2016 Republican presidential candidate holds rally in Norwood, Massachusetts.
Vester Lee Flanagan (aka Bryce Williams) had contacted ABC News over the past few weeks about a story, but never gave any details. On August 26, the day he ambushed and murdered WDBJ7’s Alison Parker and Alex Ward, he faxed what appears to be a manifesto/suicide note to the organization, citing, among other things, that the Charleston church shooting sent him “over the top.” It’s the ramblings of an unhinged person. Flanagan’s work history has mostly been dotted with him filing complaints about discrimination at work, of which there is no evidence, and a reputation of being difficult among his co-workers.
As The New York Times reported, these written letters documented “the homicidal rage that had apparently been building for years.” After being fired from a previous station, Mr. Flanagan reportedly killed his cats in anger. The article noted that there appears to be a brief period of calm between 1996-98, where he worked for WTOC-TV in Savannah, Georgia. There, he met a co-worker named “Kenny,” who he apparently fell in love with during his time there:
He moved from Georgia to Florida, where a job at WTWC in Tallahassee became what Mr. Flanagan called “a disgusting, vile and wretched situation.” In a 2000 lawsuit, he alleged that he was the victim of racial slurs and bullying, a complaint that he would repeatedly make during the rest of his life.
The station fired him, citing “misbehavior with regards to co-workers,” but the discrimination case he brought was settled out of court.
Mr. Flanagan continued to pursue work in television after the “fiasco” in Tallahassee. He notes that a job in Greenville, N.C., was “amazing.” In a 2011 email seeking a job at WAFF, a station in Huntsville, Ala., Mr. Flanagan sounded enthusiastic and upbeat. He wrote proudly of his ability to multitask, cultivate sources and work with “little or no supervision...being a self-starter.”
The Alabama station declined to hire Mr. Flanagan. Adam Henning, the news director there, said references had told of finding Mr. Flanagan “exceedingly difficult to work with.”
That proved to be the case in Roanoke as well. By the summer of 2012, managers at the station had begun to document problems in his employment file, accusing Mr. Flanagan of “misinterpreting” the actions and words of his co-workers…
After he was fired from the Roanoke station in February 2013, Mr. Flanagan seethed again. He filed another harassment lawsuit, and served as his own lawyer. So angry one day after what he called “an awful chain of events,” he writes that he killed his two cats and drove to a forest, where he dug a grave and covered the bodies with leaves and a flower.
Besides his apparent erratic workplace demeanor, Flanagan seemed to have this mindset that he was besieged with racism at the workplace. Before his termination at WDBJ, co-workers said he thought the words “field” and “swinging” were racist. According to the Daily Mail, this is what prompted him to file a complaint in 2012 against then-intern Alison Parker, who he would eventually murder, for saying stuff like “'swinging’ by an address,” or “going out into the ‘field.’” To no one’s surprise, Flanagan was described as “management’s worst nightmare.”
[Alison] Parker, who was referred to by her middle name as Bailey in the documents, was never disciplined for the remarks.
But they appear to be the 'racist' comments Flanagan was referring to when he Tweeted in the aftermath of the deadly shooting.
Ryan Fuqua, a video editor at WDBJ, told The Post: 'That's how that guy's mind worked. Just crazy, left-field assumptions like that.'
'He was unstable. One time, after one of our live shots failed, he threw all his stuff down and ran into the woods for like 20 minutes.'
Trevor Fair, a 33-year-old cameraman at WDBJ, told the newspaper the words Parker used are commonplace but that they would routinely anger Flanagan.
We would say stuff like, "The reporter's out in the field." And he would look at us and say, "What are you saying, cotton fields? That's racist".'
'We'd be like, "What?' We all know what that means, but he took it as cotton fields, and therefore we're all racists.'
The article then went on to delve into other aspects of Flanagan’s work performance at the station, which was abysmal. He also exhibited a poor work ethic as well.
There are many Americans who get down on their luck. They may lose their jobs, face discrimination at work, and have legitimate anger as a result. Yet, they do not engage in cold-blooded murder. Only the mentally unstable engage in such behavior.
We already knew that the FBI has been looking into whether Hillary Clinton's improper email scheme resulted in the mishandling of classified information, or resulted in any national security breaches -- which many data security experts believe is a virtual certainty. The Clinton campaign has insisted along the way that the Democratic presidential candidate is not herself a target of the probe, claimed she's done nothing wrong, and changed its story regarding classified materials several times. They also stated that the investigation is not criminal in nature, a distinction dismissed by an FBI spokesman. Now Fox News' Catherine Herridge has new details into the seriousness of the Bureau's work:
From Fox's accompanying online story:
An FBI "A-team" is leading the "extremely serious" investigation into Hillary Clinton's server and the focus includes a provision of the law pertaining to "gathering, transmitting or losing defense information," an intelligence source told Fox News. The section of the Espionage Act is known as 18 US Code 793. A separate source, who also was not authorized to speak on the record, said the FBI will further determine whether Clinton should have known, based on the quality and detail of the material, that emails passing through her server contained classified information regardless of the markings. The campaign's standard defense and that of Clinton is that she "never sent nor received any email that was marked classified" at the time. It is not clear how the FBI team's findings will impact the probe itself. But the details offer a window into what investigators are looking for -- as the Clinton campaign itself downplays the controversy...A leading national security attorney, who recently defended former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in a leak investigation, told Fox News that violating the Espionage Act provision in question is a felony and pointed to a particular sub-section...The Clinton campaign did not provide an on-the-record comment on the matter when given questions by Fox News.
Her campaign is no-commenting a report about the FBI's "extremely serious" investigation into possible felony violations of a national security law. The piece goes on to cite active government regulations and experts who say Clinton's "nothing-marked-classified" defense (a far cry from her original blanket denials, by the way) doesn't hold legal water (and also appears to be untrue):
Additional federal regulations, reviewed by Fox News, also bring fresh scrutiny to Clinton's defense. The Code of Federal Regulations, or "CFR," states: "Any person who has knowledge that classified information has been or may have been lost, possibly compromised or disclosed to an unauthorized person(s) shall immediately report the circumstances to an official designated for this purpose." A government legal source confirmed the regulations apply to all government employees holding a clearance, and the rules do not make the "send" or "receive" distinction. Rather, all clearances holders have an affirmative obligation to report the possible compromise of classified information or use of unsecured data systems. Current and former intelligence officers say the application of these federal regulations is very straightforward.
There's "no wiggle room" in the law, another authority tells Fox. Ed Morrissey also points out that under the Espionage Act, "the material does not have to be classified in order to violate this law. This covers any sensitive material relating to national defense. The mishandling does not have to be intentional or malicious either, but only grossly negligent to become a crime. If the FBI is taking a long look at 18 USC 793, then that is very bad news for Hillary Clinton, whose grossly negligent decision to use a private, unsecured, and unauthorized communications system for official business would be the root of all violations within it." Important points. Questions: Can we stop pretending that Hillary herself isn't a potential subject of this federal investigation? And how many times does the word "felony" need to crop up before people abandon the "it's not a criminal probe" line? Rattled by the deepening scandal -- and additional sordid issues that continue to arise -- Hillary Clinton has been lashing out at Republicans in extremely hyperbolic terms in recent days. In Ohio, she compared pro-life politicians to Islamist terrorists, then today invoked Nazi imagery ("boxcars") in denouncing some Republicans' calls for mass deportations of illegal immigrants. By the way, what was Hillary's stance on illegal immigrants, again?
A nationwide survey from Quinnipiac revealed some unwanted results for presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Asked to choose words that describes the candidates, voters chose "arrogant" for the Donald and "liar" for Hillary. Judging by the whoops and hollers of Jimmy Kimmel's studio audience Thursday night, they seemed to think those terms were pretty accurate.
(Note: If the video isn't appearing, you may have to disable your ad-blocker.)
Their applause can be easily explained. Guy and Katie have followed Hillary's changing story about her email scandal in detail. First, the former Secretary of State insisted she did not deal with classified information on her private server. Then, her story was altered to say she didn't receive material "marked" classifed. Another bombshell report said she did receive classified information from the start.
If this studio audience is any indication of Americans' view of Hillary in general, the Democrats' shining hope for the White House better get her story straight.
Andy Parker, the father of Alison Parker, one of the WDBJ journalists killed live on TV Wednesday morning, spoke to reporters Friday in Roanoke, VA. The grieving father shared that his daughter, just 24 years old, was a ‘force of nature’ and touched the lives of so many around her. He also spoke at length about his mission to change our nation’s gun laws.
“We need to keep crazy people from getting guns,” Parker said. “This senseless murder will not go in vain.”
He specifically criticized the NRA, saying that while several of the organization’s members support background checks, many politicians associated with the group get nothing done.
Fox News reporter Rick Leventhal delicately pointed out that Alison’s murderer, Vester Lee Flanagan, passed a background check before working at the WDBJ news station. Parker responded by commenting on Flanagan’s disruptive behavior at the station, something the station manager, Jeff Marks, described in detail on Thursday.
At one point, Parker looked straight at the camera and challenged President Obama to enact gun laws, saying he would help him accomplish that goal.
However, Parker also acknowledged that he will ‘probably have to get a gun’ for safety reasons, because he is now a figure in the media.
Parker then spoke to the press directly, urging them to not forget this tragedy.
“The media can’t let this die,” he said. “This can’t be the story for three days and then say, ‘Oh gee, let’s see what Donald Trump has to say.””
The father said his loved ones will hold a ‘celebration of life’ for Alison this Monday. Thoughts and prayers go out to their whole family.
The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.
1,000—the amount (and then some) that the Dow fell upon opening on Monday.
$3 trillion—the amount that was erased from the global stock market since its June 3 peak.
46% of likely voter believe HRC should suspend her campaign until the legal questions surrounding her email service are resolved.
40%--the percentage of Hispanics that can identify Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.
12—the number of life sentences theater shooter James Holmes received, plus 3,318 years in prison.
28%--Trump still is leading the GOP field, but is weakest in the general election.
The email scandal is not going away; in fact, it only continues to get worse for Hillary. While people like John Podesta are sticking by her side saying she did nothing wrong, the media is actually exposing her shifting her shifting stories, with USA Today saying the email debacle is ‘no joke.’ DHS said the State Department kept her private server from them as well, and her excuses are dropping like flies as intelligence agencies and evidence refute her email claims. In non-email related Hillary news, James O’Keefe says he has undercover video of her campaign’s shady practices; she jumped on the gun control bandwagon immediately after the Virginia television shootings; and she said her Republican opponents treat women just like terrorists do!
Campaigns and Elections
In other campaign news, Joe Biden is getting a lot of attention this week, with many wondering if he’s actually going to jump into the ring—wealthy Democratic fundraisers are certainly ready for him to, as is Obama, but the veep isn’t sure he’s got enough “emotional fuel” to run. Bill Clinton is reportedly very upset at the prospect of Biden crushing his dreams of reoccupying the White House.
On the Republican side of things, Trump-mania continues. The real estate mogul also took to Instagram this week to troll Jeb Bush in a video showing his mother saying she doesn’t think Jeb should run (it was an old clip). And he got into quite the kerfuffle with Jorge Ramos on illegal immigration. Ben Carson, who’s also polling well, slammed the ‘lunacy’ of the Black Lives Matter movement. A Democratic congresswoman, meanwhile, insinuated that Scott Walker is literally lynching African Americans in Wisconsin. Up in Maine, Gov. Paul LePage may be considering running for the Senate in 2018. After punting on pro-life questions, Gov. Kasich is now faced with a decision to outlaw Down syndrome abortions in Ohio. And in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry said securing the border isn’t ‘rocket science.’
Two young journalists were horrifically gunned down on live TV Wednesday morning by a former employee of the station. The suicide note he left said the Charleston church shooting sent him over the top. Apparently after being fired, he handed a cross to a news director and said ‘you’ll need this,’ according to WDBJ’s manager. Gun control activists were ready to exploit the tragedy not long after the shooting. Wal-Mart took AR-15s off the shelf. Katie explains the truth about guns in Virginia.
Nancy Pelosi paraded the Iran deal around Congress and decided to make Dems who are unsure about it her ‘target.’ Harry Reid, who was an undecided now ‘strongly’ supports the deal. Meanwhile, another New York Democrat has come out against it, as have hundreds of generals and admirals. Obama is whining that ‘the crazies’ won’t support the deal.
The Center for Medical Progress came out with yet another video this week, this time exposing StemExpress’ CEO bragging about how Planned Parenthood provides ‘a lot’ of intact fetuses. And as anyone could’ve guessed, Planned Parenthood is fighting back and suing CMP. Black pastors, meanwhile, demanded that the National Portrait Gallery remove a bust of Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, a open eugenicist.
In other news:
Current GOP front-runner Donald Trump is not, contrary to a New York Post report, buying an Argentinian soccer team. According to The Donald, he's never even heard of the team he's reportedly trying to buy.
A phony story that I am trying to buy a soccer team in Argentina is untrue. Never even heard of the team—no interest! http://t.co/YCQAQBarfj— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2015
Glad that one could be cleared up quickly.
Townhall Media and Hot Air commissioned a national poll from Survey Monkey, with whom NBC News has partnered this election cycle. Our colleague Ed Morrissey offers a full demographic breakdown of the 1,783 respondents HERE, as well as an explanation of the organization's methodology. The partisan sample was D+10. Results, starting on the Republican side:
(1) In accordance with other national polling, Donald Trump leads the primary battle among self-identified Republican voters, with 29 percent support. Ben Carson is in second place (10.45 percent), followed by Jeb Bush (9.59 percent), Marco Rubio (6.40 percent), and Carly Fiorina (5.97 percent). John Kasich and Ted Cruz are in the four percent neighborhood, with Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Scott Walker at or below two percent support. This poor performance from Walker appears to be an outlier, but keep an eye on that trend. When you factor in independents' GOP primary preferences, Trump maintains a large lead, though a plurality of respondents remain undecided:
(2) We decided to poll hypothetical head-to-head match-ups within the GOP primary to see how Donald Trump would fare against several top rivals if the nominating contest boiled down to a two-person race. Among Republicans, Trump would beat Jeb Bush (53/47), Scott Walker (58/42), Marco Rubio (52/48), Ted Cruz (57/43), and Carly Fiorina (52/48). Only Ben Carson tops Trump within the GOP electorate, (52/48). We also asked independents whom they'd support for the GOP nomination in these hypothetical head-to-head scenarios. Trump loses every one of those battles by double digits, with the exception of a tie with Ted Cruz and a relatively close loss to Walker.
(3) Just 22 percent of all respondents agree that "Donald Trump has the temperament to be President of the United States," with 63 percent saying he does not. Republicans are roughly split on this question, while Democrats (82 percent) and Independents (63 percent) overwhelmingly responded in the negative. This reflects Quinnipiac's swing state findings from last week.
(4) In a troublesome sign for Jeb Bush, the public appears poised to hold his family history against him. We asked, "does having two previous Bush presidents make you more or less likely to vote for Jeb?" Fully 45 percent of respondents said the legacy issue would make them less likely to pull the lever for Jeb, with fewer than ten percent calling it a plus. Forty-one percent said the issue wouldn't influence their vote one way or the other. Bush is narrowly upside-down on this question among Republicans (16/24), and fares much worse with Democrats (4/61) and Independents (6/47).
(5) Over on the Democratic side of the ledger, Hillary Clinton's national primary lead over Bernie Sanders has grown perilously thin. The former Secretary of State edges the self-described Socialist by just six percentage points (38 to 32 percent). Vice President Joe Biden, rumored to be considering a run, clocks in at 13 percent. All other contenders are afterthoughts, attracting less than one percent of the vote apiece. Sixteen percent of self-described Democrats declare themselves undecided:
(6) With her favorable ratings and honesty numbers on the wane in a series of polls, we asked whether Mrs. Clinton is seen as an empathetic figure who "cares about people like you." This is a measure on which Democrats typically hold a significant advantage over Republicans, and on which Barack Obama leveled Mitt Romney in 2012. Forty-six percent of poll respondents said that Clinton does not care about people like them; 36 percent said the opposite. A ten-point empathy gap. Among Independents, the phenomenon is even more pronounced: Just 26 percent of that swing group believe Hillary cares, with a 53 percent majority saying she does not care about people like them.
(7) Jobs and the economy are the most important issue to a plurality of voters across the political spectrum, followed by national security, income inequality (fueled mostly by Democrats), the federal budget/debt, and healthcare. Despite weeks of intense focus on immigration within the Republican primary debate, the issue ranks near the bottom of overall voters' priority list, just ahead of abortion and same-sex marriage, which comes in dead last:
Ed has additional data points from our survey over at Hot Air.
It was just three short days ago when President Obama was calling Republican opponents to his deal with Iran, the world's most prolific state-sponsor of terrorism, "crazies." Of course, Obama fails to acknowledge it isn't just "crazy" Republicans who oppose the deal, it's fellow Democrats and the majority of the American people. Now, 200 admirals and generals can be added to the opposition list. From the Washington Post:
A group of nearly 200 retired generals and admirals sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday urging lawmakers to reject the Iran nuclear agreement, which they say threatens national security.
The letter is the latest in a blizzard of missives petitioning Congress either to support or oppose the agreement with Iran, which would lift sanctions if Iran pared back its nuclear program. Letters have come from ad hoc groupings of rabbis, nuclear scientists, arms-control and nonproliferation experts — and now, retired senior military officers, many of whom have worked in the White House during various administrations dating to the 1980s.
“The agreement will enable Iran to become far more dangerous, render the Mideast still more unstable and introduce new threats to American interests as well as our allies,” the letter states.
Two weeks ago Veterans Against The Deal produced a devastating ad reminding Washington about the Americans the Iranians have killed and severely injured.
"Every politician who is involved in this will be held accountable. They will have blood on their hands," Army Sergeant Robert Bartlett says in the ad. "A vote for this deal means more money for Iranian terrorism. What do you think they're going to do when they get more money?"
A significant number of Republicans, Democrats, admirals, generals and veterans are against the deal with Iran, yet the White House keeps marching forward with their plan.
On Thursday, Hillary Clinton made some rather unhinged remarks at a campaign event in Ohio. The former first lady pretty much equated the 2016 Republican field to terrorists:
Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world, but it's a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States. Yet they espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We are going forward, we are not going back.”
This is just absurd. As Katie mentioned, the GOP isn’t:
- mutilating the genitals of women
- raping women repeatedly
- raping young girls and passing them around as ISIS fighters do
- forcing women to watch their children be crucified
- forcing women into carrying out suicide bombings
- cutting off the noses and slicing the faces of women
- using women as human shields in war
- shooting girls in the head for daring to proclaim women have a right to an education
- banning women from driving
- banning women from voting
- stoning women to death for "committing adultery" after they've been raped
The list goes on and on.
CNN’s Ryan Lizza, also a writer for The New Yorker, said that Mrs. Clinton should apologize for these remarks, calling the statement “outrageous.” Lizza noted that of course Hillary is pro-choice on abortion, and has strong views on the matter, but the federal funding for Planned Parenthood is now a legitimate subject of debate. But for her to describe those on the pro-life side of having positions akin to that of a terrorist is ridiculous–and something that warrants an apology. Via America Rising:
“It was disgusting,” said MSNBC’ Joe Scarborough. “It was absolutely disgusting…it’s gutter politics at its worst,” he added. Scarborough mentioned that it was a “shiny object” to throw out there in order for voters–and the media–to discuss something other than her email fiasco. Moreover, Scarborough rightfully noted how this branches off from the president’s inane remark that those who aren’t supportive of his Iran deal have a “common cause” with the hardline elements controlling that country. Again, is it rational to compare the GOP Caucus and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and a substantial chunk of House Democrats who are against this agreement to the Mullahs of Iran? Of course it isn’t. That’s a judgment rendered by bath salts.
Scarborough also asked if these remarks are indicative of the extremism that’s infesting the political left.
“If a Republican did this, the world would come to a halt,” said Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin. “It should be condemned in strong terms, and I’m hoping, and I’m suspecting that she’ll take it back today,” he added.
Via Free Beacon:
Ali Shukri Amin, a 17-year-old teen from Manassas, Virginia, has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for attempting to aid ISIS and for assisting another teen on his journey to Syria to join the group.
From the Associated Press:
The judge said he considered 17-year-old Ali Shukri Amin's age and lack of a criminal record during sentencing Friday in federal court in Alexandria. Amin of Manassas told the judge he didn't "expect sympathy."
Amin pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. He would have otherwise been graduating from high school with honors around the time of his plea. Juveniles rarely face charges in the federal system.
He admitted helping another northern Virginia teenager travel to Syria, as well as using Twitter and other social media to solicit donations and support for the Islamic State.
This is scary. High school seniors in America should be preparing to go to college or enter the workforce, not attempting to join a terrorist group. It's frightening that someone that young could be seduced by such an evil organization.
In case you missed it yesterday, Hillary Clinton essentially said Republicans and terrorists treat women the same way.
"Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world, but it's a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States. Yet they espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We are going forward, we are not going back," she said.
This morning on America's Newsroom GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina shot back at Clinton, calling her remarks typical and reminded voters about the negative impact liberal policies have on women (especially inside the Clinton campaign, where female staffers are lower in the hierarchy and making less money compared to Fiorina's campaign). She also reminded the audience that it's Democrats, not Republicans, who are extremists on the issue of abortion, or what liberals like to call "women's health." Also keep in mind Clinton, like many Democrats, refuses to acknowledge Carly Fiorina exists, not to mention as a presidential candidate on the other side of the aisle.
Earlier today Republican candidate Marco Rubio called Clinton's remarks a result of desperation and panic.
The Republican Senate majority is in jeopardy when 2016 kicks into high gear. Everyone knows it. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) are some of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents this cycle. All three hail from states that aren’t necessarily bastions of Republican power, especially Kirk who will probably be shown the exit by 2017. In New Hampshire, the 2010 electorate that ushered her into office has changed, making her re-election chances dubious, especially if Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan decides to run against her. So, as you would expect, Republicans are spending early in the hopes of keeping the majority–and some are using the Iran deal as the first salvo (via Roll Call):
More than a year out from Election Day 2016, Republican incumbents and GOP-aligned outside groups have shelled out at least $13.3 million to boost their re-election prospects and attack potential Democratic challengers in Senate contests across the map. That’s seven times more than the $1.9 million Republicans spent by this point last cycle — when the GOP was looking to win the Senate majority for the first time since 2006.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., brushed off the notion that early spending is a sign Republicans are worried about holding the majority.
“What a ridiculous question! We’re doing great!” Wicker told CQ Roll Call in July. “I would think it would be more of an indication that we’re trying to take care of business and be strategic.”
But Democrats say early spending to try and improve incumbents’ favorability among voters is a sign Republicans are worried about next year.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) could still face a difficult re-election bid, though his position in the recent string of polls from the Keystone State have him leading his Democratic challenger, former Rep. Joe Sestak. We’ll see how Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s former chief of staff, Katie McGinty, fares as she decided to toss her hat into the race in July. Democrats have been looking for other candidates than Sestak, who feel he can’t win statewide–and one who still reaps anger from his own party for challenging then-incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in 2010. For now, Toomey is in decent shape, but Pennsylvania is always shaky. Allegheny County and the collar counties around Philadelphia (Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery) decide elections in the state, and they’re not necessarily receptive to Tea Party politics, especially when you factor in voter turnout during a presidential year.
As Roll Call mentioned, “he [Toomey] will likely have to convince many Democratic voters to split their ticket to vote for him.” With the political landscape becoming more partisan (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), it might be harder to pull that off.
Republicans are defending 24 seats this cycle. If they lose five*, then we’ll see Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) come 2017.
*Roll Call noted that it could be four if Democrats win the White House.
The day after Congress returns from recess, Donald Trump will visit Capitol Hill to join his friend Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in a rally against the Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran. The Texas senator himself reportedly invited Trump. The demonstration, taking place Sept. 9, is expected to draw rabbis and Christian and Zionist groups as well.
In addition to protesting the dangerous holes in the Iran deal, which shockingly allows Iran to inspect itself at nuclear sites, both Trump and Cruz have emphasized the fact that the agreement cruelly forgets the four American hostages still languishing in the Middle Eastern country. Cruz has long demanded the return of Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran since 2012 for his Christian beliefs. At a press conference in South Carolina Thursday, Trump said Secretary of State John Kerry should never have started negotiations until securing the release of the prisoners.
Trump and Cruz are in good bipartisan company in their rejection of the nuclear deal. So far, 14 Democrat congressmen and two Democrat senators have joined several Republican legislators in denouncing the deal.
As it happens, the rest of the country isn't too thrilled with it, either.
I expect Capitol Hill will be pretty crowded on Sept. 9.
In July, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) posted a statement to her congressional website indicating she would take 60 days to carefully study and review President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. She clearly didn’t like what she saw.
"There are strong arguments for and against the agreement but, as a matter of conscience, I have decided to oppose it," Maloney said in a statement to the News.
Maloney said she is "concerned that, even if Iran complies with the restraints spelled out throughout the life of the agreement, the deal does not block Iran from eventually acquiring nuclear weapons."
One of Maloney’s fellow New Yorkers, Sen. Chuck Schumer, is also not a fan of the Obama administration’s rushed nuclear agreement. He made that quite clear in a lengthy and detailed piece on Medium.com:
In the first ten years of the deal, there are serious weaknesses in the agreement. First, inspections are not “anywhere, anytime”; the 24-day delay before we can inspect is troubling. While inspectors would likely be able to detect radioactive isotopes at a site after 24 days, that delay would enable Iran to escape detection of any illicit building and improving of possible military dimensions (PMD) — the tools that go into building a bomb but don’t emit radioactivity.
As more information becomes available, more legislators seem to be defecting. One of the biggest bombshells came last week, when the Associated Press confirmed that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency agreed to allow Iran to inspect itself at a nuclear site allegedly used to develop nuclear weapons.
These revelations are unlikely to halt the dangerous deal from becoming reality, however. It appears to have the necessary votes and should Republicans pass a disapproval measure, the president has promised to defeat it with a veto. New reports show it may be even easier than that.
The silver lining for opponents is the fact that several GOP presidential candidates have indicated they would throw out the deal on day one.
So, everyone is freaking out about Biden 2016. The White House pretty much gave the vice president the green light to run, and Bill Clinton is "agitated" at the mere thought of a Biden candidacy. Former Iowa Democratic Senator (and Clinton supporter) Tom Harkin is urging Biden not to toss his hat in the ring.
“I just don’t think this would be a wise move,” he said in a phone interview with The New York Times. He noted that Biden could continue his career in public life by being secretary of state or UN ambassador. Leah wrote earlier today that even Biden is wondering if he has the “emotional fuel” to mount a third presidential run. A point that highlights one of his weaknesses: he’s old.
Yet, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the vice president has nothing to lose with a third run for the presidency. He has supporters in the party, has a small grassroots army ready to take the plunge, and donors ready to line up behind him. It might be enough to mount an effort in South Carolina. There’s plenty of time before 2016 gets going in Iowa, which is why some wealthy Democratic donors, including those who bankrolled both of Obama’s elections, are sitting on the fence (via WaPo):
A wide swath of party financiers is convinced that Biden will make a late entry into the race, and a sizable number are contemplating backing him, including some who have signed on with Clinton, according to more than a dozen top Democratic fundraisers nationwide.
Their potential support — driven in part by a desire to recapture the passion they felt in Obama’s campaigns — could play a key role in helping the vice president decide whether to make a third White House bid. The chatter among a cadre of well-connected party fundraisers suggests that he could benefit from an early jolt of money should he run.
Biden would face a tight scramble to raise money this far along on the calendar. Because donors can give a campaign only up to $2,700, he probably would have to lean heavily on a super PAC, which could accept unlimited sums, a move that would be distasteful to many liberal voters.
Many of the president’s fundraisers are still up for grabs. Of the 770 people who collected checks for Obama’s 2012 reelection bid, just 52 have signed on as a “Hillblazer” bundler for Clinton or have held a fundraiser for her, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Even donors who are committed to Clinton say they expect that many fellow fundraisers would jump to Biden — particularly those who think they would be bit players in the massive fundraising operation gearing up for the former secretary of state.
There might be staff defections to Biden from the Clinton camp if he runs, but there’s also some hesitancy among those within the Obama administration (via Politico):
“I don’t know what the official line will be,” said one West Wing staffer, “but you will have a lot of people in the building rooting for him.”
“Even if their mind is with Clinton,” the staffer added, reflecting feelings of others heard in the White House, “their heart is with the vice president.”
“If he decides to go on with this,” echoed a former senior Obama campaign official, “there will be a lot of people who make heart-and-gut decisions as opposed to head decisions.”
If Biden got in at this point, “a lot of Obama folks would be like, ‘We love him,’” said another Obama campaign aide, “but I don’t see the path for him.”
But Brian VanRiper, who ran veterans outreach for Obama during the 2008 Iowa caucuses and became friendly with Beau Biden while the latter was campaigning for his father in the caucuses, said he’s already given to Draft Biden and been in touch with Obama donors to try to make that path happen.
“I hope he gets in it,” VanRiper said. “It needs to snowball.”
VanRiper added that his wife, a 2008 Obama bundler who was the Los Angeles chair of Obama’s Gen 44 effort, is right there with him: “She’s all in for Biden.”
Biden met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) secretly last weekend, and met with the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka earlier today. Yet, we’ll probably get a closer sense about the seriousness of his 2016 ambitions when he heads to Florida on September 2, as he headlines a fundraiser in support of incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. The Wall Street Journal’s Carol Lee wrote that it’s “an opportunity for a vice president who has been reaching out to Democratic donors as he determines the level of support he would have should he make a third run for the White House” in this critical key swing state.
Still, the headwinds are against the vice president. Nevertheless, if he’s able to start something by the time South Carolina arrives, it could get interesting. In fact, Ed wrote that it could "get ugly fast” between the Clinton and Biden camps fast. At the same time, we shouldn't be shocked if the Biden train figures out it simply doesn't have the fuel to go on a sustained national campaign. Nevertheless, the money and support are there for a challenge.
Vice President Joe Biden is polling well, pretty much has the backing of the White House locked up, and is being urged to run by a number of supporters. There’s just one problem: he’s very much on the fence about the decision.
During a conference call Wednesday that was supposed to be about the Iran deal, the first question that was asked happened to be about whether or not he will run.
Biden said he still didn’t know, despite saying earlier this summer that he’d make up his mind in July.
“I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul, and right now, both are pretty well banged up,” Biden said, according to people on the conference call, reports Politico.
The vice president added that he had to determine whether or not he had the “emotional fuel” to do it.
His indecision likely comes as good news to Hillary, who in Iowa commented that she “cannot even imagine the grief and the heartbreak.”
Biden, of course, recently lost his son Beau to brain cancer.
“Vice President Biden is a friend of mine — he and I were colleagues in the Senate, I worked with him as first lady, I worked with him in President Obama’s first term, and I have a great deal of admiration and respect for him,” Clinton said, reports Politico. “I think he has to make what is a very difficult decision for himself and his family, and he should have the space and opportunity to decide what he wants to do.”
The WDBJ news team held a somber press conference Thursday in Roanoke, VA, wearing ribbons to represent the two young journalists they lost on Wednesday – maroon for Adam Ward’s alma mater Virginia Tech, and teal for Alison Parker’s favorite color. During the press conference, WDBJ Station Manager Jeff Marks cleared up some unclear details regarding Vester Flanagan’s employment at the office before he committed murder on live TV.
Flanagan, Marks said, was hired in March 2012 and passed their standard background check, receiving only positive references.
Soon, however, his unscrupulous work ethic became noticeable. He had poor news judgment and failed to check facts, Marks noted. This behavior led his manager to place him on job improvement plans and, when he didn’t make much progress, on a final warning.
Flanagan, Marks continued, then raised concerns in the WDBJ Human Resource department for unfairness, which was investigated and found to be without merit.
“Management said it was appropriate to let him go,” Marks said.
When they notified him about the news in February 2013, he did not take it well:
“He reacted angrily,” Marks said. “He said he was going to ‘make a stink’ and it would be in the headlines.”
That wasn’t all. Flanagan returned to his desk and had to be physically removed from the building by a police escort. Then, as he was exiting, he handed a wooden cross to the news director and said, ‘you’ll need this.’
On his way out, Flanagan also made a derogatory statement to Adam Ward, one of the victims he murdered in cold blood on Wednesday.
After this tense confrontation, Marks said the only contact between Flanagan and WDBJ were routine calls to HR. The disgruntled employee filed a harassment claim and filed a civil action suit, which was dismissed.
The obvious question, Marks remarked, was what happened in those 2 and a half years?
As always seems to occur in the midst of tragedy, the local community has reached out to the news station with nothing but love and support. Concerned citizens have delivered food, built memorials and held church services for the fallen journalists, Marks shared.
I’ll leave you with the moving tribute Alison's and Adam’s WDBJ colleagues shared Thursday morning.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
During a campaign event Thursday afternoon in Ohio, Hillary Clinton compared her Republican presidential opponents to terrorists by saying they essentially treat women the same way.
"Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world, but it's a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States. Yet they espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We are going forward, we are not going back," she said.
That's weird. I don't remember Republican presidential candidates (especially female Carly Fiorina), or Republicans in general, doing any of the following:
-mutilating the genitals of women
-raping women repeatedly
-raping young girls and passing them around as ISIS fighters do
-forcing women to watch their children be crucified
-forcing women into carrying out suicide bombings
-cutting off the noses and slicing the faces of women
-using women as human shields in war
-shooting girls in the head for daring to proclaim women have a right to an education
-banning women from driving
-banning women from voting
-stoning women to death for "committing adultery" after they've been raped
-banning women from walking outside of the house without a male relative
-forcing women into arranged marriages where they are beaten and abused
-killing women in the name of "family honor"
-selling women into sex slavery
I guess to a liberal like Hillary Clinton, being anti-abortion is much worse that how ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban or the Iranians treat women. If only women had access to abortion, then sex slavery and having no human rights wouldn't be so bad.
We shouldn't be surprised at her comments considering Clinton is the country's most infamous enabler of powerful and abusive men. Not to mention her time at the State Department, where sexual abuse scandals were covered up or ignored. I detail Clinton's failure to women in my book Assault and Flattery.
Clinton's statement just further proves how out of touch she really is with the plight of women around the world. What an asinine thing to say, not because it's offensive to Republicans, but because it belittles the horrifying experiences women face each and every day.
On Wednesday, James Holmes, the perpetrator of the horrific 2012 Aurora shooting, was given 12 life sentences without the possibility of parole, plus 3,318 years in prison for his crimes. Judge Carlos A. Samour made it clear that he felt the sentence was fair and just–and that Holmes should never be allowed to enter society as a free man ever again (via Reuters):
"It is the court's intention that the defendant never set foot in free society again ... If there was ever a case that warranted the maximum sentences, this is the case," Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour said.
"The defendant does not deserve any sympathy."
After two days of often tearful and sometimes angry testimony from victims, District Attorney George Brauchler had called on Tuesday for Holmes to be given every day of the harshest possible prison term.
The lead prosecutor also said he wished the court could order that the defendant spend the rest of his days in solitary confinement, surrounded by photos of the people he killed, but that it could not.
After the judge delivered the sentence, Brauchler told reporters the gunman had never said he was sorry.
"He has never expressed remorse ... he is remorseless," Brauchler said outside court.
After sentencing was rendered, Judge Samour said, "Sheriff, get the defendant out of my courtroom, please,” which elicited cheers from the audience in the courtroom. The trial took three years and 37 days to bring justice to the victims of Holmes, who murdered 12 people and injured 70 when he opened fire during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
Holmes could have claimed more victims if his gun hadn’t jammed during the night of the attack.
Attention Wal-Mart shoppers, AR-15s will no longer be sold in our stores, but we want to make sure that this wasn’t motivated by politics (via the Hill):
Wal-Mart announced Wednesday that its stores will no longer carry the AR-15 and other semi-automatic sporting rifles because they do not sell very well, according to The Associated Press.
“It’s based on what customers are looking for and what they were buying when they come into Wal-Mart,” spokesman Kory Lundberg said. “It’s very similar to what we do with other products. If there’s not customer demand there, we’ll phase out.”
The publication added that the retail giant would focus more on hunting rifles and shotguns for the foreseeable future, and that we shouldn't look too much into the timing of this announcement.
We are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, CT, and our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and to the entire community.
Out of respect for the victims and their families, during this time of national mourning we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide.
We continue to extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by this terrible tragedy.
Forbes reported in August of 2013 that Dick’s came into the cross hairs of the national media since there were rumors that Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of the Sandy Hook shooting, tried to buy a rifle at a Dick’s store in Danbury, Connecticut; it was actually from a shady dealer that has since lost its federal firearms license. Yet, the publication added that sales of AR-15s are being sold at its offshoot store, Field & Stream.
I spent the morning tweeting about the brand new national Quinnipiac poll of registered voters. Here's a summary of its findings, starting with Hillary Clinton:
Q-poll: Hillary favorability (39/51); large majority (61%) say she's dishonest, her worst score yet: http://t.co/jfg5RXVNHt— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 27, 2015
And then there's the Biden factor (Sanders and Biden's combined support among Democratic primary voters nearly equals Hillary's in this survey, though she's still well ahead of them separately):
Biden running 3-4 points stronger against R's than she is. Much better favs/honesty #'s. https://t.co/4P2wTaBmuh— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 27, 2015
Over on the Republican side, there is a very clear frontrunner. He's the one who's been sucking up the overwhelming majority of media coverage for weeks on end. How clear is his frontrunner status? Yowza:
New nat'l Q-poll: In GOP primary, Trump support exceeds Cruz+Walker+Jeb+Rubio *combined.* Fares worst vs Dems: http://t.co/jfg5RXVNHt— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 27, 2015
The Donald sits at 28 percent support, with Ben Carson next at 12 percent. The four candidates mentioned in the tweet above manage 27 percent support, total. If CNN were to use this poll to select its top ten for the network's upcoming Republican debate, Rand Paul (2 percent) would be on the outside looking in, with Carly Fiorina (5 percent) taking his spot. The Fiorina campaign has been fiercely critical of the CNN/RNC polling formula, which they argue -- credibly, in my view -- leans far too heavily on surveys taken prior to the August debate in Cleveland. Fiorina won rave reviews for her performance in the "undercard" forum and has since vaulted into the middle of the top tier -- yet old polls may again keep her off the main stage. While Trump leads the GOP pack, he's also at the top of Republicans' "no way" list. The bigger problem he faces, though, is his lack of viability in a general election setting. He polls worst against Democrats compared to his GOP rivals; even with universal name recognition (for which most politicians would kill), his "fundamentals" are fatally weak among the overall electorate. Everyone knows and has an opinion about Donald Trump, and this is what they think (this is data, not my opinion):
Trump's favorables worse than Hillary's. Honesty score almost as bad. GOP primary =/= general electorate: http://t.co/jfg5RXVNHt— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 27, 2015
Women comprise a majority of the American electorate, with Hispanics representing the largest minority group. Trump and his fans understandably love to tout surveys showing him leading the GOP primary, but they ignore or dismiss his dead-last performance on telltale measures like personal favorability and temperament among all voters, not just Republican ones. Trump loses to all three Democrats in the survey, including Bernie Sanders -- trailing by the largest margins of those Republicans polled. While Trump is at (-18) on favorability and Hillary is at (-12), Jeb Bush remains underwater at (-9). The word most associated with his candidacy is "Bush," underscoring his greatest vulnerability. The Republicans who fare best on favorability are Carson (+20), Rubio (+14), Kasich (+13) and Fiorina (+12). Of that group, Rubio is far and away the best known, with majorities of voters saying they've never heard of the others. Candidates like Cruz and Walker sit in the middle of the pack.
Since Wednesday's horrific double murder of journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward in Roanoke, Virginia, anti-gun activists have pounced at the opportunity to call for more gun control and exploited the tragedy within hours of its occurrence. Keep in mind the following statements were made before the facts were in about how the killer obtained his firearm.
"There are too many guns in the hands of people that shouldn’t have guns.”
“There is too much gun violence in America.”
"I've advocated for background checks."
"I believe we are smart enough. We are compassionate enough to figure out how to balance the legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventative measures and control measures so that whatever motivated this murderer, who eventually took his own life, we will not see more deaths–needless, senseless deaths."
"We have got to do something about gun violence in America."
"And I will take it on."
Heartbroken and angry. We must act to stop gun violence, and we cannot wait any longer. Praying for the victims' families in Virginia. -H— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 26, 2015
"This is another example of gun violence that is becoming all too common in communities large and small all across the United States."
“While there is no piece of legislation that will end all violence in this country, there are some commonsense things that only Congress can do that we know would have a tangible impact in reducing gun violence in this country.”
Bloomberg's Everytown via email:
While details are still unfolding, it appears that a disgruntled former station employee shot and killed Alison Parker, 24, the reporter, and her cameraman, Adam Ward, 27. Parker was interviewing Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Vicki Gardner during the morning newscast when the shooting occurred. Gardner is currently in surgery after being shot in the back. Video of the incident, which was being carried live, can be found here. (NOTE: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE)
“First and foremost, my heart goes out to the families and friends of Adam, Alison and Vicki. They were shot this morning while at work, simply doing their jobs. The few seconds of horror that was broadcasted on live TV gave us all a glimpse into the reality of gun violence in America. As a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, it was incredibly difficult to watch,” said Colin Goddard, Virginia Tech shooting survivor and Senior Policy Advocate for Everytown for Gun Safety. “It should not be normal in this country that people are shot and killed while doing their job, or studying in class, or watching a movie. Leaders in the Commonwealth and in our country can no longer sit idly by while more Americans are gunned down. It is time that they act to protect Americans and do more to keep guns out of dangerous hands. We deserve better.”
A few things to start. First, McAuliffe's implication that Virginia doesn't have background checks is absolutely false. In fact, not only does the Commonwealth require background checks for guns sales but requires two forms of identification and lengthy paperwork before a purchase. Further, we still have no idea how the killer obtained the gun used in the crime, so all of the statements (which are really policy positions) above were made with zero relation or knowledge of the situation.
Second, McAuliffe, Clinton, the White House and Everytown have no interest in taking away guns from certain people, but instead want them taken away from all people.
Finally, it's important to point out that although every crime carried out with a firearm is a tragedy, there isn't a "gun violence epidemic" as the anti-gun activists claim. In recent years, gun sales in Virginia have exponentially increased while crime, including crimes carried out with firearms, have significantly decreased.
Gun-related violent crime continues to drop in Virginia as the sales of firearms continue to soar, a pattern that one local criminologist finds interesting “given the current rhetoric about strengthening gun laws.”
Major gun crime collectively dropped for a fourth consecutive year statewide, while firearms sales climbed to a new record in 2012 with 490,119 guns purchased in 444,844 transactions — a 16 percent rise over 2011, according to federally licensed gun dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The proliferation of guns occurred as the total number of major reported crimes committed with all types of firearms in Virginia dropped 5 percent, from 4,618 offenses in 2011 to 4,378 last year, according to Virginia State Police data.
Looking back over seven years, total firearm sales in Virginia have risen a staggering 101 percent from 2006 to 2012, while gun-related crime has dropped 28 percent during that period.
“This appears to be additional evidence that more guns don’t necessarily lead to more crime,” said Thomas R. Baker, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs who specializes in research methods and criminology theory.
Gun control activists have no choice but to exploit tragedy surrounded by emotion. After all, in a sober setting their arguments about why more gun control is needed or details about how new measures will prevent violence, never add up.
Regardless, shameless efforts to promote gun control in the wake of tragedy should be strongly condemned and refuted.
“National Portrait Gallery, you must remove the bust!” declared Bishop E.W. Jackson Thursday morning in front of D.C.’s Smithsonian museum. He, along with a group of black pastors and pro-life activists, demanded the NPG take down its statue of Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger.
Sanger is widely known as a racist and a eugenicist. Some of her documented statements from 1939 indicate as such:
"We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."
Sanger was committed to growing superior populations and preventing the growth of those she deemed unfit. Hence why she was such a promoter of birth control and forced sterilization. African Americans make up 37 percent of abortions today, Jackson explained.
"No wonder the KKK loved her!" he said.
Yet, her prejudice against minorities didn’t stop the National Portrait Gallery from placing a statue of her in its “Struggle for Justice” exhibit, daring to stand her in the same room as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.
“If Margaret Sanger had her way, MLK and Rosa Parks would never have been born,” said Jackson.
The “Struggle for Justice” is supposed to honor trailblazers who were “champions of justice.” The Smithsonian thought Sanger fit this description, including her bust with text that reads she “profoundly affected by the physical and mental toll exacted on women by frequent childbirth, miscarriage and self-induced abortion.”
Yet, the plaque also acknowledges her genocidal tendencies:
“During her campaign, Sanger became associated with the eugenics movement – which promoted, among other practices, the forced sterilization of those deemed mentally unfit and for a time was endorsed by many of the era’s prominent thinkers.”
Jackson held up a folder of the 14,000 signatures his group had acquired within just one week for a petition for removal. So far, however, the museum has refused to honor their wishes.
If the fact Sanger was a racist doesn’t convince NPG to take down the statue, perhaps the eight videos so far released from the Center for Medical Progress investigation into Planned Parenthood's sale of fetal body parts will change their minds.
Congress is supporting their efforts, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) writing letters to their colleagues urging them to join the fight.
Sure, that's a 'dog bites man' headline, for reasons I've expanded on at greater length here, here, and here. Massive "Affordable" Care Act rate increases are on the way across the country in 2016, as the insurance industry adjusts to the law's coverage requirements and the older-and-sicker-than-expected individual market risk pools. There are many reasons why Obamacare has remained consistently and enduringly unpopular for years, including its raft of broken central promises. A few updates from across the country:
(1) Premium spikes in Florida:
Health insurance premiums for Floridians who buy their own plans will rise 9.5 percent on average for 2016, though some consumers will pay less for their coverage than they did this year, state insurance regulators reported Wednesday. A total of 19 health insurance companies submitted rate filings to Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation...Florida regulators denied proposed rate increases for more than half of the issuers in the state for 2016. The majority of health plans received approval for single-digit increases, and four decreased their rates from 2015. Average rate changes for 2016 plans sold on the ACA exchange will range from a decrease of nearly 10 percent for some plans, and an increase of as much as 16 percent for others...Ben Wakana, HHS press secretary, issued a written statement noting that this year Florida regulators “significantly reduced” rates for consumers. “We are pleased that Florida was able to reduce rates,” Wakana said. The largest rate increase approved by Florida regulators for plans sold on the ACA exchange went to UnitedHealthcare of Florida, which had requested an average increase of 18.2 percent. The average monthly premium per person for that UnitedHealthcare plan will rise from $398 in 2015 to about $463 in 2016.
Even after regulators rejected insurers' requested rate increases derived from actuarial data, the artificially-held-down spikes are still nearly 10 percent, on average. Because these large increases are less than what was requested, HHS is referring to them as "reduced rates." Orwellian, and unlikely to fool anyone actually paying their bills. Higher rates, higher out-of-pocket costs, and access shock are national trends under Obamacare.
(2) Failure in Nevada, and elsewhere:
The Nevada Health Co-Op created as part of the Affordable Care Act is ending operations at the end of the year due to continued high costs. The nonprofit’s board of directors announced Wednesday that they’d made the “painful” decision to phase out the program rather than continue investing in an uncertain market. Participants will be covered through the end of 2015, but are asked to choose other insurance providers when an open enrollment period beings in November...Co-ops around the country are struggling. Regulators shut down one covering Iowa and Nebraska, and one in Louisiana announced plans to shut down.
(3) The national healthcare cost curve is still pointed in the wrong direction:
After years of slower growth, Medicare and Medicaid are growing more rapidly again. Following news earlier this year that national health spending growth had started to quicken once again, the CBO estimates that major health programs—mostly Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare—will cost 13 percent more this year than last, adding up to about a $106 billion difference. The biggest contributor to the boom in federal health care spending? Medicaid, which, will cost $49 billion more this year, a year-over-year increase of about 16 percent, thanks largely to the expansion of Medicaid coverage under Obamacare.
(4) Higher Obamacare taxes ensnaring more Americans, leading to scaled back coverage and reduced access:
Obamacare’s “Cadillac tax” will hit one in four employers that offer health care benefits, a leading industry analyst says in a report being released Tuesday, socking companies with a massive levy that Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill say is unfair to those who have negotiated high-quality plans as part of their jobs. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 26 percent of companies will be affected by the tax when it takes effect in 2018 and 42 percent of employers will be paying the levy a decade later, signaling just how quickly health care costs are expected to rise — and how valuable the Cadillac plans are...Kaiser said some employers probably will cut back on the scope of their plans to duck the tax, resulting in coverage with higher deductibles or networks with fewer doctors. “For the most part, these changes will result in employees paying for a greater share of their health care out-of-pocket,” the study authors wrote.
Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber bragged that the president's rhetoric about the so-called 'Cadillac tax' was a ruse, deliberately "mislabeled" to convince the public that it would only impact a small number of plans. In fact, Gruber argued, the tax would expand over time to cover all employer-based plans, with the goal of destroying the status quo, with which tens of millions of Americans are satisfied. "Keep your plan," etc. I might as well leave you with this:
UPDATE - Oh by the way: