Jason Chaffetz "Stunned," Paul Ryan "Disappointed" McCarthy Dropped Out of Speaker's Race

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who issued a challenge to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy last week for Speaker of the House, has made a statement in response to McCarthy dropping out of the race. 

"I am stunned," Chaffetz said to a gaggle of reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday.

Congressman and Chairman of the House Weighs and Means Committee Paul Ryan, who endorsed McCarthy here at Townhall earlier this week, has also issued a statement. 

“Kevin McCarthy is best person to lead the House, and so I’m disappointed in this decision. Now it is important that we, as a Conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership. While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,” Ryan said.

As of now, there is no immediate successor for the Speakership and it is unclear where Republicans will go from here. Chaffetz will remain in the race, but a vote has been indefinitely postponed. Current House Speaker John Boehner will remain in his position until a new Speaker is elected. 

Bipartisan House Committee Created to Investigate Planned Parenthood

A new House panel has been created with the sole purpose of investigating Planned Parenthood’s misuse of fetal tissue and federal funds. While the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government committees have held hearings on the organization to determine whether it still deserves taxpayer funding, the Center for Medical Progress investigation has demanded a further probe into the organization’s practices.

The House voted 242-184 to form a panel as part of the Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday after Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the resolution. A bit more information on the makeup and goals of the new panel:

The 14-member panel will be appointed by the speaker of the House and will be made up of eight Republicans and six Democrats. The chairman must be a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which had started a Planned Parenthood investigation that will now be taken over by the select panel.

The panel is charged with investigating and releasing a report that includes: medical procedures and business practices of groups involved in fetal tissue procurement, federal funding and support for abortion providers, and medical procedures for the care of a child born alive during an attempted abortion.

In light of the barbaric footage the CMP has uncovered, our legislators should be keeping a close eye on Planned Parenthood. It has become increasingly clear they broke the law and their tendency to view unwanted pregnancies with dollar signs in their eyes is downright inhumane. Their lack of ethics is screaming for some oversight. A specific committee is a good start.

The House Judiciary Committee’s second hearing on Planned Parenthood's pro-abortion agenda will take place Thursday at 2 p.m. You can watch it live here.

Kevin McCarthy Withdraws from Speaker Race

This post has been updated.

Capitol Hill was shocked Thursday morning with news that the perceived frontrunner for Speaker of the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has withdrawn from the race.

The only possible explanation for his exit is his disastrous comments about the Benghazi select committee. They were so damaging, that the Clinton campaign used the sound bite in a campaign ad and a prominent conservative group announced they were supporting his opponent, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL). The chairman of the Benghazi committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy (S-SC), did his best to defend the work he and his colleagues have done on the bipartisan panel. 

In a press conference Thursday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said McCarthy will be staying on as Majority Leader and his endorsement will be "most important" for the candidates running. John Boehner will remain in his role as Speaker until a replacement is found.

Along with Webster, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is also still in the running to replace Boehner as speaker. Despite multiple calls to run, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said he will not be entering his name.

McCarthy had over 200 votes secured for the Oct. 29 vote, which has now been pushed to a later date. This race is suddenly blown wide open.

McCarthy spoke to the press Thursday afternoon and ensured them that his initial comments about the Benghazi committee were wrong. He said the committee was only created to find answers for the families of our murdered ambassadors and he said he doesn't want to be a "distraction" from the select committee's efforts.

Here is McCarthy's official statement regarding his decision:

A few more reactions from influential members in the House:

Chaffetz, speaking on the hill, was "stunned" by the decision. The GOP has a lot of "internal fractures," he said, and they need to find some unity. 

As for current House Speaker Boehner, he is 'confident' his successor will be named soon:

“After Leader McCarthy’s announcement, members of the House Republican Conference will not vote today for a new Speaker. As I have said previously, I will serve as Speaker until the House votes to elect a new Speaker. We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks. Our conference will work together to ensure we have the strongest team possible as we continue to focus on the American people’s priorities.”

WATCH: Trey Gowdy Defends Benghazi Select Committee

After House Majority Leader and Speaker hopeful Kevin McCarthy tied Hillary Clinton's diving poll numbers directly to the creation of the Benghazi Select Committee last week, Republicans have been in damage control to protect the credibility of the Committee and its work. 

Last night on The Kelly File, Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy defended the Committee and said despite calls for it to be shutdown, the investigation will move forward. Clinton is expected to testify in front of the Committee on October 22. 

"Kevin is wrong and I would ask your viewers and anyone else who's suspicious and those that have been supportive, don't focus on the words that people not on the Committee use, focus on the actions of those of us who have been on the Committee for the last year and a half. Megyn, out of the 54 witnesses interviewed, 41 of them by the way no other Committee interviewed, not a single one of them has been named Clinton. Of the 50,000 documents, new documents that we have accessed, less than 5 percent have anything to do with her and if you look at the public hearings we've had so far, her name has not crossed my lips," Gowdy said. "She was the Secretary of State at all relevant times, we would be crazy not to talk to her."

"She's [Clinton] going to be treated professionally, she's going to be treated fairly," Gowdy continued.

The Chairman also revealed that McCarthy has "profusely apologized" for his remarks. 

"Kevin is a friend, that does not insulate him from being wrong, but he has apologized profusely and I have accepted it," Gowdy said.

Meanwhile Democrats on the Committee, with Ranking Member Elijah Cummings leading the charge, are still calling for the Committee to be disbanded ahead of Clinton's testimony near the end of the month.

Hillary Runs From Trans-Pacific Partnership, Once Called It 'The Gold Standard In Trade Agreements'

Yesterday Hillary Clinton embodied one of the top words being used to describe her on the campaign trail by voters: fake. It isn’t a good situation regarding word association, but her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite being for it during her tenure as Secretary of State, only screams political opportunism–and shows that her campaign is wary of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ challenge on her left. To make things more embarrassing, Clinton’s statement on why she opposes the agreement is almost funny, blaming Republican obstruction for weakening U.S. competitiveness, thus creating an environment that isn’t safe for our workers if TPP passes Congress, which is another battle in itself. This comes after she called TPP the “gold standard in trade agreements.”

In fact, let’s go down memory lane to 2012, where then-Secretary Clinton said in South Australia at Techport, that TPP is the exact opposite of what see told us in her recent statement:

Australia is also a growing market for growing exports even as we welcome more trade from you. In fact, our exports to Australia jumped more than 40 percent between 2009 and 2011 raising from under 20 billion to more than 27 billion, and in the first nine months of this year, they're up another 20 percent. President Obama set a goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years, and we've seen extraordinary progress in our relationship with Australia.

So it's fair to say that our economies are entwined, and we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Australia is a critical partner. This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field. And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world's total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment.

That's key, because we know from experience, and of course research proves it, that respecting workers' rights leads to positive long-term economic outcomes, better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions. And including everybody in that, those who have been previously left out of the formal economy will help build a strong middle class, not only here in Australia or in our country, but across Asia. And that will be good for us.

CNN’s Jake Tapper has a deep list citing the 45 times Clinton said she was for TPP. Yet, as with her decision with the Keystone Pipeline*, Clinton is trying to make sure Sanders’ challenge on her left doesn’t overwhelm her. The self-described democratic socialist has been surging in the polls, has solid favorability numbers, has top-notch fundraising skills, and has Hillary beat in Iowa and New Hampshire by double-digits. All of this while Hillary’s favorability has plummeted; she’s losing in the two key primary contests while pegged as the prohibitive favorite–and she’s lost major support between black and women democratic voters; two groups that she’ll need to beat Sanders after New Hampshire.

Nevertheless, overall, Hillary is still the favorite, but let’s just say the possibility that she could still lose the nomination is closer to entering the realm of possibility, given that the Democratic base wasn’t really enamored with her anyway. Millennial feminists don’t really like her, women are fleeing her because they think she’s lying about the server, New Hampshire voters find her condescending, and now her electability is being questioned since she’s either trailing or running neck-and-neck with the top of the heap in the GOP field.

On the flip side, given what seems to be an endless cycle of bad news for the Clinton campaign, die-hard Clintonites aren’t leaving her, and Democrats still have a favorable view of the former first lady, despite the “meh” attitudes displayed at her events compared to that of Sanders. Still, there could be a case made that Clinton didn’t have to flip-flop on trade, though it was worth taking the risk if it meant possibly losing labor unions:

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, Clinton led Sanders 42 percent to 24 percent among all Democrats. Among self-described liberals, the race was closer, but Clinton still led Sanders by 10 points. In an August WaPo-ABC survey, 80 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of Clinton while 18 percent had an unfavorable one. Among liberals, 66 percent had a favorable view as compared to 33 percent who saw her in an unfavorable light. There's plenty more evidence out there that liberals like -- if not love -- Clinton, and would be fine voting for her.

And yet, Clinton decided to reverse herself on TPP -- no matter what her campaign says, she was a supporter of the deal -- and take the flip-flopper flak rather than risk putting distance between herself and the party base. Worth noting: Vice President Biden, a longtime friend of organized labor, continues to mull a run for the Democratic nomination. So it's possible Clinton was trying to box Biden as well as Sanders out with this decision

Team Clinton needs organized labor’s political infrastructures that will be critical next year. And Clinton had ample warning from these groups on TPP. In an interview with USA Today’s Susan Page, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made it clear that his organization might not endorse anyone for president next year, and that Clinton’s support for the trade deal could be a deal-breaker (via RCP):

RICHARD TRUMKA: I don't know [where Hillary Clinton stands on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement]. She is going to have to answer that. She won't be able to go through a campaign without answering that. And people take it seriously and it will affect whether they vote for her or do not vote for her.

She may not know whether it is a good deal or not, but she'll get a chance to read it, and when she does she will have to declare one way or the other. Support it or she won't support it, she either believes in fast track or she doesn't.

What if Hillary supports the TPP?

TRUMKA: It would be tougher to mobilize working people. It will be tougher to get them excited and working, out there door-knocking and leafleting. And phone banking and all the things that are going to be necessary for her if she is the candidate.

And we would endorse her, this would make it far more difficult.

Well you aren't going to support Republicans?

TRUMKA: Well, there is another alternative as well, we could not endorse for president. That is conceivable. If both candidates weren't interested in raising wages and creating jobs. If neither one had a program that we were convinced they would fight for, not just a poll-tested slogan, but an actual agenda they will fight for.

If we are convinced that neither candidate has that, I think we would spend our money elsewhere. Probably on Senate and Congressional candidates and governors and statehouses where we would have a much greater effect.

As for the Sanders factor, there's a growing number of AFL-CIO members that are getting behind Bernie. Trumka had to remind them of their organization's bylaws over the summer, along with a stern warning not to endorse anyone under the AFL-CIO banner. Still, it's another reason to give the Clinton campaign some pause.  

Sanders from the beginning has been against TPP, saying it’s a “disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy.”

*Clinton also could be trying to avoid a situation where environmentalists could sink her campaign in a key state, like Florida.

Drip: Unauthorized Subcontractors Stored Hillary Emails on 'The Cloud,' Targeted With Cyber Attacks

Yesterday, we learned that a second IT company -- beyond this infamous case -- had possession of the data on Hillary Clinton's private email server, which violated government rules and compromised  national security. As the new editor-in-chief of Red State,  Leon Wolf, noted, this new development raised serious new issues regarding the security and integrity of her sensitive data. As you read this excerpt, remember that officials have already identified hundreds of classified emails in her archives (she said there were none) -- including messages that she personally sent and received (she said she hadn't done so), as well as work-related emails that she never turned over (she swore she'd surrendered every single one):

The cooperation of a second tech company raises new questions about whether the FBI is now obtaining any of the emails that Clinton says she and her attorneys deemed to be personal and deleted, as Republican critics have demanded to know if any of those emails were really work-related emails that should have been turned over to the State Department along with other federal records. Datto's cooperation also raises more questions about whether anyone at the company, where employees do not have security clearances, had access to classified information that was in Clinton’s server. The source familiar with the investigation said that like all major tech companies on the front lines, Datto has faced cyberattacks, another subject of great interest to the FBI in its probe of Clinton’s server.

Today, another revelation:

A Connecticut company, which backed up Hillary Clinton‘s emails at the request of a Colorado firm, apparently surprised her aides by storing the emails on a “cloud” storage system designed to optimize data recovery. The firm, Datto Inc., said Wednesday that it turned over the contents of its storage to the FBI on Tuesday…There were conflicting accounts as to whether the developments could lead to retrieval of any of Clinton’s more than 31,000 personal emails, which she said she deleted from her private server upon turning over her work-related emails to the State Department, at its request, in December 2014. Congressional Republicans have voiced skepticism as to whether the 30,940 business emails that the Democratic presidential candidate handed over represented all of those related to her position as secretary of state. Clinton has said her lawyers carefully pruned them. The FBI is separately investigating whether Clinton’s arrangement put classified information at risk but has yet to characterize it as a criminal inquiry.

A few points: (1) Republicans can be more than skeptical that all of the deleted and withheld emails were purely personal; they can be confident she's lying because that's already been proven. (2) Of course this email scheme put classified information at risk.  Her server had no encryption whatsoever for several months, and its overall security was much, much weaker than those of government networks that were breached by foreign hackers.  (3) Clinton defenders can parse and nitpick until they're blue in the face.  This is a criminal investigation.  (4) The fact that Mrs. Clinton reportedly had no idea that a second company was involved in this data storage arrangement doesn't matter much. As a public official holding the highest security clearance and trafficking in the most sensitive of state secrets, it was Mrs. Clinton's duty to take every requisite step to guarantee the safekeeping of this material.  The very existence of her unsecure private server, on which she conducted all of her business, represents a reckless disregard for those responsibilities.  Outsourcing the data storage to a second-rate IT firm put this information at even greater risk.  And the involvement of a subcontractor expands the circle of vulnerability.  Among the classified content discovered on the server were top secret emails.  Mrs. Clinton continues to trot out the "they weren't marked classified" excuse, but public officials are required to identify sensitive information when they see it.  The materials in those emails were "born classified," experts explain, rebutting the inaccurate Clinton claim that these emails were only deemed classified retroactively.  Plus, it doesn't take someone as experienced as the former Secretary of State to recognize that messages about North Korean nuclear weapons and the Iranian nuclear negotiations were obviously secret in nature. (5) By the way, we now know that Clinton's right-hand woman at the State Department twice forwarded classified information to...the Clinton Foundation, the other source of major ethics questions that continue to swirl around Hillary Rodham Clinton.  I'll leave you with two video clips; one of journalist Ron Fournier lambasting Clinton for refusing to answer important email scandal questions -- and the second of a supporter introducing Hillary at a rally, announcing that nobody cares about any of this:

Well, many voters care, it would seem.  Also, as Katie mentioned earlier, the Associated Press is reporting that Clinton's campaign "did not answer detailed questions" about possible security breaches, preferring instead to attack Republicans.

French Train Hero Spencer Stone Stabbed

According to CBS News, Airman Spencer Stone, one of the Americans who tackled an armed terrorist on a French train, is in critical condition after being "repeatedly stabbed" on Wednesday night.

This story will be updated as more details emerge.

UPDATE: Per NBC, Stone is in stable, not critical, condition. NBC is also reporting that Stone was stabbed in Sacramento.

ABC Family: Our Name Is Too 'Wholesome,' Time For a New One

With shows ranging from “The Fosters,” featuring a lesbian couple raising their family, to “Greek,” which is littered with explicit sexual references and acts, party scenes, drunk students, and sometimes harsh language, it’s no wonder that viewers may’ve scratched their heads wondering why such shows were on a network called ABC Family.

Instead of ditching the shows clearly intended for a more mature audience, the network has instead opted to change its name entirely. Beginning in January 2016, Disney-owned ABC Family is turning into Freeform, a name that “reflects our ongoing priority to super-serve Becomers, fans on that epic new adventure of becoming an adult—from first kiss to first kid!” a statement reads.

“For us, this doesn’t feel like a radical departure, this is an evolution,” ABC Family president Tom Ascheim told Entertainment Weekly. “For the last 10-to-12 years, we’ve been targeting young people, Millennials, and then something happened. Millennials started getting older. The oldest ones are nearly 40. So do we follow Millennials or stay with the ‘life stage’ that got us here?”

The name was chosen after being tested in a focus group this past year. ABC Family, it turned out, conjured up attributes like “family-friendly” and “wholesome” among non-viewers, Ascheim discovered through market research.

“There was a huge perception gap between the people who know us well and the people who don’t know us at all,” Ascheim told TV Insider. “That largely comes from our label, the name. That bit of data is the thing that finally convinced us that it was time, after a lot of thinking and pondering, to get this done.”

Conservative Group That Helped Oust Boehner Endorses McCarthy Rival

In a blow to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Freedom Caucus is endorsing one of his rivals for speaker of the House – and he’s a long shot. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), a member of the caucus, told the Daily Signal why 80 percent of the conservative group is backing Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) during Thursday’s secret ballot:

“I think this reflects the fact that guys and gals are most interested in process reform, regular order and rules changes,” Mulvaney said of Webster’s getting the nod. “Daniel’s track record of [supporting] open process and regular order is a real attraction to us right now.”

The House Freedom Caucus is a group of conservatives with some serious sway; they were largely responsible for booting Boehner from office. McCarthy has reason to be concerned, therefore, after making the unfortunate link between the Benghazi Select Committee and Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. McCarthy has since tried to walk back his comments, but could not stop Clinton’s team from using the sound bite in a new campaign ad suggesting Republicans’ Benghazi probe was purely political.

Conservatives have every right to sour on him.

Yet, it seems McCarthy will have a chance to undo the damage he’s done and prove his conservative credentials to his colleagues. The caucus said they could still change their minds come Oct. 29, when the full House votes to elect the next speaker.

Confirmed: China, South Korea and Germany Tried to Hack Clinton's Private Email Server

We've heard for months now from technology security experts about the strong likelihood the private server used by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to conduct official government business and to host classified information was hacked by foreign governments. Now we have confirmation hack attacks did in fact occur. From CBS News

Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email server, which stored some 55,000 pages of emails from her time as secretary of state, was the subject of attempted cyberattacks originating in China, South Korea and Germany after she left office in early 2013, according to a congressional document obtained by The Associated Press.

While the attempts were apparently blocked by a "threat monitoring" product that Clinton's employees connected to her network in October 2013, there was a period of more than three months from June to October 2013 when that protection had not been installed, according to a letter from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. That means her server was possibly vulnerable to cyberattacks during that time.

Not surprisingly, Team Clinton is responding to hacking revelations with accusations of partisanship and is trying to discredit Republican Senators questioning the security vulnerability of Clinton's private server.

A spokesman for the Clinton campaign did not answer detailed questions from The Associated Press about the cyber intrusions. Instead, spokesman Brian Fallon attacked Johnson by linking him to the House Benghazi committee inquiry, which the campaign dismissed in a recent media ad as politically motivated.

"Ron Johnson is ripping a page from the House Benghazi Committee's playbook and mounting his own, taxpayer-funded sham of an investigation with the sole purpose of attacking Hillary Clinton politically," campaign spokesman Fallon said by email. "The Justice Department is already conducting a review concerning the security of her server equipment, and Ron Johnson has no business interfering with it for his own partisan ends."

At this point, 400 pieces of documentation found on Clinton's private server have been deemed classified. In addition, at least four documents found on her server are classified as top secret. Keep in mind Clinton deleted at least 55,000 emails she deemed "personal" before her departure from the State Department. 

Yesterday, the FBI reportedly seized four additional computers from the State Department as their criminal investigation of Clinton's private email server use continues. Further, new information shows Clinton may have instructed subordinates to start deleting information two years ago as investigations about her email practices were ramping up and as FOIA requests for her emails started to roll in. 

Clinton is scheduled to testify October 22 on Capitol Hill.

Ivy League Professor on Ben Carson: "If Only There Was a Coon of the Year Award"

Tenured University of Pennsylvania Religious Studies Professor Anthea Butler, who has a history of making derogatory and racially fueled comments, is now under fire for suggesting Dr. Ben Carson deserves a "coon of the year award" for his support of flying the Confederate Flag on private property. She made the suggestion on Twitter last week. Campus Reform has the details: 

“If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award…” Professor Butler tweeted in response to another tweet linking to a Sports Illustrated article in which Carson was quoted defended the right of NASCAR fans to fly Confederate flags during races.

“Swastikas are a symbol of hate for some people too … and yet they still exist in our museums and places like that,” Carson observed during the event in North Carolina with NASCAR legend Richard Petty. “If it’s a majority of people in that area who want it to fly, I certainly wouldn't take it down,” he added, noting that NASCAR races are held on private property.

The word “coon” is an offensive term to slander Africans, deriving from the Portuguese word “barracoos,” which is a hut-like dwelling used to store slaves during auctions, according to Online Etymology.

In effect, then, Butler’s tweet insinuated that Carson is a metaphorical slave who belongs in a wooden shed.

Yesterday, Juan Williams took issue with Butler's comments during The Five

In the past, Butler (again, a religious studies professor) has referred to God as a "white racist" who "stalks young black men with guns."

As of now, the University has no plans to reprimand Butler for her comments. You can bet if Butler was a white woman, she would have been fired immediately.

Coast Guard Suspending Search for El Faro Survivors; Full List of Crew Released

The Coast Guard is suspending their search for any survivors of the El Faro incident at sunset tonight. El Faro sank during Hurricane Joaquin with 33 souls aboard. All are presumed lost.

Maine Maritime Academy, the alma mater of four members of the crew (including one who had just graduated this past May), released a touching statement on its Facebook page memorializing the crew and reassuring the student body that while the jobs they are training for are dangerous, they will prevail through this tragedy together as a community.

Dear MMA Community, We have been anxiously waiting to hear more about the crew of the El Faro, and unfortunately, we...

Posted by Maine Maritime Academy on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Unspeakably tragic. Please keep the loved ones of the crew in your prayers.

Poll: 18-20-Year-Olds Aren’t As Liberal As Older Millennials

A Harvard Institute of Politics poll found something a bit interesting regarding Millennial voting patterns; younger ones aren’t as liberal. In fact, there’s less than a ten-point gap between those who identify as a Democrat or Republicans in the 18-20-year-old bracket. For older Millennials, aged 25-29, the split is starker, with them breaking for Democrats over Republicans 50/27.

Asma Khalid of NPR wrote that the younger millennials who aren’t as left leaning grew up in a different time, post-9/11 and in the midst of a major recession. Yet, once Millennials get a job and start making between $40k-60k a year support for income redistribution, and other liberal policies related to fiscal policy, drops precipitously.

Then again, Millennials are known for having political views that make no sense. Case in point, they generally support a large government, but when it comes to social security, they support–by a wide margin–the creation of private accounts. They also do not support affirmative action policies, labeling them “unfair.” They support universal health care, but don’t like Obamacare.

Let’s end this on a positive note. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the majority of the 18-20-year-old vote. Fifty-seven percent of 18-year-olds, 59 percent of 19-year-olds, and 54 percent of 20-year-olds all cast their votes for Romney. As Jon Sides, Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University, noted, this means Democrats could potentially have a young people problem of their own in future elections.

Senate Approves Defense Bill That Would Prohibit Gitmo Prisoner Transfers, Obama Veto Looms

In a vote of 70-27, the Senate has approved the National Defense Authorization Act, a $612 billion defense spending bill. 

The National Defense Authorization Act would allow the Pentagon to use some $90 billion meant for war spending to avoid automatic budget cuts to military and domestic programs due to take effect when current funding runs out in December.

Twenty Democrats sided with Republicans and voted in favor of the bill. In particular, the bill would prevent the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States. The president reportedly wants to close the prison by the time he leaves the White House.

Republicans warn that rejecting this defense bill would be unwise, especially in light of recent national security concerns:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said an Obama veto of the defense bill would be “shameful.”

“If the president vetoes the NDAA, at this time of mounting global threats, he will be prioritizing politics and process over the security of our nation and the well-being of our armed forces.”

Obama is, however, fully expected to veto the bill.

House Democrats Try Again To Dissolve Select Committee On Benghazi

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) tried to propose an amendment to the Rules Committee last night that would dissolve the House Select Committee on Benghazi. She serves as the ranking member on that committee. Republicans blocked it. Today, she’s putting forward a privileged resolution to get rid of the committee that Democrats accuse of being a political stunt aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election (via NBC News/Luke Russert):

The resolution reads in part

Whereas a widely-quoted statement made on September 29th, 2015 by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Leader of the House of Representatives, has called into question the integrity of the proceedings of the Select Committee and the House of Representatives as a whole;

Whereas this statement by Representative McCarthy demonstrates that the Select Committee established by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives was created to influence public opinion of a presidential candidate;

The resolution is a procedural tactic that will force House Republicans to take a public vote on the floor to keep the Benghazi Committee operational.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the presumptive successor to outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), has plunged this investigation into crisis mode after he commented that the committee’s existence–and its investigation–is hurting Hillary’s poll numbers. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is running against McCarthy, called the remarks “absolutely terrible.” The chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), said that people should look at the work the committee has done. It’s not focused on Hillary; it’s focused on finding out what really happened in Libya on September 11, 2012. Gowdy, who is friends with McCarthy, acknowledged that he has apologized for the remarks repeatedly, but that doesn’t undo the damage that’s been done.

He said, "How many times can somebody apologize? Yes, he’s apologized as many times as a human can apologize. It doesn’t change it. It doesn’t fix it. The only thing you can say is, instead of listening to someone else’s words, why don’t you look at our actions?”

It seems as if McCarthy has given Democrats a huge gift; forcing votes that undermine the committee’s credibility and undercutting his legitimacy as our next speaker.

Updates to follow

Hillary Land Reportedly Struggling To Find Meaning On Campaign Trail

Hillary land is saddled with a problem: finding meaning to her 2016 presidential run. Why is she running? What does she stand for? That seems to be a question that’s taking up some serious sticky note space. While the former first lady seems to be taking a firm stand on pushing for new gun control laws, even going as far as using executive action on background checks, this is an expected move. Her party is notoriously trying to curb Second Amendment rights and uses mass shootings as fertile ground to launch a nuclear strike against the prevailing social attitudes we have on gun politics.

Yet, that’s not the issue here. It’s finding meaning in Hillary land, which has been saddled with nothing but bad news throughout the summer. Her email fiasco isn’t going away, and her poll numbers have sunk to the point where her electability is now in question. The prohibitive frontrunner is described as a “liar," "dishonest," "untrustworthy," and a "fake” concerning word association with voters. Not the best to work with, but that doesn’t mean her team isn’t trying or has given up (via the Hill):

“The wall of stickies makes me nervous, because she should be for one vision for America and then maybe she achieves that vision with a bunch of policies,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “I’m probably for most of the things on the stickies, but voters will have a tough time digesting a campaign with about a hundred policies.”

David Axelrod, one of the masterminds of President Obama’s 2008 victory, has persistently warned that Clinton needs to provide a clear rationale for why she’s seeking the White House.

“ ‘Hillary: Live with it’ is no rallying cry!” Axelrod tweeted last month while bemoaning that the Clinton camp was running a “grinding, tactical race.”

Last December, Axelrod had warned that Clinton needed to show she was “running for a purpose and not just for a promotion.” He has also said, “You have to stand for something, you have to fight for something, and people need to know what that is.”

While Clinton loyalists might complain that Axelrod’s frequent barbs reflect the bad blood generated during the 2008 race, others in the Democratic Party share his concerns.

“Nothing about the campaign reads as fresh and new, but rather as cautious, risk-averse and private,” one Democratic strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said of the Clinton campaign.

Independent observers, too, suggest that the former secretary of State has been slow to offer a summation of her reasons for seeking the presidency, beyond personal ambition.

Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College at the City University of New York, said Clinton could end up getting into a tangle similar to the one that famously ensnared Edward Kennedy. Asked in a 1980 TV interview, “Why do you want to be president?” Kennedy gave a vague, meandering answer that was perceived as sapping his momentum.

That latter point seems to be occurring here, with Hillary’s poll numbers in key swing states continue to sag, coupled with a dive in her favorability ratings. As Guy wrote today, she’s continuing to lose to various candidates in the GOP field in Iowa and New Hampshire. In Iowa, she’s lost a third of her support since June, and Sen. Bernie Sanders has a 22-point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire. Over at Hot Air, Ed wondered if Team Clinton was giving up on the Granite State. As of now, it looks as if the prohibitive Democratic nominee for 2016 can’t compete there. To make matters worse, Hillary has lost a huge chunk of Democratic women (with leaners) since July. To pour more salt in the wound, Clinton has seen a 31-point drop in support among African-Americans, according to a USA Today poll.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver noted that Sanders could win New Hampshire and Iowa, but lose everything else given how the primary electorates shift after two states with a predominantly white voter base cast their ballots; Sanders’ core group of support is white progressives. When we get to other contests, the electorate becomes more diverse, which would increase the chances that Hillary would get things going again–and eventually clinch the nomination. Winning over, or at least being competitive with, nonwhite Democrats, moderates, and southerners is essential for Bernie to remain competitive after New Hampshire. Most nonwhite Democrats barely know who he is, but the dip in black support for Clinton and women should have that campaign somewhat nervous, given then that this is all compounded by the fact that Sanders had a pretty solid fundraising quarter. He almost raised as much cash as Clinton.

The inevitable nominee is losing the first two major primary contests, while bleeding key voters and is raising only slightly more cash than her closest opponent; this isn’t exactly the recipe for a good news cycle. Oh, and one of the reasons why women are fleeing Clinton: they think she’s lying about her private email system. If Hillary needs to find a reason to give voters why she should be our next president, the time is now. At the same time, I hope she remain lost, as everyone seems to think she is with this aspect of her campaign. 

Obama Apologizes for 'Mistaken' Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital

At a White House press conference Wednesday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest informed the media that President Obama called the Doctors Without Border international president, Joanne Liu, to apologize for the U.S. military's mistaken airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that killed 22 innocent people. He made another telephone call to extend his condolences to Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. 

"When the United States makes a mistake, we own up to it, we apologize where appropriate, and we are honest about what transpired," Earnest said. He described the call as a "heartfelt apology."

His phone call is unlikely to comfort the aid group, however, who is insisting they had no prior warning about an incoming attack. Liu said it violated the terms of the Geneva conventions and has demanded a non-prosecutorial inquiry by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission.

“This was not just an attack on our hospital – it was an attack on the Geneva conventions. This cannot be tolerated,” said Liu.

General John Campbell, a top U.S. military commander, addressed the tragedy at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, lamenting that the medical facility was "mistakenly struck."

Earnest said an investigation is taking place so the Defense Department can prevent such tragic mistakes in the future.

Obama Throwing Temper Tantrum Over GITMO Funding

When President Obama ran for office the first time in 2008, he made the political promise to close down Guantanamo Bay Prison. Once he entered the Oval Office, that promise became difficult to keep as Americans overwhelmingly rejected bringing Islamic terrorists to their neighborhoods in the United States. As a result Obama has found other ways to empty out the prison, including his decision to swap five Taliban commanders for traitor and deserter Bowe Berghdahl. 

Now, Obama is using the bipartisan defense budget to throw a temper tantrum about GITMO funding and is threatening a veto unless funding for the prison is pulled. From AP

The Senate moved forward Tuesday on a sweeping, $612 billion defense policy bill despite a presidential veto threat stemming from larger budget disputes that have hamstrung Washington.
The vote was 73-26, 13 votes more than necessary to break any filibuster. The Senate is expected to pass the measure Wednesday and send it to President Barack Obama.
The defense policy bill is one of the few bipartisan measures in Congress that has readily become law for more than a half-century, but Obama’s veto threat jeopardizes the legislation.

Further, the White House is claiming the veto threat is also a result of Congress refusing to increase funding for domestic law enforcement agencies, but according to the Washington Post, the funding Obama is demanding isn't for important things like fighting ISIS. More details on that

Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest indicated Obama plans to be stubborn on the issue and that the veto threat stands. 

“The current version that was passed through the House of Representatives is something that the president would veto principally because of this — of the irresponsible way that it funds our national defense priorities, but also because of the efforts to prevent the closure [of] the prison at Guantánamo Bay,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday. “So our position on this hasn’t changed. We continue to feel strongly about it.”

Divider-in-Chief indeed. 

Carson Reveals the Stabbing Incident That Changed His Life Forever in New CBC Author Interview

Podcast Author Interview with Dr. Ben Carson! Dr. Carson reveals the stabbing incident that changed his life forever, and how he became a devout Christian at the age of 14!

In an exclusive CBC podcast author interview, we sat down with Dr. Ben Carson – the famed author, neurosurgeon, and leading 2016 Republican presidential candidate. He discusses his new book, A More Perfect Union: What We The People Can Do To Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties, his faith,and the incident that changed his life forever.

Dr. Carson openly discusses his anger issues as a teenager that led him to almost stab a fellow schoolmate at the age of 14. Learn how divine providence saved both their lives by listening to our podcast interview with Dr. Ben Carson. Start at Min 7:20 in the video to hear the story.

It should be noted that Dr. Carson had written about this incident in his autobiography, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson

- See more at: http://www.conservativebookclub.com/13829/author-interviews/how-ben-carson-became-a-christian-author-interview-ben-carson#sthash.DoMLYmjq.dpuf

There's No Correlation Between Gun Laws and Homicide Rates

In the wake of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, there's been a lot of talk about America's gun laws and ways to prevent mass shootings. As my colleague Matt Vespa wrote on Friday, there's a lot of misinformation on the topic being spread around.

One law professor, Eugene Volokh, decided to do the math and see if gun laws were actually effective in reducing crime. Volokh drew up a graph comparing a state's homicide rates against its Brady Campaign score. (A state with an an "F" from the Brady Campaign means that there are fewer gun laws.) Volokh found that there's zero correlation between a state having strict gun laws and a lower homicide rate.

The correlation between the homicide rate and Brady score in all 51 jurisdictions is +.032 (on a scale of -1 to +1), which means that states with more gun restrictions on average have very slightly higher homicide rates, though the tendency is so small as to be essentially zero. (If you omit the fatal gun accident rates, then the correlation would be +.065, which would make the more gun-restricting states look slightly worse; but again, the correlation would be small enough to be essentially zero, given all the other possible sources of variation.)

Gun violence is a tragedy, and it's unfortunate that numbers are muddled for political points. With anti-gun groups like Everytown releasing very inaccurate maps claiming there are far more school shootings than there actually are, and suicides are being lumped into the "gun violence" figures, it's hard to get an accurate, honest look on the state of gun crime in the United States.

Gowdy ‘Disappointed’ by Friend Kevin McCarthy After Benghazi Comments

One can’t help thinking that all the work Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has done as chairman of the Benghazi Select Committee over the past year was washed down the drain with a 10-second sound bite. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), considered the frontrunner to be the next Speaker of the House, suggested the creation of the committee helped siphon off Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. It was a very poor choice of words that has somewhat discredited the committee’s efforts.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) called McCarthy’s remarks “absolutely terrible” and “inappropriate” shortly before announcing he’s running against him in the race for speaker. The Benghazi committee, he insisted, was formed with the sole purpose of finding out why more wasn't done to save four American diplomats on September 11, 2012.

Now Gowdy is the one breaking his silence over his friend’s damaging comments:

“Kevin is a friend, which makes the disappointment, frankly, even more bitter. If faith tells you to forgive somebody…” Gowdy trails off. “It’s tough,” he says after a moment. “People should go by what we’ve done. How many people have we interviewed? How many of those people have been named Clinton?”

McCarthy’s apology, Gowdy continued, doesn’t amount to much:

“How many times can somebody apologize? Yes, he’s apologized as many times as a human can apologize. It doesn’t change it. It doesn’t fix it. The only thing you can say is, instead of listening to someone else’s words, why don’t you look at our actions?”

Those actions include launching a thorough investigation and holding several hearings grilling government officials over the policies and decisions that may have led to the overseas tragedy. These efforts on behalf of the committee are all documented here. Gowdy’s commitment to discovering the Benghazi truth is evident considering he has rejected calls to run for speaker of the House to focus solely on his committee work.

Clinton will appear before the Benghazi committee later this month as Gowdy and company demand some answers about the State Department’s failure to keep our diplomats safe. Hopefully McCarthy's comments will amount to no more than a forgotten gaffe.

Father of Oregon Shooting Victim: We Will Not Be Attending Obama's Exploitative Gun Control Visit

Tomorrow President Obama is scheduled to visit Rosenburg, Oregon, where 10 people were killed last week at Umpqua Community College by a deranged killer who happened to use a gun to carry out his crimes. 

We've already reported on the repulsed reaction from the community as people who live there continue to reject Obama's visit. Now Stacy Boylan, the father of shooting victim Ana Boylan, is directly speaking out against Obama's visit and has no interest in putting up with his exploitation of the tragedy for political purposes.

"I do believe it was Rahm Emanuel who said 'Never let a good tragedy go to waste,' and I really feel that his [Obama] visit here is to completely to support his gun control agenda. I can't understand why he wouldn't make a mention of the families and the victims. I mean, he did say that it was a tragic incident and I do thank him for lowering the flags but he made it all about gun control. He was very clear about that and we saw this in Sandy Hook and now we're seeing it again and I just question his motives," Boylan said. "I've spoken to my family and for myself and for my family, my daughter and son, on principle I find that we are in disagreement with his policies on gun control and therefore we will not be attending the visit." 

"My position on this is that gun free zones are an issue, they're a target for crazy people because they know they're not going to be met with resistance. You know, my daughter said to me, 'What if somebody would have had a gun?' Gun free and gun control takes that option off the table. Somebody doesn't have to use their gun in defense, but to take that option entirely, I don't think that's the right course," he continued.

Boylan said his daughter is recovering from her physical injuries and is still processing what happened.

Dems Demand GOP Apologize to Cecile Richards for 'Witch Hunt' Hearing

In a series of undercover videos, the Center for Medical Progress has exposed Planned Parenthood as more than an abortion giant, but an organization that also harvests fetal body parts. Investigations of the organization, which kicked off immediately at the state and federal levels, brought Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards to Capitol Hill to testify last week, where she was rightfully grilled over the group’s sale of fetal body parts.

Now, however, Democrats are calling foul on the hearing, and demanding that Republicans apologize to Richards, who they claim was “cross-examined and accosted with personal questions and accusations for 4 ½ hours while constantly being interrupted.”

In a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner, Democratic Reps. Chris Van Hollen, Rosa DeLauro, and Louise Slaughter allege that the hearing was not oversight at all, but rather a “witch hunt against [Richards] personally and an ideological attack on a critical provider of women’s health care.”

“We sincerely believe that the Committee should extend an apology to Ms. Richards and refrain from such ideologically based personal attacks of its witnesses in the future,” the representatives wrote, “particularly because there was no basis to the allegations from the outset.”

The members of Congress also took issue with the chart that was shown during the hearing, which illustrated that Planned Parenthood performs more abortions than cancer screenings and preventative services. 

In the end, the lawmakers contend that, “Planned Parenthood has been the victim of an entrapment scheme conducted over three years in which an opposing political organization actively lied and used deceptive tactics against Planned Parenthood’s employees.”

“Clearly,” they continue, “Planned Parenthood, and its President, was the subject of a hostile hearing in the absence of evidence of any wrongdoing.”

First of all, despite Planned Parenthood and the Democrats’ talking point about how the videos were “deceptively edited,” a new forensics report suggests otherwise. And secondly, when the investigation is concerning something as gruesome as the sale of fetal body parts by an organization that receives half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding, lawmakers have every right to ask tough questions. And if Richards is truly "proud" of her organization's work harvesting fetal body parts, as she says she is, she shouldn't have felt the least bit uncomfortable defending the practice--in the media or on Capitol Hill. 

Swing State Q-Poll: Democratic Frontrunner Disliked, Distrusted

In all fairness, these surveys were in the field prior to Hillary Clinton's game-changing displays of planned spontaneity on SNL and the Today Show -- and before her first national television ad was unveiled. About that ad. New Red State editor-in-chief makes a compelling case that its concept is counter-productive and its content poorly produced. Plus, on-air advertising hasn't exactly been a silver bullet for Team Clinton:

She's losing to various Republicans in those two states according to NBC's latest poll, and here's more bad news for Democrats' double-digit frontrunner via Quinnipiac, which surveyed voters in three additional battleground states:

Florida: Favorability (44/51), trustworthiness (35/59). Clinton is locked in statistical ties with Marco Rubio (-1), Jeb Bush (-1), Carly Fiorina (+2) and Ben Carson (+2). She leads Donald Trump by five points.

Ohio: Favorability (38/56), trustworthiness (33/61). Clinton lags behind every Republican polled, except for Trump. She trails Carson by nine, Rubio by four, and Bush and Fiorina by two.

Pennsylvania: Favorability (41/54), trustworthiness (34/61).  Match-ups present the same deal as Ohio. Hillary is down to each potential GOP rival with the exception of Donald Trump. Carson (-9), Bush (-6), Fiorina (-4), Rubio (-3).

The poll shows Bernie Sanders also struggling against hypothetical Republican opponents; undeclared candidate Joe Biden emerges as the strongest Democrat in these head-to-head match-ups. Clinton's allies are reportedly weighing the possibility of giving up in New Hampshire, the state that revived her 2008 effort against Barack Obama, and her primary lead has tumbled precipitously in True Blue California.  Nevertheless, even with troubling new wrinkles in her email scandal arising by the day, Mrs. Clinton leads her party's primary field by more than 16 percentage points in the RCP average -- down sharply from her 50-point advantage in the spring, but still a sizable lead.  I'll leave you with a few thoughts from Democratic voters in New Hampshire:

Mike Huckabee To Visit California Section of U.S.-Mexico Border Saturday

Former Arkansas governor and current GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will be visiting the California-Mexico border Saturday. He will be escorted by Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, who represents Congressional District  50 just north of San Diego. A tour of the border, spanning from the Pacific ocean to Pacific Ocean the San Ysidro Port of Entry, will be given by members of the National Border Patrol Council which is the union representing all U.S. Border Patrol Agents. 

"America has an immigration crisis on its hands, and it’s time for the federal government to do its job. Without a secure border, nothing matters. We have drug cartels running reckless on our southern border, and the Washington establishment wants to reward illegal immigrants with amnesty and citizenship," Huckabee's campaign website states. "If you reward people who play outside the rules and punish people who live within the rules, pretty soon nobody is going to play by the rules. We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws."
If elected, Huckabee has pledged to end illegal immigration and says he "will reject President Obama's unconstitutional executive orders," oppose amnesty and secure the border in order to do so.  

In July, the NBPC pulled out of tour events planned for presidential candidate Donald Trump after he made derogatory comments about the military service of Arizona Senator John McCain.