UK Independence Party Leader Nigel Farage is perhaps the happiest man in Britain right now. The politician who dedicated his career to securing the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, watched as his life’s dream came true Thursday night.
Following the historic vote, Farage celebrated June 23 as Britain’s “independence day.”
He also weighed in on how Britain got here, noting in a victory speech that his fellow citizens were fed up with the EU's relaxed refugee policy and unaccountable leadership in Brussels.
“People here don't understand – they are too wealthy, they don't get – what open-door, mass immigrations, the result of EU-membership has done to people's wages, availability of getting GP appointments or their kids to go local schools.... I'm thrilled that we've done this.”
In a radio interview on Friday with Sirius XM and Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Daily, Farage suggested that President Obama’s pro-EU rhetoric also served to boost the Brexit campaign, because people don't take kindly to threats.
“When Obama came it was… ‘Project Threat’ to be honest with you,” he said. “Threatening people too much actually insults their intelligence and the lesson from the Obama visit is even more fascinating. Here’s the most powerful man in the world coming from a country that we’ve always had a huge high regard for…and a lot of people in Britain said, ‘How dare the American president come here and tell us what to do?’ And, it backfired and I think we got an Obama – Brexit bounce because people do not want foreign leaders telling them how to think and how to vote.”
Now that Britain has completely ignored the U.S. president, Obama has said he respects their decision.
They said they were going to do it—and now it’s done. Hawaii will become the first state to enter its gun-owning residents into an FBI database because law-abiding citizens should be feared, or something. This is the price you pay in the Aloha State for exercising your constitutional right to own firearms (via AP/Fox News):
Hawaii signed a bill Thursday to become the first state to enter gun owners into an FBI database that will automatically notify police if an island resident is arrested anywhere else in the country.
Gov. David Ige said in a statement that the legislation is about community safety and responsible gun ownership. He said it will help law enforcement agencies protect Hawaii residents and visitors.
State Sen. Will Espero, who introduced the bill, and the Honolulu Police Department said the measure could serve as a model for other states. However, critics believe gun owners shouldn’t have to be entered in a database to practice a constitutional right.
Most people entered in the program, known as the “Rap Back” database, are in “positions of trust,” such as school teachers and bus drivers Stephen Fischer of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division said in May. Hawaii is the first to add gun owners.
Hawaii News Now added that Gov. David Ige signed two other gun bills. One related to barring a person charged with “harassment by stalking and sexual assault” from owning firearms, while another would give police the authority to seize guns from someone due to mental illness. On its face, they seem reasonable, but what are the criteria to determine someone who is mentally unfit to own firearms? Is paranoid schizophrenia on the prohibited list? What about Asperger Syndrome? While the mentally ill are more of a danger to themselves than other people, there are certainly some mental illnesses that should prohibit those from owning guns. Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter, is a prime example. Yet, I’m not so sure about people who are diagnosed with autism or lesser developmental disorders.
As for the measure over stalking, of course, domestic abusers, rapists, and stalkers shouldn’t have access to firearms, but only after they’re convicted. Merely being charged sidesteps due process, so this whole bundle is just a mess. Yes, in the wake of Orlando, the killer, Omar Mateen, bought his guns legally, but seldom are law-abiding gun owners interviewed by the FBI due to repeated instances of raising red flags over terrorism. The goal of this database initiative is simply to monitor gun owners because they seem to be more of a threat than say…ISIS. It’s truly despicable.
When the nation's largest insurer announced its departure from a few Obamacare state exchanges last year, the law's defenders pooh-poohed the development as a blip on the radar. Then the health insurance giant pulled out of almost all markets, forcing apologists to insist that all was well because UnitedHealth's overall Obamacare marketshare was relatively small. Next, the company said it was closing up shop within Covered California, the massive exchange in America's largest state. And now we get word that another enormous insurer is edging away from participation in the law -- withdrawing not just from Minnesota's Obamacare exchange, but from the state's entire individual-based market:
This is a big deal - first Blue Cross plan to leave an Obamacare marketplace. https://t.co/hF0vwVmpoL— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) June 24, 2016
Many Minnesotans will once again feel the sting of President Obama's dishonest "keep your plan" pledge, as the predictable consequences of his signature "accomplishment" are driving offerings out of existence:
Minnesota's largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has decided to stop selling health plans to individuals and families in Minnesota starting next year. The insurer explained extraordinary financial losses drove the decision. "Based on current medical claim trends, Blue Cross is projecting a total loss of more than $500 million in the individual [health plan] segment over three years," BCBSM said in a statement. The Blues reported a loss of $265 million on insurance operations from individual market plans in 2015. The insurer said claims for medical care far exceeded premium revenue for those plans. "The individual market remains in transition and we look forward to working toward a more stable path with policy leaders here in Minnesota and at the national level," the company stated. "Shifts and changes in health plan participation and market segments have contributed to a volatile individual market, where costs and prices have been escalating at unprecedented levels." The decision will have far-reaching implications. Blue Cross and Blue Shield says the change will affect about, "103,000 Minnesotans [who] have purchased Blue Cross coverage on their own, through an agent or broker, or on MNsure."
Risk pools have been sicker and older than expected, driving up expenses for insurers and resulting in losses. A major Blue Cross Blue Shield study released this year determined that the cost of insuring new Obamacare enrollees is 22 percent higher than it is for consumers in the employer-based market. This law is failing across the board: On spiraling premiums, on out-of-pocket costs, on enrollment figures, on economic impact, and on cost curves. It's hurting real, hardworking people and harming more Americans than it's helping, which is why it remains unpopular with voters. Hillary Clinton, who effectively designed the scheme, believes it's working. Republicans do not, which is why they've voted to repeal Obamacare on numerous occasions (with some successes), finally getting a full repeal bill to the president's desk this year. Even though various individual members and coalitions have put forward specific and detailed replacement plans, one of the fair knocks on the GOP is that they've never offered a unified Obamacare alternative proposal. That changed this week, as House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled a 20,000-word plan that repeals virtually all of the law, while maintaining popular provisions like the '26-year-old' rule, and working to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions are able to obtain coverage. Ramesh Ponnuru analyzes the particulars and writes that if Republicans eventually find themselves in a position to legislatively implement the plan, Obamacare will have set the table for its own replacement:
In the past Republicans have argued about how to reform tax policy on health care: Should employer-provided coverage remain untaxed, or should this tax break end? Should people without access to such coverage get a tax credit or a tax deduction? The House plan lets the tax break stay -- avoiding the political disaster that a less compromising free-market plan would have courted -- but trims it for the most expensive plans. And it offers those without employer coverage a tax credit. Republicans would not have resolved the issue that way without Obamacare. Offering a tax credit, instead of a deduction, would enable many more low-income people to buy coverage, but by the same token it eats up more of the budget. In the aftermath of Obamacare, though, Republicans realize that they need to minimize the number of people who lose coverage under a replacement.
A thorny issue for any health-care plan other than single-payer is how to handle people with pre-existing conditions. Obamacare’s approach is to prohibit insurers from considering these conditions. But that prohibition means people can wait until they get sick to buy insurance, threatening the viability of insurance markets. The Affordable Care Act attempted to solve that problem by requiring healthy people to buy insurance. The Republicans take a different approach. They too would keep insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions -- so long as those people had maintained continuous coverage. That regulation creates the opposite incentive from Obamacare’s total prohibition: Healthy people have a reason to buy insurance, so no further action needs to be taken to get them to do it...People who had not maintained continuous coverage, who do not have an employer plan and who cannot buy private coverage would be covered by subsidized high-risk pools.
Ponnuru concludes: "These ideas have no immediate prospect of becoming law. They look about as unlikely to carry the day as the ideas behind Obamacare did six years before it was enacted. The House plan makes it much more likely, though, that Republicans will be ready to act should they ever attain unified control of the government. And if that day comes, Obamacare will have paved the way for its own replacement." Here's Ryan laying out broad strokes at AEI, followed by a panel discussion among the four committee chairmen who crafted the new blueprint:
The Speaker made reference to the essential importance Medicare reform in his remarks, which he has championed for years. I'll leave you with a reminder of why that challenge is so pressing. In short, if we do nothing, "Medicare as we know it" is on a rapid path to insolvency -- as entitlement spending remains by far the largest driver of our long-term debt crisis:
Medicare will be insolvent by 2028, two years earlier than previous estimates: https://t.co/Ng5TMCOJro— Modern Healthcare (@modrnhealthcr) June 22, 2016
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates Medicare's insolvency date will arrive two years earlier, in 2026.
UPDATE: UKIP's Nigel Farage said that Obama getting involved in the Brexit referendum gave the "Leave" camp a big boost (via The Hill):
“Threatening people too much insults their intelligence,” the United Kingdom Independence Party head said.
“A lot of people in Britain said, ‘How dare the American president come here and tell us what to do?’ ” Farage continued on Sirius XM’s “Breitbart News Daily,” citing Obama’s U.K. trip in April.
“It backfired. We got an Obama-Brexit bounce, because people do not want foreign leaders telling them how to think and vote.”
UPDATE II: I almost forgot to mention the 2014 midterms, folks. Obama campaigned for the Democrats in those elections and Republicans retook the Senate, increased their majority in the House, and made major gains at the state and local level. House Republicans gained their largest majority since 1928, the GOP controls two-thirds of the governorships, and they have the most elected state lawmakers since 1920. Oh, and they control 66/99 state legislatures.
Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch cited President Obama sticking his beak in a British issue over the then-looming vote over whether the nation would remain in the European Union. Yesterday Britain made their choice known: they want out. And Mensch noted that once Obama decided to overreach and tell British voters that they should remain in the EU, support for the Leave camp increased. In the end, it seems to have been a contributing factor in the UK’s decision to say goodbye to the massive political project, long criticized, among other things, for usurping sovereignty among its member nations.
That point was referenced during the coverage of the vote last night by Fox Business’ Stuart Varney, who said that President Obama planned on calling Prime Minister David Cameron at some point today over the results, quipping that he’s probably going to apologize for “ruining the vote.”
In short, one could argue that Obama stepped in it—and it’s not the first time the president’s mouth has cost him or his allies politically. This is one of many failures brought on by Obama’s arrogance that his learned diction can sway minds. It certainly hasn’t worked on the Russians, who view him (rightly) as a lightweight. That’s how they’re able to buzz our warships with fighter jets and annex Crimea from Ukraine. It’s how Syria is still a mess. It’s how the security concerns over absorbing 10,000 Syrian refugees, some of which could be infiltrated by ISIS, haven’t subsided.
As I mentioned in a previous post on Obama and Brexit, the most thorough takedown of Obama’s false power of speech came from conservative commentator George Will, who said in 2011:
“He [Obama] went to Massachusetts to campaign against Scott Brown; Brown is now a senator. He went to New Jersey to campaign against Chris Christie, who is now governor. He went to Virginia to campaign against Bob McDonnell, who is now governor. He campaigned for the health care plan extensively; it became less popular. He campaigned in 2010 for the Democrats; they were shellacked. He began, in a sense, his presidency flying to Copenhagen to get Chicago the Olympics, Chicago is the first city eliminated. There is no evidence that the man has rhetorical powers that he’s relying on.”
Now, we can add Brexit to the list, and it’s a mighty consequential failure; one that is going to impact a whole generation of British citizens. For Obama, it’s just another failure. For Cameron, it could be the end of his political career.
In 1985 the European Union ratified the Schengen Agreement, allowing citizens of most countries within the EU to travel across borders without a passport check. This is commonly referred to as "free movement." Some background:
The Schengen Agreement abolished many of the EU's internal borders, enabling passport-free movement across most of the bloc.
Schengen is often criticised by nationalists and Eurosceptics who say it is an open door for migrants and criminals.
The 13 November Paris attacks, which killed 130 people, prompted an urgent rethink of the Schengen agreement.
There was alarm that killers had so easily slipped into Paris from Belgium, and that some had entered the EU with crowds of migrants via Greece.
In 2015, the influx of more than a million migrants - many of them Syrian refugees - also greatly increased the pressure on politicians, and one after another, EU states re-imposed temporary border controls.
But like most open border policies, the Schengen Agreement has been a disaster for Europe and controlling illegal immigration from North Africa and the Middle East, overwhelming the continent. Recently, the unprecedented refugee crisis from Iraq and Syria has put European leaders welcoming them under heavy pressure and scrutiny. As Germany and Sweden continue to rack up rape statistics, citizens are becoming rightly intolerant of open border, zero-questions asked immigration policies.
If any one person drove the United Kingdom out of the European Union, it was Angela Merkel, and her impulsive solo decision in the summer of 2015 to throw open Germany—and then all Europe—to 1.1 million Middle Eastern and North African migrants, with uncountable millions more to come. Merkel’s catastrophically negative example is one that perhaps should be avoided by U.S. politicians who seek to avert Trump-style populism in the United States. Instead, the politician who most directly opposes Donald Trump—presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton—is doubling down on Merkelism.
Borders and sovereignty matter. As other countries consider leaving the EU now that Britain has led the way, they'll also consider taking their borders, sovereignty and safety back from the bureaucrats in Brussels.
The House GOP has been busy in the past six months. Not only did they reveal their long-awaited Obamacare alternative on Thursday, but on Friday morning conservative lawmakers unveiled their plan for tax reform.
“I am sick of seeing businesses leave America," said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Capitol Hill. “All Obama does is criticize businesses as they go out the door.”
The GOP’s new tax plan, Scalise continued, reorganizes the tax code and makes it easier for families to save for the future.
Most importantly, it will “rein in the IRS and put power back in hands of families.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who used to chair the House Ways and Means Committee, said he was “so proud” of his colleagues' hard work over the past half year. He offered a few more specifics about the GOP agenda.
Their plan will bring tax brackets down from seven to three, lower rates, bring the top rate down to 33 percent, close special interest loopholes, etc.
It will be so simple that “the average American can do their taxes on a postcard,” he pledged.
“We want a tax code that works for taxpayers, not tax collectors."
Moreover, their plan cuts taxes for businesses and lowers the top tax rate to 25 percent.
In other words, less punishment, more reward for American entrepreneurs.
The IRS was a particular target of their tax plan, particularly after the agency intentionally made life extremely difficult for hundreds of conservative groups trying to get tax-exempt status. The rampant bias within the agency prompted Congress to call for the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
“The IRS needs to get its act together,” Ryan said.
They are going to overhaul the agency, install a new commissioner, clear out the bureaucracy and "give taxpayers the privacy they deserve," he insisted.
In the early hours of Friday morning, just hours after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, Donald Trump gave a press conference from his private golf course in Scotland praising the decision.
"People are angry all over the world. They're angry over borders, they're angry over people coming into the country and taking over and nobody even knows who they are."
"They're angry about many, many things in the U.K., the U.S. and many other places. This will not be the last," he said while taking questions.
In a written statement, Trump reminded the international world the importance of sovereignty.
The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy...
Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence...
The Republican nominee also posted a number of tweets expressing similarities between his campaign and Great Britain's decisions.
Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back. No games!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016
Self-determination is the sacred right of all free people's, and the people of the UK have exercised that right for all the world to see.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016
America is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder w/a free & ind UK. We stand together as friends, as allies, & as a people w/a shared history.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2016
It's been an exceptionally busy news week, but this story warrants significant coverage, as it brings to light yet another national security-endangering consequence of Hillary Clinton's improper email scheme. As you already know, Sec. Clinton was personally and specifically warned in 2009 and 2011 about the serious IT security risks her unsecure set-up posed. She acknowledged these concerns, then did nothing. Now the Associated Press reports that technical difficulties plaguing her server in 2010 resulted in the State Department temporarily reducing and disabling its official system's anti-hacking protective measures as a work-around. Extraordinary:
State Department staffers wrestled for weeks in December 2010 over a serious technical problem that affected emails from then-Secretary Hillary Clinton's home email server, causing them to temporarily disable security features on the government's own systems, according to emails released Wednesday. The emails were released under court order Wednesday to the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch, which has sued the State Department over access to public records related to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's service as the nation's top diplomat between 2009 and 2013. The emails, reviewed by The Associated Press, show that State Department technical staff disabled software on their systems intended to block phishing emails that could deliver dangerous viruses. They were trying urgently to resolve delivery problems with emails sent from Clinton's private server.
"This should trump all other activities," a senior technical official, Ken LaVolpe, told IT employees in a Dec. 17, 2010, email. Another senior State Department official, Thomas W. Lawrence, wrote days later in an email that deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin personally was asking for an update about the repairs. Abedin and Clinton, who both used Clinton's private server, had complained that emails each sent to State Department employees were not being reliably received...After technical staffers turned off some security features, Lawrence cautioned in an email, "We view this as a Band-Aid and fear it's not 100 percent fully effective."
In other words, in order to accommodate her not-allowed, malfunctioning arrangement, State deliberately placed its secure system at risk. It's indefensible. And it also exposes another major lie from Clinton, who's sworn under oath that she turned over all work-related emails as required. This was already a known lie, but this week's additional revelation helps illustrate how deep that lie was:
Former Secretary Hillary Clinton failed to turn over a copy of a key message involving problems caused by her use of a private homebrew email server, the State Department confirmed Thursday. The disclosure makes it unclear what other work-related emails may have been deleted by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The email was not among the tens of thousands of emails Clinton turned over to the agency in response to public records lawsuits seeking copies of her official correspondence. Abedin provided a copy from her own inbox after the State Department asked her to return any work-related emails. That copy of the email was publicly cited last month in a blistering audit by the State Department's inspector general that concluded Clinton and her team ignored clear internal guidance that her email setup violated federal standards and could have left sensitive material vulnerable to hackers.
The Clinton campaign declined to comment, but the AP mentions her team's repeated assertions that the server was never breached. First of all, multiple credible, serious former and current Obama administration officials strongly disagree -- and it stands to reason: If sophisticated Russian hackers are breaking into the DNC, and the Chinese penetrated our OPM records, any intelligence service in the world should have been able to access Hillary's woefully-unprotected (and for a time, totally unencrypted) email server. Which, I'll add, contained thousands of classified emails, including top secret-and-above material. Second, not a single email scandal claim made by Clintonworld should be taken seriously. Not one. Meanwhile, the administrator of her bootleg server pleaded the fifth 125 times at a deposition this week. A taste of how totally uncooperative and non-compliant he was during questioning:
This is deposition is surreal. pic.twitter.com/blAireM4yO— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) June 23, 2016
Pags again takes the fifth on whether he has seen the document sitting right in front of him. pic.twitter.com/ESk17TM3WM— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) June 23, 2016
The fifth amendment -- coincidentally under assault this week from posturing, hysterical Democrats -- ensures the right of an accused to party to not make self-incriminating statements. In this case, such statements apparently include such damning admissions as "yes, I have seen Cheryl Mills." Perhaps Magliano's lawyers advised him to stonewall every single question from the Judicial Watch attorney because any other strategy might risk compromising a plea deal reached with federal investigators? I'll add this: Donald Trump's penchant toward conspiracy-mongering is very troubling, but one of his least preposterous theories is that Bernie Sanders may be hanging around without conceding just in case this stream of dropping shoes eventually leads to a criminal prosecution. "It doesn't appear that I'm going to be the nominee," he said on Wednesday, yet he remains in the race. And why not hedge your bets, even if you publicly profess to be uninterested in the "damn emails"? I'll leave you with this reiteration of a crucial point above:
Hillary swore under oath that she turned over all work-related emails to State Dep't. A lie:https://t.co/j79qHU22Pi— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 23, 2016
President Obama, who was recently in the UK lecturing the people to stay in the European Union, has released a statement after the Brexit victory.
"The people of the United Kingdom have spoken, and we respect their decision. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is enduring, and the United Kingdom’s membership in NATO remains a vital cornerstone of U.S. foreign, security, and economic policy. So too is our relationship with the European Union, which has done so much to promote stability, stimulate economic growth, and foster the spread of democratic values and ideals across the continent and beyond," Obama said. "The United Kingdom and the European Union will remain indispensable partners of the United States even as they begin negotiating their ongoing relationship to ensure continued stability, security, and prosperity for Europe, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the world."
UPDATE: Joe Biden says they would have "preferred a different outcome."
"We preferred a different outcome. And I imagine many of you here felt the same way. But as the United States, having a long-standing friendship with the United Kingdom, one of the world’s great democracies, we fully respect the decision they have made," Biden said during a speech at Dublin's Trinity College Friday. "America’s special bond with the United Kingdom runs deep and it will endure."
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