Optimism to Win War on Terror Hits Decade Low

The number of Americans who believe the United States is winning the War on Terror is waning fast. According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, confidence has deteriorated to its lowest point in ten years.

Just 27% of Likely U.S. Voters now believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror. That’s down eight points from 35% in April and 47% a year ago. This figure hit a high of 62% in February 2009 just after President Obama’s inauguration, then steadily deteriorated until the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 when it rebounded into the 50s.

Thirty-six percent (36%) think the terrorists are winning that war, the highest level of doubt since the late Bush years in 2007. Twenty-nine percent (29%) say neither side is winning.

The poll additionally found that 59 percent of likely voters think a global conflict exists between the Muslim and Western worlds. President Obama stated in his 2009 inaugural address that he would seek to soothe the contention and seek “a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

Kenneth Timmerman, a journalist who worked in the Middle East and the author of “Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi,” told Townhall that the Obama administration’s policy shifts have only abated Islamic countries:

The shift goes to essentially enhance radical Islamist regimes around the world, or to create them, as happened in Egypt and later in Libya. And that, I think, is what led directly to the Benghazi attacks. It showed weakness, and in the Middle East and the Muslim world, where I’ve been reporting from for the past 35 years, weakness invites attack.

The unrest in the Middle East coupled with Obama's weak foreign policy tactics hardly bode well for the future security of the United States.

Lerner Emails: Conservative 'Crazies' and 'A--holes' will 'Take Down' America


Lois Lerner -- faithful, impartial public servant:



That screen grab comes from an email exchange between retired IRS official Lois Lerner and a colleague just after the 2012 election. Ms. Lerner describes overhearing some women discussing the state of the nation in dire terms, prompting her correspondent to blast "whacko" and "scary" right-wing radio shows. Lerner posits that America may be "through" if "that many a--holes" exist, later adding that the US shouldn't worry about foreign terrorists because "our own crazies" will "take us down." Granted, certain quarters of the conservative radio universe are too conspiratorial and apocalyptic for many people's taste. But the same holds true at the other end of the ideological spectrum. Lerner and her friend weren't talking about the Left, though. They were hand-wringing over, and insulting, conservatives -- whom Lerner clearly despises. A virtuosic juxtaposition from T. Becket Adams:



Lerner was slandering the Right as a bunch of nutty paranoiacs while she was personally presiding over a targeting operation that basically validated conservatives' most febrile persecution complex. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, drawing this newly-released document to the DOJ's attention. He concludes:


While the Committee has not seen any evidence of a serious investigation by your Department, it is my sincere hope that in light of this new, strong evidence that you immediately begin aggressively investigating this matter or appoint a special counsel. The failure to do so will only further erode public trust in not only the IRS, but the Department as well.


I'm sure Eric Holder -- who put an Obama donor in charge of the inquiry, and who loathes conservatives as least as much as Lerner -- will get right on that. Two thoughts on this email chain: First, nobody should be surprised by its contents. Lois Lerner is a committed Statist ideologue, and has been throughout her career. She's pontificated about using government agencies to combat adverse Supreme Court decisions, she was eager to investigate a Republican Senator even when there was no legitimate cause to do so, and she's "joked" about joining left-wing organizations. Her motives for managing the anti-conservative targeting regime (which she initially lied about) aren't mysterious. These new comments merely confirm her aggressive biases in explicit and vulgar terms. Second, I'd wager that Ms. Lerner wishes she'd "scratched" another hard drive or two. One can only imagine what might lurk within the trove of "accidentally" deleted/lost/recoverable/missing emails sent by this contemptible woman of a two-year span.

CA Insurance Commissioner: Individual Premiums 'Skyrocketed' in 2014


Why is a partisan California Democrat making a 'statement against interest' by sounding the alarm over soaring Obamacare premiums? In order to arrogate more price-control power for himself, of course. He wants voters to approve a ballot measure that would hand the government -- and him, specifically -- the power to reject proposed rate increases deemed to be 'excessive.' Insurers oppose the measure, which they (understandably) argue would not solve the problem of higher costs -- not to mention the significant risk of providers pulling out of the market. Nevertheless, state health commissioner Dave Jones' statistics paint a picture of steep 2014 premium hikes in California. Obamacare at work:


The cost of health insurance for individuals skyrocketed this year in California, with some paying almost twice what they did last year, the state's insurance commissioner said...For 2014, consumers purchasing individual policies paid between 22% and 88% more for health insurance than they did last year, depending on age, gender, type of policy and where they lived, Jones said Tuesday. He said he has authorized a study of health insurance rates after receiving numerous complaints about rising costs. "The rate increase from 2013 to 2014, on average, was significantly higher than rate increases in the past," Jones said in a news conference in Sacramento. The hardest-hit were young people, he said. In one region of Los Angeles County, people age 25 paid 52% more for a silver plan than they had for a similar plan the year before, while someone age 55 paid 38% more, according to a report that Jones released Tuesday.


Jones cautions that the 2015 rate bumps will likely be artificially "modest," as insurance companies try to avoid a backlash at the ballot box. Keep in mind that those relatively less painful increases will come on top of 2014's "significantly higher" than usual spikes, caused by Obamacare's costly mandates. Another reason behind the hikes are the law's problematic risk pools, which are sicker and older (and therefore more expensive to cover) than the administration projected. Aetna's CEO spelled this out on CNBC, calling the demographics "worse than we expected:"



He also says that his company is experiencing "some attrition" when it comes to premium payments, meaning that some percentage of enrollees' coverage is lapsing. We've discussed premium non-payment among Obamacare's sign-ups over many months, so that isn't new. But Bertolini isn't talking about people who selected coverage but never initiated it by paying an initial premium; he's talking about people who began by paying premiums, then dropped off. One of the CNBC anchors speculates that young, healthy people have the strongest incentive to kick their plans to the curb. Let's see how this fluidity and instability impacts 2016 premiums. Bertolini also reminds viewers that the "back end operating system of the exchanges is not yet up and running." Recent reports suggest that task isn't even close to completion. Down in Louisiana, the bad news continues to roll in:


The state's largest insurer says close to 45,000 Louisiana policyholders could see the rates for their health coverage jump anywhere from 10 percent to nearly 20 percent next year, and the Affordable Care Act is a major reason. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana accounts for the bulk of those individual policies, which people buy directly from an insurance company rather than through their employer. Blue Cross spokesman John Maginnis said the Affordable Care Act expanded access to health insurance to millions of Americans, regardless of age or health status, and guaranteed richer benefits. He says those things come at a cost.


Of course they do, but that's not what the president and his Congressional foot soldiers told the American people. They claimed that Obamacare would lower everybody's rates, with reductions saving the average family $2,500. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, slammed conservatives' predictions of higher costs as "a pathetic lie" during the pre-passage debate. Now tens of thousands of her constituents are experiencing that "lie" first hand. The nationwide "summer drumbeat" isn't slowing down. Florida: "State insurance officials are preparing to release figures next week on how much health plans will cost under the Affordable Care Act for 2015, and rate increases seem inevitable as insurers say their new consumers are older and sicker than anticipated. Top executives at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and Cigna said rate increases are likely, but declined specifics." I'll leave you with a link to Peter Suderman's definitive piece on the wonky Halbig controversy that's been raging for days. We covered the court decision when it broke last week, as well as the humiliating evidence subsequently unearthed against one of Obamacare's most prominent defenders and architects. The Left has been working like mad to recover from this embarrassment, but some of their flailing has inadvertently weakened their case.

The Conservative Case Against Boehner's Border Bill

Capitol Hill conservatives are not happy with Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) $659 million response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis at the Texas-Mexico border. They are circulating a series of memos, including the one pasted below, detailing why the Boehner bill will fail to solve the problem.

From the memo:

  • The bill does not address the cause of the problem – the president’s unlawful policies, particularly DACA.
  • The bill does not actually require the president to do anything – the only thing it guarantees is that the president will get the money he requested.
  • The bill appropriates money through 2015, creating a built-in budget cliff that might require Congress to reauthorize this bill, and tracks the amount of spending ($3.7B) in the president’s request.

Further Complicates Trafficking Law

  • The bill appears to abolish voluntary return for UACs.
  • Under current law, UACs from contiguous countries are subject to voluntary return, which can be accomplished by Border Patrol in as little as one day.
  • Thus, the bill appears to put the majority – if not all – in the new court proceedings, where they are permitted to withdraw their application for admission to the U.S. at any time “in the discretion of the Attorney General.”
  • The bill creates a new seven-day court proceeding for all UACs in which an immigration judge determines whether a UAC has a claim for immigration relief.
  • If the judge determines there is a claim, then the UAC is placed in removal proceedings (issued a Notice to Appear before another immigration judge) or ordered removed – unless the UAC claims asylum.
  • However, the majority of these UACs, who we know have been coached to claim asylum, will claim a fear of persecution or state their intent to apply for asylum. At this point, the immigration judge (in the new proceeding) will simply refer the UAC to an asylum officer in the current flawed asylum system, which remains unchanged by this bill, because the bill fails to strike the initial jurisdiction provisions of the TVPRA. In fact, a UAC could potentially circumvent this entire new process by claiming asylum and going straight to a USCIS asylum officer.
  • This also allows UACs to go before an asylum officer even if an immigration judge (in the new proceeding) did not find that the UAC had a likely claim for immigration relief.
  • In addition, the bill allows UACs to take advantage of the credible fear determination process, which they are not subject to under current law because they are protected by the initial jurisdiction provisions of the TVPRA. In other words, in addition to going to an asylum adjudicator to have their case heard on the merits in a non-adversarial setting (pursuant to the initial jurisdiction provisions), they can claim asylum in another setting.
  • Perhaps most troubling, the House bill states that the DHS Secretary “shall permit” UACs who have received Notices to Appear (issued since Jan. 1, 2013) to appear before an immigration judge in the new proceeding created by the bill, move to have the NTA “replaced,” and apply for admission to the U.S. While the language is not entirely clear, it very well could result in UACs who have been ordered removed or who have failed to appear for removal proceedings and thus are fugitives to get another bite at the apple to remain in the U.S.

Creates More Loopholes in Asylum Law

  • The House bill allows five bites at the apple for those claiming asylum:
  • UACs are screened for credible fear by the Border Patrol;
  • UACs go before an immigration judge in the new court proceeding to determine if they have a claim for relief;
  • UACs are screened by an asylum officer for a credible fear of persecution;
  • UACs then have their asylum case adjudicated by any asylum officer who can only grant relief or refer the case to immigration court; and
  • If a UAC’s case is referred, the immigration judge will hear their case on the merits de novo.
  • The House bill subjects all UACs to credible fear determinations, which is not the case under current law.
  • It should be noted that as soon as a UAC claims credible fear or applies for asylum (which they have been coached to do), they can game the existing loose credible fear and asylum standards.
  • In addition to UACs, as of July 8, 2014, 55,398 family units and 268,493 single adults have been apprehended in the Rio Grande sector alone. Many family units and adults claim a credible fear of persecution to circumvent expedited removal. According to DOJ statistics, in FY13, 74% of all affirmative asylum claims were approved by immigration judges, and 65% of all UAC asylum claims were approved by USCIS asylum officers (the remainder were referred to judges to hear de novo). According to USCIS, in 2013, 92% of credible fear claims were approved on the merits and the number of credible fear claims have increased 586% since 2007.

Does Not Mandate Detention

  • The House bill does not use the word ���detention” but rather “custody.” This is an important distinction because “custody” can be satisfied by transferring a UAC to HHS, which places the UAC in a non-secure setting.
  • The bill does not strike the language in current law that requires DHS to transfer custody of UACs to HHS within 72 hours; or that provides that a UAC shall be placed in “the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child;” or that a UAC “shall not be placed in a secure facility absent a determination that the child poses a danger.”
  • The bill does not change current law that requires that USCIS adjudicate claims of asylum for OTM UACs. In practice, individuals who claim asylum are released pending adjudication of their claim. This bill does not change that.
  • Importantly, the bill does not address administration policies that would require ICE to release many of these individuals from custody.
  • In reality, under the bill, those not claiming asylum will be in custody, and even then, only for seven days until the new proceeding created by the bill takes place.

Does Not Deploy the National Guard to the Border

  • The House bill does not deploy the National Guard to the border and does not require the Secretary of Defense to do so. Rather, the bill merely makes funds available for a potential deployment and states that the Guard may “provide assistance with operations on the southern border.”

The House is scheduled to vote on Boehner's border bill this Thursday. With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) whipping hard against the bill, it is highly uncertain whether it will pass.

Obama Spends 8-Minutes Mocking and Taunting Republicans For "Not Working With Him"

The President was speaking in Kansas City today and outdid his usual self with GOP mockery and taunting, and then asking them to work with him...as long as they agree with his solutions. Here's just a sampling of quotes from this 7-minute clip:

  • "Stop hatin' all the time!"
  • "Stop bein' mad all the time!"
  • "C'mon and help out a little bit!"
  • "C'mon, let's get some work done together!"
  • "I know they're not that happy that I'm president but that's okay. C'mon! HaHa! I only got a couple years left. C'mon! Let's get some work done! Then you can be mad at the next president!"
  • "We act when congress won't."
  • They're trying to sue me! "Don't boo, VOTE!"
  • "They're mad cause I'm doing my job."

Grimes: Uh, Iron Dome Protects Israelis From Underground Tunnels

Senator Mitch McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, has no clue what Israel’s Iron Dome is, or what it does to protect their civilians from Hamas rocket attacks. Apparently, she thinks that it prevents Hamas from attacking Israel from underground (via Lexington Herald-Ledger):

As foreign policy inches its way into a debate that has largely focused on the economy, Grimes was asked about congressional efforts to aid Israel's missile defense system, known as the Iron Dome.

"Obviously, Israel is one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and she has the right to defend herself," Grimes said. "But the loss of life, especially the innocent civilians in Gaza, is a tragedy. The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in.

Well, in case you missed it, Ms. Grimes, the Iron Dome is Israel’s missile defense system that intercepts incoming rockets, specifically those coming from Hamas.

Grimes said defeating McConnell is her “number one priority.”

While vulnerable, McConnell is leading Grimes, but within the margin of error according to a new Bluegrass poll. Nevertheless, he’s virtually tied with Grimes concerning likely women voters, with forty-six percent of Kentucky women siding with him, while forty-seven percent are backing Grimes. He’s also winning the 18-34 demographic at forty-nine percent to Grimes’ forty-four percent.

Congressman Calls Planned Parenthood What it Is: 'Criminal'

You may recall the disturbing revelation that a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado was rewarded for exceeding abortion expectations. Now, a similar discovery in Texas suggests these abortion quotas are more than just rumors and that Planned Parenthood is more than just "women's health care."

Abby Johnson is the former director of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas. She claims the clinic needed to perform at least 1,135 in the 2010 fiscal year, which would generate over $350,000 in revenue.

Representative Bill Flores (R-TX) is incensed over her report and is now telling it like it is:

“While the murder of any unborn child is appalling,” said Republican Rep. Bill Flores, “even more criminal is the establishment of a target to kill over 1,100 innocent Texas children in order to meet financial targets.”

With reports like these, how can Planned Parenthood continue to call itself a "women's health" organization? Flores provided a more accurate description:

“Someday, somehow the leadership of Planned Parenthood will have to answer for their callous disregard of the sanctity of human life,” said Flores. “In the meantime, I am relieved that the Bryan abortion facility has gone out of business.”

In fact, this clinic is one of many that has closed in Texas since Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) signed sweeping pro-life legislation into law last summer.

Rep. Flores and Gov. Perry aren't alone in their fight for life. Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Diane Black (R-TN) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) are just a few Congress members willing to promote lifesaving bills and to speak up for the unborn.

I hope more politicians will take their bold lead in defeating the most misleading business in America.

Palestinian Spokesman on CNN: It's Israel vs. Palestinian Civilians--Israel Violated Ceasefire and Massacred Civilians

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, the founder of the Palestinian National Initiative and member of the Palestinian Parliament appeared on CNN's "This Hour" with hosts John Berman and Michaela Pereira Wednesday morning to lie distort the facts regarding the Hamas/Israeli situation. One solution he offers for fixing the problem: let the UN take care of it. Of course, the CNN hosts play the "who knows who's to blame? It's a push" card.

History Professor: Convicted Cop Killer Mumia Should Be Celebrated Like Martin Luther King Jr. in Schools

Last night on the Kelly File Baruch College History Professor Joanna Fernandez argued that unrepentant convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who murdered Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981 by shooting him five times in the face, should be celebrated in schools just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She also argued using words like "militant" and "convicted cop killer" to describe Mumia, is racist. Another nice nugget? A California teacher's union feels the same way.

If you don't want to listen to Fernandez yell through her re-litigation of the case (as she always does when given the opportunity), you'll find her comparison of MLK to Mumia at 5:04. Also be sure you get to the 6:00 minute mark to hear the Wall Street Journal's Jason Riley's entire response to the asinine comparison.

"Essentially by the end of his life, Martin Luther King like Mumia Abu Jamal, was a radical," she said.

"It's bad enough that some people on the Left want to celebrate this guy as a hero, turn him into some sort of celebrity, but I think it's even sadder, or just as sad, that they want to introduce this man to a curriculum for school children, hold him out as some kind of role model or hero for black children. That is the wrong message to send to black children. The worst kind of message to send to black children," Riley responded. "Comparing him to Martin Luther King who preached non-violence. This guy was a Black Panther, a separatist, King preached integration. There's just no comparison."

#BornIn88: Healthcare.Gov's Creepy New Campaign for Youth Enrollment

The official Facebook and Twitter accounts for Healthcare.gov have shared a series of semi-unsettling images meant to inspire parents to remind their adult children to sign up for health insurance immediately after they turn 26. As people born in 1988 will be turning the magical age of 26 (and forced to cut the cord from mommy and daddy's insurance plan) this year, the campaign is using the hashtag #BornIn88 to promote new signups.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


And the creepy, "serial killer"-esque girl version:


It should be noted that the man in the first ad picture is wearing a wedding ring, meaning he's married and still on his parents' insurance plan.

Healthcare.gov also posted a list of "26 Life Skills Every Person #BornIn88 Should Know By Now" on Buzzfeed. The eloquently-written listicle included three mentions of "cooking," among other "skills" that one would have expected the average child to have mastered by the age of seven, such as dressing oneself.

As someone who was #BornIn91, I am technically still eligible to be on my father's plan for a few more years. However, as I #GotAJob last year and #MovedOut, my father told me he was taking me off of his plan as I was now a #RealAdult. The actions of this administration have made it crystal clear that they believe my generation is a bunch of adult babies (or knuckleheads, to borrow a term from Michelle Obama) in desperate need of the comforting hand of a parent—either in the biological or governmental sense.

With large majorities of millennials disapproving of Obamacare, along with dismal sign-up rates, it's going to take more than a series of hashtags to get young people to buy into the farce that is health care reform.

Cynicism: Reid Threatens to Tie Border Crisis Bill to 'Gang of Eight' Proposal


There is bipartisan agreement that the scene playing out along the Southern border involving tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors is an urgent crisis. Talk is cheap. Action is needed. President Obama's large spending request has divided Democrats. A bipartisan bill designed to expedite the process for adjudicating each minor's case has drawn scorn from the White House, and Harry Reid has dutifully stopped it in its tracks. A Republican bill that would change current law to treat central American minors the same way as Mexicans who enter the country illegally appears to be stalled, even though President Obama has stated that the law in question needs to be altered. House Republicans have introduced a piece of legislation that would:


(1) Appropriate $659 million "for border security, enforcement of immigration and customs laws, humanitarian assistance, and illegal immigration prevention" through the end of the fiscal year. These expenditures are offset, making the bill budget neutral -- at least in theory.

(2) Provide more than $400 million in resources to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

(3) Allocate $22 million of "accelerated judicial proceedings" for these immigrants.

(4) Devote nearly $200 million for providing housing, food, and medical care to the detained minors as they await processing.

(5) Change the aforementioned law "to require that all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexicans for the purpose of removals. This would require unaccompanied children who do not wish to be voluntarily returned to their home country to remain in HHS custody while they await an expedited immigration court hearing(s)."


How has Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded to this development?


Which sparked this bullseye observation from Lachlan Markay:


Reid is actively trying to undermine the House leadership's bill by needlessly linking it to a highly divisive issue. David Drucker explains:


House Republicans say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is playing head games to undermine their attempt to pass a $659 million border package. As Speaker John Boehner tries to build support among the Republican caucus for legislation to address the thousands of unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. from Central America, his Democratic counterpart in the Senate has brought up the toxic issue of immigration reform. On Tuesday, Reid threatened to attach comprehensive immigration reform legislation to any border bill that makes it through the House — a move that would infuriate immigration hawks and split the GOP caucus....It's unlikely that Reid has the votes to actually do that. The four Republican members of the “gang of eight” sent a letter on Friday vowing not to support any border bill that includes their comprehensive immigration bill. Senate Republicans are highly unlikely to provide Reid the votes to do this in any event, given their broad opposition to the Democrats' border proposal.


Democrats' proposed alternative "is more focused on humanitarian relief," than Republicans' plan to "beef up border security and facilitate repatriation" efforts, according to Drucker. It also (of course) spends much, much more than the Republicans' version. Rather than working to forge a reasonable and limited compromise, Reid is messing around with hyper-partisan games in order to derail a viable idea...with the clock ticking down to the August recess. House Speaker John Boehner angrily rejected Reid's meddling suggestion yesterday evening:

Senator Reid, embarrassed that he cannot strong-arm the Senate into passing the blank check President Obama demanded, is making a deceitful and cynical attempt to derail the House’s common-sense solution. So let me be as clear as I can be with Senator Reid: the House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion. Nor will we accept any attempt to add any other comprehensive immigration reform bill or anything like it, including the DREAM Act, to the House’s targeted legislation, which is meant to fix the actual problems causing the border crisis. Such measures have no place in the effort to solve this crisis, and any attempt to exploit this crisis by adding such measures will run into a brick wall in the People’s House.

Allahpundit calls Reid's maneuver the latest "reminder that Democrats will never agree to improve security for the sake of improving security, even during a sustained surge of illegals across the border." The root causes of that sustained surge, incidentally, are twofold: Some of these kids truly are fleeing terrible violence, cartels, gangs, and sex trafficking. Others made a beeline for the US based on rampant (and erroneous) rumors about an impending blanket amnesty for minors. Those whispers weren't totally baseless; they were spurred by President Obama's 2012 DACA (or DREAM Act-style) executive order. In spite of this ongoing crisis, which has been explicitly linked to that DACA-caused magnet, President Obama is reportedly preparing to pull the trigger on a "large-scale move" to extend a similar temporary amnesty to millions of illegal immigrant adults. This would be a breathtakingly reckless and deliberately incendiary decision. As a self-professed moderate on the immigration issue, I fully endorse this sentiment:



The same can be said of the administration's incompetent and unlawful implementation of Obamacare. They cannot be trusted to do big things well, or to enforce the law fairly. I'll leave you with a segment on Fox News from last week in which I lamented DC's inability to do much of anything, even on this pressing concern. And this aired days before Harry Reid pulled the latest toxic rabbit out of his hat:


Next Gun Control Push Coming Through Violence Against Women Act

When President Obama's big push for gun control legislation failed last year it was thanks to Democrats, not Republicans, who voted against it. But despite unpopular gun control bills repeatedly failing to gain traction on Capitol Hill, Democrats and their special interest friends (funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg) continue to come up with clever ways to promote their agenda.

The latest push comes from Bloomberg's Everytown, a new group founded in April to house the former Mayor's other anti-gun groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action. The new agenda item is keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Fair enough, but as we've seen in the past legislation put forward by politicians backed by groups like Everytown usually targets law abiding citizens and goes beyond the stated purpose in order to serve a larger political purpose. Not to mention, advocating to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers while failing to recognize women must have the ability to defend themselves with a firearm is counter productive. After all, a restraining or is just a piece of paper.

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing called Violence Against Women Act Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence. Coincidentally, Everytown released a new TV advertisement yesterday which inadvertently proved why women need a firearm to protect themselves. Further, Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar has introduced Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act as a "common sense" way to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Paying attention to the details of the solutions offered will be important.

The hearing starts at 10 a.m.

Al-Qaeda Has Made Europe An 'Inadvertent Underwriter' For Its Operations

Well, it seems Al-Qaeda has found a new way to fund its operations: they kidnap Europeans and demanding ransom payments. In fact, it’s become a global business, according to the New York Times. They also reported that Al-Qaeda usually contracts criminals to nab the targeted individuals on commission to reduce casualties on their side. (via NYT):

Kidnapping Europeans for ransom has become a global business for Al Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe.

While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New York Times found that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have taken in at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just in the past year.

In various news releases and statements, the United States Treasury Department has cited ransom amounts that, taken together, put the total at around $165 million over the same period.

These payments were made almost exclusively by European governments, who funnel the money through a network of proxies, sometimes masking it as development aid, according to interviews conducted for this article with former hostages, negotiators, diplomats and government officials in 10 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The inner workings of the kidnapping business were also revealed in thousands of pages of internal Qaeda documents found by this reporter while on assignment for The Associated Press in northern Mali last year.

In its early years Al Qaeda received most of its money from deep-pocketed donors, but counterterrorism officials now believe the group finances the bulk of its recruitment, training and arms purchases from ransoms paid to free Europeans.

Put more bluntly, Europe has become an inadvertent underwriter of Al Qaeda.

Ted Cruz Found One Person Happy With the Job Obama is Doing

"There's one person happy with how Obama is doing - and that's Jimmy Carter."

Today at the National Conservative Student Conference in Washington, DC, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) noted an intriguing parallel. America's high unemployment, troubled foreign policy and disenchantment with the president looks a whole lot like 1979 all over again - when President Jimmy Carter led the country into malaise. Fortunately, we had a conservative hero back then who was more than willing to step up and steer America back on course. Cruz believes we are about to experience this same reversal.

After recognizing the 50th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's "A Time for Choosing" speech in 1964, Cruz made the case for why 2014 and 2016 will prove to be America's "second wave of freedom:"

"I'm optimistic," Cruz said. "I spend every day traveling the country. The same thing that happened in 1980 is happening today."

He offered the audience a few specific reasons as to why he can't stop smiling:

"It's going to be an incredible year. We're going to retake the Senate and we're going to fire Harry Reid! 2016 will be even better."

After Cruz's encouraging speech, about a quarter of the crowd raced to the mics to ask him a question. One student asked about foreign policy, and Cruz had the guts to say what President Obama won't in regards to Russia's encroaching powers:

"Mr. Putin, give back Crimea."

I share Cruz's hope that these next two elections will be a wake up call to politicians who seem more interested in voting uniformly than doing what's best for their constituents. How else can one explain why hardly any Democrats have challenged the Obama administration for its lawlessness?

We need more conservatives like Ted Cruz, who isn't afraid of saying what needs to be said. Unbeknownst to him, there were some murmurings in the crowd suggesting he himself could very well be in the White House in 2016.

Perhaps the best part of his speech, however, was his jab at the show "True Blood" at the very beginning. After summarizing an episode which featured vampires killing Texas Republicans at a Ted Cruz fundraiser (I kid you not), the senator had a simple message for HBO:

"I'm very disappointed to have lost the vampire vote. But I was astonished and amused that HBO was suggesting that hardcore leftists are bloodsucking fiends."

Touché, Senator.

Son Of Hamas Founder: My Father's Movement 'Doesn’t Care About The Lives Of Palestinians'

Meet Mosab Hassan Yousef. He’s the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the founders of Hamas. He’s now an evangelical Christian, living in the U.S. after being granted political asylum, and a former operative with Shin Bet, a branch of Israeli intelligence, which led to his father disowning him back in 2010:

In the letter, he said his family announced its "complete renunciation" of Mosab Yousef. The father said he was sorry to take such a step but said he had no choice after his son "disbelieved in God...and collaborated with our enemies," he said.

The elder Yousef, who helped found the militant Islamic group two decades ago, was humiliated last year when his eldest son announced he had converted to Christianity. Then the son told an Israeli newspaper last week that he had helped Israeli intelligence foil militant attacks and hunt down Hamas leaders — including his father.

As the Gaza conflict rages on, Yousef appeared last this week on CNN with Don Lemon where he said, “Hamas doesn’t care about the lives of Palestinians. Does not care about the lives of Israelis or Americans. They don’t care about their own lives. They consider dying for the sake of their ideology a way of worship. And how can you continue in that society?”

Lemon asked if peaceful co-existence was possible with someone who wishes to see you destroyed.

Yousef was blunt:

Well, Hamas is not seeking co-existence and compromise. Hamas is seeking conquest and taking over. And, by the way, Israel – the destruction of the state of Israel is not Hamas’ final destination. Hamas’ final destination is building the Islamic Caliphate, which means an Islamic state on the rubble of every other civilization. These are the ultimate goals of the movement.

Study Dispels Fears Legalized Medical Marijuana Leads to Increased Teen Use

A comparison of annual CDC surveys of adolescent drug use by showed that a state's legalization of marijuana for medical use has little impact on the chances that a teen will use marijuana.

Comparing surveys of marijuana use by adolescents conducted annually by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found the probability that a high schooler had used pot in the last 30 days was no more than 0.8 percent higher in legal states compared to states that had not approved medical marijuana.

"Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students," D. Mark Anderson of Montana State University, Daniel Rees of the University of Colorado and Benjamin Hansen of the University of Oregon wrote.

Marijuana is legal in 21 states for the treatment of a variety of diseases, and is legal in two states for recreational use. Two additional states, Alaska and Oregon, will vote this November about whether to legalize the drug for recreational use.

Approximately one out of every 15 high school seniors reports smoking marijuana on a daily basis, while about a third of high school seniors report smoking marijuana within the past year. A plurality of high school students claim that purchasing marijuana is easier than purchasing a beer, and half of high school students surveyed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration say that marijuana is "easy" or "very easy" to obtain.

This is fantastic news for patients in the 29 states that currently do not allow marijuana for medicinal use that may benefit from the drug. There have been incredible stories of patients who have been helped by medical marijuana, and frankly, the drug should be available to other sick patients regardless of what state they reside. This study shows that states who haven't legalized marijuana for medical use are doing more harm to patients who could benefit from the drug than preventing teens from smoking pot.

Obama Declares Economic Sanctions on Russia

The United States will impose key sanctions against the Russian economy, President Barack Obama announced Tuesday during a White House press conference.

The sanctions put an embargo on firearm sales to Russia and additionally target the country’s energy and finance industries. European Union leaders placed similar penalties against Russia just hours before; however, Obama claimed these additional U.S. sanctions will have "an even bigger bite."

"It's not a new cold war," Obama declared in response to a question, "What it is, is a very specific issue related to Russia's unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path."

This weekend, the Obama administration released surveillance photos revealing that Russian troops have fired artillery rounds against Ukranian militants.

"It didn't have to come to this. It does not have to be this way. This is a choice that Russia and President Putin in particular has made," Obama stated.

“If Russia continues on its current path the cost on Russia will continue to grow,” Obama warned. "Today is a reminder that the United States means what it says and we will rally the international community in standing up for rights and freedom around the world."

Hillary Clinton: Hamas Operates in Civilian Areas Because Gaza is a Small Place or Something

Speaking to journalist Jorge Ramos yesterday, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that Hamas operates in civilian populated areas in Gaza because it's "pretty small."

"The problem is, and this is something, I'm not a military planner but Hamas puts its missiles, its rockets in civilian areas, part of it is that Gaza's pretty small and it's very densely populated. They put their command and control of Hamas military leaders in those civilian areas," Clinton said.

Hamas doesn't operate in civilian areas because it's a "pretty small" place, not even "in part." Hamas intentionally and deliberately operates in civilians populations, including in schools and mosques, in order to get innocent Palestinians killed so they can use dead bodies as propaganda against Israel. Hamas purposefully uses human beings as shields. Period. Hamas doesn't operate inside civilian areas "in part," that's where their entire operation and propaganda campaign is based.

H/T JewsNews

At Netroots, House Democrats Slam Gerrymandering, Say Gridlock Unites Them

We’ve heard this ad nauseum from the media and members of Congress that it’s just too divided up on the Hill. It’s too gridlocked, or something. As George Will said in his acceptance speech upon receiving the George Washington Award from Americans For Prosperity Foundation in 2010, “gridlock isn’t an American problem; gridlock is an American achievement.” At the liberal conference Netroots Nation earlier this month, a panel comprised of Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D- CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), and Dan Kildee (D-MI) all said it made up the ingredients for a “crazy Congress.”

The panel, moderated by Huffington Post politics reporter Sabrina Siddiqui, is described as such:

From endless Obamacare repeal votes to the IRS “scandal” to the disgusting politicization of Benghazi, the 113th Congress has been a sight to behold. Hear from two progressive Members of Congress serving their first term on how they persevered to move the ball forward on progressive issues despite a conservative majority bent on picking useless political fights. Come to this panel for an inside look at how progressives are fighting the good fight in this House of Representatives—and what it will take to break through and win on important issues.

Siddiqui described the IRS fiasco as a “so-called scandal” in her opening remarks – and went on the list the various issues Congress faced, or is still debating, while House Republicans try to get to the bottom of what happened at the IRS when Lois Lerner was running the division overseeing tax-exempt nonprofits; issues like the Violence Against Women Act, Hurricane Sandy relief, sequestration, immigration reform, and Syria to name a few.

She then posed a question to Rep. Kildee and the rest of the congressmen about what they’ve learned since being elected to Congress.

He said it was much more partisan than he had imagined, but said he was able to work on what he planned on working on – to a certain degree – in urban policy. Yet, as being the minority party in the House of Representatives, Congressman Kildee said he frustrated that his side is “playing more defense than offense.”

Congressman Takano said that he doesn’t get easily frustrated, which he attributes to his teaching career before entering public life; he taught high school for twenty-four years, so you know that tests your patience. The response drew some laughter from the audience.

“I try to keep my expectation in line,” he said. But Rep. Takano knew what he was getting into when he assumed his congressional office on January 3, 2013, where the lame duck Congress was still trying to hash out something for Sandy victims. Rep. Takano said House Republicans would eventually do the right thing, but had to be shamed into it by the Senate.

Although, he noted that the high point of the alleged dysfunction was the government shutdown. But Democrats in the House and Senate, along with President Obama held the line and the Republicans finally backed off their demands over Obamacare.

Rep. Takano said the tone changed after the shutdown with his Republican colleagues. They reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act, which he said would’ve been impossible in prior to the shutdown. So, standing firm against Republican hostage tactics, as he described them, was essential.

Rep. Lowenthal agreed with the premise that House Democrats play a lot of defense on the Hill, but said it’s important to be in that position on some. The congressman is on the Committee on Natural Resources, which he describes as highly partisan, where discussions about drilling on federal lands are common. “Somebody has to stand up and talk about the debate about some of the impact of climate change. And that’s what we do as progressives,” he said. It’s all about framing the debate.

He mentioned that one of the good things about the dysfunction in Congress is that it’s allowed Democrats to come together and create a political apparatus they can use when they retake the House. Rep. Lowenthal prides himself in being a member of the Progressive Caucus, where fellow Democrats support each other and lay out their policy objectives.

Lowenthal then railed against House Republicans, labeling them as arrogant and unwilling to heed to the will of the American public. “Remember history is on our side; the people are on our side; it’s only because of a crazy gerrymandering and the things that have happened in this county that we’re not in control of the Congress. America is not represented by the people who it really wishes to represent,” he said. So, that sentiment has also brought House Democrats, or at least the progressive ones, together.

Rep. Kildee also detailed how House Republicans are abusing the rules in way that’s unprecedented. Specifically, the number of closed rules on legislation that Kildee says silences the minority.

Granted, this is about House, but is he aware that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nuked the Senate filibuster rules on most presidential nominees and appointments?

The panel moved on to discuss immigration reform and the border crisis. Rep. Takano noted that these immigrant children are turning themselves in to immigration authorities, so it’s not about needing for more border guards.

These fleeing awful conditions –gang violence being one of them – and that they should be able to make their case in front of a judge; hearings that are already law under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

Rep. Lowenthal described this as a test for America, saying the law is clear that these children have rights and deserve their day in court. He also said the largest Cambodian and Vietnamese populations in the United States live within his district, where he remembers Americans welcoming Cambodians fleeing Pol Pot. After Saigon fell in 1975, we welcomed those Vietnamese refugees.

The problem with that analogy is that Mexico and Central America aren’t being ravaged by civil wars or experiencing mass slaughter at the hands of genocidal dictators. They’re also not fleeing political persecution.

House Democrats are waiting in the tall grass for Republicans to implode. As expected, they’re unhappy being in the minority, but see they’ve gridlock as a way to build a political infrastructure for when they’re in the majority.

Of course, they railed against gerrymandering; Takano wants districts to be redrawn based on independent commissions like in California. Oh, and they’re the party of the middle class.

One last note on gerrymandering, the 2011 redistricting gave the GOP no advantage whatsoever (via Washington Post):

2012 compared to the 2010 Districts

What if we “re-run” the 2012 House election, but using the old districts? We have done that simulation, using the 2008 presidential vote in both the old and new districts to capture how the redistricting might have moved partisans around. If we assume that nothing else affects House election outcomes but the partisanship of the districts—in other words, if we allow redistricting to have its maximum possible effect—we find that the 2011 redistricting cost Democrats 7 seats in 2012. This is not nothing, but it’s far less than what the Democrats needed to take back the House and about half what Wang estimated.

2012 compared to history

Perhaps the pre-2011 maps are not the right standard. In fact, there is evidence they were already biased toward Republicans. The question is whether that advantage is a product of redistricting. In turns out when we go back further in time across multiple redistricting cycles, House elections have tended to favor Republicans for at least a couple decades. Once we put 2012 in this historical context, it does not stand out as a “great gerrymander” at all.

Conclusion

We’ve written cautionary notes about redistricting several times in the past months. Simply raising the possibility that redistricting isn’t always as powerful or pernicious as its critics suggest sometimes leads people to conclude that we are “gerrymandering deniers” who think redistricting has no partisan consequences whatsoever.

That is not the case. The analysis above does not confirm the worst fears about the “great gerrymander” of 2012. But given the challenge of answering “compared to what?”, we would not argue that the 2011 redistricting gave the GOP no advantage whatsoever. Political science research on redistricting has confirmed that control of the line-drawing process does yield some benefits. The challenge is in estimating what those benefits are. We have tried to show that the answer is far more complicated, and that the magnitude of the redistricting effect is probably smaller than many have assumed.

And, then there’s this bit from Philip Bump, also of the Washington Post:

Gerrymandering is a game of increments, not sweeping change. If the goal has been to solidify districts as Democratic or Republican to make it easier for incumbents to win handily, that doesn't appear to have happened widely. If, instead, the goal is to pick up a seat here or there -- as was certainly the plan in Florida -- that has likely been more successful.

But the idea that we've moved away from some golden era of hard-fought contests between cigar-chompin' politicians simply isn't true. As these maps of the results of the six races above make clear, elections have always been a mix of close and landslide contests. The average margins of victory in our 435 House races remains pretty consistent.

Keep Your Guns at Home: Stay Granted in Washington D.C. Carry Case

The ability for citizens, D.C. residents and outsiders alike, to carry a handgun open or concealed in Washington D.C. didn't last long. Just days after Federal Judge Frederick Scullin knocked down Washington D.C.'s complete carry ban as unconstitutional, he has issued a 90-day stay in the case. More from the Washington Times:

The order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin brings a temporary reprieve to D.C. officials, who were sent scurrying over the weekend to interpret the effects of the ruling that gutted the city’s restrictive gun laws.

An order issued Saturday by the judge struck down the city’s ban on the carrying of guns in public as unconstitutional. While still struggling to comprehend the scope of the order, D.C. police ordered officers to stop arresting people for carrying legally registered guns on city streets.

D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan asked Monday for a stay either pending a potential appeal of the case or for 180 days to give city lawmakers time to craft appropriate legislation to regulate the carrying of guns in public.


In the meantime, NRA News host Cam Edwards has an idea:



Emails: Insurers Warned of Big Premium Increases, Requested and Received Expanded 'Bailout'


Lots to get to on the Obamacare front today, starting with the contents and implications of newly-revealed emails between the Obama administration and major health insurers. The House Oversight Committee has released the batch of correspondence, which paints a cozy picture of coordination and high stakes, high dollar back-scratching. White House officials coach insurance executives on how to discuss the law publicly -- praising them for helpful performances -- and insurers request and secure more generous Obamacare 'bailouts,' in exchange for minimizing unavoidable premium spikes. The exchanges show how Team Obama worked hand-in-glove with an industry it has vilified as greedy and unfair for public consumption. Healthcare policy expert Jeffrey Anderson has more in the Weekly Standard:


Behind the scenes, Big Government and Big Insurance maintain a cozy alliance that the Obama administration actively nourishes, often at taxpayer expense. Indeed, as emails recently obtained by the House Oversight Committee show, Big Government and Big Insurance have worked together to promote Obamacare. They’ve also worked together to make sure taxpayers will help bail out insurance companies who lose money selling insurance under Obamacare — that is, unless Republicans stop this from happening. Moreover, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is among the prominent White House officials who’ve been in the middle of this collaboration between insurers and the administration — between those driven by the profit motive and those driven by the power motive…


The Obama administration was coming under increasing political pressure — as millions of Americans found out that (contrary to Democratic messaging across the years), if they liked their health plan, that didn’t necessarily mean they could keep their health plan. After Obama lawlessly empowered himself to un-ban the plans that Obamacare had banned by law, insurers weren’t happy, so the administration responded by paying them off. It did so by changing the rules regarding two programs buried in the bowels of Obamacare — its risk-corridor and reinsurance programs. As Jay Cost and I wrote this spring, the administration changed the rules “to funnel more money to insurers. Put simply, the administration lowered the threshold at which insurers become eligible for reinsurance money, and it made more generous the formula by which insurers get paid under the risk corridors.” In the process, Obama effectively turned the risk-corridor program into his own personal slush fund.


When President Obama announced his on-the-fly "fix" to the unfolding "keep your plan" political crisis (by decreeing that millions of non-compliant plans could be effectively un-cancelled -- a change that a number of states rejected), insurance carriers became very concerned about the financial fallout of that decision. The resulting confusion, lost revenue, and problematic risk pools could force them to compensate with dramatically higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Very bad politics. Not only did they receive the changes they were seeking in the 'bailout' policy outlined above, they also demanded that the White House drop the pretense that any changes to the bailouts would be budget neutral. The administration complied, announcing that it would use "other sources of funding" to make insurers whole -- a maneuver of dubious legality, according to Anderson. The indefatigable Phil Kerpen consolidated and embedded some of the juicier bits of the emails into tweets:




Despite these taxpayer-funded 'bailout'-style gambits, rates are still being hiked significantly across the country. Recall the "summer drumbeat." The increases consumers are experiencing are being artificially held down by these reinsurance and risk corridor "slush funds" -- which, we remind you, are paid for by taxpayers. What happens when these provisions expire in a few years? Insurers are hoping that the risk pools will be more stable and predictable by then, but adverse selection is already a very real problem. Will the bailouts be extended (by Congress or unilaterally), thus ballooning the cost of Obamacare? Or will costs climb steeply, quite possibly driving healthier people out of the market? I'll leave you with some Obamacare odds and ends:


(1) Obamacare's automatic renewal policy, designed to streamline and simplify the process, may end up hurting many consumers: "If those amounts are too low, consumers could get sticker shock over their new premiums. Too high, and they'll owe the tax man later...It could be a new twist on an old public relations headache for the White House: You keep the health plan you like but get billed way more," reports the Associated Press.


(2) USA Today profiles two women who signed up for Obamacare plans, only to discover that they could not "keep their doctors, period" as promised by the president. Instead, these latest victims of 'access shock' are grappling with severely pared down provider networks. Welcome to the growing, disgruntled club, ladies.


(3) Supporters of the new law are once again trying to claim credit for a slowdown in Medicare spending that has pushed its latest insolvency date back to 2030. The government's own bookkeepers have determined that Obamacare has had no measurable impact in the current health costs slowdown (costs are still headed in one direction: up), which has been heavily influenced by the sluggish economy. The Washington Examiner's Phil Klein notes that Medicare's chief actuary is warning that Obamacare's Medicare "savings" aren't sustainable:


Paul Spitalnic, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also cautioned that it would be hard to maintain the policies put in place by Obamacare, which are responsible for helping to extend the trust fund on paper...Obamacare, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is to spend more than $1.8 trillion over 10 years to expand insurance coverage -- spending that is supposed to be offset by a combination of tax increases and extracting savings from Medicare. One of the misleading arguments that the Obama administration has been making since the debate over the passage of the law is that the the same dollars of savings could simultaneously be used improve the solvency of Medicare while paying for a new expansion of entitlements...If Obamacare uses the money generated by its Medicare cuts to pay for expanding health coverage — as called for by the law — then it doesn't help Medicare's long-term finances. On the other hand, if Obamacare does use savings generated from Medicare cuts to pay for future Medicare benefits, then Obamacare will add substantially to the overall federal deficit.


If Medicare reimbursement rates were to plummet as a result of the mandated cuts, "lawmakers would likely intervene to prevent the withdrawal of providers from the Medicare market and the severe problems with beneficiary access to care that would result," Spitalnic said. In other words, those on-paper savings are likely to vanish due to political considerations, pushing Medicare toward insolvency at a faster clip. The political Left is committed to defending the reckless and unsustainable status quo out of political expediency.

“Republicans Should Have Held Their Convention in Detroit”

Liberals can and should be criticized for using cheap shots and outlandish rhetoric (“war on women” ring a bell?) to beat their conservative opponents each campaign cycle. But Republicans are just as much to blame for letting the discourse continue. Author David Horowitz, in his new book, “Take No Prisoners: The Battle Plan for Defeating the Left,” explains he’s had it with Republicans and their weak responses to Democrats’ dirty tactics. But, the author doesn't just complain about their lackluster fighting spirit - he arms conservatives with the tools they need to throw their own political punches.

“20 years of frustration lies behind this book, of trying to get Republicans to fight, Horowitz told Townhall. "This is a how-to-fight book.”

Horowitz insists that Republicans can no longer expect to win elections on policy alone, evident in campaigns like the 2012 presidential election.

“Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist, said ‘everybody has a game plan, until you punch them in the mouth.’ The Democrats have a big punch, which they use every election. Which is, of course, to describe Republicans as anti-woman, anti-black, anti-poor, and defenders of the rich. Republicans have no punch, they have no answer to this. It’s monotonous. The Democrats haven’t changed their campaign theme in 20 years. But Republicans have no answer. You have a candidate like Romney who was centrist, seemingly unassailable, and they spent $200 million and demonized him. He had no answer to their attacks. Now there is an answer. And the book lays out the answer that Republicans need.”

If he was running a campaign, Horowitz would throw some of these charges at his opponents:

“Republicans have to answer this by defining Democrats as immoral and evil [...] Democrats control all the major cities in America and they have for 50 to 100 years. Everything that’s wrong with inner cities, the Democrats are responsible for. Democrats have welfare programs that seduce single mothers into having more and more children so they can get pittances that the welfare system hands out. This not only puts mothers, but children in lives of permanent poverty."

Case in point: Detroit.

“Republicans should have held the convention in Detroit – which is a symbol of what the Democrats have done. Detroit, in 1961, was America’s richest city. But, that was the year a Democrat was elected there and for the next 50 years, the Democrats have controlled Detroit and ruined it. Two-thirds of the population has fled. The Democrat Party there were racist, anti-business. They drove business out of Detroit, they drove the ripe middle class out of Detroit. In one generation, they took a crown jewel of first world and created a third world city. So, if Republicans held the convention in Detroit, it would be a symbol of every reason why you should never vote for a Democrat.”

But, Republicans' choice in Cleveland suggests they are more concerned about gaining momentum in a swing state than making a direct mockery of Democrats. Horowitz says Republicans refusing to challenge their opponents has become the norm.

“When have you heard a Republican attack a Democrat as racist for the inner cities they control and the welfare programs that they have devised? They have destroyed the black family, in particular. They talk about the food stamps, but they never use the word ‘racist’ in connection with the food stamps. Take away their incentives to make a living. It’s like extending unemployment insurance for years.”

Horowitz pinpointed a few bold conservatives today who are aren’t afraid to verbally challenge liberals, but insists no leader has employed this ‘take no prisoners’ mentality when it really mattered.

“I think there are conservatives: Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, Ted Cruz is approaching this, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX). But no, I don’t think there was one candidate in the last election. There were 12 – none of them had this mentality.”

The author offered suggestions as to how Republicans can engage the other side and win – especially on one particular issue.

“By using the left’s tactics against it – by making these issues moral. Obamacare is a declaration of war on individual freedom. That’s what’s wrong with it. The government comes in and tells you you have to get into a medical program and you have four choices. They are the ones that make the choices. They tell you if you’re doing the right thing, making a proper living. We’re going to stick our hands in your pockets and we’re going to subsidize people who aren’t working and who don’t play by the rules.”

You can read more about Horowitz's game plan for Republicans in "Take No Prisoners."

TIME's Transgender: "God Has A Plan...My Work Is Just To Submit To That Plan"

CBS "This Morning" had on TIME magazine cover "girl" and movie star of the Netflix series, "Orange is the New Black," Laverne Cox. I'm posting this clip in order to spotlight how it embodies the zeitgeist we are living in.

I sympathize with those who suffer deep pain over gender confusion, but when Laverne Cox states, "God has a plan for you that you can't even imagine for yourself, and a lot of my work is just to submit to that plan." it begs the question as to why he isn't embracing his birth gender as a central dimension of God’s will for his sexual identity. When transgender individuals declare their sex to be a mistake, they are repudiating God’s own verdict on His creation and His plan for humanity. Let's face it, when submission is rooted in your own heart and will, you are not submitting to God but to yourself.

Trey Gowdy Announces First Benghazi Hearing

In an interview with Fox News' Catherine Herridge Tuesday morning, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy announced the first Benghazi select committee hearing will be held in early September. The announcement comes after months of quiet investigation from the Committee, which was announced by House Speaker John Boehner in May. The select committee includes seven Republicans and four Democrats.

Reform Conservatism's Federalism Blind Spot

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat published a must-read column Sunday on, "The New Republican Populism," a subject Townhall Magazine has covered extensively. Douthat writes:

So haltingly at first, and then with increasing seriousness, Republicans began to look for a different path back to power — one tailored to the party’s growing dependence on working-class votes, and one designed to deliver populist substance as well as style.

Thus far they have circled around two broad approaches. One, dubbed “reform conservatism,” seeks to make the welfare state and tax code more friendly to work and child-rearing and upward mobility — through larger wage subsidies, bigger child tax credits, and a substantial clearing-out of the insider-friendly subsidies and tax breaks and regulations that drive up costs in health care, real estate, energy and higher education.

The other, “libertarian populism,” is even more zealous about attacking rent-seeking and crony capitalism, while also looking for other places — criminal justice reform, notably — where a libertarian approach to public policy might benefit people lower on the economic ladder.

These two approaches substantially overlap (with the main difference being a skepticism among the libertarians about targeting tax cuts and subsidies specifically to parents and the poor).

This is an exceedingly fair recap of Reform Conservatism and Libertarian Populism, although if he had more space, Douthat could have more extensively explained why Libertarian Populists are so skeptical of expanding federal government programs that target "parents and the poor."

For example, as Douthat mentions elsewhere in his column, both Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) have outlined Reform Conservatism-friendly proposals that would consolidate many of our federal government's anti-poverty programs into one place and then let states decide how best to implement those programs.

Consolidation. More power to states. Sounds great. Maybe conservative even.

But both proposals ignore the reality of our modern administrative state and seem to have completely slept through the Obama administration.

Rubio would funnel all federal anti-poverty programs "into one single agency" that would administer "a revenue neutral Flex Fund" that would transfer money "to the states so they can design and fund creative initiatives that address the factors behind inequality of opportunity."

Ryan wants a pilot program that would allow states to apply for "Opportunity Grants" that would "consolidate several means-tested programs into a new Opportunity Grant program." Under the Ryan plan, states would have to submit "concrete" plans that "would have to meet four conditions."

Both of these proposals suffer from the same flaw: the executive branch would still be entirely in control of writing the regulations and making the implementation decisions for these programs.

Do you trust the same administration that is using the No Child Left Behind law to force Common Core on our states to decide if states have met Ryan's four conditions for Opportunity Grant approval? Do you trust the same administration that is epically abusing its enforcement discretion at the border to rewrite immigration law to fairly administer Rubio's Flex Fund?

The questions answer themselves.

The problem with both the Ryan and Rubio poverty plans is that they increase the power and discretion of the executive branch over the states. Both would be a major expansion of what George Mason University Law School professor Michael Greve calls "cartel federalism," a brand of federalism which is undermining the Founder's true vision. Last year Greve explained:

At the fiscal front, the central problem is the flood of transfer programs that encourage states to “experiment” with federal dollars. The most menacing example is Medicaid, which now consumes almost a quarter of state budgets. For the most part, this is not a result of federal coercion or mandates. It is a result of the states’ voluntary decisions to expand Medicaid so as to attract federal matching funds. The states’ perverse incentive to expand their domestic welfare state on our collective nickel—trillions of nickels—is, again, a federalism problem. So is the moral hazard that attends these arrangements that is, the risk that states will spend themselves to the brink of bankruptcy in hopes of a federal bailout. Greece exemplifies that problem; but then, so does Illinois.

There are better ways to help Americans escape poverty. Specifically, conservatives should push to cut the regressive, job-killing payroll tax. Such a tax cut, paid for by eliminating loopholes that benefit rich coastal elites (like the state and local tax deduction), would create jobs, increase the incentives for people in poverty to work, and put more money in every working American's paycheck.