Greg Corombos of Radio America and Ian Tuttle of National Review cheer House Speaker John Boehner for shooting down Democratic talking points on Amtrak funding as a stupid question. They’re also stunned at how poorly Jeb Bush was prepared for basic questions about the Iraq War. And they rip the liberal media for lionizing the liberal college student who told Jeb Bush that his brother created ISIS.
Archives for May 2015
The House of Representatives passed legislation to ban virtually all late-term abortions Wednesday, and the leader of two Capitol Hill sit-ins on the issue says the protests were vital to keeping the issue on the “front burner”.
The House voted 242-184 to approve the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions for rape victims. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and advocates say the final version is even stronger than the one pulled from the floor earlier this year.
“I was very pleased that the vote happened and also that the language of the bill ended up surprisingly to be much stronger than the original bill that would have been presented on January 22,” said Jill Stanek, a retired nurse, who once confronted then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama over his opposition to a bill that would require abortion providers to extend life-saving measures to babies who survive attempted abortions.
The bill was originally scheduled for January vote to coincide with the annual March for Life and the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in which the Supreme Court ruled there was a constitutional right to abortion. It was removed from the House floor when some female Republicans balked at a provision requiring women to present a police report before seeking a late-term abortion on the grounds they were raped.
When the legislation did not swiftly return to the calendar, Stanek teamed with the Christian Defense Coalition and Operation Rescue to stage a sit-in at Speaker John Boehner’s office on March 25. Stanek and many others were arrested that day. They held another protest earlier this month.
Wednesday’s vote took place on the second anniversary of the conviction of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of murdering babies who survived late-term abortions.
Stanek firmly believes the sit-ins helped push the bill back onto the House floor.
“Those who heard the floor debate [Wednesday] and heard Speaker Boehner heard him say that he wanted to give a shout-out to not only the representatives who were involved in crafting the bill. He also said, ‘To those Americans who made their voices heard, who stood up for this bill, want you to know we heard you,'” said Stanek.
“I know that people emailed and called their legislators and Speaker Boehner but I also think that he was acknowledging both our protests. Even yesterday, I heard from people who are insiders on the Hill that the protests made a big difference,” she said.
Stanek was in the House gallery for Wednesday’s vote. She says the effectiveness of the protests was a simple case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease.
“The Hill operates in crisis mode, basically putting out one fire to the next,” said Stanek. “Our protest on March 25, where we had a sit-in and eight of us were arrested, I’m told by several people moved the pain capable bill back up to the front burner.”
As frustrated as Stanek was with the four-month delay in passing the bill, she is thrilled with what she sees as improvements to the original plan.
“All of those warring factions in the pro-life movement ended up putting language in this bill that makes it pretty solid as far as not giving the abortionist really any room to even commit 20-week and beyond abortions, even if there is somewhat of a rape-incest exception,” said Stanek.
One of the biggest changes is that the bill treats minors and adults differently on whether they’re required to file police reports.
“Minors have to report rape and incest to police, which makes total sense because if you’re a minor and you’re involved in incest or you’ve been raped there’s a big chance that you could be raped again if the perpetrator isn’t caught,” said Stanek.
For adults seeking late-term abortions, one of the usual exceptions is no longer grounds for an exception.
“They are only allowed to get abortions for rape. Incest has been taken out as an exception for adult women. If you’re an adult and you’re engaging in consensual incest sex, then you shouldn’t have an exception for abortions. If you’ve been raped and the victim of incest and you’re an adult then it would be rape. It would be considered rape whether it’s a family member or not,” said Stanek.
Adult rape victims would be required to receive counseling or medical treatment 48 hours before an abortion.
The next hurdle for the late-term abortion ban is the U.S. Senate. Republican leaders are favorable to the bill but reaching sixty votes to defeat a Democratic filibuster may not be possible. Stanek says Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will passionately lead the fight.
“For all the concerns I have for him as a conservative in other areas, I know without a doubt that he is very articulate on pro-life issues. I’ve heard him speak very forcefully and convincingly on this particular bill. He even said in January at a Family Research Council event that he was champing at the bit to debate this bill,” said Stanek.
Stanek is keenly aware that even Senate passage won’t turn the bill into a law because President Obama is certain to veto it and supporters do not have the votes to override it. She says there is still an important reason to keep pushing it forward.
“I am hopeful that the bill will continue to percolate at the forefront of conversation with the American public and continue to educate the American public about how advanced abortions are in the United States to the point where women can get abortions through all nine months of pregnancy, which so many people don’t even know,” said Stanek.
Public opinion polls support Stanek’s assertion. While the public remains intensely divided on the overall question of abortion, the gap gets wider and wider when the focus turns to late-term abortions.
“Across all demographics, the majority of Americans, usually at least 60 percent, think that late-term abortions shouldn’t be allowed and should be banned. We’re talking men, women, young, old, millennials. Across the board, people think that this is heinous,” said Stanek, who believes Democrats are making a mistake by defending late-term abortions.
“It’s definitely a losing proposition for Democrats and Hillary Clinton, for instance, to come out yesterday in a tweet opposed to this bill. It definitely sets them apart from the mainstream and makes them look like the extremists that they are,” she said.
Stanek says she will be focusing much of her time highlighting Clinton’s position on this issue. She will also be watching to make sure the Senate takes action.
“I’m trying to move forward in faith and seeing what Leader McConnell says and what Lindsey Graham says. There haven’t been any plans formulated yet, except for if this doesn’t move forward in a timely manner, we will be back,” said Stanek.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are glad to see ABC’s George Stephanopoulos admit he donated $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation and that it damages his credibility as a supposed journalist. They also cringe as Democrat Russ Feingold starts with a big lead over Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. And they slam Democrats for immediately blaming the Amtrak derailment on proposed Republican cuts to the Amtrak budget.
As Nepal staggers back to its feet after a devastating earthquake and a massive aftershock, a leading humanitarian group says the impoverished nation is at great risk to be exploited by human traffickers.
Why is the threat higher at a moment like this? Experts say when the government is in crisis mode, people with sinister intentions smell opportunity.
“First of all, the human traffickers are already there. Second, the social safety nets and the fabric of the state – legal protections and rule of law protections – which had existed prior to the earthquake, weak as they may be, have been weakened even further by the devastation and confusion caused by the earthquake. It’s in these situations, the risk is considerably increased,” said Anti-Slavery International Director Dr. Aidan McQuade.
As McQuade intimated, Nepal is already a fertile area for traffickers.
“We already know there has been a considerable reality of trafficking from Nepal, so our concern is that this will be used as an opportunity for unscrupulous people to exploit even more impoverished ones,” said McQuade.
“There are many people who are using the hope and the expectation that people have of a better life as a means to exploit them. You can only imagine, now that the country has been so much more devastated by these earthquakes that people are going to be even more desperate to look for better options by which they can help their families,” said McQuade.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of the problem is that the vast majority of Nepalese men, women and children know they are taking a huge gamble by responding to the promise of good jobs in other countries.
“The people who are being trafficked and exploited aren’t stupid. They’re desperate,” said McQuade, who relayed the story of a young man he met that he encapsulates the attitude of many people trying to escape poverty.
“One person that we met a few years ago who was preparing to go to the (Persian) Gulf to work said, ‘I know this is a choice between the frying pan and the fire. None of us know which is which. We know that we can live in abject poverty here in Nepal or we can risk going overseas and maybe finding decent work.’ And some people do find decent work,” said McQuade.
For those who aren’t so fortunate and wind up as servant laborers, McQuade says many men and women from South Asia end up in the Middle East. He says men are in high demand right now.
“Many of your listeners will have read reports of forced labor of South Asian men in Qatar and in other Gulf States, many of them in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. There’s tens of thousands of those South Asian men or Nepalese who have gone to the Middle East in search of decent work in order to help their families,” said McQuade.
The outcome isn’t much different for females. Forced labor in the Arabian Peninsula is often their fate as well.
“Tens of thousands of Nepalese women and girls have been trafficked for domestic work, again in hope of decent work for themselves so they can help their families, but oftentimes finding themselves in situations of domestic servitude or worse again in situations of sexual exploitation across South Asia,” said McQuade.
In the western world, a quick internet search can provide a great deal of information on the legitimacy of a prospective employer. That’s not an option in Nepal.
“For ordinary Nepalese who are seeking work, it’s very difficult. You can seek advice about who is a good agent and who is not a good agent. But it’s still very much a lottery about whether you get good advice or, even if you have got good advice, whether it remains good advice when you travel yourself,” said McQuade.
The persistent poverty in Nepal and other parts of the world makes it difficult to rein in human traffickers very effectively. However, McQuade says there are some concrete steps that could do a lot of good.
“There’s considerable need for reform of the international labor market. There needs to be considerably more thought about how we can facilitate safe migration of people looking for decent work. Western countries should think about assisting poorer countries to do this,” said McQuade, who advocates embassies opening up offices to assist impoverished people looking for work in their countries.
He also wants greater regulation of the recruiting businesses that target people in places like Nepal and more investigations of those suspected of being unscrupulous.
Being lured into a life of forced labor is bleak enough. McQuade says trying to escape from many countries, especially those in the Middle East, can be virtually impossible.
“If you end up in one of the Gulf States for example, one of the great difficulties is that you will be subject to what is called a Kafala system, which is a system encoded in the law of many of the Gulf States, which means that you cannot either leave or change employment within that country – for example Qatar – or even leave the country without the say-so of your employer,” said McQuade.
Virtually every Arab state enforces Kafala, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.
McQuade says the inability of South Asian laborers to go home to check on their loved ones has been especially stressful.
“Across the Gulf, there are tens of thousands of men and also women working in domestic work and other sectors whose families have been effected by the earthquake and are begging to be able to go home to see if their family are alive and well or who has been killed and injured and help them reconstruct. They are not being allowed to leave,” said McQuade.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review munch on popcorn as they watch President Obama and Senate Democrats pound each other over trade. They also slam President Obama for slamming Fox News and saying we need to change how the media report on issues like poverty. And they react to reports that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un executed his defense minister for sleeping at an event and had him killed with an anti-aircraft gun.
In her new, best-selling memoir, former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino gives readers an inside look at the White House Briefing Room, the character of President George W. Bush and how she was the only casualty of the infamous shoe-throwing incident in Baghdad.
The latter incident is how Perino open her New York Times best-seller, “And the Good News Is…Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side.” President Bush deftly dodged the shoes thrown at him in a press conference late in his administration. Perino was not so lucky.
“I was the only one who got hit in the face (my a microphone stand) and I ended up with this big black eye,” said Perino.
She said that backdrop actually led to a moment of respect from the press corps.
“On that trip, there were three photographers from news organizations. They made a pact among themselves that they would not take any photographs or release any photographs of my injury,” she said.
Perino served as press secretary from September 2007 until Bush left office in January 2009. She says there were certainly moments of tension in the press room but believes she successfully served the administration while respecting the rights of the press to gather and investigate news.
“I felt like I struck that balance pretty well, partly because I had been a reporter. So I knew what they needed. We had a lot of respect in the briefing room. For example if any of them came to me and they had some breaking news, but we weren’t quite ready to confirm anything yet, I would tell them I would get back to them if and when we had anything to say. And I never burned anybody,” said Perino.
Perhaps the toughest part of the job for Perino was succeeding the adept and personable Tony Snow, who left to fight a recurrence of cancer. Perino was the last person who wanted to replace him.
“I loved working for Tony Snow. I also loved very much being behind the scenes. I was happy there. One of the pieces of advice I give in my book is to always take the deputy job. You get to know the boss a little bit more on a personal level. You could do the job if you needed to but you don’t have the responsibility,” mused Perino.
She says Snow’s parting words were cathartic.
“He made me stand up. He was 6-foot-5 and I’m only five feet tall. He put his hands on my shoulders and tilted my head back and said, ‘You are better at this than you think you are,'” said Perino.
She soon found out he was right.
“I didn’t know what he meant because I was wracked with anxiety but I go forward. I do the briefings for about two weeks. Two weeks later I said, ‘Oh, I get it.’ I don’t have to be just like him. I can be myself and be successful,” she said.
Perino relates her deep professional and personal affection for President Bush throughout the book. Excerpts of his emotional visits with wounded and active duty military personnel have received a great deal of attention, but other accounts reveal other sides of the former president.
One of Perino’s predecessors as press secretary was Scott McClellan, a longtime family friend of the Bushes, who succeeded Ari Fleischer in the briefing room in 2003. McClellan struggled mightily in the job and was seen by many Bush loyalists as ineffective on key issues such as the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and the Valerie Plame investigation.
Eventually, McClellan was removed in favor of Snow in 2006. McClellan subsequently wrote a book about his time in the White House and was far more harsh towards Bush than anyone expected and the mainstream media couldn’t get enough of the GOP infighting.
By this time Perino was press secretary. She was friends with McClellan but furious about his criticism of Bush. It was the president who finally convinced her to move on.
“I was very upset. The president knew this and I was kind of paralyzed and unable to do my job. He heard about this and called me into the Oval Office at 6:40 in the morning and said, ‘I’d like you to try to forgive him.’ I said, ‘Can I throw him under the bus first?’ He said no. He didn’t want me to live bitterly, that no one would remember the book in three weeks and we had more important work to do,” said Perino.
Then the president addressed the issue Perino didn’t even realize was bothering her most.
“He did something that I think shows the measure of him as a manager and somebody that cared about the people that worked for him. I was leaving the Oval Office and he said, ‘Oh by the way, I don’t think you’d ever do this to me.’ I realized that’s what I was mostly concerned about. I was worried that my relationship with him would be hampered by my predecessor’s decision to write a negative book about his personal relationship with the president,” said Perino.
Perino says Bush, whom she refers to as 43, is a very funny man and it manifested itself most noticeably in his relationship with First Lady Laura Bush.
“I like watching husbands and fathers that can make their women laugh. With a look, he can make Mrs. Bush giggle. Their relationship of total commitment and love and fun really helped inspire me,” said Perino.
Once the Bush administration ended, Perino got involved in several different types of work, one of which was as a Fox News analyst. Soon thereafter, Glenn Beck left Fox News and the network decided to launch a temporary show called “The Five” to hold the time slot until a permanent replacement could be found. Perino was recruited for the show along with Greg Gutfeld, Eric Bolling, Kimberly Guilfoyle and the lone liberal, Bob Beckel.
Fox News never had to find another program for the time slot because “The Five” was an instant smash.
“That was the genius of Roger Ailes. He knew that the chemistry would be good. We didn’t know each other very well. None of us were close when we sat down. In fact, Gutfeld and I had only sort of said hello passing in the hallway. It turns out we get along so well and I call him the brother I never wanted,” said Perino.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cheer a Harper poll showing Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey in very good shape at the start of his re-election campaign. They also sigh as Jeb Bush says he would undo Obama’s immigration action and then ask Congress to enact it. And we consider why a Rand Paul staffer licked the camera of an opposition researcher in New Hampshire.
If the Supreme Court finds there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage next month, the tax-exempt status of any non-profit groups that refuse to embrace the movement could soon be on the chopping block.
Writing in a column for USA TODAY, Home School Legal Defense Association Chairman Michael Farris says religious and even non-religious non-profit institutions will likely be targeted by the government for holding to traditional standards on sex, marriage and morality.
“All of these entities are exempt from taxation under the same section of the IRS code. And even though churches can be exempt without application, their exemption can nonetheless be revoked,” wrote Farris. “Even if it takes the IRS years to begin the enforcement proceedings against such institutions, we can expect other fallout from this decision to begin shortly after the release of the Supreme Court’s opinion.”
The premise for this concern is rooted in a widely reported exchange during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on marriage held on April 28.
“In the Bob Jones case, the court held that a college was not entitled to tax exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” asked Justice Samuel Alito.
“It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that,” responded U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
In a subsequent interview, Farris says the scrutiny would stretch much wider than just colleges and universities.
“The legal principle that was established in the interracial case from Bob Jones University is applicable to all non-profit organizations, not just colleges,” said Farris, who is also chancellor at Patrick Henry College, which accepts no federal funds.
He can easily envision a scenario where the federal government would investigate the school.
“We would not hire any professor that believed in that form of marriage or practiced it. If we stay true to our beliefs, we’re going to find our tax-exempt status threatened in the days ahead. That is a death knell for a lot of organizations,” said Farris.
And it’s not just colleges and universities. Farris says any religious non-profit group is at risk and Christian and private elementary schools, middle schools and high schools would find themselves in the IRS cross hairs.
Churches would be at risk of losing tax-exempt status as well.
Farris says a simple scenario for a Christian school getting in trouble would be for a legally married gay couple to attempt enrolling their child at the school. Many schools have parents sign a commitment to abide by the statement of faith, which may include language about marriage only being between a man and a woman. If the school denies enrollment to a student on those grounds, he says an investigation could easily follow.
But even if there are no issues with personnel or the families trying to get children into the schools, the curriculum could also trigger a tax-exempt status review.
“Just teaching out kids that homosexuality is a sin would be sufficient to bring these things into question,” said Farris.
In fact, he says a growing list of liberal activist academics don’t just want schools that teach biblical morality to lose their tax-exempt status but to be shuttered completely.
“Professors at Northwestern University, professors at George Washington University and at Emory have all opined that Christian schools and home schools that refuse to teach their kids a tolerant viewpoint should be closed down entirely, not just lose their tax-exempt status. They should lose the right to be able to teach children,” said Farris.
Many churches require membership based on a statement of faith and their affiliated schools require parents to acknowledge that students will be taught according to those principles. Historically, those voluntary associations have provided strong legal defenses.
“I was in a courtroom in the late 1970’s where an Orthodox Presbyterian Church was being sued for refusing to continue the employment of the church organist they found out was homosexual. In that day, the church won on the basis of religious freedom,” said Farris.
But he says those days are quickly ending.
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of the United States, in 1990 in a case called Employment Division v. Smith, through the free exercise of religion onto the constitutional trash heap. So I would expect that case goes the other way (now),” said Farris, who says this will worm its way into every major decision churches make.
“You can take it down as close to the heart of the church as you want: who you hire as your pastor, who you hire as your minister of music, who you hire as your youth director,” he said.
Just how big of a hit would non-profits take if they lost their tax-exempt status? Tax payments would not look much different, but donors would lose their tax benefits, and that includes private foundations required by their charters to give to IRS-approved non-profits. For many organizations, Farris says, the status loss would be a matter of life and death.
“It would really hurt on the giving side of things. Unless there was an army of people who would rise up and say, ‘I don’t care about the taxes. I want to give to you anyway,’ schools like Patrick Henry would end up having to close down,” he said.
If the Supreme Court does legalize gay marriage coast to coast, Farris says there is a short term way to preserve these non-profit institutions and a couple of long-term avenues as well.
First, he says Congress needs to look out for the viability of religious non-profits.
“Congress could pass explicit laws that would refuse to give this kind of implication to the internal revenue tax code. That’s going to take majorities in both houses of Congress and it’s going to take a friendly president to sign the law. So elections will matter,” said Farris, who still his his eyes on the ultimate goal.
“The biggest solution from my perspective is to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service and get rid of the whole income tax system and the inability of the government to regulate our lives through that,” said Farris.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review relish the public spat between Pres. Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They also wince as Ben Carson proposes ending tax breaks for the oil industry to boost more ethanol in Iowa. And they rip Mark Halperin for his demeaning questions to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz about his Cuban heritage.
The largest school district in Virginia is expanding its non-discrimination policy to include gender identity over the loud objections of parents, and the Obama administration intends to impose the change on every public school district in the country.
On Thursday, the Fairfax County School Board voted overwhelmingly to expand it’s non-discrimination policy to accommodate transgender teachers and students. The vote came after the second of two boisterous hearings, at which parents overwhelmingly opposed the change.
The amended policy would apply to students as young as preschool and allow teachers to stay in the classroom if they declare themselves to be a different gender and conduct themselves accordingly. Many parents are concerned about privacy for their kids if transgender adults and students are granted access to restrooms and locker rooms opposite of their biological gender.
For weeks, board members touted the change as minor change and one that would ensure all people are treated fairly. Shortly after the vote, that story changed.
In a statement released after the meeting, school board chairwoman Tamara Derenak Koufax released a statement which said the federal government left the board no choice.
“The U.S. Department of Education has told school districts that transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX and has recently required some school districts including Alexandria, Va., to amend their policies to expressly include gender identity,” said Koufax in the statement.
Elizabeth Schultz was the only board member to oppose the policy change. But she says Koufax is right about the federal intrusion.
“They’ve threatened that if we do not they will pull our federal education funds, free and reduced meal money for impoverished students,” said Schultz to the Washington Examiner.
As a result, this debate may soon be playing out in every public school district in America.
“What happened in Fairfax is not just about Fairfax. It is now a national issue,” said Traditional Values Coalition President Andrea Lafferty, whose children were enrolled in Fairfax schools for many years.
“President Obama and his Justice Department and his Department of Education are going to start telling school districts, ‘If you do not add gender identity, we are going to take away all your federal funding,” said Lafferty.
But Lafferty says the school board never brought up the federal mandate until after the vote and its reasons for considering the policy until this revelation was all over the place.
“There’s been excuse after excuse. That excuse didn’t come out until they knew thousands and thousands of parents were sending them emails and calling them,” said Lafferty. “At the meeting two weeks ago, one of the board members specifically said, ‘Our policy suffices. We don’t have a problem. We don’t need to do this. But OK, we’ll do it.'”
She says the shifting explanations didn’t end there.
“As the days went by and more people expressed outrage, the story changed again. The sponsor said, ‘Let’s pass it and then the staff can tell us what’s in it, just like with Obamacare,” said Lafferty.
As maddening as the changing rationale is for Lafferty, she says the board’s treatment of concerned parents was even more outrageous. At each of the two meetings devoted to the subject, 10 people were allowed to speak for three minutes apiece.
“The parents that were in the building and the parents that were locked out were overwhelmingly opposed to this. Anybody that watched it live or watched it online, could see the arrogance of the school board speaking down to these parents. Parents are upset. They want to be involved in the process and they weren’t,” said Lafferty.
Lafferty approached Fairfax County Superintendent Dr. Karen Garza to complain about a process that stiff-armed parents away from the decision-making process. Garza disagreed.
“She vehemently disagreed with me. The superintendent and all the school board except for one or two people think parents’ voices have been heard and it’s completely untrue,” said Lafferty, who says the district studied and evaluated whether to change the start of the school day for many years but limited this issue to just one hour of public input.
For now, she insists this fight is not over in Fairfax.
“It’s never final. These people were voted in. They are not lifetime judges and they can be voted out in November. There is a possibility of legal action. There’s a lot of things that we’re looking at right now,” said Lafferty, who says every parent concerned about this issue needs to get ready for a fight in their town.
“This is coming to your neighborhood, whether you’re in Keokuk, Iowa, Tupelo, Mississippi, or wherever. You need to make sure your school board pushes back,” said Lafferty.