Judge Andrew Napolitano: "Their decision was utterly gutless"

Judge Andrew Napolitano had this to say about Sony Pictures canceling the movie 'The Interview' set to be released on Christmas Day---do you agree? 

Bret looks back on his travels to Cuba

Jesse Harper, CEO i1 Biometrics on Sports Concussions

Concussions among athletes are a serious and growing problem. There are 1.6-1.8 million sports related concussions in the US each year according to statistics.  i1 Biometrics Vector MouthGuard can measure the location and level of each hit an athlete has absorbed and can create a real-time assessment of the athlete’s exposure to impacts sustained on the field.

Gov. Bobby Jindal: This president does not believe in American exceptionalism

A few of the questions and answers from Gov. Jindal that you didn't get to see in the piece that ran on Special Report--the biggest issue facing our country, the definition of marriage and his thoughts on discrimination, his faith, his experience in government, and foreign policy issues. 

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

Four more states have joined the lawsuit against President Obama's moves to spare millions of illegal immigrants from deportation. Oklahoma is one of those four. Oklahoma's Attorney General Scott Pruitt tells Bret the president accomplished this without acutally signing an executive order and he is still breaking the law.
 

Agreement among key lawmakers on spending bill to avoid government shutdown.

Fox is told that there is an agreement among key lawmakers on the $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. We are told they are just processing the paperwork now and the bill should be posted in the next few hours.

This enables them to put this bill to the Rules Committee tomorrow and bring it to the House floor Thursday. Unclear when the Senate would tackle this as the deadline is 11:59:59 pm Thursday.'

Governor Mike Pence: I've grown up as a spectator to the American Dream

Are you enjoying our 2016 Contenders series? First in the series we brought you Governor Mike Pence--there were a lot of great questions we couldn't fit into the piece that ran on Special Report. Watch as Gov. Pence talks about his ability to move people, controversies, and whether the Obama Administration has weakened the country on the world stage. 

 

HHS: Obamacare Premiums to Increase in 2015

By: David Bastawrous—Special Report College Associate

Many looking to purchase health insurance from Healthcare.gov will see slightly higher costs, according to a Health and Human Services report issued today.

The federal Exchange’s most popular plan—lowest cost silver plan—will increase by an average of 5%.

But it “Pays to Shop,” as multiple officials said today, likely to become an administration mantra.

“65% of current Marketplace enrollees can get coverage for $100 dollars [per month] or less for 2015, after tax credits, if they shop for a more affordable plan within their current metal level, compared to 50%” of those who would stay in their 2014 plan, the report says.

Consumers can choose from an average of 40 health plans in 2015, up from 30 in 2014, which HHS hopes will “enhance competition, expand choice and promote affordability.”

The administration has often lauded the recent historic low growth of health spending, increasing just 3.9% each year from 2009-2011—the lowest growth rate since the government began keeping track in 1960.

And though they attribute this to the Affordable Care Act, a 2013 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 77% of the slowdown can be explained by the sluggish economy.

How the price of Healthcare.gov premiums react to the slowly recovering economy in the next few years will be a real test for the healthcare law.

Secretary Hagel: It's time for a "fresh" leader

By Justin Fishel, Fox News Channel

In what was likely his last appearance at the Pentagon podium, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel did his best to explain why he’s leaving the job, yet may have left more question unanswered than answered.

After delivering prepared remarks about the DoD’s response to sexual assaults, Hagel was asked why he resigned - and if he was in fact fired – as has been widely reported.

Hagel told reporters that it was a mutual decision that came about after a series of private meetings with the President.  “When I say private, no one else has been in the room,” Hagel said. 

“So with all the speculation and all the smart people figuring out what was said and what wasn't said, only two people know what was said.  That's the president and me.”

Hagel also called President Obama a “friend" and said he couldn’t point to one major issue or point of contention that led to his resignation, but wasn’t clear on the more subtle reasons. 

“This was a mutual decision based on the discussions that we had.  I don't think there's ever one overriding or defining decision in situations like this, unless there's some obvious issue -- and there wasn't, between either one of us.”

Hagel said repeatedly he felt it was time for a “fresh” leader and “you have to know when to leave.”

He suggested the next two years present a whole new set of challenges.  But, when asked if he meant he wasn’t up to those challenges, he scoffed.  “Whether I thought I could do the job was not the issue.”

“No one ever knows about a job, especially a big job, until you get in – until you’re the actual practitioner of the job.  Now – you can read about it, your predecessors can tell you about it, you can think you know about it, and you can write about it and broadcast about it, but nobody knows about these jobs.”

He also suggested it would be good to have new civilian leadership in the department as many of the Joint Chiefs, including the Chairman, are expected to rotate out early next year.

Finally, Hagel got emotional.

“46 years ago today I arrived at Oakland, California on a transit back from Vietnam after I’d spent one year in Vietnam.  46 years ago today.  If anybody would have told Sergeant Hagel walking off that plane with my duffel bag where I’d be 46 years down the road that would have been pretty hard for me to believe.”

House R’s three-part plan to block Obama on executive orders and keep government open facing opposition

By Chad Pergram-Capitol Hill

The House Republican leadership is running into resistance from conservatives to its three-part plan to fund the government but also blast the Obama Administration for the immigration executive orders. Conservatives don’t like the new path, saying it doesn’t do enough to rebuke the president. It’s not known yet if the problems are deep enough to blow up the entire strategy. But here’s how it works:

Congress must approve a new spending bill by the end of the day on December 11th or the entire government shutters. Again. Many conservatives are hounding Republican leaders to use the spending package to harness money the Department of Homeland Security would use to carry out President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Such a maneuver by the Republican-controlled House would die in the Democratic Senate. It would also face a likely veto threat by the president. So the GOP leadership is offering a bill written by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) which would hamper the president from unilaterally exempting many illegal immigrants from deportation. Some may view that legislation as a fig leaf since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) already said he had no intention to consider the measure if it got through the House. But the Republican braintrust believes the bill would placate conservatives by allowing them to vent their grievances over immigration on a piece of legislation other than the spending bill. The Yoho bill goes before the House Rules Committee at 3 pm et today and would prospectively be on the floor tomorrow.

Come next week, the House would tentatively vote on a measure to fund nearly the entire government through next fall, but only pay for the Department of Homeland Security through late winter. That would allow the new Republican majorities in both bodies of Congress to tackle immigration head-on next year. Plus, it avoids an immediate government shutdown fight before Republicans can even start next year with a clean slate.

Most Democrats abhorred the idea. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, warned Republicans of deviating from a comprehensive spending bill which appropriators have toiled on for months.

“It is dangerous and irresponsible to engage in stunts and gimmicks affecting funding for the agencies under the Department of Homeland Security,” said Lowey. “This is no way to run a government. We should proceed with negotiations and develop a full omnibus.”

As much as Democrats don’t like the plan, it’s certainly not perfect for Republicans. Boehner conceded as much when asked about GOP efforts to counter the president yesterday.

Regardless, resistance is simmering in the Republican ranks. Since seizing the House majority in 2011, GOP leaders have had little margin for error when it comes to passing major pieces of legislation. They’ve had to turn to Democrats to lug significant pieces of legislation to passage. The most-notable case came this past February. The Republican leadership put a bill on the floor to suspend the debt ceiling. The measure passed, but with a scant 27 yeas from Republicans. 199 Democrats hauled the rest of the freight to passage, averting yet another debt limit crisis.

As it stands now, Republicans can only lose 18 of their own before having to turn to Democrats to keep the government open. Reid called the Republican effort to only fund DHS through March “a shame.” But the Nevada Democrat didn’t completely torch the House Republican maneuver. He hinted he might accept something less than a so-called “omnibus” bill which would fund all quarters of government through September 30, 2015.

“That would be a big accomplishment if we could get a bill over here that would fund all of the appropriations subcommittees except one,” said Reid.

But it could be a different tale for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Pelosi has long-backed the “year-long” omnibus plan. And last week, perhaps anticipating the fix in which House GOPers might find themselves, Pelosi tipped her hand.

“We will not be enablers to a Republican shutdown, partial or otherwise,” said Pelosi, well-aware of previous scenarios where the GOP implored Democrats for assistance on the floor.

Republican sources indicated there may be some “softness” in GOP ranks for the trifecta plan. But GOP aides noted that over the past four years, the Republican Conference has traditionally lost 30-50 members on its side when it comes to voting on big legislative initiatives.

“This is just what we always go through,” lamented one senior aide familiar with previous vote-counting efforts.

The main goal for House Republicans is to extinguish all fires for this Congress and live to fight again – and actually do so with authority – next year. But Republicans may have to just fund all of government for a few weeks and again dive into another spending scuffle early next year.

This is a BIG test of the new GOP leadership team..and particularly the whipping skills of new House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). The stakes are also high for Boehner. He could face an uprising from conservative members during the vote for Speaker next year if they don’t feel he has fought hard enough to counter the president. This is why the right-wing of the party is insisting on a limited funding plan for DHS for the time being.

It will be interesting if Boehner has to just cut his losses and pass a bill to keep the government open next week..with LOTS of help from Democrats. And that will ignite an internal firestorm in GOP ranks. 

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White House officials say the hacking of Sony Entertainment data is a serious national security matter. Sony has canceled the release of the movie 'The Interview' after hackers threatened violence against movie-goers.

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