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• Dobson wins temporary ObamaCare exemption
• Power Play: How high will GOP tide roll?
• Tar Heel senator misleads in campaign ad
• Dem pollsters: Don’t say ‘recovery’
• Indestructibly delicious
DOBSON WINS TEMPORARY OBAMACARE EXEMPTION
AP: “Christian radio broadcaster James Dobson has won a temporary injunction preventing the federal government from requiring his ministry to include the morning-after pill and other emergency contraception in its health insurance. A federal judge in Denver issued the injunction Thursday. Dobson sued in December, saying the Affordable Care Act mandate to provide the contraception violates the religious beliefs of his Colorado Springs-based ministry, called Family Talk. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering similar challenges from Hobby Lobby and other employers. Dobson is founder and president of Family Talk, which has a nationally syndicated radio show, newsletter and website. The lawsuit says the ministry has 28 full-time employees. He's best known as founder of the conservative Focus on the Family ministry. He left that group and launched Family Talk in 2010.”
[Flashback - From Dobson’s original announcement of his challenge: “I believe in the rule of law, and it has been my practice since I was in college to respect and honor those in authority over us. It is my desire to do so now. However, this assault on the sanctity of human life takes me where I cannot go. I WILL NOT pay the surcharge for abortion services. The amount of the surcharge is irrelevant. To pay one cent for the killing of babies is egregious to me, and I will do all I can to correct a government that lies to me about its intentions and then tries to coerce my acquiescence with extortion. It would be a violation of my most deeply held convictions to disobey what I consider to be the principles in Scripture. The Creator will not hold us guiltless if we turn a deaf ear to the cries of His innocent babies. So come and get me if you must, Mr. President. I will not bow before your wicked regulation.”]
DOCS RATION CARE AMID HEALTH PRICE SPIKE
NYT: “Saying they can no longer ignore the rising prices of health care, some of the most influential medical groups in the nation are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care. The shift, little noticed outside the medical establishment but already controversial inside it, suggests that doctors are starting to redefine their roles, from being concerned exclusively about individual patients to exerting influence on how health care dollars are spent… In practical terms, new guidelines being developed by the medical groups could result in doctors choosing one drug over another for cost reasons or even deciding that a particular treatment — at the end of life, for example — is too expensive. In the extreme, some critics have said that making treatment decisions based on cost is a form of rationing…Still, it is unclear if medical societies are the best ones to make cost assessments. Doctors can have financial conflicts of interest and lack economic expertise…”
Medicare Advantage cuts: $1,500 per beneficiary - National Journal: “Obamacare’s Medicare Advantage cuts will lead to benefit reductions of about $1,500 per beneficiary, according to a new analysis from a conservative think tank. The American Action Forum, founded by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said almost all Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will feel the effect of cuts to the program…According to AAF, though, seniors who use Medicare Advantage are facing an average benefit loss of about $1,500 per year compared with pre-Obamacare rates. From 2014 to 2015, the average cut is about $300, or 3 percent…”
Pricey pop - WISTV: “Officials with the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston say a North Charleston man who was initially federally charged with a $525 fine for an $.89 drink refill will instead be given a warning…”
[Pacific Research Institute Fellow Sally Pipes compares America’s and Canada’s health care systems and “The false promise of single-payer healthcare”: “Single-payer’s cheerleaders cite Canada as proof of the system’s superiority. It’s a foolish fetish: Our northern neighbor’s health-care system is plagued by rationing, long waits, poor-quality care, scarcities of vital medical technologies and unsustainable costs. That’s exactly what’s in store for America if we follow Canada’s lead.”]
FOX NEWS POLL: VOTERS WANT ANSWERS ON IRS CORRUPTION
Fox News: “Nearly half of American voters think the IRS targeted conservative groups at the request of the White House, and most want Congress to keep investigating the matter. The latest Fox News poll also finds 69 percent don’t feel President Obama has followed through on his vow to ‘find out exactly what happened on this.’ By a 49-41 percent margin, voters believe the Obama administration ‘intentionally had the IRS target conservative political groups.’ That includes 26 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and 71 percent of Republicans. Meanwhile, 67 percent of voters want Congress to keep investigating the IRS until ‘someone is held accountable.’”
PUTIN ON A ROLL
Foreign Policy’s David Rothkopf takes a satirical look at how Russian President Vladimir Putin benefits from the Ukrainian situation. “Barack Obama thinks that Putin is hurting Russia with his Ukrainian antics. But the Russian people -- the constituents who would be directly responsible for electing him president if anybody believed Russia were actually a democracy -- are giving him approval ratings Obama would kill for. And the deal the West and the Russians cut with Ukraine on April 17 to ease tensions seems likely to take relieve some of the East-West tensions, leaving Putin with much of what he wanted…The list of Putin’s recent triumphs is a long one…Not only do we have the bloodless annexation of Crimea and the political boost at home associated with it, the guy's divorce went through…Then there was Sochi, which packs of wild dogs and plumbing problems aside, went pretty darn well for the host and Russian athletes…Putin’s maneuvers have confounded and mesmerized his critics. Granted, some in the West call him irrational or worse, but the facts say crazy successful is more like it…”
[Spacing out on sanctions - WaPo: “NASA recently renewed a contract that allows Russia to ferry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. The U.S. is, essentially, cutting Russia a $457.9 million check for its services -- six seats on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, training and launch prep, landing and crew rescue and limited cargo delivery to and from the International Space Station. This contract also adds additional support at the Russian launch site.”]
#mediabuzz: THE PRICE OF THE PRIZE
Howard Kurtz talks with Washington Post journalist Bart Gellman, who won a Pulitzer Prize this week for reporting on the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs. Gellman talks about the criticism he’s received over winning the award based on Edward Snowden’s leaks. And Howie will have part 2 of his interview with former CBS investigative reporter, Sharyl Attkisson. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.
#Followfriday w/@laurenashburn - Add these well-situated sources to your Twitter feed for breaking Ukraine coverage and the bigger picture: @ChristopherJM is the Editor of @KyivPost and Correspondent for @Mashable. He reports first-hand on all things #Ukraine and #Putin, recommending must-reads and must-watch videos. // @EuromaidanPR provides boots-on-the-ground observations as the official PR arm of the revolutionary government in Kiev. // @RolandOliphant of the London @telegraph reports from Moscow with his colleague @alistairgood, a solo backpack video journalist. // And here in DC, follow the commentary of Weekly Standard Senior Writer and Fox News Contributor @stephenfhayes. –Check out Lauren Ashburn’s “Top Twitter Talk” column here.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
The NYT reports on a mysterious American private jet that surfaced in Tehran. It reads like the start of a thriller and ends with a cliffhanger: “…on Tuesday morning, Iran had an unlikely visitor: a plane, owned by the Bank of Utah, a community bank in Ogden that has 13 branches throughout the state. Bearing a small American flag on its tail, the aircraft was parked in a highly visible section of Mehrabad Airport in Tehran…While federal aviation records show the plane is held in a trust by the Bank of Utah, Brett King, one of its executives in Salt Lake City, said, ‘We have no idea why that plane was at that airport.’ He said that the Bank of Utah acted as a trustee for investors who have a financial stake in the plane and that the bank was investigating further. The Federal Aviation Administration said it had no information about the investors in the aircraft or who was operating it. Officials waiting at the gangway at Mehrabad Airport said only that the aircraft was ‘V.I.P.’”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.3 percent//Disapprove – 51.6 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 30.7 percent//Wrong Track – 61.4 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot: Democrats – 41.8 percent// Republicans 39.3 percent
HILLARY BUNDLER COPS TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE FRAUD
‘That’s the only way to buy them, get into the system.’ - AP: “A wealthy hotel executive and Democratic fundraiser who supported Hillary Clinton for president pleaded guilty Thursday to charges he secretly funneled more than $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions to three unnamed candidates and coached someone to lie about it. An informant caught Sant Singh Chatwal on tape in 2010 explaining that he believed his illegal fundraising bought him access to people in power. Without the contributions ‘nobody will even talk to you,’ Chatwal said. ‘That’s the only way to buy them, get into the system.’… Chatwal raised at least $100,000 for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama and was among the celebrities, major Democratic fundraisers and businessmen invited to Obama’s first state dinner… Chatwal directly backed several Democratic candidates with his own money - at least $31,200 since 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. Among them were New York Reps. Joe Crowley and Gary Ackerman, along with California Rep. Howard Berman and Florida Rep. Robert Wexler. He also gave money to Montana Sen. Jon Tester, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.”
Rap sheet - Back in 2010, Chatwal was “accused by several Indian businessmen of having them abducted by police officers from a hotel launch party and ‘terrorised’ into signing statements that they would pay him more than [$1.3 million],” the Telegraph reports.
De Blasio to return cash – New York Observer: “Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign will return more than $15,000 in cash raised by Sant Singh Chatwal… Mr. de Blasio’s campaign said.”
Jock talk - Kentucky Wildcats basketball Coach John Calipari bragged to his Twitter followers of his two-hour lunch date with former President Bill Clinton.]
Hillary even jams Sheriff Joe on dynastic succession news! - Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, announced Thursday that he will make a long-expected run for the state’s governorship. But the Clintons even overshadowed him on that nugget with the second-most publicized pregnancy announcement in recent memory.
[Clinton 2052 - NY Post’s Tara Palmieri catalogs the massive media rollout that the House of Clinton put behind the public launch of former first daughter Chelsea’s pregnancy.]
WARREN’S NON-DENIAL DENIAL
WaPo: “‘I am not running for president,’ [Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.] told ‘CBS Sunday Morning,’ according to an advance transcript. ‘You can ask lots of different ways, but I wrote this book because I can’t wait any longer. It’s written out of gratitude for my start and the opportunities that America built for me, and how I think that’s what we’ve got to do again.’ Warren has repeatedly used that construct – ‘not running for president’ -- and some would note that it's not quite the same thing as saying definitively that she won't run in the future. But she has also said that she would pledge to serve out her term (after some pressing), which ends in 2018.”
[Liberal is moderately popular - Sen. Elizabeth Warren is doing fine with Massachusetts residents according to a new poll from UMass: “Forty-seven percent of respondents approved of the way Warren is doing her job, while 35 percent disapproved. Sixteen percent neither approved nor disapproved.”]
CRUZ, PALIN HIT THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
WaPo: “Next Thursday, [former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska] will appear alongside Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) at a rally for former Oklahoma state House speaker T.W. Shannon (R). Shannon is running for the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The next day, Palin will campaign for Midland University President Ben Sasse (R) in the Nebraska Senate race, alongside Lee. Sasse is running in a heated primary against former state treasurer Shane Osborn (R). The following Sunday, Palin will travel to Iowa, where she will appear at a ShePac rally that will also feature state Sen. Joni Ernst (R), who Palin has endorsed. Ernst is one of several Republicans competing for the party’s nomination in an open seat race.”
POWER PLAY: HOW HIGH WILL GOP TIDE ROLL?
Chris Stirewalt asks political pros Julie Roginsky and Matt Schlapp about the senate races in New Hampshire, where former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., has quickly mounted a strong campaign in his adopted state against incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, and Louisiana, where Democrat Mary Landrieu is running away from her support of ObamaCare and faces a Republican field led by Rep. Bill Cassidy. Watch as the experts weigh in.
TAR HEEL SENATOR MISLEADS IN CAMPAIGN AD
WRAL: “U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's, [D-N.C.,] re-election campaign is attacking [Republican] House Speaker Thom Tillis with a new radio ad… Tillis has been critical of Hagan's support for [ObamaCare,]… The ad turns that thread on its head, saying Tillis "wants it both ways" on the Affordable Care Act. The ad uses a recent radio clip of Tillis saying of the ACA, "It's a great idea." The full quote was, "It's a great idea that can't be paid for," and Tillis has been consistent in saying that he would vote to replace the law.”
But other than that, he thinks she’s great - North Carolina Dems confess their own aversion to Hagen, Buzzfeed reports. “‘She’s better than the alternative,’ [said] Joshua Bradley, a member of the Wake County Progressive Democrats after a meeting in Raleigh. ‘I’m still probably going to wake up in the fetal position in the shower sobbing after I vote for her, but I’m going to vote for her.’”
AMY POEHLER DOES YUCKS FOR BUCKS WITH FRANKEN
The Hill: “Amy Poehler is partying it up with fellow ‘Saturday Night Live’ alum Sen. Al Franken to raise money for the Minnesota Democrat’s reelection campaign. The ‘Parks and Recreation’ comedienne is hosting a soiree on April 24 in Los Angeles dubbed ‘Spring Into Action with Al and Amy.’”
[Republican hopeful Julianne Ortman called on her supporters to donate so ads supporting Ortman would be on the airwaves.]
SOUTH DAKOTA DEM SINGS FOR VOTES
Democratic South Dakota Senate candidate Rick Weiland shows off his pipes with a music video sung to “I’ve Been Everywhere,” the country standard made famous by Johnny Cash. Weiland sings, “I’m going everywhere, man. Our country needs repair, man. Gotta make it all more fair. I’m running ‘cuz I care, man. I’m going everywhere.” Weiland is the only Democrat in the June 3 primary. Former Gov. Mike Rounds is the presumptive GOP nominee and is heavily favored to win the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.
ROCKY ROLLS OUT THE DOUGH FOR DEMS
Politico: “[Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V.,] is leaving the Senate at the end of the year, but he wants to make sure he doesn’t leave it in GOP hands. The wealthy West Virginia senator cut a personal check for $250,000 to Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC focused on defending Democrats’ majority this fall, according to first-quarter campaign finance reports filed this week… The group is opposing top targets such as Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado, Rep. Bill Cassidy in Louisiana, Terri Lynn Land in Michigan and Thom Tillis in North Carolina…Rockefeller might be a bit disappointed, though: None of his money has yet gone to West Virginia’s Senate race between Democrat Natalie Tennant and GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.”
PICK SIX: NEW GOP HOPES IN OLD DOMINION
The stakes are high for Democrats come November as they need to limit Republican gains in the Senate to five or fewer in order to retain control of the upper chamber. If the GOP can flip six seats from blue to red this year, the dynamics in Washington will change in a big way. Fox News First wants to know which six Democratic-held seats are most vulnerable. The current consensus among readers: Arkansas, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Carolina and West Virginia. Reader James Kostelni says, “News Alert...start covering this situation in Richmond. [Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.,] is going to have a fight on his hands and there is going to be a backlash over how [Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe] is jeopardizing Virginia's AAA credit rating....among other issues...keep in mind McAuliffe didn't win by much and Warner will be seen as complicit with McAuliffe in hurting Virginia.”
DEM POLLSTERS: DON’T SAY ‘RECOVERY’
AP: “Election-year memo to Democratic candidates: Don’t talk about the economic recovery. It’s a political loser. So say Democratic strategists in a blunt declaration that such talk skips over ‘how much trouble people are in, and doesn't convince them that policymakers really understand or are even focusing on the problems they continue to face.’ In addition, Stan Greenberg, James Carville and others wrote that in head-to-head polling tests the mere mention of the word ‘recovery’ is trumped by a Republican assertion that the Obama administration has had six years to get the economy moving and its policies haven't worked.”
MAYBE CALL IT A SURREALITY SHOW?
Washington Examiner reports: “a ‘House of Cards’ veteran is working to produce a reality show based in the district starring ‘D.C. up-and-comers,’ including Capitol Hill staffers. The show is currently in development, and one source said there's already been a round of casting.”
DON’T PUT YOUR EGGS ALL IN ONE ELECTION
The Spokane Spokesman Review: “A Brooklyn, N.Y. attorney who’s never been to Idaho is not only running again for a U.S. Senate seat from the state, after doing the same four years ago – he’s also running for Senate seats in Alaska and Oregon this year. ‘I’m just making myself available to the people of more than one state,’ said William Bryk. ‘The voters have not yet taken advantage of the opportunity to retain my services, but one lives in hope.’… He tried to run for an Indiana House seat this year as well, but was knocked off the ballot under a challenge related to a new party-identification law that state had passed since he last ran there two years ago.”
FOX NEWS SUNDAY: EASTERTIDE
Host Chris Wallace welcomes Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington for a special Easter discussion, and then Wallace heads to the Mount Vernon to sit down with Curtis Viebranz, the president of the Mount Vernon estate to discuss George Washington, the whiskey maker. “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” airs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET on Fox News. Check local listings for air times in your area.
THE ‘GOOD’ IN GOOD FRIDAY
For the more than 220 million American Christians, today is the most somber of holidays, Good Friday. New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond reflects on how suffering leads to hope in a piece for the New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Sometimes our crosses are our own personal weaknesses or failures, other times it may be a person or a situation. Our cross can also be an addiction to drinking, drugs, alcohol, pornography or a situation that burdens us and we seem to have no control over the circumstances. Our crosses can also involve illness, the death of a loved one, our own hopelessness and discouragement, as well as our disappointment in someone else. Whatever the cross today, we are mindful of it and unite it to Christ as he offers himself to the Father. His words on the cross should ring true in our lives as well when he says ‘Father into your hands I commend my spirit.’ We commend ourselves and our crosses united with Christ into the father’s hands.”
In keeping with our love of that traditional sugary treat, mental_floss takes a peek at Peeps. Among the fun facts on these fine – but not feathery – friends: In 1953 it took 27 hours to make a Peep. Now it takes just six minutes to make the 5.5 million little chicks produced each day. Maybe some of that time was saved when the little yellow birds got their wings clipped in 1955. And for those who think the candy’s gelatinous constitution makes peeps resilient, you’re right. A 1999 scientific study by Emory University subjected the delectable birds to microwave, tap water, boiling water, acetone, and sulfuric acid (they survived them all). So don’t think twice, that cute little confection has been saving itself just for you. Happy Easter!
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“[ObamaCare] is working in that it exists; it breathes. But it’s hurting the doctor, hurting the hospital, hurting the patient, it’s hurting the economy, it’s going to cost a fortune.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Click here to watch.
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.