Greeks Reject Bailout Terms In Referendum

The referendum on the terms of the new bailout European leaders were offering Greece has been soundly rejected, with nearly 60 percent of Greek voters voting “no” on the deal. Greece’s economy has been in free fall for five years, and voters could not stomach more pension cuts and tax increases on an economy that has yet to find its footing, according to the New York Times:

With more than 70 percent of the vote tallied, the actual count tracked the projections, with 61 percent voting no and 39 percent yes, the Interior Ministry said.

The no votes carried virtually every district in the country, handing a sweeping victory to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a leftist who came to power in January vowing to reject new austerity measures that he called an injustice and economically self-defeating. Late last month he walked away from negotiations in frustration at the creditors’ demands, called the referendum and urged Greeks to vote no as a way to give him more bargaining power.

While Mr. Tsipras now appears to have his wish, his victory in the referendum settled little, since the creditors’ offer is no longer on the table. There remains the possibility that they could walk away, leaving Greece facing default, financial collapse and expulsion from the eurozone and, in the worst case, from the European Union.

At stake, however, may be far more than Greece’s place in Europe, as experts have offered wildly differing opinions about what the referendum could mean for the future of the euro and, indeed, the world’s financial markets.

Even before the voting was over, some European leaders began making efforts to contain the potential damage.

…many [Greek] voters, tired of more than five years of soaring unemployment and a collapsing economy, said they could not accept the terms of the European offer, which imposed yet more pension cuts and tax increases, without any hint of debt relief.

The Times’ cheat sheet detailed the whole debacle, which some have reported could turn into Europe’s Lehman Brothers. In all, it just shows you that socialism hurts.

Here's Bloomberg's explanation of the European Debt Crisis. 

How did Greece get to this point?

Greece became the epicenter of Europe’s debt crisis after Wall Street imploded in 2008. With global financial markets still reeling, Greece announced in October 2009 that it had been understating its deficit figures for years, raising alarms about the soundness of Greek finances.

Suddenly, Greece was shut out from borrowing in the financial markets. By the spring of 2010, it was veering toward bankruptcy, which threatened to set off a new financial crisis.

To avert calamity, the so-called troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission — issued the first of two international bailouts for Greece, which would eventually total more than 240 billion euros, or about $264 billion at today’s exchange rates.

The bailouts came with conditions. Lenders imposed harsh austerity terms, requiring deep budget cuts and steep tax increases. They also required Greece to overhaul its economy by streamlining the government, ending tax evasion and making Greece an easier place to do business.

Last Tuesday, Greece failed to honor a $1.5 billion euro debt repayment from the previous bailouts, which technically puts the country in default. The Times also noted that most international banks offloaded their Greek holdings rendering them not vulnerable to whatever happens next, though for those investors who were banking on a Greek comeback probably haven’t slept in a few days. Also, while there is talk of a Greek exodus from the Eurozone, most Greeks still favor sticking with the Euro:

How likely is there to be a ‘Grexit’?

At the height of the debt crisis a few years ago, many experts worried that Greece’s problems would spill over to the rest of the world. If Greece defaulted on its debt and exited the eurozone, they argued, it might create global financial shocks bigger than the collapse of Lehman Brothers did.

Now, however, some people believe that if Greece were to leave the currency union, known as a “Grexit,” it wouldn’t be such a catastrophe. Europe has put up safeguards to limit the so-called financial contagion, in an effort to keep the problems from spreading to other countries. Greece, just a tiny part of the eurozone economy, could regain financial autonomy by leaving, these people contend — and the eurozone would actually be better off without a country that seems to constantly need its neighbors’ support.

Others say that’s too simplistic a view. Despite the frustration of endless negotiations, European political leaders see a united Europe as an imperative. At the same time, they still haven’t fixed some of the biggest shortcomings of the eurozone’s structure by creating a more federal-style system of transferring money as needed among members — the way the United States does among its various states.

Exiting the euro currency union and the European Union would also involve a legal minefield that no country has yet ventured to cross. There are also no provisions for departure, voluntary or forced, from the euro currency union.

Investors may also still be betting that Greece will reach a deal with creditors before or after the referendum, particularly because polls indicate the majority of Greeks favor sticking with the euro.

Book Review: "College or Not?"

Today's society inculcates people with the notion that in order to succeed, you need to go to college and earn your degree. But with the cost of tuition rising while students graduate with burdensome student loan debt, many of whom are unable to find a job in such a weak market, is college worth the investment?

Chad Grills in his latest book, "College or Not?", writes a fictional story to argue that college isn't necessarily worth the investment. The protagonist of the story, Jay Pencha, represents the typical senior high school student facing the pressure of trying to get into a prestigious school while figuring out what he wants to do with his life. 

Things look bleak for Jay during his senior year. His parents, particularly his dad, have always told him he needs to follow in his older brother Gavin's footsteps and go to the prestigious school known as P&C. Gavin has a successful job in finance, although Jay feels that something is wrong with his brother. Regardless, he has to live in Gavin's shadow while facing the fear of rejection from P&C as well as the possibility that his parents won't be able to pay for it.

Enter Gary Weinstein, Jay's nerdy, socially awkward (yet likable) best friend. After being completely off the grid for three months, Gary surprises Jay with the news that he will forgo going to college altogether. Instead, he has a job lined up at a tech startup called Livu. Gary eventually convinces Jay to consider the idea of not attending college by switching out of Mr. Pemberton's college prep class to the much-friendlier, likable Mr. Moore who opens Jay's mind- as well as the rest of his students' minds- that a job right after high school could be preferable.

The rest of the story then features Jay focusing on landing a job in a tech startup right out of college and trying to convince his parents that is the right path for him, even as they continue to compare him to Gavin, who is later revealed to be addicted to pills.

And like any good story, Grills throws in a subplot of Jay's romance with Ella, the pretty ex-girlfriend of a football player that any guy dreams of having. Jay and Ella's relationships builds and grows throughout the story and provides the reader with a feel-good romance aspect of the story.

Overall, Grills's story is a good read. It is refreshing to see a fictional story make a conservative point. When it comes to conservative policy, most writers will write nonfictional books laced with all of kinds of facts, figures and studies. While those types of books are very good and necessary, the average reader's eyes will glaze over at the numbers. An actual storyline that proves a point- here being that college isn't for everyone- is a more effective way to further advance the argument.

Grills's story provides a great way to open the mind to young readers deciding what to do with their lives that maybe they don't have to go to college. It certainly has an appealing argument given the cost of tuition and how hard it is to find a job in the current economy.

The Man Who Never Bothered Telling His Wife He Was 'British Schindler' Dies at 106

Even the most open and loving husbands do not admit everything they did in their 20s to their wives. For most people it's that drink driving thing at University, the fancy dress outfit that really was in bad taste after-all or the BBQ fail that made everyone ill.

But the secret Grete Winton discovered about her husband in 1988 left her absolutely stunned. She found a scrap book on a routine clean of her loft detailing how her husband Nicholas had saved 669 Jewish children from the Holocaust when he was just 29-years-old.

The reason Grete did not know Nicholas' secret was that he had not bothered telling anyone at all. He spent his life believing the desire to save as many children as you could from certain death was nothing to be proud of, in fact it was the natural state of mankind. This was a view that appeared to be unphased by the obvious contradiction the Holocaust itself raised.

The story began when Winton who was a stockbroker at Midland Bank (now HSBC) and was due to go on a skiing holiday in 1938. At the last minute he went to Prague instead as a friend had suggested the local Jewish population were in dire need of help. Quickly Winton established an office at a hotel in the city and began the finding homes in the UK for the children.

UK law meant that Jewish children under 17 were free to come to Britain so long as they had somewhere to stay and £50. So Winton advertised, begged and forced families to take the children, which was a significant challenge in of itself because the UK government was already evacuating British children from the cities to the countryside.

To this day almost half of the children saved do not know that they got to the UK via this route as they were too young to remember.

Even those that did know about Kindertransport had never heard of Nicholas Winton until the TV show 'That's Life' broadcast the story. The presenter of the show Ester Rantzen, herself Jewish, was stunned that this British hero received no recognition. The show itself was tipped off by Grete.

One might assume Winton did not want the publicity because of the guilt that his last train, containing 250 children, did not make it through Poland before Hitler invaded. Families waited at London's Liverpool Street Station but the children they had offered to care for eventually went to the gas chambers not the loving homes of the volunteers.

Actually what kept Winton quiet was his wartime generation ethos. People back then just got on with their duty rather than expecting everyone to fawn all over them. When the town of Maidenhead suggested a statue of Winton he made two requests: that he was not depicted and that he did not have to come to the unveiling. He made it clear he was sick of being hailed as a hero.

At Liverpool Street Station the memorial is a statue of Jewish children who had just arrived from Europe there is no depiction of Winton at his request.

There is only one statue of Winton in the world, it is at Prague Station, and he was rumoured to have hated it. He certainly did all he could to discourage the Czechs from making copies of it to send to other countries.

Of course all of these statues are recent. Before 1988 Winton had not bothered mentioning what he had done for 50 years. He worked for as long as he could on the rescue, and when Hitler's rampage through Europe made further transports impossible he returned to his normal life. Albeit a normal life during a war!

People are not like Nicholas Winton today, a modern version of him would want a TV crew following him. Or the children would be picked by some awful reality TV show. Either way everyone involved would be angry if they did not get at least an extra 10,000 Twitter followers for getting involved in stopping the murder of these kids.

This is not the only example of how our standards have slipped. How many times do you turn on your TV and hear “he bravely battled cancer” well in Winton's day bravery was running into machine gun fire, not surviving a disease.

In Winton's day saving the life of a child was enough reward, whereas a lump of bronze that looks a bit like you is showing off. Winton died yesterday aged 106, and a concept died too… That virtue does not need a megaphone.

Rescues to the Rescue

Whether they’re sniffing out improvised explosive devices, chasing bad guys, or guiding the physically or mentally handicapped through day-to-day life, dogs have proven to be an invaluable asset to our police, militaryveterans, and everyday citizens. Here at Townhall we’ve always found it important to recognize the work our four-legged friends and their handlers do to serve our nation, which far too often goes overlooked.

However, canines are also serving in roles that we don’t traditionally associate them with; namely, conservation efforts.

Thanks to their noses, which can sniff out odor concentrations as small as one to two parts per billion, canines can be trained to find invasive species to eradicate, to detect hard-to-find plants and wildlife, and to discover threats to both, such as poison and illegal snares.

But being a conservation detection dog requires more than a keen sense of smell. The best dogs for this work are extremely high-energy and toy obsessed—oftentimes the ones that wind up in shelters across the nation.

Now, however, because of a new partnership between Working Dogs for Conservation and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, these dogs are being actively sought out across the country through a new program, Rescues 2the Rescue.

The program’s goal is to “place high-energy dogs in careers and homes that complement their vitality,” a statement from the program reads. “The program provides a platform for shelters and conservation detection dog organizations and trainers to connect and communicate, as well as standardized evaluation tools for assessing a canine’s potential to be a working dog.” 

And while these may seem like efforts that have little impact on the average American, Carson Barylak, campaigns officer for IFAW, told Townhall the program is helpful to society on multiple levels.

“Whether it’s a concern for protection of endangered species in the wild … to tiny endangered plants around the world, or whether you care about animals—puppies—being happy … and think about your own dog, there are advantages from all perspectives in this program,” she said. “It’s great for shelters, it’s great for conservation, it’s great for the dogs, and of course, the working dogs groups that are looking to raise more awareness.”

And to get a sneak peak at the kind of impact these canines are having, one need look no further than the program’s website to see success stories like Wicket’s:

Wicket was 12 months old and had been at the shelter for 6 months. Her history was unknown. She had recently been spayed by a shelter “angel” hoping to make her more appealing for adoption. But it’s often very difficult to find a home for a dog who constantly whines and barks, and literally bounces of the walls of her kennel.

But something about her “brand” of bounce made me offer her a tennis ball through the front of her kennel. She was captivated. Her eyes never left the ball. Out in the exercise yard I was impressed by her eagerness for the ball and how she problem-solved until she could possess it again. I told the shelter worker that I wanted to try her out for a career as a conservation detection dog. “That one?!” the worker asked, incredulous. “But, that one’s crazy!”

Turns out, she was the right kind of “crazy”. That was almost 10 years ago. Wicket completed training blindingly fast, and was working in the mountains west of Yellowstone Park just a few months later sniffing out scat of wolves and grizzly bears. By now she has worked in 7 countries and 14 states, and knows how to sniff out over 25 different species of plants, live endangered animals, live unwanted pests, and scats. She is one of the stars of Working Dogs for Conservation.

“Our goal is to stem the tide of unadopted pets in US shelters and create rich and rewarding lives for canine partners,” Pete Coppolillo, WDC’s executive director, said in a statement. “Working with IFAW, we can have a much larger impact on shelter populations, particularly those unadopted dogs with the potential to save themselves by leveraging their characteristics to start a new, productive life saving wildlife.”

For more information on the program you can visit the websites linked above, or check out this fun video on how to identify a rescue dog that would be a good candidate for detection work.  

Vox: On Second Thought, The American Revolution Was A Mistake

This is just trolling, right? I mean, do you feel that that leaving the British Empire was a mistake? Well, Dylan Matthews of Vox appears to be lamenting our independence since we would have abolished slavery sooner, the Native Americans would have experienced a slightly less horrific genocide, and we would have adopted the UK’s system of government, which is totally better than America’s (according to liberals) because it allows the governing party to bulldoze over its opponents to push through their agenda:

American independence in 1776 was a monumental mistake. We should be mourning the fact that we left the United Kingdom, not cheering it.

Of course, evaluating the wisdom of the American Revolution means dealing with counterfactuals. As any historian would tell you, this is messy business. We obviously can't be entirely sure how America would have fared if it had stayed in the British Empire longer, perhaps gaining independence a century or so later, along with Canada.

But I'm reasonably confident a world where the revolution never happened would be better than the one we live in now, for three main reasons: slavery would've been abolished earlier, American Indians would've faced rampant persecution but not the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policymaking easier and lessens the risk of democratic collapse.

The main reason the revolution was a mistake is that the British Empire, in all likelihood, would have abolished slavery earlier than the US did, and with less bloodshed.

This alone is enough to make the case against the revolution. Decades less slavery is a massive humanitarian gain that almost certainly dominates whatever gains came to the colonists from independence.

The main benefit of the revolution to colonists was that it gave more political power to America's white male minority.

American Indians would have still, in all likelihood, faced violence and oppression absent American independence, just as First Nations people in Canada did. But American-scale ethnic cleansing wouldn't have occurred.

…parliamentary democracies are a lot, lot better than presidential ones. They're significantly less likely to collapse into dictatorship because they don't lead to irresolvable conflicts between, say, the president and the legislature. They lead to much less gridlock.

In the US, activists wanting to put a price on carbon emissions spent years trying to put together a coalition to make it happen, mobilizing sympathetic businesses and philanthropists and attempting to make bipartisan coalition — and they still failed to pass cap and trade, after millions of dollars and man hours. In the UK, the Conservative government decided it wanted a carbon tax. So there was a carbon tax. Just like that. Passing big, necessary legislation — in this case, legislation that's literally necessary to save the planet — is a whole lot easier with parliaments than presidential systems.

So, there you have it; it’s a gross amalgamation of revisionist history and pipe dreams. No one denies American history had its messy moments, but that goes with almost any nation. The point is for future generations to learn from those mistakes, hence why racism is anathema in American society, why we’ll probably never lock up an entire ethnic minority during times of war, and why we’ll never reimpose an awful system of racial segregation. Slavery was ended after 600,000 American lives were lost during the Civil War, but doing the right thing sometimes has a hefty price tag. At the same time, the post-Civil War era marked the point where Americans began see one another as citizens of a united country, instead of the regionalist attitudes exhibited in the antebellum era. 

Over at Hot Air, Ed aptly points out that the Weimer Republic in Germany was a parliamentary system that collapsed into a dictatorship … led by Adolf Hitler, the British and the French consistently pitted the native tribes against one another in the frontier lands of America, and that strategy of playing tribes off each other would have probably entered another vicious cycle in the Napoleonic Wars. Oh, and Pontiac’s Rebellion–a three-year war against the British by a confederation of tribes along the Great Lakes–began due to perceived mistreatment by the Crown.

Lastly, on the issue of government, I like gridlock. Gridlock is our safety blanket in American society, and to not understand that is to avoid the essence of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The overarching theme was safety, not efficiency. As George Will says pervasively when this issue is brought up, that’s why we have three branches of government, two branches of the legislature, veto, veto override, supermajorities, judicial review, and the filibuster. All of these mechanisms are meant to slow the speed of government.

Also, forget the carbon tax scenario, what about the War on Terror? The majority of Americans think the interrogation measures that were used on terrorism suspects after 9/11 was justified, with a majority also saying that such techniques amounted to torture. In the system we have today, with a written Constitution, our political leaders and legal scholars would have to see if such techniques are legal. In the UK system, the legality of such techniques–theoretically–would've ended once a bill was passed. The UK doesn’t have a written Constitution; it’s whatever parliament passes. Hence, why liberals probably like the UK model so much since it permits them to effectively have a true living constitution. It’s a horrifying aspect. 

At the same time, our Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from passing laws permitting abortion on demand or banning the death penalty, so, in a sense; liberals have been fighting their battles in the wrong arenas. Yet, they will probably have a problem building a consensus for the former initiative. Nevertheless, it shows you that consensus is key in advancing our society in a democratic manner.

So, I’m not unhappy–or sad–that our Founding Father announced our complete break from Great Britain 239 years ago today. I’m not proud of our treatment of Native Americans or the institution of slavery, but those issues were dealt with, sometimes with a heavy body count and other times with results that were less than stellar. We’re not perfect, but neither is the UK. And that certainly applies to their system of government. The best we can do is learn from our shortfalls within our history and hope that future generations get it right.

The Declaration of Independence

Editor's note: For more founding documents please visit usconstitution.com.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted The Declaration of Independence. This document would prove one of the most important charters for freedom in the world, as it laid out the reasons why the United States was justified in throwing off the oppression of their English king.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levey war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock

Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll
of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

British Government's Desperate Clampdown On Taxpayer Funded Health Timewasters

The British government has signaled it intends to launch a crackdown on people who cost taxpayers billions of dollars by abusing free healthcare. Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told the BBC's Question Time programme, patients who book appointments with doctors but fail to turn up will be told how much their actions cost the taxpayer.

Politicians are desperately grappling with out of control costs in the state funded National Health Service. When it was established in the 1940s the government assumed universal healthcare would eradicate disease and costs would fall.

As a result they put little thought into long-term funding, and deliberately overpaid doctors to get them to agree to work for the NHS. The Labour politician who founded the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, famous said of doctors “we stuffed their mouths with gold”.

Today anyone can book an appointment with a taxpayer funded General Practitioner (GP) doctor without giving any reason. The GPs themselves earn an average of $150,000 a year, and ten percent earn more than the Prime Minister's $222,000 salary.

They are required to diagnose simple problems, write prescriptions for basic drugs and refer all complex cases to specialists. The patient is not penalized if they fail to turn up to either the GP or the specialist. Under this new proposal that would not change.
Mr Hunt's plan is to effectively shame time wasters into stopping, although he did say he was “open” to plans for charging. Something the Prime Minister's office later stamped on, saying they would never charge.

Hunt's ideas may sound meek but the problem is very serious with the cost of failure to attend appointments put at $1.56bn (£1bn) a year.

On the BBC he said: “We are very stretched for resources, doctors and nurses work incredibly hard and we're going to have a million more over-70s by the end of this Parliament. If we're going to square the circle and have a fantastic NHS, despite all those pressures, we have to take personal responsibility about how we use NHS resources.

"I don't have a problem in principle with charging people for missed appointments, in practical terms it is difficult to do. But I have taken a step towards that this week by announcing that when people do miss an appointment they will be told how much that will cost the NHS as a first step."

The Heath Secretary is also grappling with the bizarre problem of bored and lonely people turning up for unnecessary treatments to get 'out of the house'. Those responsible are mainly over the age of 65 and may account for as many as 30 million visits to GPs every year, with appointments costing the taxpayer up to $150 a time.

As many as one in ten pensioners are believed to have attended appointments due to boredom or loneliness.

The move to reduce wasted appointments comes in the same week Hunt announced plans to print the cost of drugs on the packaging when it is distributed through the prescription scheme.

Under the scheme everyone gets a huge discount on the medicine, courtesy of the taxpayer, as they are charged only $13 no matter what the cost of the drugs. Many groups such as children get the drugs entirely free of charge.

The figure and the words "funded by the UK taxpayer" will be added to all packs costing more than $31 in England. The move is hoped to reduce the estimated $467m annual cost of people simply throwing drugs away rather than using them because they attach no value to them.

The total cost of the National Health Service is around $150bn a year, around $3000 a year for every man, woman and child in the country. It has some of the worst survival rates for diseases like cancer in Europe.

NY Lawmakers Propose Prison Reform Legislation After Shocking Escape

By all accounts, escaping from Clinton Correctional Facility was seemingly “impossible.” Yet, inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat managed to do so – twice. The two criminals’ brazen getaway, which preceded a 3-week long police search through upstate New York, ultimately ended in the authorities’ favor. Yet, the ordeal has shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the state’s prisons. A group of bipartisan lawmakers are determined to find answers as to why the current culture allowed for such an escape.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has been criticized for his management of the state’s correctional facilities. Since taking office, 13 New York prisons have closed, with the correctional officers’ union calling for more staff. The governor has pushed back against the reproach, citing favorable statistics that show the correctional officer to prisoner ratio has remained the same.

However, reports like this undermine his defensive comments:

Still, the state's prison system had a 29 percent increase in assaults on officers by inmates between 2010 and 2014. Most were at maximum-security facilities, including Clinton, Attica, Elmira and Bedford Hills in Westchester County, according to state records reviewed by Gannett's Albany Bureau.

Cuomo pledged that his administration will investigate the ‘honor block’ system that allowed Matt and Sweat to receive special treatment for good behavior while serving time in the facility. So far, two employees have been charged for conspiring with the prisoners, including providing them with power tools, while dozens more have been placed on leave.

"But we have a lot of work to do, investigating both the cooperators and making the point that that cannot happen, and if that happens, that will be fully prosecuted," Cuomo said.

State legislators are similarly determined to find out what happened.

Assembly Corrections Committee Chairman Daniel O'Donnell, D-Manhattan, has introduced a bill to require any prison investigation to be performed independently by the Inspector General’s Office. Republicans went a step further in suggesting the investigation needs to be conducted outside of the Cuomo administration.

"There needs to be an independent top to bottom investigation as to what happened and then let the chips fall where they may," Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, said in a statement. "But this modest, common-sense legislation is a no brainer."

It’s frightening how much freedom and goods Matt and Sweat were awarded inside Clinton Correctional Facility. If we can’t trust our correctional officers to resist corruption in the form of bribes and flattery, those metal bars may as well be paper mache.

Oh My: George Takei Called Justice Thomas 'A Clown In Blackface'

There is a serious argument against the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which said there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. That being said, there is still a legitimate debate as to whether this was the proper avenue to grant this right for gay Americans, instead of the legislative process. Nevertheless, it’s hard to have such discussions when you have people, like George Takei (aka Hikaru Sulu*), dole out what could be construed as patently racist attacks. Takei recently called Justice Clarence Thomas “a clown in blackface” and a “disgrace” to the nation.

Even die-hard liberals, like Bill Clinton’s chief strategist Paul Begala, thought the remarks were utterly reprehensible. Folks, even Marc Lamont Hill thought Sulu crashed the ship on this one.

To make matter worse, Takei doubled down on his remarks.

Takei has finally apologized for his remarks, posting on his Facebook page that his comments were “uncivil” and “ad hominem.” That’s putting it mildly [emphasis mine]:

I owe an apology. On the eve of this Independence Day, I have a renewed sense of what this country stands for, and how I personally could help achieve it. The promise of equality and freedom is one that all of us have to work for, at all times. I know this as a survivor of the Japanese American internment, which each day drives me only to strive harder to help fulfill that promise for future generations.

I recently was asked by a reporter about Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissent in the marriage equality cases, in which he wrote words that really got under my skin, by suggesting that the government cannot take away human dignity through slavery, or though internment. In my mind that suggested that this meant he felt the government therefore shouldn��t be held accountable, or should do nothing in the face of gross violations of dignity.

When asked by a reporter about the opinion, I was still seething, and I referred to him as a “clown in blackface” to suggest that he had abdicated and abandoned his heritage. This was not intended to be racist, but rather to evoke a history of racism in the theatrical arts. While I continue to vehemently disagree with Justice Thomas, the words I chose, said in the heat of anger, were not carefully considered. I am reminded, especially on this July 4th holiday, that though we have the freedom to speak our minds, we must use that freedom judiciously. Each of us, as humans, have hot-button topics that can set us off, and Justice Thomas had hit mine, that is clear. But my choice of words was regrettable, not because I do not believe Justice Thomas is deeply wrong, but because they were ad hominem and uncivil, and for that I am sorry.

I often ask fans to keep the level of discourse on this page and in comments high, and to remember that we all love this country and for what it stands for, even if we often disagree passionately about how to achieve those goals. I did not live up to my own high standards in this instance.

I hope all of you have a wonderful, safe and joyously free July 4th, the first where all married couples in the U.S. can enjoy the full liberties of matrimony equally. It is truly a blessing to be an American today.

Okay. Sulu apologized, but it comes to show you that we cannot have serious conservation anymore with the left, especially when they dish out racially charged cheap shots a la Takei. Not to mention, he only apologized when the backlash proved to be significant.

I don’t agree with New York Times Magazine’s Emily Bazelon, formerly of Slate, but she had a fair article about the Obergefell ruling, where she noted both sides–and the concerns of those who represent the conservative wing of the Court. Of course, she supports the ruling, but there’s no mentioning of black face, there’s no questioning of the legitimacy of the justices, nor is there any ad hominem attacks akin to those who make it their business to troll on the Internet:

The dissenters are clear and thorough about the downsides of this. Chief Justice John Roberts asks sarcastically of his colleagues, “Just who do we think we are?” He also makes this sensible pitch for judicial restraint: “When decisions are reached through democratic means, some people will inevitably be disappointed with the results. But those whose views do not prevail at least know that they have had their say, and accordingly are — in the tradition of our political culture — reconciled to the result of a fair and honest debate.”

Roberts warns that “stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.” Justice Samuel Alito goes further, predicting that today’s ruling “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy” and “exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.” He ends on a note of doom: “Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds.”

Among gay rights supporters, these doubts will be drowned out in celebration — as Roberts, for one, acknowledges. Perhaps some activists would quietly agree that state-by-state lawmaking would be better. But the evidence to date suggests that Alito’s dire warning is overblown; the backlash to same-sex marriage has so far been contained to minor skirmishes. There are no victims when gay couples marry. The gain, in love, commitment and stability, is easy to see. These are among the reasons public opinion has moved swiftly in favor of marriage equality.

Yet, the backlash towards those who support the non-controversial traditional marriage position will probably find themselves under siege by the media and lefty activists. This is where we’re at risk of entering a phase where no discussions on these issues can be developed.

Obergefell isn’t final. Neither is Roe v. Wade, or Gonzalez v. Carhart (the Court’s upholding of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act). The Court does change its opinions on certain laws. Plessy v. Ferguson is a prime example; with the Court erroneously ruling the racial segregation laws are constitutional under the “separate but equal” doctrine in 1896. That was reversed in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. As a result, conservatives should prepare for a long wait concerning re-litigating the gay marriage ruling post-Obergefell. But, for now, the Takei meltdown is over, but we should expect more to come, especially as conservatives rethink their legal options.

Last Note: Bill Shatner tweets that Takei isn't a racist.

*I hate Star Trek.

Woman Dies of Measles in Washington State

A woman in Washington State has died from the measles, marking the first death from the illness in the United States since 2003.

The woman, whose age and other identifying factors were not disclosed, likely contracted measles while in a health care facility in Clallam County. The woman was immuno-suppressed due to medications she was taking for a different illness, and did not develop the typical rash associated with measles.

From the Washington Post:

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 178 people from 24 states and the District were reported to have measles from Jan. 1 through June 26 of this year. Two-thirds of the cases, the CDC noted, were "part of a large multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California."

This newly confirmed case marks Washington's 11th reported instance of measles this year, and state health officials urged people to vaccinate against the virus.

"This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles," the state health department's statement read. "People with compromised immune systems often cannot be vaccinated against measles."

This. Is. Why. Vaccination. Is. Important. Herd immunity protects everyone, not just the person who is vaccinated. When a person is not vaccinated, they weaken the herd immunity until it ceases to exist. Herd immunity protects people with weakened immune systems and people whose vaccines did not take. Measles, which once was eradicated from the United States, is on the upswing as people delay or skip vaccinations. This isn't progress.

Four Facts About the Fourth of July

Editor’s note: This post was published (and re-uploaded from) last year. The headline, however, has been changed.

Happy Fourth of July! Today we celebrate 239 years of American independence. To that end, here are four interesting facts about this uniquely American holiday that you might not be aware of.

(1) Did you know that the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution to dissolve all political ties with Great Britain on July 2, 1776? It wasn’t until two days later, on July 4th, that the Founding Fathers formally adopted the document we now universally refer to as the “Declaration of Independence.”

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” John Adams wrote his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. As it turned out, he was off by a few days.

(2) John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both passed away on July 4, 1826 -- 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted. The fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, also died on July 4th shortly thereafter -- in 1831.

(3) Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Franklin (70) was the oldest to sign his name, and South Carolina’s Edward Rutledge (26) was the youngest.

(4) John Hancock was the first delegate to sign the Declaration; and he was only one of two delegates to do so on July 4, 1776. According to legend, he decided to sign his name in big, ostentatious letters so that, as he put it, the “fat old King could read it without his spectacles.”

So there you have it. Have a great day, everyone. I’ll leave you with this: an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence -- one of the most important political documents ever written (or ever will be written):

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Read it all here, and explore Townhall's U.S. Constitution page here.

America The Beautiful on Independence Day

Happy Independence Day everyone. Hillsdale College, which is partially dedicated to preserving the principles of the U.S. Constitution through education, put together a wonderful tribute to the classic song "America the Beautiful." Enjoy.

US Blocking Heavy Weapons to Kurdish Fighters

The United States has been blocking Arab nations from giving heavy weapons to the Kurdish army in its effort to fight ISIS, according to a new report. Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been fighting ISIS for months and have recently made key gains, but they have repeatedly voiced their need for heavier armaments. They are currently relying on outdated Soviet-era weaponry, while their ISIS opponents are wielding modern American arms, which they seized from Iraqi troops last year.

The US-led air coalition has providing bombing assistance to Kurdish troops, which proved key to the Kurdish advance into Syria two weeks ago. But calls to give heavy armaments, even from within the US Congress, have gone unanswered. A measure to directly arm the Kurds failed failed in the Senate two weeks ago. 

Some Arab countries have expressed unwillingness to wait on US support.

“If the Americans and the West are not prepared to do anything serious about defeating Isil, then we will have to find new ways of dealing with the threat,” said a senior Arab government official. “With Isil making ground all the time we simply cannot afford to wait for Washington to wake up to the enormity of the threat we face.”

European countries have even purchased weapons for the Kurds — millions of dollars' worth — yet those weapons haven't yet reached Kurdish hands. The US military oversees the war against ISIS, and it directs all military arms support through Baghdad. This has enabled the US to block all arms transfers to the Kurds from other countries.

Regional allies — such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states — have been frustrated at the lack of direction and resolve in the US-led air campaign. These countries' militaries have frequently identified ISIS targets on the ground, only to have them vetoed by US officials. One senior Gulf state officical said:

“There is simply no strategic approach. “There is a lack of coordination in selecting targets, and there is no overall plan for defeating Isil.”

US pilots have also complained of targets being called off, even as they have them in the crosshairs.

Why would the president and administration officials want to keep Kurdish fighters from obtaining heavy arms? Do they not want to see ISIS destroyed?

One likely reason for the administration's blocking of arms is that a well-armed Kurdish army poses a threat to Turkey — a NATO ally that affords the US key strategic privileges. Turkey holds numerous military bases that the US uses. They not only allow the US to hold a key presence in the region; they also give the US a strategic foothold at Russia's doorstep.

The Kurdish people — who have no official nation, yet desire independence — have long posed a threat to Turkey's national stability. Ethnic Kurds comprise about 18 percent of Turkey's population and are mostly concentrated in the country's southeastern provinces, which border Syria and Iraq. If the Kurdish Peshmerga were to attain heavy arms, it may well defeat ISIS, but it would also embolden the Kurds to consolidate their ethnic communities in Turkey and forcefully push for national independence. If that happened, Turkey would lose 18 percent of its population and large swaths of land. Because Turkey is such an asset for the US, the administration is likely aiming to keep Turkey happy by keeping the Kurds relatively weak.

Since the Kurds have made real progress against ISIS, the administration is likely playing a game of wait-and-see in hopes that the progress continues. It is a rather forward move, though, for the administration to block other countries from arming the Kurds. It is reasonable to assume the US could keep good relations with Turkey without going so far as to block other countries' aid to the Kurds.

Even so, one can argue that the Kurds deserve their own nation anyway, and a strong Kurdistan would serve American interests and create a new regional buffer against Iran — a buffer that Turkey is not providing. At the very least, US officials should stop preventing other countries from giving arms to the Kurds. The biggest threat to the region is not an unhappy Turkey, but ISIS and the havoc it is wreaking in Syria and Iraq. A well-armed Kurdish army can only help the overall situation.

Seattle Schools to 6th Graders: No Soda For You, But Here's An IUD

From mandates about what food children can eat to draconian attendance policies, it’s becoming increasingly clear that parental rights do not exist when you send your child to public school, as The Blaze’s Matt Walsh has argued before.

But in Seattle, it’s even worse. In at least 13 public schools in the area, where kids are banned from even having soda or candy, middle and high school-aged girls can get a taxpayer-funded IUD without their parents’ consent.

CNS News reports:

[Long-acting reversible contraceptives] are associated with serious side effects, such as uterine perforation and infection. IUDs, specifically, can also act as abortifacients by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The state and federally funded contraceptive services are made possible by Take Charge, a Washington State Medicaid program which provides free birth control to adults who are uninsured, lack contraceptive coverage, have an income at or below 260 percent of the Federal Poverty Level -- or, in this case, to teens who don’t want their parents to know they’re on birth control.

In an email exchange with the Washington State Health Care Authority and CNSNews.com, a Take Charge spokesperson acknowledged that underage students are eligible for a “full array of covered family planning services” at school-based clinics if their parents meet the program’s requirements.

Take Charge added that “a student who does not want their parents to know they are seeking reproductive health services is allowed to apply forTake Charge using their own income, and if they are insured under their parents’ plan, the insurance would not be billed.”

When asked if a sixth grader could get an IUD implanted without parental consent,Take Charge told CNSNews.com: “We encourage allTake Charge providers to offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in their clinics. A young person does not need parental consent to obtain a LARC or any other contraceptive method...If the young person is not choosing abstinence, she would be able to select a LARC and have it inserted without parental consent.”

Just so we’re clear: Chocolate and sugar? Way too unhealthy. Sex and contraceptives? Totally fine. And since Washington’s law states that “every individual has the fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions,” there’s nothing parents can do about it.

Homeschooling is looking better and better, isn’t it? 

How Patriotic is Your Home State?

According to the website WalletHub, Virginia is the most patriotic state in the union.

States were ranked by "military engagement" (number of veterans per capita, number of active-duty military per capita, and number of people who enlisted in the military) as well as "civic engagement" (percentage of people who voted, percentage of people who volunteer, percentage of people who join the Peace Corps, as well as civics requirements and Google searches for the American flag).

The state with the highest military engagement was Alaska, while the state with the highest civic engagement ranking was Wisconsin.


Source: WalletHub

Personally, I was pretty pleased to see my home state of Maine come out at number 6, while slightly dismayed to see Rhode Island (where I lived for four years while in college) near the bottom at number 48.

How'd your home state do?

In Colorado, VA Officials Retire ‘Unscathed’ From Role in Growing Scandal

Veterans Affairs employees in Aurora, Colorado, who played a role in the agency’s expanding scandal, have found a way to escape punishment – they’re retiring.

In May, the building of the Aurora Veterans Affairs department was $1 billion over budget and more than a year behind schedule, ABC News reported. Taxpayers were forced to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars to bring it back on track. Contributing factors to the project's slow progress included "changes to veterans' health care needs, site-acquisition issues, and a decision in Denver to change plans from a medical center shared with a local medical university to a standalone VA medical center." Thanks to the expensive mess, Aurora was named the “biggest construction failure” in the agency’s history. 

Two particular VA employees played a role in Aurora’s earning that title, but they’re quietly exiting stage left.

But now that attorney Phillipa Anderson and construction chief Glenn Haggstrom have left the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is unlikely they will face any punishment for their part in developing the over-budget medical complex. It's now estimated to cost $1.73 billion.

In a hearing last week, VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson explained that the administration is powerless to punish employees once they’ve left their positions.

"Once a person is resigned or retired, they are no longer an employee and we have no basis for taking any disciplinary action," Gibson said in an interview.

But that’s not all. Not only are Anderson and Haggstrom leaving Scot free - they are doing so with full pensions in tow.

"Years-late, bureaucratic knuckle-rapping will not suffice for accountability, especially when the two officials retired unscathed with their full pensions and bonuses," U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, said in a statement.

Ironically, Gibson recently announced that accountability efforts are working.

VA employees who were complicit in the agency's disaster deserve to be reprimanded – and our vets deserve better.

2016 DEBATE WATCH: Donald Trump Slides To Seventh Place

Editor’s note: "2016 Debate Watch" is a running, bi-weekly series.

This week we’ve seen Jeb Bush and Donald Trump gain some momentum. Carly Fiorina, meanwhile, recently turned some heads as well, cracking the top ten for the first time ever.

If the August 6 Fox News debate were held tonight, however, only the following candidates would make the (prime-time) cut. (See the debate rules here):

(1) Jeb Bush: 15.0

(2) Scott Walker: 10.6

(3) Marco Rubio: 9.4

(4) Ben Carson: 9.4

(5) Mike Huckabee: 8.0

(6) Rand Paul: 8.0

(7) Donald Trump: 6.0

(8) Ted Cruz: 4.8

(9) Chris Christie: 3.8

(10) Rick Perry: 3.4

Editor’s note: The five polls used to calculate these averages can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

July 13: Scott Walker Finally Sets Presidential Launch Date

At long last, the governor of Wisconsin will toss his cap into the 2016 ring:

The Hill explains why his announcement is so significant:

Walker is the highest-profile potential Republican candidate who has yet to officially announce a bid. He’s currently in second place in the polls, behind former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.), according to a RealClearPolitics average of recent poll numbers.

Scott Walker is the real deal; he's won three statewide elections in four years. Interestingly, too, his most recent victory all but guaranteed that he would run for president in 2016. Hailing from a blue state, however, poses problems. Chief among them, of course, is convincing the base that he's sufficiently conservative.

Recently, he did this by categorically denouncing the High Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges — which, as The New York Times soberly points out, is wildly out of step with past statements he’s made about the case:

His response to the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage most emphatically demonstrated his sharp shift to the right: Mr. Walker called the court’s ruling “a grave mistake” and reiterated his call for a constitutional amendment that would allow states to ban same-sex marriage. It sent a clear message to social conservatives, and one that was noticeably not echoed by two of his leading rivals, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush — who warned last year that Republicans would need to campaign as if they were willing to lose the nomination if they hoped to win the general election. …

At a gathering of Republican donors in New York in the spring, Mr. Walker indicated that his response to an eventual Supreme Court ruling, if it deemed same-sex marriage constitutional, would be in keeping with the spirit of his earlier remark about the question being a settled one in Wisconsin, people who attended the meeting said.

In other words, Walker is sounding more and more like Ted Cruz, and less and less like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Perhaps that's true. In fairness, though, Walker has not flip-flopped on the issue. He’s a Christian and therefore regularly defends the biblical definition of marriage. Clearly, however, he doesn’t give the same stump speech everywhere he goes (via the Times):

On the party’s right, Mr. Walker’s statement in favor of a constitutional amendment on marriage was greeted favorably on Friday but was called into question when, at a conservative conference in Colorado on Saturday, Mr. Walker made no mention in his speech of marriage or the court’s historic ruling the previous day.

My response: So what? That’s politics. Walker, a social conservative with an impressive legislative record, is campaigning as he sees fit to win the nomination. He is therefore going to stress his conservative beliefs in Iowa, and not do so in swing states like Colorado. He should be cautious, however, and never change his positions on issues simply because of his audience. Doing so, of course, would be politically disastrous.

Meanwhile, another question that has dogged Walker in recent months is if he’s ready for primetime. Earlier this year, for instance, he refused to answer a question about evolution (much to the disbelief of progressives) and later came under attack for questioning the president's religious convictions. He also, somewhat inarticulately, compared his detractors to ISIS, although reading his comments in context it’s clear what he meant. Still, the media will not give him the benefit of the doubt, and while all candidates misspeak from time to time (some more than others), it seems Walker is a prime target for derision.

Officially launching his candidacy, however, offers both opportunity and redemption. Thus, I fully expect him to introduce himself to voters, discuss his record of reform, reference his electoral victories (all three of them), and appeal to social conservatives. Walker, by the way, is deeply committed to winning the Hawkeye State. So don't be surprised if he tailors his message to Iowans specifically or conservatives generally. He needs their votes to stay competitive.

By the Way: More Than 42 Million Muslims 'Support ISIS'

“Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders -- holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America -- and the West, generally -- is at war with Islam, President Obama said in February at the summit on countering violent extremism. “Of course, the terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful ideology. They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism.”

President Obama is right—the jihadists in ISIS do not represent the world’s Muslim population. But then again, despite its army numbering in the tens of thousands and sympathizers worldwide, it turns out they’re not quite the fringe group many thought—or hoped—they were.

According to a new report based on four recent polls, 8.5 million people view the brutal terror organization positively, while another 42 million view them somewhat positively.

"ISIS is only a fraction of what it could potentially become,” said Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project, which conducted the research, reports the Daily Express.

"If we don't act quickly, this is still going to grow – and what we're looking at today is going to look like the good old days compared to the future,” he added.

This, my friends, is absolutely terrifying.

Jim Webb Launches Presidential Bid

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb (D) has thrown his hat in to the 2016 presidential race, becoming the fifth Democrat to declare candidacy. He announced his candidacy on his website.

Webb served one term in the Senate, from 2007 until 2013. He also previously served as Secretary of the Navy.

Maine Governor Endorses Chris Christie For President

Yesterday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) has endorsed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) for president in 2016, becoming the first Republican governor to endorse a candidate for president in 2016. Christie announced his campaign on June 30.

This move was not exactly a surprise, as Christie campaigned extensively for LePage's reelection in 2014.

From the Bangor Daily News:

“I think he’s the real deal,” LePage later added. “He’s been a governor. He knows what hard decisions are. He’s going to make them. He’s not going to be a politician and talk out of both sides of his mouth. He’s going to tell you things you may not want to hear, but you need to. Then he’s going to go to work trying to fix them.”

[...]

Christie said he was honored to have LePage’s endorsement because he and LePage are cut from the same cloth — no-nonsense conservatives elected to run largely Democratic states.

“In the first full day of my presidential campaign, to be able to come up here and receive an endorsement from somebody who knows what it’s like to run a blue state, knows what it’s like to make tough decisions, knows what it’s like to engage in hand-to-hand combat to try to get things done for the people that elect you — to get an endorsement from Paul LePage today is an incredible honor for me,” Christie said.

Christie's tour of New England continued with an appearance in New Hampshire.

Good News: Promoting Hard Work, Saying "Melting Pot" Now Considered a "Microagression" on College Campuses

File this under "the insane left thinks the idea of America is one big offensive notion." 

According to a story over at Fox News, promoting merit, hard work, and American values, or saying things like "melting pot," is now considered offensive.

Simply asking someone “Where are you from?” or calling America "the land of opportunity” is now considered offensive at some colleges and universities, where such "micro-aggressions" are detailed in training programs and seminars for new faculty and staff.

Other examples of “offensive” statements include, “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” “Affirmative action is racist,” Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough,” When I look at you, I don’t see color,” and “I don’t believe in race.”

More from the absurd list of "microagressions": 

For background, the University of California system, where this list originated, is now run by former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The concept of promoting hard work and American values is so insane even uber liberal Cass Sunstein is objecting.

“In well-functioning democracies and universities, feelings will sometimes be hurt," said Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein in a Bloomberg View article. “It does students no service to treat them like children — or to threaten to punish people for starting perfectly legitimate political convictions.”

Happy Independence Day everyone.

NYT: There Are More 'Intact Families' Living In Red Counties

To circle back on my previous post about the blue and red state models regarding families, there are positives and negatives to each model. Blue state families–for lack of a better term–are usually better educated, which leads to greater financial stability that often translates into a more stable marriage, according to new research. Families in blue states also marry later in life, whereas families in red states are very religious and community-based, with a population that marries young. However, they aren’t as educated and therefore the divorce rates are usually higher. At the same time, abortion rates are typically lower in red states than that of blue states for obvious reasons. Yet, Ross Douthat of the New York Times highlighted that an ugly aspect of the blue state model is that it may require abortion to be successful. That’s abhorrent, but there's new data that sheds more positive light of the red state model.

Now, the Time’s Upshot blog has something to add to this debate, by analyzing the 470 biggest counties in the country we find–to no one’s surprise–that red counties have more intact families:

W. Bradford Wilcox, of the University of Virginia — decided to go one level deeper and analyze counties as well. (Because of census data limitations, the new analysis covers only the 470 largest counties, which together account for about two-thirds of the population.)

With the county data, the overall blue-state advantage disappears: Teenagers are more likely to live with both of their parents in red counties than in blue. In the counties where Mitt Romney won at least 50 percent of the vote in 2012, 57.7 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds live with both parents. In counties where Mr. Romney won less, 54.5 percent do.

Some critics of the earlier state-level analysis argued that it did not sufficiently take account of race — and that race, not politics, was driving the differences. And it’s true that black and Latino families are more likely to have only one parent and also more likely to vote Democratic, which explains some of the red-blue gap at the county level. But the higher share of intact families in red counties doesn’t appear to stem only from race.

The new data shows that among counties with similar racial makeups, the red counties still had a higher share of intact families.

(In statistical terms: A linear regression on three factors — the percentage of a county that was white, the percentage that was black and the county’s 2012 vote — still found that the vote variable was a statistically significant predictor of the share of intact families. Every additional percentage point in Mr. Romney’s vote share, after controlling for race, correlated with an increase of 0.11 percentage points in the share of intact families.)

“The data suggest that marriage is more likely to ground and guide adult lives, including the entry into parenthood, in red America,” Mr. Wilcox writes in the new paper, published by the Institute for Family Studies. “The red advantage in marriage, in all likelihood, flows in part from higher levels of religious participation and normative support for marriage found in more politically conservative counties.”

He emphasizes that the red-county advantage is modest. The difference between 57.7 and 54.5 is obviously small, indicating that red and blue counties have far more in common than not. Blue counties also have their own advantages — above all, higher levels of education, which tend to lead to more family stability.

At the same time, the article added that Naomi Cahn of George Washington University and June Carbone from the University of Minnesota, who wrote Red Families vs. Blue Families in 2010, argued that “women’s equality, later marriage, birth control and strong educations made families more stable,” though both women agreed that a strong, vibrant economy benefits family stability for all.

Five Lies About Hillary's Secret Emails


Let's review a handful of false statements and claims offered by Hillary Clinton, her lawyers, and her supporters, pertaining to the secret email scandal that continues to unfold:

(1) CLAIM: After the existence of the "home brew" email server was revealed, Hillary turned over all work-related emails to the State Department from her private server, deleting only personal emails -- including missives about "yoga routines," "family vacations," and "planning Chelsea's wedding."

REALITY: Records prove that among the 30,000-plus emails deleted by Hillary's team were notes regarding Benghazi and other Libya-related policies. Congressional investigators have no idea what else may have been unilaterally erased without independent supervision.  What we know for certain is that some number of official emails were permanently deleted, not handed over to State, as claimed. (Bonus lie: Team Hillary initially claimed that emails were automatically flagged for deletion using a keyword search mechanism. They later changed their story, averring that they'd reviewed every individual email -- which means they necessarily eliminated emails they actively knew were not personal in nature).

(2) CLAIM:  Hillary set up a secret email server in her home as a means to simplify her life; she needed this arrangement to streamline all of her emails onto one mobile device.

REALITY: Records prove that Hillary used multiple mobile devices to send and receive emails.  This revelation caused her entire explanation to "crumble at her feet."  Her initial excuse-making made little sense from the get-go.  How is paying someone to set up an entire private email system a simplification?  (Bonus lie: Clinton initially claimed that all of her work-related emails were intact because the aides with whom she corresponded uniformly used .gov accounts, the contents of which were archived.  In fact, several top aides were revealed to have also used private email accounts to conduct official business, and the State Department was shown to have extremely shoddy archiving practices anyway.  And that was all before the Sidney Blumenthal emails came to light, blowing up claim #1 above).

(3) CLAIM: Clinton's lawyers stated that with the exception of a few days at the very beginning of the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton exclusively used one email address through her private server.

REALITY: Records prove that Mrs. Clinton used multiple email addresses, including one that her team had explicitly told Congressional investigators did not exist while she was at State.  The evidence contradicts this assertion.  Also, the latest batch of released emails (which, again, intentionally excludes tens of thousands emails hand-selected for destruction by Clinton's attorneys) reveals a third account:



(4) CLAIM: Top White House officials say they had no idea that Mrs. Clinton was operating a private email server and using it for officials tasks.

REALITY: David Axelrod has some explaining to do, as may others:

Emails released Tuesday by the State Department show that former W.H. advisor David Axelrod knew Hillary Clinton had a private account despite recent claims. According to the latest batch, two email chains show Axelrod did indeed correspond with the then-secretary of state — once in June, 2009 and again in July, 2009. The emails contradict recent comments by Axelrod to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, in which he said he would have “asked a few questions” and shared his “concerns” had he known about Clinton’s private email account and server. Axelrod made the statements in a June 17 appearance after former White House chief of staff Bill Daley told “Meet The Press” that he didn’t know anything about Clinton’s private email during his time in the White House.

He might be able to insist that he wasn't paying attention to the address from which her emails were sent, but one correspondence shows Axelrod actively seeking her email address:



(5) CLAIM: Hillary Clinton "fully complied" with " every rule" regarding official email correspondence and archiving.

REALITYNo, she didn't.  Not even close.  (Bonus point: In light of the unprecedented and potentially disastrous OPM hack at the hands of the Chinese, it is clearer than ever that foreign intelligence services accessed Mrs. Clinton's emails with relative ease; her server was woefully under-secured, especially given the sensitivity of its contents.  Hillary's response to credible allegations that she recklessly endangered national security for selfish political reasons is mind-blowingly silly.  Either she's lying again, or she has no idea how the Internet works.  Or both).

Latest: Navy Yard Cleared, No Shooter Found

UPDATE: It appears this was a false alarm:

UPDATE: Navy Yard officials now say a shooter has not been spotted and there are no casualties.

The Navy Yard in Washington D.C. has been locked down after shots were fired inside a building. Authorities are reporting there is an active shooter in the area. At this time there are no reports of casualties or injuries. 

Earlier this week the FBI and Homeland Security issued a joint memo heightening security awareness and warning against lone wolf terror attacks over the July 4 weekend.

In 2013, the Navy Yard was attacked by a mentally ill man who killed twelve people.

More to come...

This post has been updated with additional information.