All posts by Joe St John

In Minnesota, Bill Maher Strikes Out

BY BARRY CASSELMAN     The Weekly Standard

Bill Maher

Following the 2014 elections, Congressman John Kline remains the major and senior elected figure in the Minnesota Republican party. The powerful chairman of the House education committee, he will be a central figure in the reform measures ahead to improve the nation’s faltering public school systems.

Kline’s reelection was not in any doubt, but TV comedian Bill Maher thought he could intervene in the election and defeat him. It was a pathetic and uninformed effort (Maher didn’t even know who Kline’s Democratic opponent was). Kline reacted accordingly, raising campaign funds from Maher’s hapless folly and publicizing the comedian’s intrusion into the race. Kline won in a 17-point landslide, and I don’t doubt that Maher’s efforts actually increased his margin of victory.

Along with former U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz, Kline is one of the most respected and well-liked political figures in the state. Each of them, incidentally, had significant lives of achievement before seeking elective office. Boschwitz was born to a German Jewish family that fled the Nazis when he was just three years old. In Kline’s case, it was a very distinguished career as a combat Marine helicopter pilot. He later became the man who carried the nuclear codes for two U.S. presidents (Reagan and Carter), and commanded all U.S. air forces in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.

The 2014 elections in Minnesota had mixed results for Republicans. They did succeed in winning back control of the state house of representatives (no state senators were up for election this year), and Congressman Erik Paulsen and former state legislator Tom Emmer also won U.S. House seats by landslides in their districts. Victories in statewide offices eluded the GOP, however.

GOP leaders such as Mr. Kline and Mr. Boschwitz will now need to inspire a younger Republican generation or two to bring back the state party’s much better days of only a few years ago.

Barry Casselman is a national political commentator who lives in Minneapolis, and has been a frequent contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. His Prairie Editor blog is at www.barrycasselman.com.

School named for Barack Obama ‘fails to meet expectations’, according to report card

EAG news.org    Authored by Brian Sikma

Obama golfing as the world implodes
Obama golfing as the world implodes

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – It is a sad twist of political irony with serious consequences for students. The only school in Wisconsin currently named for President Barack Obama rates quite dismally on a state report card designed to measure school success.

President Obama himself, according to the latest statewide survey by the Marquette University Law School, has an approval rating of only 41.4% in the state.

The Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education is part of Milwaukee Public Schools. It is located on North Sherman Boulevard in Milwaukee and during the 2012 presidential election the school served as a polling location.

According to data from the state Department of Public Instruction, for the 2013-2014 academic year the school, listed as Obama Elementary, scored 39.4 out of 100.

On a grading scale, that means Obama Elementary is well below failing. Only 14 schools faired worse on the state report card.

“Fails to Meet Expectations” reads the entry next to the school’s score. Each school’s score is calculated by looking at specific student achievement in areas like reading and math, and the school’s ability to improve student scores, among other things.

Obama Elementary had its worst score in reading achievement, which came in at 2.2 out of 50.

The highest performing school in the state according to the numbered outcomes listed in the masterDPI report card list was ALPs Charter School in Oshkosh. That school’s total score for 2013-2014 was 97.8.

Under its new name, Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education, the school serves students K-12. Data is not yet available for the school’s performance in its new format, but on its website the school claims:

“Barack Obama School of Career & Technical Education K-12 prepares students to successfully transition from one level of schooling to the next, and from school to career in a safe, positive learning environment. We provide our students with research proven educational methods in reading, math, language arts, science and social studies which align with the K-12 academic standards and Grade Level Expectations.”

Top education bureaucrats in Wisconsin are calling for a massive increase in state funding for education, but a Media Trackers review of some spending by the Department of Public Instruction identified hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent by educators at resorts in Wisconsin Dells.

 

House, Senate to vote on Keystone XL pipeline

The Washington Post

Sen. Mary Landrieu

For the first time in the six-year fight over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, both houses of Congress will hold a vote on the proposed project, giving each side in a Louisiana Senate election a chance to boost its candidate.

The two lawmakers locked in the runoff contest, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), seized control of the congressional agenda Wednesday, extracting assurances from House and Senate leaders that votes will be held to bypass President Obama’s authority and authorize construction of the pipeline.

A large showing of Democratic support for the pipeline could complicate the administration’s decision-making process, given the party’s dismal showing at the polls last week. Environmentalist allies of the president are solidly against the project and have been doggedly lobbying the administration against approving it.

But Republicans successfully used the president’s environmental and climate agenda as key lines of attack against Democrats in several contested midterm races. Those results strengthen the arguments of those who believe that it would be a political mistake for the administration to deny permits for the unbuilt sections of the pipeline, and congressional approval of the project could put the administration on the defensive if it were inclined to halt the project.

Acknowledging the importance of energy to Louisiana’s economy, Landrieu and Cassidy have championed completion of the pipeline, which would transport oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. The GOP-controlled House voted several times in recent years to support the pipeline, while the Senate, in deference to the administration’s review, has resisted holding a vote on the matter despite strong objections from several moderate Democratic senators from rural or energy-rich states.

For six years, the pipeline has been under review by the State Department, which has jurisdiction because the project crosses international borders. Democrats such as Landrieu from energy-producing states have joined Republicans in calling for its approval.

Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) voiced strong support for the plan on Wednesday, saying that “it would be a tremendous windfall for all of us. It’s something we can count on. And I can’t for the life of me understand why we haven’t to date been able to move this piece of legislation forward.”

A Senate vote next week will allow Landrieu to say that she voted for the project, putting some distance between her and Obama.

Whether Congress can authorize constructing the pipeline has been the source of debate between Republicans pining for its construction and environmental groups who say the powers rest solely with Obama.

But supporters say that Congress can use its power to regulate commerce with foreign countries to authorize the project. The legislation, as written, would authorize constructing the pipeline and use a January 2014 environmental-impact report by the State Department to satisfy federal requirements that the project be studied for adverse effects.

After their midterm losses, there is little political fallout for Senate Democrats to worry about. Landrieu, Manchin and at least nine other Democrats support building the pipeline, and Republicans are expected to make up the bulk of the votes approving the plan in the Senate next week. Even if it doesn’t pass this year, the GOP has long vowed to approve the pipeline once they win total control of Congress.

But in recent days, several Democrats and Republicans have cited authorization of the oil pipeline as a modest proposal that could be used to restore bipartisan cooperation in the fractured Congress. Party leaders agreed suggesting that it could be voted on next year in the new Congress.

Landrieu had other ideas.

“I don’t think we necessarily need to wait until January,” she said Wednesday in a floor speech that lasted almost three hours. Landrieu made no attempt to hide her motive. “I’m going to do everything in my power here and at home on the campaign trail, where I’m still in a runoff, as you know, to get this project moving forward,” she said.

And later, she secured an agreement from Democratic and Republican leaders to hold a vote authorizing the pipeline as early as next Tuesday. House Republican leaders also announced plans to hold a vote as early as Thursday to authorize the pipeline, the ninth time the GOP-controlled House has voted to approve the pipeline in the past six years.

Before her remarks, Landrieu was spotted riding the escalator alone up from the Senate trains that carry lawmakers between their offices and the Capitol, toward a row of elevators. She was stone-faced and declined to answer questions from reporters. Once she reached the top level and stepped off, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of his party’s top campaign strategists, walked over.

Smiling, he asked Landrieu to step aside for a private conversation. She shook her head and moved briskly toward the elevator. As she did, she pointed to her phone, saying she had a call. Schumer paused for a moment as she moved away. His smile dropped, and he turned to follow her. “Mary, Mary,” he said, a few steps behind, asking her to speak with him. When she kept moving and ducked into an elevator, he hustled and jumped in to join her as the doors closed.

A few minutes later, Landrieu took to the Senate floor to vent her frustrations and to try to shift the political winds in her direction.

Robert Costa contributed to this report.

 

Source: Obama to announce 10-point immigration plan via exec action as early as next week

By    Published November 13, 2014  FoxNews.com

Obama shhh hush

President Obama is planning to unveil a 10-part plan for overhauling U.S. immigration policy via executive action — including suspending deportations for millions — as early as next Friday, a source close to the White House told Fox News.

The president’s plans were contained in a draft proposal from a U.S. government agency. The source said the plan could be announced as early as Nov. 21, though the date might slip a few days pending final White House approval.

Obama was briefed at the White House by Homeland Security officials before leaving on his Asia-Pacific trip last week, Fox News has learned.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with Obama in Burma Thursday that the president had not made a final decision on any executive actions concerning immigration and would not announce any until he returned to Washington.

The draft plan, though, contains 10 initiatives than span everything from boosting border security to improving pay for immigration officers.

But the most controversial pertain to the millions who could get a deportation reprieve under what is known as “deferred action.”

The plan calls for expanding deferred action for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children — but also for the parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

The latter could allow upwards of 4.5 million illegal immigrant adults with U.S.-born children to stay, according to estimates.

Critics in the Senate say those who receive deferred action, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, receive work authorization in the United States, Social Security numbers and government-issued IDs.

Another portion that is sure to cause consternation among anti-“amnesty” lawmakers is a plan to expand deferred action for young people. In June 2012, Obama created such a program for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, entered before June 2007 and were under 31 as of June 2012. The change would expand that to cover anyone who entered before they were 16, and change the cut-off from June 2007 to Jan. 1, 2010. This is estimated to make nearly 300,000 illegal immigrants eligible.

One of the architects for the president’s planned executive actions at DHS is Esther Olavarria, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s former top immigration lawyer.

Under the changes, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers also would see a pay raise in order to “increase morale” within the ICE workforce.

DHS also is planning to “promote” the new naturalization process by giving a 50 percent discount on the first 10,000 applicants who come forward, with the exception of those who have income levels above 200 percent of the poverty level.

Tech jobs though a State Department immigrant visa program would offer another half-million immigrants a path to citizenship. This would include their spouses as well.

The other measures include calls to revise removal priorities to target serious criminals for deportation and end the program known as “Secure Communities” and start a new program.

The planning comes as immigrant advocates urge Obama to act. As lawmakers returned for a lame-duck session, Democrats in Congress on Wednesday implored Obama to take executive action.

“We’re begging the president. Go big. These [illegal immigrants] are a plus to our nation. Mr. President, please. You said you were going to do something. Do it. Act now,” said Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said: “I join with my colleagues in urging the president to take action. What he needs to do is give immediate relief to families who are being wrenched apart and living in fear.”

Angela Maria Kelley, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, touted deferred action as a “tried and true component of immigration policy used by 11 presidents, 39 times in the last 60 years.”

She said for many undocumented immigration who have been here for years, “there is no line for people to get into.”

Obama has vowed to act in the absence of congressional action and has claimed that congressional action could still supersede his executive steps. That claim was restated by Earnest, who said Thursday that if the House approved an immigration reform bill previously passed by the Senate, Obama would “retract” any executive order.

In a recent op-ed in Politico, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said Congress would stop Obama from taking executive action by adding language explicitly barring money from being used for that purpose. “Congress has the power of the purse. The President cannot spend a dime unless Congress appropriates it,” Sessions wrote. He also pointed out that similar language in the past has prevented the president from closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

Bill and Hillary Clinton top list of richest ex-first families

Hillary Clinton 2

 

 

 

 

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.

Washington Examiner

They may have left the White House “dead broke,” as Hillary Clinton claimed, but she and Bill Clinton cashed in so fast and big that they sit atop the list of former first couples who struck gold after the presidency.

Since leaving office, according to financial records and news reports, they have earned at least $155 million from speeches, salaries and book deals, easily outpacing the post-White House incomes of other former presidential families and distancing themselves from the time when Bill Clinton deducted $2 apiece for used underwear donated to an Arkansas charity.

What’s more, through the kindness of friends and the successful and richly-funded Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, they’ve received travel and other benefits. The Foundation itself has assets of $257 million and has spent $50 million on travel expenses.

Overall, their net worth is about $80 million, dwarfing their nearest challenger for the wealth title, former President George W. Bush, at $35 million, according to the popular website Celebrity Net Worth.

The site’s Brian Warner told Secrets, “For the Clintons specifically, their net worths have been relatively easy to track over time. As you’re probably aware, the Clintons were required to release income and asset disclosures while they were in office. Since leaving office, data on how much they have earned from speaking engagements and book royalties has been pretty easy to track.”

The Clintons are unusual on the presidential stage. Most recent ex-presidents have set up a foundation, written a book, given a few speeches and generally faded away wealthy, but not fabulously so. But in addition to Hillary Clinton’s jobs as a New York senator and President Obama‘s top diplomat, Bill Clinton has turned the family foundation into a worldwide philanthropic powerhouse befriended by corporations and billionaires.

And while other former presidents, notably Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon, earned rare million-dollar paydays from books and speeches, the Clinton’s have made an industry of it.

For example, their books — including the anticipated $8 million from Hillary’s new memoir Hard Choices — account for about $40 million. Bill Clinton earned $106 million in speeches through 2013. Hillary has earned an estimated additional $5 million in speeches since leaving the State Department.

Bill Clinton has also collected $2.6 million in a presidential pension, and Hillary Clinton $2 million in State and Senate salary.

“I’ve never had any money until I got out of the White House,” Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2010, in comments similar to Hillary Clinton’s during a TV interview this week. “But I’ve done reasonably well since then.”

 

Russian Bombers Fly Within 50 Miles of California Coast

The Washington Free Beacon

NORWAY RUSSIA BOMBERSFour Russian strategic bombers triggered U.S. air defense systems while conducting practice bombing runs near Alaska this week, with two of the Tu-95 Bear H aircraft coming within 50 miles of the California coast, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) confirmed Wednesday.

“The last time we saw anything similar was two years ago on the Fourth of July,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Norad spokesman, told the Free Beacon.

Davis said the latest Bear H incursions began Monday around 4:30 p.m. Pacific time when radar detected the four turbo-prop powered bombers approaching the U.S. air defense zone near the far western Aleutian Islands.

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 jets were scrambled and intercepted the bombers over the Aleutians.

After tracking the bombers as they flew eastward, two of the four Bears turned around and headed west toward the Russian Far East. The bombers are believed to be based at the Russian strategic base near Anadyr, Russia.

The remaining two nuclear-capable bombers then flew southeast and around 9:30 P.M. entered the U.S. northern air defense zone off the coast of Northern California.

Two U.S. F-15 jets were deployed and intercepted the bombers as they eventually flew within 50 miles of the coast before turning around and heading west.

A defense official said the four bombers also were supported by two IL-78 aerial refueling tankers that were used for mid-air refueling during the operation this week.

The Tu-95 is a long-range strike aircraft capable of carrying nuclear cruise missiles. Other versions are equipped with intelligence-gathering sensors and electronic warfare gear. It has a range of around 9,400 miles without refueling.

Davis said the aircraft “acted professionally” and the bombers appeared to be conducting a training mission.

“They typically do long range aviation training in the summer and it is not unusual for them to be more active during this time,” he said. “We assess this was part of training. And they did not enter territorial airspace.”

The bomber incursion is the latest Russian nuclear saber-rattling amid stepped up tensions over Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, called the Russian flights “intentional provocations.”

“Putin is doing this specifically to try to taunt the U.S. and exercise, at least in the reported world, some sort of saber-rattling, muscle-flexing kind of nonsense,” Conaway said in an interview. “Truth of the matter is we would have squashed either one of those [bombers] like baby seals.”

“It’s a provocation and it’s unnecessary. But it fits in with [Putin’s] macho kind of saber-rattling,” he said, adding that he expects Russia will carry out more of these kinds of incidents in the future.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, a former Alaska commander for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said he does not remember a case of Russian strategic bombers coming that close to the U.S. coast.

“Again we see the Obama administration through their covert—but overt to Mr. Putin—unilateral disarmament, inviting adventurism by the Russians,” McInerney said in an email.

“At the height of the Cold War I do not remember them getting this close. Mr. Putin had to approve this mission and he is just showing his personal contempt for President Obama right after meeting him in Normandy less than a week ago,” McInerney said.

McInerney said no American president has been treated with such disrespect in U.S. history.

“A sad day indeed and at the same time Mosul and Tikrit [Iraq] fall to radical Islamists after the Obama administration’s failed Iraq policy,” he added. “He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory yet again.”

The Alaska-California bombers flight also came a month after a Russian Su-27 interceptor jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flying over the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan.

In that incident on April 23, the Su-27 jet flew close to the RC-135, turned to reveal its air-to-air missiles to the crew, and then flew dangerously close to within 100 feet of the cockpit in a maneuver military officials called reckless.

Davis said in the past 10 years, 50 Bear H bombers were intercepted near U.S. air defense zone, although he acknowledged that Monday’s flight near California was unusual.

In April, a telephone conversation between two Russian ambassadors was posted on YouTube and appeared to show the diplomats joking about the Ukraine crisis and discussing the possible incursions in the United States and Eastern Europe.

The leaked conversation between Igor Nilokaevich Chubarov and Sergey Viktorovich Bakharev, Russian ambassadors to the African nations Eritrea and Zimbabwe and Malawi, respectively, includes references to post-Crimea Russian imperialism to include Eastern Europe and “Californialand” and “Miamiland.”

Russian Bear H flights elsewhere have increased in recent years.

In February 2013, two of the bombers were intercepted as they circled the U.S. Pacific island of Guam, in a rare long-range incursion.

Two Bear Hs also were intercepted near Alaska on April 28, 2013.

A Russian Bear H incursion in Asia took place in in July 2013 when two Tu-95s were intercepted by Japanese and South Korean jets near the Korean peninsula and Japan’s northern Hokkaido Island.

The July 4, 2012, bomber flights near the West Coast were the first time since the Cold War that Russian jets has traveled so close to the U.S. coastline.

That action followed an earlier intrusion by Tu-95s near Alaska that were part of large-scale strategic nuclear exercises by the Russians aimed at practicing strikes on enemy air defenses.

Russia has stepped up provocative nuclear war games in recent years as part of propaganda efforts to display Moscow’s dislike of U.S. missile defenses in Europe.

Iraq Battles Islamists in Saddam’s Hometown, 80 Miles From Baghdad

IraqBy Glen Carey and Mahmoud Habboush     Bloomberg

Iraqi forces sought to check the rapid advance of Islamist militants who had seized major cities, as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki responded to the greatest threat to his government since taking power.

The military attacked fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Saddam Hussein’s former hometown of Tikrit, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad, state-sponsored Iraqiya television reported. In Mosul, the air force struck ISIL positions after they seized the largest city in Iraq’s north earlier this week, Iraqiya said. Al-Sumaria television reported heavy clashes as the army fought for Tikrit backed by air support.

The surge in violence across northern and central Iraq, three years after U.S. troops withdrew, has raised the prospect of a return to sectarian civil war in OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer. Al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government is struggling to retain control of Sunni-majority regions, and his army units in northern Iraq collapsed in the face of the Islamist advance.

“This can’t be looked at as anything other than a comprehensive failure by the Iraqi army,” Crispin Hawes, managing director of the research firm Teneo Intelligence in London, said in a phone interview. “If the army can’t protect Mosul, how are they going to protect other cities?” he said. “Moving southward would be the logical thing to do for ISIL.”

Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil,… Read More

Oil Prices

The advance of ISIL fighters has rattled oil futures and markets in both Iraq and Turkey. Brent crude oil rose to the highest since the start of March and West Texas Intermediate to an eight-month high amid the violence.

Kurdish authorities, who control the territory to the east of Mosul, have fortified defenses around their borders and also dispatched their armed forces to take control of Kirkuk, home to the biggest northern oilfield, the semi-autonomous Kurdish government said on its website.

There were conflicting reports from Baiji, a town north of Baghdad that’s home to the nation’s largest refinery. Output at the 310,000 barrel a day plant stopped after militants seized the facility overnight, according to a police statement today.

Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi said in an interview in Vienna that the government was still in control of the refinery, speculating that U.S. jets may play a role in the government-led offensive.

State of Emergency

The U.S. has yet to respond to a request from Iraq made last month to mount air attacks against militant training camps in western Iraq, according to two American officials who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. One of the officials said President Barack Obama is reluctant to revisit a war that he opposed and has repeatedly declared over.

This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida… Read More

Iraq’s parliament delayed a session to debate the imposition of a state of emergency as it lacked the number of members needed to vote on the decision, Iraqi state-sponsored Al-Baghdadia TV reported. Al-Maliki had asked parliament for emergency powers to battle ISIL.

The premier’s office also said that in response to popular demand, volunteers will be enrolled at national security offices to help in the fight against ISIL.

Brent rose as much as 2.2 percent to $112.34 a barrel. WTI, the U.S. benchmark, advanced 2 percent as the al-Maliki government fails to end the fighting.

Spare Capacity

“While there are concerns over the impact of the crisis on the oil market, any disruption should be contained,” Jason Tuvey, assistant economist at London-based Capital Economics Ltd., said in a report today. “Most of Iraq’s major oilfields are located in the south of the country, far from where the current turmoil is taking place.”

Photographer: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images

Iraqi families fleeing violence gather at a checkpoint in Aski kalak in the autonomous…Read More

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil supplier, has the spare capacity to offset a decline in Iraqi oil production, Tuvey said.

Iraqi stocks fell 1.7 percent, the sixth day of declines. The yield on $2.7 billion of government securities due January 2028 fell 11 basis points to 6.79 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In Turkey, stocks and bonds pared losses after a report that Turkish hostages captured during a raid on the country’s consulate in Mosul would be freed.

The swift seizure of Mosul suggests that ISIL probably colluded with “disenfranchised” army units in the city, Hawes said. The advance was made easier by an “extremely antagonistic” relationship between the government armed forces and the population of Mosul, a Sunni majority town, he said.

The New York Times reported that army commanders from the Saddam era joined forces with the Islamists to rout the government. Many senior ex-officers, including General Sultan Hashim who was defense minister during the U.S. invasion in 2003, were from Mosul, and The U.S. also faced stiff resistance in the city during its occupation.

ISIL rose to prominence as one of the mostly Sunni groups fighting to topple Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, and has used the desert areas of western Iraq as secure bases for its fighters.

To contact the reporters on this story: Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut at dabunasr@bloomberg.net; Glen Carey in Riyadh at gcarey8@bloomberg.net; Mahmoud Habboush in Abu Dhabi atmhabboush@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net; Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net Alaa Shahine, Ben Holland

Nancy Pelosi (Has No Shame) blames George W. Bush for Veterans Affairs Scandal

And this is why it is hard to take the President seriously.  Real Media

BY JOEL GEHRKE  

Published by the Washington Examiner


Nancy Pelosi CartoonHouse Minority Leader 
Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., repeatedly put the blame for the Veterans Affairs scandal on former President George W. Bush, while arguing that her party has worked hard for veterans in recent years.

Pelosi took a shot at Bush while saying that the scandal is a high priority for Obama. “He sees the ramifications of some seeds that were sown a long time ago, when you have two wars over a long period of time and many, many more, millions more veterans,” she told reporters during her Thursday press briefing. “And so, I know that he is upset about it.”

The Democratic leader never mentioned Bush by name, but she alluded to him early and often in the press briefing.

“Maybe when we go into war, we should be thinking about its consequences and its ramifications,” Pelosi said while discussing the scandal. “You would think that would be a given, but maybe it wasn’t. And so, we go in a war in Afghanistan, leave Afghanistan for Iraq with unfinished business in Afghanistan. Ten years later, we have all of these additional veterans. In the past five years, two million more veterans needing benefits from the VA. That’s a huge, huge increase.”

She suggested that Obamacare might hold the key to solving the problem. “We have the Affordable Care Act that is out there that is providing resources for more federally-qualified health clinics around the country,” Pelosi said. “Maybe we should take a look at how we deal with our veterans’ needs in a way that says let’s help them closer to home, whether that’s a federally qualified health clinic or in some other institution that provides health care closer to home. [It’ especially important for our veterans who live in rural areas.”

Who’s the Real Bully? by Tom Darby

Broom

From Real Media:

A Michigan teacher is on suspension after attempting to break up a violent fight between two male students, using a broom. Cell phone video captured the fight between the two teenage boys, along with the desperate attempt by the teacher to separate them.

In the video, the teacher can be seen striking one of the boys on the back with the broom’s handle as the boys continue to tussle. The teacher first yelled at the teens to stop, and only picked up the broom after they failed to do so and the fight got more heated.

She’s now being labeled a bully.

The mother of the boy who was hit by the teacher with the broom said her son’s back was bruised from the incident. The students were suspended for 10 and three days, respectively.

A 19-year-old senior at the school said that the teacher went too far.

“The lady, she should have never grabbed the broom. She could have just grabbed the security guard,” he said. “He could have got hurt from her hitting him with the broom like that and she should have gotten charged for it.”

The teacher has her defenders, too.

SEE RAW VIDEO:

“I feel like if I was there I would have done the same thing, trying to break them up. I don’t think that she should lose her job or have charges brought against her,” said Natalie Tyson, mother of a Pershing freshman. “What else could she do? Those guys were kind of big and they were tearing up the classroom.”

The chancellor of Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority, which runs Pershing High School, plans to recommend to the authority’s board of directors that the teacher be terminated, writes authority spokeswoman Chrystal Wilson.

“Which means the termination is effective immediately,” Wilson said in an e-mail. “She will have an opportunity, like any other employee, to meet with the board as they consider this recommendation at its next scheduled board meeting,” scheduled for June 17.

The teacher, whose name was not released, was notified in a May 1 letter about the recommendation that she be terminated. She has not indicated whether she plans to appeal.

Meanwhile, across the country, the Carson City Council in California gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would target people from kindergarten to age 25 who make others feel “terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested.”

The first offense could result in a ticket and fine, and the second offense could come with a larger fine, while a third offense could result in a criminal misdemeanor.

“If a child is bullying someone, and a parent has to pay a $100 fine as a result of that – a responsible parent will realize their child needs some help,” said Councilman Mike Gipson, who introduced the ordinance and is spearheading a campaign to make Carson bully-free.

Adults who bully would be charged with either an infraction or a misdemeanor, which could come with jail time. The measure also covers forms of cyber-bullying throughout Los Angeles County.

It’s unclear how the Sheriff’s Department would enforce the law, since infractions and misdemeanors are rarely handed out unless the crime is witnessed by a law enforcement officer, officials said.

“A fitness hearing would be required to try a child as a criminal,” Lt. Arthur Escamillas told the newspaper. “But, if you see a four-year-old riding a bike down the street without a helmet, are you going to give a four-year-old a ticket? It’s discretionary.”

Whether officers cite and charge children with misdemeanors for bullying will have to be decided by the Sheriff’s Department leadership, Escamillas said.

But the bullying isn’t limited to just the local level.

Common CoreIowa’s Senator Charles Grassley dismissed the notion that Common Core was a decision made by state educators, saying the federal government pressured most states to adopt the standards.

“In order to get Common Core adopted quickly in the 50 states, it was tied to Race to the Top money,” Grassley said. “A lot of states thought they would get a lot of money. Not more than a dozen actually did. But, they accepted the principle of Common Core. Also, if states wanted waivers from No Child Left Behind, it also involved Common Core.”

“From that standpoint, it’s the pressure of Washington to bring about Common Core as a national approach,” he continued. “Quite frankly, it shouldn’t have been done that way.”

He said that if the standards were really an option for the states, they would be allowed to adopt them without being pressured.

“Let’s allow people to make up their minds about the substance of Common Core,” Grassley said. “If states want to adopt it, that’s their business. But, it shouldn’t be crammed down their throat by the secretary of education in Washington, D.C., using federal money.”

“They adopted this and, to make it look like it was state-oriented and coming from the grassroots up, I think maybe it’s easier to sell that until you start looking into where the roots of it happened, basically here in Washington, D.C.,” Grassley added.

“I don’t think the governors and chief state school officers were as involved as they want us to believe,” he added. “Even if they were, the fact that it’s tied to federal dollars and having the federal government having conditions for those federal dollars adopting Common Core, you get back to the establishment of curriculum based upon national testing. In the end, subverting the 10th Amendment and usurping what is definitely not just a constitutional state right, but as a practical matter ought to be a state right.”

“Our country is so geographically vast and our population so heterogeneous that policy made in Washington, D.C. doesn’t fit New Hartford, Iowa, where I’m from, the same as New York City,” Grassley said.

Grassley made the comments during an interview on the Tea Party News Network.