“Hello, Allegheny County! (Applause.) Joe and I decided it was time for a guys’ trip. (Laughter.) Actually, Michelle and Jill wanted us out the house. (Laughter.) So we decided to take a little road trip,” says the transcript, even though the video shows the laughs were scattered and muted.

Sounds like the joke's on him. Watch more of the painful footage below:

Global Study of 40 Countries: 56 Percent Say Abortion is "Unacceptable"

I must say this is a remarkable feat of data collection. The Pew Research Center asked more than 40,000 people from 40 different countries around the world their opinions on seven moral issues, ranging from infidelity to birth control. The graph below shows the median answers respondents gave on each topic. As you might expect, extramarital affairs were widely perceived as the least morally acceptable behavior/issue on the list; contraception was the most:

 photo moralissue_zps7fe65311.png

Let’s analyze just the issue of abortion. Globally, a sizeable majority (56 percent) find these kinds of life-ending procedures unacceptable, while a plurality (15 percent) say they are. However, digging into the data a little deeper, the median responses from each respective country were far more interesting. According to the numbers, in the U.S. alone 49 percent of respondents said abortion was not acceptable while just 17 percent said it was. (Twenty-three percent -- shockingly -- responded that abortion wasn’t a moral issue at all).

So while generally speaking Western European and North American countries are more inclined to support abortion rights, according to the researchers, anti-abortion sentiment in the United States is strong. There were also zero countries on the list in which more than 50 percent of respondents said abortion was morally acceptable, although some countries came perilously close to that threshold.

Follow the link above to examine more of Pew's findings; there's a lot of data to digest.

Republican Governors Hit Obama Administration on Medicare Advantage Rates

In a new poll out yesterday we see that Americans are becoming less trusting of President Obama, and it seems there may be a new reason for many to worry about his honesty. At least three major governors are willing to step up and call out the president for his lies.

Governors Rick Perry, Rick Scott and Bobby Jindal all authored a letter together to the president about his latest act of political theatre. The Obama administration recently announced that the Medicare Advantage rates would experience a slight pay bump next year. But according to several insurance analysts, plan rates are expected to drop as much as 3.5 percent.

In their letter, the governors wrote, “This is on top of the 6 percent cut to fiscal year 2014 payments. Collectively, these cuts will significantly harm America’s seniors.”

Medicare Advantage is the private plan that offers Medicare benefits. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last week that 2015 reimbursement rates would increase by .4 percent for Medicare Advantage. This announcement went against previous plans to cut funds to Medicare Advantage. This program provides coverage to almost 30 percent of all Medicare recipients.

If the planned cuts had actually gone into effect, it was expected that seniors would face premium increases and benefit reductions of $35 to $75 per month.

In their letter, the governors called on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to work with Congress in order to prevent any plan cuts. It is expected that this current “pardon” for the Medicare Advantage program will be short lived.

Hopefully the governors’ letter will have some sort of impact on the way policymaking goes in the future. Perhaps democrats will learn that protecting the elderly community is not an option. Their benefits need to be protected.

ABC Refers to Chelsea Clinton's Pregnancy as American "Royal" Baby

Chelsea Clinton announced yesterday that she is expecting her first child with her husband Marc. While the majority of reactions to this news were positive, ABC took things to a whole other level when Good Morning America host Bianna Golodryga proclaimed that Americans now get to look forward to the birth of "their own royal, or, rather, presidential baby."

CBS had similar rhetoric, although stopped short of equating the birth of Bill and Hillary's first grandchild with the birth of the future King of England. Prince George of Cambridge is third in line to the throne and will become king following the death or abdication of his father, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Chelsea Clinton's baby, despite having a former U.S. president and Secretary of State as grandparents, is not assured of any kind of power.

By comparison, George Bush's daughter Jenna Bush Hager's pregnancy announcement was widely ignored by the mainstream media, despite also belonging to a family political dynasty.

Chelsea Clinton's baby is due later this year.

Glenn Beck Announces Big Movie Production Plans

Conservative radio and television host Glenn Beck will soon be making his mark in the film industry—and he’s already developing three original stories that will be made into movies.

“Everybody thinks they know who I am because of my stint on Fox — that was two years of my life,” Beck said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m much more into culture than I am into politics, and that’s where I intend on making my stand.”

Nearly three years after leaving Fox News, the controversial conservative radio host and media entrepreneur is ramping up a film division at Mercury Radio Arts, the parent company of his popular radio show and digital media operation TheBlaze. Beck, 50, tells THR he has been refurbishing The Studios at Las Colinas, a 72,000-square-foot facility in Irving, Texas, where such films asJFK and RoboCop and TV shows including Prison Break andWalker, Texas Ranger have been shot. "We're getting it ready for some big plans," he says of the property, which he purchased in June.

Beck says he is developing three original stories as theatrical films -- one set in ancient history, one in modern history and a third he considers "faith-based" -- and has optioned several other ideas, some of which could be adapted into VOD features. He adds that he has purchased rights to his 2008 best-seller The Christmas Sweater back from Sony and will turn the story into a movie for television or theatrical release.

The Christmas Sweater is a semi-fictionalized recounting of a 12-year-old Beck celebrating his last Christmas with his mother before she died. He says his later real-life problems with drugs and alcohol (he's been sober since 1994) can be traced back to that Christmas.

"The meaning of The Christmas Sweater is that there are second chances," says Beck. "It is based not only on my childhood but a dream that I had as an adult after I sobered up."

While big plans are clearly in the works, it was too soon for Beck to discuss specifics, such as who will be involved in producing the films and which artists will end up telling the “great stories that aren’t typical.”

What is clear, however, is that he’s actively veering away from politics with this new endeavor. “We're beginning to agree that Republicans and Democrats suck -- they've built this machine to grind people into the ground. I hate this stuff,” Beck told The Hollywood Reporter. “I hate politics. I hate politicians and I feel like I'm wasting my life. Don't we all know what's happening? George W. Bush was taking us down a road, and Barack Obama is taking us down that same road. What difference does it make? I don't want to waste my life anymore."

Report: Chicago's Top Cop Cooking the Books on 'Declining' Crime Rate

Since the beginning of 2014 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy have been touting a declining crime rate in the Windy City, but according to a new report by Chicago Magazine, they may be cooking the books.

"City leaders manipulated crime statistics to create the appearance of a rapidly decreasing rate of crime."

Last weekend in Chicago, 36 people were shot over a two day period.

At least 36 people were shot in Chicago, four of them fatally, in as many hours over the weekend, with more than half of the shootings occurring over a half-day period stretching into early Sunday.

Officers responded to at least 27 incidents, starting at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the West Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side involving an attack that left a 17-year-old girl dead and two other people wounded, police said. There were also fatal shootings in the South Shore neighborhood Friday night and the Washington Park neighborhood early Sunday, both on the South Side.

It looks like it's going to be another bloody summer in the city with some of the strictest gun control law in the county.

Poll: Only 4% of U.S. Adults are Newly Insured, Half Choose Obamacare Alternative

Only four percent of Americans are newly insured this year, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. Even more interesting, is the fact that nearly half of the newly insured chose to get their insurance outside of the Obamacare exchanges:


These findings are based on interviewing with more than 20,000 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from March 4-April 14. Gallup asked those who have health insurance if their policy is new for 2014, and if so, whether they had insurance last year and if they got their new insurance through a federal or state health exchange.

Overall, 11.8% of U.S. adults say they got a new health insurance policy in 2014. One-third of this group, or 4% nationally, say they did not have insurance in 2013. Another 7.5% got a new policy this year that replaced a previous policy. The rest either did not respond or were uncertain about their previous insurance status.

The key figure is the 4% who are newly insured in 2014, which most likely represents Americans' response to the individual mandate requirement the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This estimate of the newly insured broadly aligns with the reduction Gallup has seen in the national uninsured rate from 2013 to the first days of April 2014. However, the calculation of the newly insured does not take into account those who may have been insured in 2013 but not in 2014.

The ACA envisioned that the new healthcare exchanges would be the main place where uninsured Americans would get their insurance this year, but it appears that a sizable segment of the newly insured Americans used another mechanism. These sources presumably include employee policies, Medicaid, and other private policies not arranged through exchanges.

Interesting. So when is Obama's vision of his law providing healthcare for millions of uninsured Americans supposed to come to fruition? It's seem even when the White House makes something mandatory, extends the deadline for months, and fines individuals for not complying, it still can't seem to get the result intended.

Surprise: Another Major Hillary Donor Pleads Guilty to Illegal Fundraising Charges


I say "another" because this is the second such guilty plea in the span of five weeks. First, the latest development:


A wealthy hotel executive and Democratic fundraiser who supported Hillary Clinton for president pleaded guilty Thursday to charges he secretly funneled more than $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions to three unnamed candidates and coached someone to lie about it. An informant caught Sant Singh Chatwal on tape in 2010 explaining that he believed his illegal fundraising bought him access to people in power. Without the contributions "nobody will even talk to you," Chatwal said. "That's the only way to buy them, get into the system." Chatwal entered the plea to evading contribution limits and witness tampering in federal court in Brooklyn as part of a plea deal...Court papers allege that between 2007 and 2011, Chatwal used his employees, business associates and contractors who worked on his hotels to collect contributions from straw donors in Queens, Long Island and elsewhere. He then arranged to pay the donors back, a violation of the election laws. As part the scheme, an unnamed business associate submitted a bill to Chatwal for $104,745 in 2011 for purported work done for one of Chatwal's companies. Prosecutors allege that $69,000 of the total actually was reimbursement for money the associate had raised via straw donors.


In a moment of candor, caught on tape, this guy explained that throwing stacks of money at powerful politicians is the "only way to buy them, get into the system." Without your checkbook, "nobody will even talk to you," he lamented. Really? Even within the party that routinely prattles about the "corrosive influence of money in politics," and slanders Republican donors? Perish the thought. At first, I thought I'd read about Mr. Chatwal's illegal conduct back in March. But then I realized that was a story about a different deep-pocketed Clinton contributor who admitted to breaking campaign finance laws:


A major Democratic donor pleaded guilty on Monday to funneling millions of dollars in illegal campaign donations to federal and local politicians, including an unnamed 2008 presidential candidate believed to be Hillary Clinton...According to prosecutors, Thompson funded a $600,000 shadow campaign “in coordination with and in support for a federal candidate for president of the United States.” The charges did not name the candidate. Last September, the Washington Post reported that Thompson allegedly paid a marketing executive “more than $608,000 to hire ‘street teams’ to distribute posters, stickers, and yard signs beginning in February 2008 to help raise Clinton’s profile during her primary battle with then-Sen. Barack Obama.”


And while we're on the subject, how about one more? I don't think there's been any definitive connection proven between Hillary Clinton and this criminal donor just yet, but he's certainly been pumping gravy into the correct political party's coffers:


The co-owner of a luxury car dealership in La Jolla has been fined $80,000 for funneling illegal contributions to the 2012 campaigns of San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis and ex-Mayor Bob Filner, the city's Ethics Commission announced. In an agreement with the commission, Marc Chase, 52, co-owner of Symbolic Motor Car Co., admitted that he laundered money from Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura into the mayoral campaigns of Dumanis and Filner. Azano was a major customer of Chase's company. Chase served as a "straw" donor to hide Azano's name. Dumanis was defeated in the primary. Filner was elected mayor in the November runoff. Chase laundered about $165,000 into the campaigns, as well as to the county Democratic party, according to the commission. Election law forbids contributions from foreign nationals.


But what's most important to remember is that the "un-American" Koch brothers are "trying to buy America."

When Economic Conservatives Come Out Against Tax Breaks

The U.S. tax code is an overcomplicated mess. Despite most Americans feeling like it's pretty easy to do, each taxpayer takes an average of 13 hours to do their taxes. This is highlighted by a chart from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, based on Joint Economic Committee on Taxation data, on the number of temporary or expiring tax provisions in the code:

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The conservative Club For Growth, a pro-economy advocacy organization, may come out against renewing these tax breaks. Former Congressman Chris Chocola, who is now the President of the Club For Growth, has said that they might score votes for temporary tax cuts as negative votes:

This is all a mistake. Congress needs to clean up the tax code and lower marginal rates across the board, but tax-extender legislation delays any serious reform. Congress should let the extenders expire permanently, and the Club for Growth, the free-market organization I run, intends to oppose the package. If a vote occurs, we'll likely include it on our annual congressional scorecard, which goes out to more than 100,000 of our members.

Many tax extenders are government spending disguised as tax breaks, such as a three-year depreciation for racehorses. Others amount to a kind of earmark: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) just added the credit for Broadway plays. Tax-extender legislation is also the occasion for campaign contributions, as lobbyists donate to ensure their special treatment continues. Recently, a reporter tweeted a picture of the Senate Finance Committee markup of the tax extenders bill. The room was packed. It filled up so quickly that some lobbyists had to watch the proceedings in the hallway on their iPads.

There's widespread disagreement on what the Congressional Budget Office has characterized as "spending through the tax code," which Chocola notes here is "spending disguised as tax breaks." Jeff Sessions took issue recently with the definition, saying that "when you allow a person to keep money that they earn... I don't believe that's spending by the United States government." The Heritage Foundation's J.D. Foster has called the elimination of tax expenditures as a "third wave of tax hikes."

Chocola has aligned the Club For Growth against these temporary tax breaks, however, and deigned a lot of them as "spending through the tax code." The Club For Growth joins other center-right organizations as standing against many of these temporary tax cuts. Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Tax Foundation have both previously joined the fight against these temporary tax breaks.

Chocola's introduction to his WSJ op-ed lays out some of the more egregious tax cuts in the temporary extenders legislation:

A $250-a-year subsidy for those who commute to work using New York's "bike share" program. Breaks for Broadway plays like "Of Mice and Men" starring James Franco and Chris O'Dowd, up to $15 million per production. A $71 million benefit for Nascar facilities. Billions in credits for the wind-energy industry.

And the CRFB laid out a breakdown of where these tax breaks are going:

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Gosnell Movie Exposing Late-Term Abortionist Becomes Most Successful Indiegogo Film Ever

First, the gruesome story was ignored by the media. Then, the crowdfunding website Kickstarter refused to host a movie about it. Now, all those obstacles are in the past. Filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, along with producer Magdalena Segieda, launched a crowdfunding campaign to expose the radical late-term abortionist and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell just a few weeks ago, yet they've already made movie history:

Gosnell, a made for TV project on the doctor who is America's most prolific serial killer, has just smashed through the $900,000 mark - overtaking the previous record holder which had raised $898,000.

The need for this film is understated. Gosnell's grotesque actions in his dirty abortion clinics would make anyone's stomach turn. He was convicted in the deaths of three babies born alive and acquitted in the death of a fourth. Shamefully, the mainstream media decided to not treat this story as headline news, perhaps because the details would taint the precious "right" to abortion. While restlessly reporting on the Republican "war on women," they missed the real war on women being waged in Gosnell's "House of Horrors."

The fact that this film has already broken funding records, however, proves that people want to hear this tragic tale. Segieda said as much in a new press release:

"This sends a message to the media and Hollywood that they need to stop ignoring stories that don't match their political beliefs. By helping Gosnell smash these records the public are making a very strong statement about their dissatisfaction with media bias."

These bold producers aren't resting until they hit the $2.1 million mark. Help them get there: Gosnell Movie.

National Poll: Half of Respondents Say They're "Less Likely" to Vote for Another Bush

As if his emphatic support for both Common Core and amnesty wasn’t hard enough for conservatives to swallow, a recent Rasmussen poll indicates that Jeb Bush might have a serious problem on his hands if he runs for president in 2016. Namely, 50 percent of likely voters say they’re “less likely” to vote for him for reasons beyond his control:

Fifty percent (50%) of Likely U.S. Voters said in a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey last month that they are less likely to vote for Jeb Bush for president in 2016 because his father and brother have already served in the White House.

Fourteen percent (14%) said the Bush family's presidential legacy makes them more likely to vote for the former Florida governor. Thirty-four percent (34%) say it would have no impact on their voting decision. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Clearly, there are other matters Jeb must also consider before making up his mind. For example, Politico reported earlier in the week that family issues will almost certainly impact his decision:

Republican donors and operatives are chattering about Bush’s publicity-shy wife, so worried she isn’t on board with a 2016 White House run that they’re urging people in the family’s orbit to make the case.

Columba Bush has long been deeply averse to the spotlight, especially after an embarrassing encounter with U.S. Customs while her husband was still in office.

Donors also wonder whether Bush is willing to subject his family and their personal lives to the inevitable scrutiny that comes with a national campaign. Two of his children have been in the news in past years for arrests linked to drug problems and public intoxication.

Is running for president really worth the grueling schedule, the personal attacks, the time spent away from home, and the constant and at times unfair media coverage? These are questions every presidential hopeful must answer -- and answer honestly. Plus, with Christie’s stock on the rise and his image improving, fundraising and securing endorsements could only prove more difficult for Bush over time, as they both represent the moderate -- or, if you prefer, the establishment -- wing of the party.

The consensus from inside Florida is that Bush will run and Sen. Marco Rubio (a close political ally and would-be establishment rival during the primaries) will bow out. Assuming Christie jumps in and Rubio instead runs for re-election, then, it’ll be Bush vs. Christie (and perhaps Walker) fighting for the centrist/moderate/establishment vote before facing down a Tea Party challenger. As Allahpundit recently sketched out, Jeb’s path to the nomination isn’t exactly impossible to imagine if he runs -- that is, if everything goes according to plan. But the question is, will he?

If he continues to poll this well in Iowa (of all places), I suspect he will.

Bloomberg's New Anti-Gun Group Out with First Ad: 'Are Your Children Safe?'

As Katie reported on Thursday, former-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving $50 million this year to help build a new "gun safety" group and campaign, Everytown. As my colleague Bob Owens over at Bearing Arms notes, "The prevailing theory behind the effort seems to be an attempt to market gun prohibition as “gun safety,” while attempting to destroy the number one gun safety organization the world has ever known, the National Rifle Association."

The group came out with its first big ad, and it’s exactly what one would expect of an umbrella group that houses gun control organizations like Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns—it pushes all the emotional hot buttons in the gun control debate.

It’s safe to say that for this ad at least, Bloomberg would agree with the NRA about responsible gun ownership, which is something that is important to advocate. But that misses the point here, as IJR explains:

The goal [of Everytown] is to create a grassroots network of concerned mothers, mayors and Hollywood celebrities that can work to persuade Congress as effectively as the pro-gun lobby.

The difference is while groups like the NRA want to protect the rights of responsible gun owners, Everytown wants to redefine them.

They want to attack the 2nd Amendment by having gun owners register their firearms, ban ‘assault’ weapons, and make carrying guns on school, church and playground property illegal.

Since none of the measures these gun control groups are advocating would do much in the way of preventing a situation like the one in the ad from happening, what’s with the ad then? Scare tactics right out of the gate? You betcha.