Taliban Leader’s Death Could Strengthen ISIS

Lisa Curtis /

The Afghan Government has reported that Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar died at a hospital in Pakistan two years ago. The Taliban has not yet officially confirmed the reports, but most evidence points to their veracity.

There had been growing speculation over the last several months that Omar was dead since he had not been seen or heard from on video or audio recording for several years. Speculation about Omar’s death had already led to defections from Taliban ranks to ISIS, which is seeking to gain a foothold in Afghanistan.

If the news is confirmed, it will cause further disarray within the Taliban movement and lead to more defections to ISIS.

Terrorist groups in other parts of the world affiliated with al-Qaeda could also decide to switch their loyalties to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had late last year reaffirmed his allegiance to Mullah Omar. Without Omar, there will be questions about Zawahiri’s spiritual authority over the organization.

But just as the death of Osama bin Laden didn’t mean the end of Al Qaeda, it’s important to not mistake the same for the Taliban. The Taliban will continue to pose a formidable threat in Afghanistan.

They have been conducting a major offensive in all parts of the country over the last several months and nearly overran the northern city of Kunduz in April.

The news of Omar’s death could eventually facilitate peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government, however. The first round of official talks was held in Muree, Pakistan on July 7th , and the second round was scheduled for this Friday.

The talks were viewed as a first step by Pakistan to meet Afghan government demands for Islamabad to use its influence with the Taliban leadership to facilitate Afghan reconciliation.

 

 

The Republican Congressman Applauded by Planned Parenthood - The Daily Signal

The Republican Congressman Applauded by Planned Parenthood

Lisa Curtis / Kate Scanlon /

Rep. Richard Hanna was the only Republican candidate in 2014 to accept funds from Planned Parenthood.

The third-term congressman from New York’s 22nd District—which runs from the Pennsylvania border to Lake Ontario—received $2,823 from Planned Parenthood during his last election.

The Daily Signal recently published a list of candidates who took funds from the embattled organization, which is facing federal and state investigations for its role in the alleged sale of aborted fetal body parts.

Hanna has previously voted against legislation that would have cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

“For me it’s a very personal thing,” Hanna said in a 2012 interview with Syracuse’s Post-Standard. “I think you’ve watched a number of things come up recently, like the proposal to defund Planned Parenthood. And I’ve gotten to feel that I owed it to my friends in the Republican Party to stand out a little bit and say, ‘Everybody doesn’t feel the way you feel.’”

Hanna has been praised by Planned Parenthood on several occasions. He even accepted an award from the organization in 2012.

According to Planned Parenthood, the organization presents its “prestigious” Barry Goldwater Award “to an outstanding elected official who has acted as a leader within the Republican Party to protect women’s reproductive rights across the United States.”

On Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s website, Hanna is listed as the 2012 recipient of the award.

In a statement following Hanna’s GOP primary victory in 2014, Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said:

Richard Hanna’s victory shows that Republican voters will elect leaders who support women’s health. Allowing women to make their own personal health care decisions is at the heart of independence and freedom. That’s what Richard Hanna has made clear throughout his time in Congress and throughout his primary campaign against his extreme and out-of-touch opponent, Claudia Tenney.

He’s not alone. The majority of Americans—across party lines—agree that decisions about reproductive health care should be left between a woman and her doctor—without government intrusion.

The Daily Signal reached out to Hanna’s office to ask if he would join his Republican colleagues in calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood in light of recently released undercover video showing senior executives at the organization discussing the sale of fetal organs. The Daily Signal also asked if Hanna would return the funds he received from Planned Parenthood pending the results of that investigation.

A spokeswoman for Hanna did not return our multiple requests for comment.

One of Hanna’s constituents forwarded an email he received from Hanna’s office in response to his concerns about Planned Parenthood:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding Planned Parenthood. I appreciate hearing from you.

As you know, recent videos have revealed the disturbing way that some Planned Parenthood officials discuss the details of their operations. The callous and ugly tone and detached emotional nature of the video has renewed discussion of the federal funding of this organization.

I personally oppose abortion, and I have consistently supported the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions. It is clear that the vast majority of American taxpayers do not want their money spent on abortions, and I agree. Additionally, it is vitally important that we ensure that all medical practices and procedures within the United States comport with the laws and morals that we, as a nation, stand for.

Should the House consider legislation related to Planned Parenthood, I will keep your comments and concerns in mind. While I am sure you may not agree with every vote I cast representing you, you will always know my rationale for the decisions I make on the House floor. I am committed to open government and transparency, which is why I post updates from Washington and explanations for final passage votes on each House bill on Facebook at www.facebook.com/reprichardhanna.

 

Earlier this year, Hanna was the only Republican to vote against the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

“I have been a consistent supporter of women’s rights and health care organizations in upstate New York that aid women, especially those most vulnerable in our community. While I personally oppose abortion, individuals should be free to make that very difficult and personal decision without heavy-handed government involvement,” Hanna said in a Jan. 22 statement.

“This legislation goes beyond the Hyde Amendment to create new financial penalties, red tape and paperwork requirements,” he said. “These are government barriers for small businesses and individuals who would choose to provide their employees or themselves with health plans that include abortion coverage.”

“I continue to oppose spending federal tax dollars on abortion, but this legislation goes too far in finding new ways to insert government influence into personal and employer health care decisions best left to families and consumers,” Hanna added.

The House passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act in January in a 272-179 vote.

Tim Scott: $100 Million Body Camera Bill Will Make Police, Communities Safer - The Daily Signal

Tim Scott: $100 Million Body Camera Bill Will Make Police, Communities Safer

Lisa Curtis / Kate Scanlon / Natalie Johnson /

The viral cellphone video showing a police officer fatally shooting Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, in Sen. Tim Scott’s South Carolina hometown spurred the GOP’s sole black senator to introduce police body camera legislation Tuesday.

Scott’s bill would send $100 million a year in federal funds to local and state police departments to outfit officers with body cameras in an attempt to limit the use of lethal force and bring clarity to instances where force may be justified.

“Across our nation, too often we are seeing a lack of trust between communities and law enforcement lead to tragedy,” Scott said in a statement, calling the use of body cameras an “important step” to restoring trust amidst growing divide.

Scott said the cameras would alter behavior, citing a study finding public complaints against officers wearing body cameras dropped nearly 90 percent and officers’ use of force fell by 60 percent.

“We have seen that body-worn cameras can keep both officers and citizens safer, and that video can help provide clarity following an altercation,” Scott said. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures.”

Walter Scott’s death, which was captured on a shaky video by a man who was walking to work at the time of the shooting, drove the senator to call a hearing in May to discuss the use of body cameras. Scott called the cellphone footage “critical” in convicting the officer who killed Walter Scott.

Scott furthered his push following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, which sparked violent riots across Baltimore, saying police body cameras would have shown “exactly what happened” to Gray.

“We should always have as much evidence from the scene as possible. Body cameras provide us the opportunity to gather that information real time and to store it, to use it in criminal investigations and I think today, we have a different outcome,” he told CNN following the death.

Scott’s legislation would not mandate law enforcement to adopt body cameras, but would provide funds to police departments that cannot afford them, giving preference to those that establish specific policies regarding the use of the cameras.

“Our goal is not to find a way to nationalize local law enforcement, but to do the exact opposite,” he told reporters.

The cost of his bill, called the Safer Officers and Safer Citizens Act, would be offset by limiting paid administrative leave for federal employees to 20 days a year.

Scott’s legislation marks another notch in the growing bipartisan movement to overhaul the U.S.’s criminal justice system through sentencing and policing reforms.

But Scott warned against a comprehensive approach—which both houses of Congress have moved toward—saying legislation should instead be taken up individually.

“I think my body camera legislation is [a] winner,” he told Politico on the eve of his announcement. “I should think that though, right?”

13 Things You Should Know About the Man Who Wants to Oust John Boehner - The Daily Signal

13 Things You Should Know About the Man Who Wants to Oust John Boehner

Lisa Curtis / Kate Scanlon / Natalie Johnson / Natalie Johnson /

Rep. Mark Meadows, the conservative congressman pushing a motion to oust John Boehner as speaker, has insisted he does not like “being in the limelight.”

However, his latest challenge to GOP leadership has catapulted his name across headlines, showing a defiant side to the man often described as the “friendliest guy in the House.”

Here are 13 things you may not know about the North Carolina representative.

  1. Meadows’ attempt to unseat Speaker Boehner is not the first time he has rebelled against Washington’s power players. Last month, Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, temporarily removed Meadows from his subcommittee chairmanship for voting against a motion to advance President Obama’s trade bill.
  2. Meadows was a key player in the 2013 government shutdown, sending a letter to Boehner just eight months after taking office encouraging him to halt any appropriations bill including Obamacare funding. CNN went as far as to call Meadows the “architect” and “man behind” the shutdown.
  3. He has a cordial reputation on Capitol Hill. Both Democrats and Republicans call him one of the “nicest guys” in D.C., Politico reports, and The Washington Post dubbed him the “friendliest guy in the House.”
  4. His affable personality shows in interviews. Just days after Chaffetz stripped his chairmanship, Meadows told The Washington Post, “I love people.”

“Every single week, I try to find at least seven different people with something unique and admirable about them, and I share that with them. D.C. is not going to change me on that, even today.”

  1. Meadows was first elected to Congress in 2012 following redistricting in North Carolina, which shifted his district from “slightly” Republican to solid.
  2. His seat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee allowed him to play a lead role in pushing Congress to investigate the Internal Revenue Service for targeting conservative groups.
  3. His position also launched him as central in forcing the resignation of Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta in July following the department’s massive data breach exposing 21.5 million Social Security numbers.
  4. He grew up in Tampa Bay, Florida, describing himself as a “fat nerd” during his early years. He decided to lose weight after he attempted to ask a girl out only to be shot down.

“I went home and looked in the mirror and said, ‘You’re fat.’ So, I started almost immediately to run a mile to lose weight,” Meadows recalled.

  1. He caught the attention of his wife, Debbie, in high school after he lost weight, becoming “unrecognizable” even to her—she thought he was a new student. They both graduated from the University of South Florida.
  2. He was born in Verdun, France, in a U.S. Army Hospital where his father was stationed during the Vietnam War. His mother worked as a civilian nurse at the hospital.
  3. His family was poor, providing him with an upbringing he said gave him an “appreciation” for hard work.

“They would kind of go through feast and famine,” Meadows told a local paper about his childhood. “There was never really money for extras.”

  1. Prior to becoming a congressman, he and his wife opened a sandwich shop called Aunt D’s Place in a small North Carolina town where they moved after college. He later sold the shop and became a real estate broker.
  2. Meadows recently told a high school class in North Carolina his conservative political views are inspired by his Christian faith.

“My dad was actually a Democrat. I registered immediately as a Republican. Nothing against him, it’s just where I was [and] my worldview. My world view has been shaped from my Christian faith more than anything else.”

7 Women and Men Share Why They Oppose Planned Parenthood - The Daily Signal

7 Women and Men Share Why They Oppose Planned Parenthood

Lisa Curtis / Kate Scanlon / Natalie Johnson / Natalie Johnson / Samantha Reinis / Ellie Mueller /

There is more to a movement than the slogan.

The Students for Life of America held a nationwide rally Tuesday that included 65 cities across the country filled with supporters with the desire to investigate and defund Planned Parenthood.

(Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

(Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

“Women have been betrayed by Planned Parenthood. Tiny humans have become commodities as a part of Planned Parenthood’s business model,” the #WomenBetrayed Facebook event page reads.

People from all ages and walks of life came to offer their support and share their personal stories on why this movement was especially important to them.

Supporters at the rally yelled several chants, including "We are the pro-life generation." (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Supporters at the rally yelled several chants, including “We are the pro-life generation.” (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Here are their stories.

Lisa Twig considers herself a dedicated pro-life feminist. She has been to 13 consecutive March for Life demonstrations.

“I’ve been told, ‘You can’t be a feminist because you are against abortion’ and I’m like when did abortion become a qualifier for being a feminist? Why should I have to support a violent choice in order to stand up for women’s rights?” Twig told The Daily Signal.

Twig wants to be an advocate of all human rights and not be wrongly labeled by her feminist views.

“I see them as equally important, both human beings and women,” Twig said. “[Abortion] is the greatest human rights injustice of our generation.”

Twig, 26, has been a part of the pro-life movement since she was 14 years old. “I see something wrong and I just decide I’ll make a sign about it, although this one was made by someone who has better handwriting than I do,” Twig said. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Lisa Twig, 26, has been a part of the pro-life movement since she was 14 years old. “I see something wrong and I just decide I’ll make a sign about it, although this one was made by someone who has better handwriting than I do,” Twig said. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

For many pro-life supporters, the issue is personal. Faith Braverman is no different.

Braverman told The Daily Signal that her younger sister got pregnant at 17 years old, yet the option of an abortion never crossed her mind.

“She knew right from the start she wanted to keep her baby and now she has a wonderful life, her kid is beautiful, she is married, she is studying to be a nurse,” Braverman said. “It’s just more proof to me a baby isn’t a death sentence for whatever you want to achieve in life”

One woman at the #WomenBetrayed rally modified the Planned Parenthood logo. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

One woman at the #WomenBetrayed rally modified the Planned Parenthood logo. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Helping her sister through this time in her life, Braverman is able to understand what some women are dealing with, and emphasize how important a proper support system is to them.

“It’s all about having people around you, a good support system. That’s something we need to hammer home to women, that they aren’t alone, there are options.” Braverman said.

Braverman proudly displaying her witty sign in front of the United States Capitol Building as she shared her advice for women dealing with the thought of an abortion. “There are happy endings out there for people who have unplanned pregnancies, I know a lot of women feel they don’t have the choice, but there always is one,” Braverman said. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Braverman proudly displays her witty sign in front of the United States Capitol Building as she shares her advice for women dealing with the thought of an abortion. “There are happy endings out there for people who have unplanned pregnancies, I know a lot of women feel they don’t have the choice, but there always is one,” Braverman said. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Mary Gorman can see the importance of the pro-life movement etched upon the faces of her daughters. As the mother of three little girls, Gorman stated that it is her job to allow them the option of life.

“A life is a life. Once you’re pregnant, your body is not your own anymore, you have another body, you have another heart, another brain, you have something else, another body entirely,” Gorman said.

The personal experience of going through multiple pregnancies and having her children has put the controversial topic in perspective for Gorman.

“I hope that someday in the near future people look back and say ‘I can’t believe we did that, I can’t believe how wrong we were,’” Gorman said.

Mary-Kate and Audrey Groman stand with their handmade Dr. Suess’ Horton Hears a Who! themed sign. “She liked it because it was about small people-looking out for the tiny ones,” her mother, Mary said. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Mary-Kate and Audrey Groman stand with their handmade Dr. Suess’ “Horton Hears a Who!” themed sign. “She liked it because it was about small people looking out for the tiny ones,” her mother, Mary said. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Janet Shagan revealed that while she just recently got physically involved in the pro-life movement, she’s always been an advocate for the unborn.

“In this country, we are for every person. All through history it has been dangerous when some group is defined as less than human,” Shagan said. “In these times we are living in, it is the unborn that are defined as less than human, and there is something incredibly sad about that.”

Shagan shows off her sign and spoke of her opinion on Planned Parenthood. “I don’t want to support it. It’s a big business. Why can’t they stand and fall on their own? Why do taxpayers have to give money to this?” Shagan said. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Janet Shagan shows off her sign and speaks of her opinion on Planned Parenthood. “I don’t want to support it. It’s a big business. Why can’t they stand and fall on their own? Why do taxpayers have to give money to this?” Shagan said. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Jim and Ellen Storey have a full household as the parents of six children.

They told The Daily Signal that although they had two children on their own, they decided to adopt four special needs children, who are typically lost in the system as it is difficult to place them in a permanent home.

“Their mothers chose to have life for them. That’s the greatest gift a mother could ever give her child, is to say, ‘here is life but I’m not ready to raise you or maybe because of my situation right now, I can’t,’” Storey said.

A demonstrator's sign alludes to the importance of life in reference to Planned Parenthood's sale of fetal tissue recently revealed in a shocking undercover video. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

A demonstrator’s sign alludes to the importance of life in reference to Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal tissue recently revealed in undercover videos. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Ellen Storey revealed how grateful she is that their respective mothers decided to carry their pregnancies to term, rather than aborting the special needs child.

“I always want those mothers to know that they gave their child the one thing that no one else ever could. Life,” Storey said.

The Storey’s speak of their six children and are grateful to the women that gave their four children up for adoption that they are proud to raise as their own. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

The Storeys speak of their six children and how grateful they are to the women that gave their four children up for adoption, which they are proud to raise as their own. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

One pro-life supporter declined to give his name, but was willing to share his powerful story.

“My mother was brave enough to choose life when my father was pressuring her to have an abortion,” the pro-life supporter said, “It’s an issue that strikes home for me in more ways than one.”

The man uses his own life as a living example of why the pro-life movement is so important.

“Since I have been able to live and be so successful, I want that opportunity for everyone,” the anonymous supporter said.

A pro-life supporter displays his sign and the reason the issue is so important to him.“It’s a statement that unborn lives matter as we move forward towards defunding Planned Parenthood,” the man told The Daily Signal. (Photo: Samantha Reinis/The Daily Signal)

Born 225 Years Ago, Tocqueville Predicted the Tyranny of the Majority in Our Modern World - The Daily Signal

Born 225 Years Ago, Tocqueville Predicted the Tyranny of the Majority in Our Modern World

Lisa Curtis / Kate Scanlon / Natalie Johnson / Natalie Johnson / Samantha Reinis / Ellie Mueller / Arthur Milikh /

We often boast about having attained some unimaginable redefinition of ourselves and our nation. How odd then, that someone born 225 years ago today could understand us with more clarity and depth than we understand ourselves.

Back in 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville accurately foresaw both much of what ails us and our remarkable uniqueness and strengths. Tocqueville’s deservedly famous book, “Democracy in America,” was the product of his nine-month excursion throughout Jacksonian America. The purpose of this trip was to study our country’s political institution and the habits of mind of its citizens.

America’s Place in the World

Tocqueville correctly thought the then-developing America was the way of the future. As such, he foresaw that Europe would never be restored to its former greatness—though he hoped it but could serve as the cultural repository of the West.

He also predicted Russian despotism, thinking that Russia was not yet morally exhausted like Europe, and would bring about a new, massive tyranny. In fact, he conjectured that America and Russia would each “hold the destinies of half the world in its hands one day.”

The majority’s moral power makes individuals internally ashamed to contradict it, which in effect silences them, and this silencing culminates in a cessation of thinking.

He therefore hoped America would serve as an example to the world—a successful combination of equality and liberty. And an example of this was needed, since equality can go along with freedom, but it can even more easily go along with despotism. In fact, much of the world did go in the direction of democratic despotism—wherein the great mass of citizens is indeed equal, save for a ruling elite, which governs them. In a strange sense, Tocqueville would think that North Korea is egalitarian.

Despite his hopes for America, Tocqueville thought grave obstacles would diminish our freedom—though he didn’t think them insurmountable.

The Power of the Majority

Most alarming to him was the power of the majority, which he thought would distort every sphere of human life.

Despots of the past tyrannized through blood and iron.  But the new breed of democratic despotism “does not proceed in this way; it leaves the body and goes straight for the soul.”

That is, the majority reaches into citizens’ minds and hearts. It breaks citizens’ will to resist, to question its authority, and to think for themselves. The majority’s moral power makes individuals internally ashamed to contradict it, which in effect silences them, and this silencing culminates in a cessation of thinking. And we see this happen almost daily: to stand against the majority is to ruin yourself.

Moreover, Tocqueville feared that the majority’s tastes and opinions would occupy every sphere of sentiment and thought. One among many illuminating examples is his commentary on democratic art.  He foresaw that the majority would have no taste for portraying great human beings doing great deeds.  Art used to be the pictorial representation of man’s connection to the natural or divine order to which he belongs. But in modern democracies, art would go in the direction of the majority’s tastes: it would be abstract, focused on color and shape.

Why? Because to experience this kind of art one needs to only have senses; whereas to experience the art of the past one needs an education in the classics—the Bible and ancient literature especially.  It’s easy to pontificate about Jackson Pollock, while it’s difficult to understand Michelangelo.   But most revealing is that abstract art is an expression of democracy’s hatred for human greatness, the very theme of art.

Tocqueville’s Predictions About the Modern State

The influence on the mind of democracy and the majority weakens and isolates individuals. This creates fertile grounds for a new kind of oppression which “will resemble nothing that has preceded it in the world.”

Tocqueville foresaw an “immense tutelary power”—the modern state—which will degrade men rather than destroy their bodies. Over time, he feared, the state will take away citizens’ free will, their capacity to think and act, reducing them to “a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.” Are contemporary China and Russia substantially different?

But Tocqueville does prescribe some solutions.  He hoped that those having read his prescient book would come to understand that the defects of modern democracy require great attention and careful management. Specifically, he hoped, we would strive “to preserve for the individual the little independence, force, and originality” that remains to him.

In other words, when looking at any given policy, our lawmakers might look not at the benefits for their home district, or vainly calculating attention from the next media hit, but what any given policy proposals’ long-term effect will be on securing freedom and rights. Making individuals stronger, more independent, more able to resist the tyranny of the majority and of a constantly growing administrative state is the goal.

Tocqueville’s critiques are given in the spirit of friendship.  He wants us to “remember constantly that a nation cannot long remain strong when each man in it is individually weak, and that neither social forms nor political schemes have yet been found that can make a people energetic by composing it of pusillanimous and soft citizens.”

On the 225th anniversary of Tocqueville’s birth, asking contemporary Americans to pick up “Democracy in America” is perhaps too great a request. Nonetheless, we may at the least recall his clarity of vision and take seriously that America requires statesmanship and intelligent guidance to fight off the natural propensities which diminish our freedom.

57 Years Later: A Look Back at NASA in 13 Pictures - The Daily Signal

57 Years Later: A Look Back at NASA in 13 Pictures

Lisa Curtis / Kate Scanlon / Natalie Johnson / Natalie Johnson / Samantha Reinis / Ellie Mueller / Arthur Milikh / Samantha Reinis /

President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act exactly 57 years ago today, in 1958.

This legislation created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with the mission of establishing an American presence in the final frontier. “[A]ctivities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind,” the act states.

To commemorate this day, here is a look back at the early days of NASA, up until the first man walked on the moon only 11 years after its creation.

President Eisenhower commissioned Dr. T. Keith Glennan, as the first administrator for NASA and Dr. Hugh L. Dryden as deputy administrator. NASA officially began operations on Oct. 1, 1958, to perform civilian research related to space flight and aeronautics. (Photo: NASA)

President Eisenhower commissioned Dr. T. Keith Glennan, as the first administrator for NASA and Dr. Hugh L. Dryden as deputy administrator. NASA officially began operations on Oct. 1, 1958, to perform civilian research related to space flight and aeronautics. (Photo: NASA)

The Original 7 Mercury Astronauts are pictured around a table admiring an Atlas model. The Mercury 7 astronauts were introduced to the American public in April 1959. (Photo: NASA via CNP/Newscom)

The Original 7 Mercury Astronauts are pictured around a table admiring an Atlas model. The Mercury 7 astronauts were introduced to the American public in April 1959. (Photo: NASA via CNP/Newscom)

Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr., is attired in a training version of a Mercury space suit, during a break from training for the Friendship 7 spacecraft. (Photo: NASA via CNP/Newscom)

Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr., is attired in a training version of a Mercury space suit, during a break from training for the Friendship 7 spacecraft. (Photo: NASA via CNP/Newscom)

United States President John F. Kennedy inspects interior of the Friendship 7 on February 23, 1962 as he presented the NASA Distinguished Service Medal to Astronaut Glenn. (Photo: Cecil Stoughton/White House via CNP/Newscom)

United States President John F. Kennedy inspects interior of the Friendship 7 on Feb. 23, 1962 as he presented the NASA Distinguished Service Medal to Astronaut Glenn. (Photo: Cecil Stoughton/White House via CNP/Newscom)

President Johnson holds a Gemini-4 souvenir photo album which he was presented by Gemini-4 astronauts James A. McDivitt and Edward H. White II. McDivitt holds a framed picture of White's "spacewalk" which was also given the President. (Photo: NASA)

President Johnson holds a Gemini-4 souvenir photo album which he was presented by Gemini-4 astronauts James A. McDivitt and Edward H. White II. McDivitt holds a framed picture of White’s “spacewalk” which was also given to the president. (Photo: NASA)

The Crew Members of Apollo 11 seen as they leave the Space Center ready to head to the moon. (Photo: Keystone Pictures USA/ZumaPress/Newscom)

The crew members of Apollo 11 seen as they leave the Space Center ready to head to the moon. (Photo: Keystone Pictures USA/ZumaPress/Newscom)

NASA workers watch the Apollo 11 mission from the Mission Control Center. (Photo: NASA)

NASA workers watch the Apollo 11 mission from the Mission Control Center. (Photo: NASA)

Former President Johnson and former Vice President Spiro Agnew watch the liftoff of Apollo 11 from the Kennedy Space Center, July 16, 1969. (Photo: NASA/KSC)

Former President Johnson and former Vice President Spiro Agnew watch the liftoff of Apollo 11 from the Kennedy Space Center, July 16, 1969. (Photo: NASA/KSC)

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., poses for a photograph beside the United States flag during an Apollo 11 mission July 20th, 1969. (Photo: NASA)

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. poses for a photograph beside the United States flag during an Apollo 11 mission July 20, 1969. (Photo: NASA)

Buzz Aldrin, the pilot of the first lunar landing mission, leaves his bootprint during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.  (Photo:NASA/Newscom)

Buzz Aldrin, the pilot of the first lunar landing mission, leaves his bootprint during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. (Photo:NASA/Newscom)

NASA officials celebrate in the  Mission Control Center after the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. (Photo: NASA)

NASA officials celebrate in the Mission Control Center after the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. (Photo: NASA)

A view of the Earth appears over the Lunar horizon as the Apollo 11 Command Module comes into view of the Moon before Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin Jr. leave in the Lunar Module, Eagle, to become the first men to walk on the Moon's surface. (Photo: DPA/ABACA/Newscom)

A view of the Earth appears over the Lunar horizon as the Apollo 11 Command Module comes into view of the moon before Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin Jr. leave in the Lunar Module, Eagle, to become the first men to walk on the moon’s surface. (Photo: DPA/ABACA/Newscom)

Do Families in Red or Blue States Have Greater Stability? What a Study Found. - The Daily Signal

Do Families in Red or Blue States Have Greater Stability? What a Study Found.

Lisa Curtis / Kate Scanlon / Natalie Johnson / Natalie Johnson / Samantha Reinis / Ellie Mueller / Arthur Milikh / Samantha Reinis / Diana Stancy /

Contrary to what had been accepted as conventional wisdom, America’s red counties have a higher percentage of stable families than those in blue counties.

According to a study from the Institute for Family Studies, red counties tend to have more married adults, more children born within marriage and higher levels of children living with both biological parents than blue counties.

“The reddest counties have higher rates of family stability, which is surprising because red counties, especially in the South, tend to have higher divorce rates,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, senior fellow with the Institute for Family Studies and author of the study. “But what seems to be happening here is that non-marital childbearing has emerged as a bigger engine of family instability than divorce in America. And this brief indicates that non-marital childbearing is lower in redder counties.”

But this finding contradicts previous research outlined in Naomi Cahn and June Carbone’s “Red Families v. Blue Families,” which concluded “blue families” are stronger than “red families.”

“The most stable families, the homes with two parents to nurture their kids, are found in the liberal strongholds along the East and West Coasts,” National Public Radio’s Neal Conan said during an interview with Cahn and Carbone. “The red states, the heartland states, if you will, the states that tout family values or celebrate family values, there are religious and traditional [values there] that you [Cahn and Carbone] say increase the likelihood of having less stable families.”

Wilcox acknowledged in his report some of the most stable families do come from blue states, such as Massachusetts and Minnesota, and that, indeed, the most stable families exist in the most extreme red and blue states.

But Wilcox said the state-level data addresses only part of the equation because it does not explain the “connection between family stability and political culture” at the local level.

“At the local level, red counties typically enjoy somewhat stronger families than do blue counties on at least three measures worth considering: marriage, non-marital childbearing and family stability,” Wilcox wrote in the report.

“The bottom line: The marriage advantage in red America helps explain why children in red counties are somewhat more likely to enjoy stable families than are children in blue counties,” he added.

Wilcox acknowledged there was no “overwhelming advantage” here, but he said it does dissolve the notion blue states produce greater family stability. He said blue states achieve this through education and delayed parenthood, but red states have marriage on their side contributing to family stability.

Likewise, Rachel Sheffield, policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity, said marriage does play a critical role in family stability and helps children succeed. Furthermore, children born in married families are less likely to raise their children in poverty.

“We can’t overlook the important need to strengthen marriage, particularly in communities where marriage is struggling or has fallen apart,” Sheffield said. “Marriage benefits men, women, children and society as a whole. Leaders at every level should look for ways to build a healthy marriage culture so that as many children as possible have the gift of being raised by their married mother and father in a stable, healthy family.”

50 Years of Dysfunction: The Failures of Medicare and Medicaid - The Daily Signal

50 Years of Dysfunction: The Failures of Medicare and Medicaid

Lisa Curtis / Kate Scanlon / Natalie Johnson / Natalie Johnson / Samantha Reinis / Ellie Mueller / Arthur Milikh / Samantha Reinis / Diana Stancy / Robert Moffit / Nina Owcharenko /

Fifty years ago, on July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating the nation’s two largest federal health entitlements, Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare was created as a social insurance program for seniors and those with disabilities. It is financed primarily by payroll taxes collected during a recipients working life, and secondarily by personal and business income taxes.

Medicaid was designed as a welfare program to provide health care services to vulnerable low income groups. Medicaid is jointly financed by federal and state governments.

>>> On Thursday, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute are hosting an event with leading experts to reflect on the past 50 years and look ahead to the next. Details here.

Unfortunately at the age of 50, both Medicare and Medicaid continue to suffer from problems inherent to their structure and organization.

For example both programs:

Medicare is the largest purchaser of health care in the nation, covering roughly 55 million persons.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates Medicare’s total annual cost at $615 billion in 2015 and it is scheduled to exceed $1 trillion by 2023.

In other words, over the next 75 years American seniors are expecting tens of trillions of dollars of Medicare benefits that are not paid for. Today, working taxpayers, mostly through business and personal income taxes, fund an estimated 86 percent of the program’s annual cost.

For Medicaid, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary estimates that Medicaid’s total (federal and state combined) spending is expected to reach $529 billion in 2015, with 68.9 million enrollees.

Fifty years later, in their July 22, 2015 memo to Senate Budget Committee staff Medicare’s Office of the Actuary reports that Medicare’s debt – the program’s long-term unfunded liability- ranges from $27.9 to $36.8 trillion.

Whether it’s the lower or higher debt number, this year’s estimates are worse than last year’s by more than a $1 trillion.

For Medicaid, cost and enrollment is expected to continue to grow, in particular due to the expansion of the program under the Affordable Care Act.

By 2023, total Medicaid spending is projected to climb to $835 billion and enrollment will near 80 million.

The President’s answer is to cut Medicare payments to medical professionals and institutions.

Under Obamacare, the Medicare Trustees warn,

“By 2040, approximately half of hospitals, 70 percent of skilled nursing facilities and 90 percent of home health agencies would have negative total facility margins, ” adding that this creates the “possibility of access and quality of care issues for Medicare beneficiaries.”

For Medicaid, access and quality of care is already a top concern.

A recent CDC study found that only 68.9 percent of physicians would accept new Medicaid patients.

For the next 50 years, Congress could initiate transformative changes through a defined contribution ( “premium support”) financing in both programs, giving patients direct control over the flow of health care dollars and compelling health plans and providers to compete for patients’ dollars on a level playing field.

Intense competition among health plans and providers would stimulate innovation in benefit design and care delivery, improve patient outcomes and enhance patient satisfaction, and save serious money for both seniors and taxpayers alike.

 

Democratic Lawmaker: ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protesters Should Be in Front of Planned Parenthoods - The Daily Signal

Democratic Lawmaker: ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protesters Should Be in Front of Planned Parenthoods

Lisa Curtis / Kate Scanlon / Natalie Johnson / Natalie Johnson / Samantha Reinis / Ellie Mueller / Arthur Milikh / Samantha Reinis / Diana Stancy / Robert Moffit / Nina Owcharenko / Video Team /

Democrat Bill Patmon, a state representative in Ohio, has introduced a bill to end Ohio state funding to Planned Parenthood.

“Five thousand, four hundred and ninety-nine abortions are in Cuyahoga County, which I happen to represent,” Patmon said in a speech Tuesday. “And 63 percent of them are black women, 63 percent of them are of a certain hue of their skin.”

“You hear a lot of demonstrations across the country now, about black lives matter,” Patmon added. “Well, they skipped one place. They should be in front of Planned Parenthood.”

Patmon was speaking at a pro-life rally at the Ohio statehouse.