Obama: We Have No Strategy to Fight ISIS; Ukraine Wasn’t Invaded

Speaking from the White House Briefing room on Thursday, President Obama touched on a whole host of foreign challenges facing the nation.

Most significantly, perhaps, he noted that Secretary of State John Kerry will soon be heading to the Middle East to “build a coalition” to help meet the growing threat of ISIL.

“I am confident that we can and we will,” he intoned.

He also noted that he had asked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel -- and his joint chiefs of staff -- to furnish him with “a range of options” to finally deal with these violent and bloodthirsty terrorists.

“Clearly ISIL had come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively,” he said.

He also mentioned that he had been in communication with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the unrest in eastern Ukraine.

“We are, if there was any doubt, convinced that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine,” he said. “Russia has deliberately and repeatedly [threatened] the territorial integrity" of that country.

“Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War,” he continued. “This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more consequences for Russia.”

Turning to Syria, he proclaimed that “Assad’s lost [all] legitimacy” -- and that the US will strive, with our allies, to give the moderate Sunni population a political choice other than ISIL or the regime.

Other highlights: He refused to call Russia’s most recent incursion into Ukraine an invasion, defended his right to unilaterally order airstrikes into Iraq -- and Syria -- if necessary, and claimed the White House doesn’t have "a strategy” yet to effectively combat ISIL.

President Obama will meet with his national security team later today.

Part of Utah's Anti-Polygamy Law Struck Down

In Utah, it is no longer illegal for someone to cohabitate with someone with whom they are not married, following a decision in the lawsuit Brown v. Buhman. The case was filed by Kody Brown, who is the patriarch of the polygamous Brown family featured on the TLC show "Sister Wives." While this technically means living a polygamous lifestyle is now effectively decriminalized in Utah, a person is still prohibited from having multiple marriage licenses.

Federal Judge Clark Waddoups in December struck the section of Utah’s bigamy statute that can be applied when someone "cohabits with another person" to whom they are not legally married. Utah law made such a union a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Waddoups said the ban violated the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

Waddoups let stand the portion of the statute that prevents someone from having more than one active marriage license.

In the final portion of his ruling Wednesday, Waddoups found the Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman violated the Browns’ constitutional rights when he oversaw a 2010 investigation into whether the Brown family was committing bigamy. At the time the Browns lived in Lehi. They have since moved to Nevada. Buhman eventually decided not to file criminal charges, but Waddoups said the investigation stifled the Browns’ rights to free speech, religion and equal protection.

While there certainly are legitimate concerns regarding the safety of children in polygamist marriages, particularly those who live in isolated compounds, laws against child abuse already exist. If other crimes are happening (child abuse, neglect, etc.) in these unions, then the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The U.S. has generally leaned toward a "benevolent neutrality" on freedom of religion-based court cases—that is, the government would seek to avoid imposing restrictions on a church that would result in its closure. This decision seems to be in line with that train of thought, as well as with previous Supreme Court rulings concerning privacy rights.

While I personally find the concept of plural marriage to be undesirable, I agree with the judge's ruling that the law prohibiting cohabitation likely overstepped the boundaries of religious freedom. I also find it fair that the portion of the law prohibiting someone from being legally married to more than one person was allowed to stand.

Both sides are planning appeals of the decision.

Journalism Association Demands Apology for...Anti-ISIS Comments


Fox News host Andrea Tantaros is drawing fire for these comments, made on Outnumbered:


[This has been happening] "for hundreds and hundreds of years. If you study the history of Islam…this isn't a surprise. You can't solve it with a dialogue. You can't solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. It's the only thing these people understand."


Two important stipulations: (1) Terrible violence has been inflicted in the name of religion -- and certainly not just Islam -- throughout human history. In the 20th century alone, an explicitly atheist ideology murdered tens of millions, too. (2) An overwhelming majority of the planet's Muslims today are peaceful non-extremists.  I doubt Tantaros would dispute either of those points.  Her remarks were in the context of a conversation about ISIS, the ultra-radical, stupefyingly brutal Islamist supremacist death cult.  She was reacting to the decapitation of an American journalist.  Her point about the history of Islam, including her discussion of the Barbary pirates, was that radicalized Muslims have been slaughtering and visiting violence and oppression upon 'infidels' for centuries.  Her invocation of "these people," as I understood her, was clearly a reference to violent extremists, not all Muslims.  But that's not what the Asian American Journalists Association heard, and they're insisting upon a mea culpa:


What we at the Asian American Journalists Association don’t understand is how the barbaric act of a terrorist group could be used to condemn and to smear an entire faith. Yet that’s precisely what Fox News host Andrea Tantaros did when she suggested in an 'Outnumbered' segment that aired Aug. 20 that all Muslims are like ISIS, the group purportedly behind the execution of Foley. “They’ve been doing this for hundreds and hundreds of years if you study the history of Islam,” she said. More alarmingly, Tantaros goes so far as to advocate violence. 'You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit,' she said. 'You solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand.' AAJA calls for Tantaros and Fox News to apologize for the irresponsible, inflammatory statements. We also call on Fox News to discourage its journalists from making blanket comments that serve to perpetuate hate and Islamophobia.

Perhaps the AAJA should work on its listening skills and review the importance of context when evaluating and repudiating comments.  They've decided that Tantaros' "history of Islam" sentence fragment is the key to understanding her true intent, rather than the subject matter of the entire segment.  Furthermore, it's not "Islamophobia" to draw attention to the terrifying realities of radical Islam.  One could even argue it's more Islamophobic to hear stark denunciations of Islamist violence as an attack on the broader religion.  It's also simply a fact that the large preponderance of faith-hijacking terrorism today is the province of Islam -- from ISIS to Al Qaeda to Boko Haram to Hamas.  It's not bigotry for Westerners to recognize that empirical reality, nor is it beyond the pale to comment on the fact that more Muslims in the West have marched against Israel's military campaign responding to aggression from Hamas terrorists than have taken to the streets to protest ISIS' savagery -- which is being conducted in the name of their religion.  (Which is not to say that no Muslims have done so; some have).  Indeed, pro-ISIS rallies have been held in European cities, and an anti-ISIS march in the Netherlands was disrupted by rock-throwing Muslims.  One need not impute radicalism to most Muslim people to accurately point out that Islam has, and has had for some time, a violence problem that has the tacit or active support of a frighteningly sizable minority of Muslims worldwide.  I'll leave you with these comments from Bill Maher, who got in trouble for making this exact point in a tweet:

Redskins Fans: Screw Political Correctness, We Love Our Team

Earlier this week, MRCTV’s Dan Joseph wanted to know what Redskins fans think about the name. Should it be changed? In the parking lot of the FedEx Field, Joseph found one person, who wore a Redskins shirt featuring a Native American giving the middle finger, thought the name should be changed; she blamed the Europeans. Another woman said the name should be changed, but she doesn’t want the organization to do it.

Another die-hard fan said that a Native American designed the logo, while another man said his family is almost full-blooded Native American and they’re not offended by the name at all.

Overall, most fans don’t want the name changed, they love their team, and won’t adhere to a small segment of the population that tries to make everything in America awful by spreading political correctness. 

Cameron to Scotland: Independence Would Be Your Economic Ruin

As the people of Scotland prepare to vote on their independence Sept. 18, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that the divide would result in a devastating blow to Scotland's economic viability. 

During a speech Thursday to the Confederation of British Industry's (UK's premier business lobbying organization) Cameron urged them to recognize the symbiotic relationship between Scotland and the United Kingdom:

"This is one of the oldest and most successful single markets in the world. Scotland does twice as much trade with the rest of the UK than with the rest of the world put together – trade that helps to support one million Scottish jobs.

For some industries, the proportion of trade with the rest of the UK is even higher – 90% of Scottish financial services' customers are in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Then there's the world-famous gaming industry, cutting-edge subsea technology and life-saving biomedicine – all selling far more outside Scotland than inside.

This success doesn't happen by accident. It happens because of the skill of people in Scotland and the opportunities that come from being part of something bigger, a large domestic market, underpinned by a common currency, common taxes, common rules and regulations, with no borders, no transaction costs, no restrictions on the flow of goods, investment or people. Ours really is an economy of opportunity."

When the Scottish National Party came into power in 2011, it pushed an agenda which included recognizing Scotland as a sovereign nation, according to Daniel Gallagher, Economic Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington D.C. As the Scottish National Party gained a voice in Parliament it pushed through a referendum which would allow the people of Scotland to vote on their country's independence. 

"The debate has largely been around Scotland's economic future and what position and independent Scotland would have in the world," Gallagher said during a speech at the British Embassy July 17. 

"The government has out a series of fourteen analysis papers which cover aspects such as international security, cultural ties, currency arrangements, government spending, and the fiscal position Scotland would find itself in." 

Britain's final assessment of the situation: 

"Scotland is better off as part of the UK, now and in the future."

While Britain may analyze, inform and plead as much as it likes, only the Scots hold the ultimate power to alter the future of their country. 

UN: ISIS Prefers Maiming, Killing on Fridays

So far, when the media even bothers to cover the rise of ISIS, they’ve generally chosen to focus on the atrocities in northern Iraq, where the Yazidi population and other minority sects have been explicitly hunted. But across the border, in Syria, the bloodletting has been going on for years -- and the carnage there is equally as bad, if not worse.

And yet to their credit, UN investigators have done yeomen’s work exposing ISIS’s atrocities in Syria, especially during the first half of this past year. Their 45-page expose is gruesome yet a must-read.

Ironically, too, the commissioners discovered that the holiest day of the week, Friday, is when ISIS radicals prefer torturing, maiming, and executing their victims. How sick is that?

Public executions, amputations, lashings and mock crucifixion are a regular fixture in jihadist-controlled areas of Syria, a UN probe charged Wednesday, also accusing Damascus of repeatedly using chemical weapons against civilians. "Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays" -- the Muslim holy day -- in parts of Syria under control of the Islamic State (IS), the independent Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Syria said.

In a 45-page report covering the period from January 20 to July 15, the commission also detailed a wide range of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Syrian government and other armed opposition groups. And it accused Damascus of dropping chlorine bombs on civilian areas in April -- the first time the UN has directly blamed the government for the chemical attacks.

The four-member commission detailed a litany of horrors committed by IS, including beheading boys as young as 15 and amputations and lashings in public squares as residents, including children, are forced to watch.

This blood spectacle is appalling. And yet human rights violations are not merely unique to ISIS. The Syrian government, under President Bashar al-Assad, has committed all sorts of atrocities, the commissioners found:

Government forces, which were blamed for the lion's share of abuses and deaths in the early years after the conflict broke out in 2011, had carried out more massacres and committed murder, torture and rape against civilians, the report said. Since January, the government's "indiscriminate firing of missiles and barrel bombs into civilian areas" had killed hundreds of men women and children every week, it said. At the same time, the already staggering number of deaths in Syrian prisons also appeared to be on the rise and many more civilians had disappeared without a trace, said the report.

The administration’s objective in Syria is arming and supporting the “moderate” wing of the opposition. But with so much death and destruction going on, it’s difficult to credibly decipher between friend and foe.

It’s true too that ISIS and Assad’s government forces are killing each other; but if the US intervenes, and alters the balance of power, insulating Assad even more is hardly an ideal outcome.

Stagnation: CBO Revises 2014 GDP Growth Projection Down to 1.5 Percent


When the economy shrinks substantially over the course of an economic quarter, tepid recoveries tend to look, well, tepid. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has slashed its predictions for US economic growth in 2014:

The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday forecast that the U.S. economy will grow by just 1.5 percent in 2014, undermined by a poor performance during the first three months of the year. The new assessment was considerably more pessimistic than the Obama administration's, which predicted last month that the economy would expand by 2.6 percent this year even though it contracted by an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the first quarter...Even with the [Q2] rebound, economists have lowered their outlook for the entire year, given the weak start. Economists at JPMorgan Chase are forecasting that the economy will grow by 1.9 percent this year, when measured from the fourth quarter, down from 3.1 percent in 2013.

US Gross Domestic Product grew at a sluggish 1.9 percent rate in FY 2013.  The new 2014 forecasts reflect the ongoing reality of America's historically weak economic recovery under President Obama.  Policies matter.  The CBO also updated its projections on annual deficits and the national debt.  The latter measure has ballooned by $7 trillion and counting since Obama took office, far eclipsing the debt accrual of all other presidents.  The bookkeepers determined that this year's deficit will exceed half-a-trillion, an improvement over Obama's abysmal baseline, but that trouble lies ahead.  Reason's Peter Suderman summarizes the latest findings:


The Congressional Budget Office released another report on the nation’s debt and deficit picture today, and the short version goes something like this: We’ve made some short-term progress in reducing annual deficits, but the long-term debt picture is still quite bleak. It’s the calm before the storm more than a sign that all is well...even as annual deficits have declined, total federal debt levels have remained high. And they are expected to rise to unprecedented levels in the years to come. By the end of this fiscal year, the CBO says, federal debt held by the public will equal 74 percent of GDP, double its 2007 level...The higher the debt levels, the bigger the problems for the nation, especially when debt levels are this high. As the CBO notes (and has said repeatedly in previous reports), higher debt means higher federal spending on interest to maintain the debt, lower economic growth rates, less flexibility for policymakers in all matters, and an increased risk of a fiscal crisis. Basically, debt costs money to carry, and robs the nation of other options: the more a nation owes, and the more it spends on debt, the fewer choices it has to do other things, which creates a kind of precarious state in which really big problems—like a fiscal crisis—are more likely, and harder to deal with when they do occur. It’s a fiscal feedback loop, and it’s threatening to drag us down.

The biggest driver of our long-term debt is unfunded liabilities, or unpaid-for federal promises, with Medicare being the most significant.  Obamacare fans have tried to tout the new law as having slowed Medicare spending increases, but economists have attributed that slowdown to the lackluster economy.  The program remains totally unsustainable, even in the medium-term.  In addition, some of the on-paper reductions stem from scheduled cuts to the program that its own actuaries have cautioned are politically implausible.  Nervous Democrats, who voted to cut Medicare to pay for Obamacare, have confirmed this suspicion by running away from the very cuts they championed (and double-counted) on behalf of the unpopular new law.

"We Need to Get Ungovernable": Emotions Run High at Ferguson Townhall in DC

The controversy surrounding teenager Michael Brown's death came to Washington, DC, on Wednesday when the local restaurant Busboys and Poets held a town hall entitled, "Ferguson and Beyond – The Way Forward: A Town Hall Meeting on Police Killings of Black Men" at its K street location. The event was a part of the ACTOR (A Continuing Talk on Race) series. Based on the restaurant's Twitter feed, however, the event seemed to be less about an "honest conversation on race," and more about demonizing police.

Throughout the night, participants tweeted the hashtag #policebrutality (pretty objective, huh?) Among the event panelists were figures such as social activist Dick Gregory, Dr. Ron Daniels, Hillary Shelton of the NAACP and actor Danny Glover, who participated via Skype.

Here were just a few of their racially tinged comments:

While the tensions in Ferguson, Missouri have finally appeared to simmer, racial conversations like these have continued to escalate.

The autopsy report on Brown’s death, which showed he was shot six times, is certainly a cause for concern and should be questioned. Did police really need six bullets to restrain Brown? But, recent revelations that Brown had repeatedly assaulted Officer Darren Wilson before shots were fired suggest that the confrontation was more complicated than some may think. And, the incident does not justify the rioting and looting that occurred as a result. 

Perhaps a more objective town hall would have included a discussion of Dr. Ben Carson’s piece, “A Problem Bigger Than Ferguson,” in which he implores people to consider facts rather than emotions:

Perhaps it would be useful to examine the tragedy with the facts on the table rather than through the lenses of hypersensitized emotions stimulated by those attempting to exploit the situation.

Carson also had a thoughtful debate with Rev. Jesse Jackson on Ferguson on the most recent edition of “Fox News Sunday.”

Next time, I hope these town hall organizers will consider inviting someone with a different point of view - one that isn't accompanied with a biased hashtag.

How Will Obama Pay For His Executive Amnesty Program?

President Obama, The Washington Post reports, is currently deliberating whether or not he should grant temporary executive amnesty to as many as 8 million illegal immigrants. And according to Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) he must do so in the next 30 days if he "is going to determine his legacy with the immigrant community."

Gutierrez never explains why Obama must act on executive amnesty with in the next 30 days, and the Post never explains either. Neither does the Post explain exactly where Obama plans to get the money to pay for his new executive amnesty program.

Obama and his media allies will try and claim that Obama's new amnesty program will save the federal government law enforcement resources by allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to focus their resources on new arrivals and violent criminals.

But the 2011 Morton Memo already accomplished that. ICE is already ignoring the vast majority of illegal immigrants who already live in the United States. Former-ICE acting director John Sandweg even told The Los Angeles Times, "If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero - it's just highly unlikely to happen."

So if Obama has already set immigratlaw enforcement priorities so that most illegal immigrants face no threat from deportation, then why he did he create the DACA program and why he is looking to grant temporary amnesty to another 8 million illegal immigrants?

Work permits. Amnesty advocates don't just want an end to deportations. They want all illegal immigrants to be given work permits too. 

But granting work permits takes time, effort, and money. As The Washington Examiner's Byron York notes, the Department of Homeland Security grants about 1 million green cards every year. So when Obama offered work permits to up 2 million illegal immigrants through DACA, it was completely unsurprising that the normal immigration process ground to a halt. The New York Times reports:

Many thousands of Americans seeking green cards for foreign spouses or other immediate relatives have been separated from them for a year or more because of swelling bureaucratic delays at a federal immigration agency in recent months.

The long waits came when the agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, shifted attention and resources to a program President Obama started in 2012 to give deportation deferrals to young undocumented immigrants, according to administration officials and official data. …
Until recently, an American could obtain a green card for a spouse, child or parent — probably the easiest document in the immigration system — in five months or less. But over the past year, waits for approvals of those resident visas stretched to 15 months, and more than 500,000 applications became stuck in the pipeline, playing havoc with international moves and children’s schools and keeping families apart.

Since Obama's new executive amnesty program also completely bypasses Congress, just as DACA did, DHS will be given no extra resources to administer Obama's new executive amnesty program. 

So where will Obama get the money to give out work permits to 8 million new illegal immigrants?

The White House should be forced to answer this question. Millions of legal immigrants are waiting on an answer.

Republicans Still Struggling With Women Voters

Republicans know they have problems with women voters, especially single urban women. They vowed to turn it around after Mitt’s clobbering amongst this demographic in 2012. What’s changed? Not much; and women are virtually unreceptive to the Republican Party or its policies. Is this the end? Nope. As George Will has said about Barry Goldwater, public opinion is shiftable sand; therefore, there are no permanent victories in a democracy (in our case, a republic). Then again, this new study does kind of sting (via Politico):

Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO. It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved.

The report — “Republicans and Women Voters: Huge Challenges, Real Opportunities” — was the product of eight focus groups across the country and a poll of 800 registered female voters this summer. The large-scale project was a major undertaking for the GOP groups.

“The gender gap is hardly a new phenomenon, but nevertheless it’s important for conservatives to identify what policies best engage women, and our project found multiple opportunities,” said Dan Conston, a spokesman for the American Action Network. “It’s no surprise that conservatives have more work to do with women.”

Paul Lindsey, the spokesman for Rove-backed Crossroads GPS, said, “There are a number of House policymakers and staff who have been willing to focus on issues important to women, and we think it’s important that they are aware of the policy solutions that are available to help address these concerns.

The solutions offered include neutralizing Democratic attacks that the GOP doesn’t support “fairness” for women; “deal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues”; and “pursue policy innovations that inspire women voters to give the GOP a ‘fresh look.’”

Politico added that Republicans fail to reach women from different economic backgrounds, namely the rising demographic of female breadwinners. Currently, 40 percent of women are becoming the main source of income for America households. The story also noted that while the GOP holds a meager 3-point advantage on fiscal matters, they have high negatives on matters such as healthcare, tolerance of lifestyles, and looking out for their interests. Democrats enjoy a 39 percent advantage on the issues of making health care more affordable and tolerating other lifestyles. When asked who is looking out for their interest, Democrats hold a 40 percent advantage.

The piece also noted that women who say jobs, the economy, education, and health care as their top four issues vote overwhelmingly Democratic. But also said that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the No.4 House Republican, is the point of the lance is bucking this trend.

Nevertheless, when the GOP talks about how Democrats expanding government, increase dependency, and curbing job opportunities as a result, “that message tested better than explaining that the GOP supports a number of policies that could help fairness for women.”

A more populist message could drive that narrative home. Women–and pretty much all voters–want authenticity in their candidates. Under these tough economic times, stories about enduring and triumphing over economic hardship resonate immensely. That’s now Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota was able to beat former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in 2010.

The study and the polls included raise a few questions. Generally, to get authentic results, you’ll need 1,000 respondents for a national poll, 600 for a statewide poll, and 350 for a congressional poll; the poll was only 800 registered female voters–and it’s likely voters that will give you a more accurate projection in an election.

While not a conservative, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie dominated in almost every demographic during his 2013 re-election bid. In a blue state, he won women voters even with a woman running on the Democratic ticket, State Sen. Barbara Buono. Republicans can do this; they can win, or at least be competitive, if they hone their messaging correctly.

In Virginia, while Ken Cuccinelli lost, all he had to do was win the same group of voters that Romney did in 2012.  Stuart Rothenberg at Roll Call said [emphasis mine]:

The Republican nominee for governor [Cuccinelli] won a plurality of male voters (48 percent), but well below the 51 percent that Romney won in the state last year. Cuccinelli would have gained an additional 48,000 votes if he had matched Romney’s percentage, much of which would have come from McAuliffe, thereby completely erasing the Democrat’s 55,100 victory margin. (See Virginia’s total vote here.)

Add in white women (Romney won 59 percent of them in the state in 2012, while Cuccinelli won only 54 percent this year) or wealthy voters (Romney won 51 percent of voters earning at least $100,000 a year in Virginia in 2012, while Cuccinelli drew just 43 percent of them and lost the category to McAuliffe) and the Republican would have had a comfortable victory last week.

And if you don’t want to focus on gender, the marital status numbers tell the same story. Romney won 55 percent of married voters in Virginia last year, while Cuccinelli won only 50 percent of them this year. That’s about 75,400 fewer married voters than a Romney-like Republican gubernatorial nominee should have drawn.

Though you hear a lot about the changing face of the electorate, both nationally and in Virginia, that’s not why Cuccinelli lost last week.

The Virginia election in 2013 was one where the Republican nominee would have won merely by attracting the votes of the same people who voted for Mitt Romney. The party’s candidate for governor did not need to improve his showing among young voters, African-Americans, Hispanics or unmarried women. He just needed to get white guys and their wives.

Yet, the GOP shouldn’t bank on this to just focus on married voters. The study said that the Republicans continue to do well with married women, but unmarried women, who really lean towards the Democrats, are outpacing their share of the vote.  And, in Virginia, they overwhelming voted for McAuliffe.

Nevertheless, to put things into perspective, Cuccinelli lost by 57,535 votes. More married voters could’ve been the difference, but his campaign wasn’t exceptional in the slightest. Some folks blame pseudo-Libertarian Rob Sarvis for spoiling the election when in fact; he took away more votes from McAuliffe if you look at the results county-by-county.

In all, Republicans know they have trouble with women, they’ve seen success in winning this demographic in past elections, they certainly have the ideas, and they have the politicians who can sell them without pulling a Todd Akin. Let’s get to it.

Grassroots Filmmaker Kicks Off ‘Fighting for America Tour,’ Fields Questions About Possible 2016 Presidential Run

Fresh off the release of his latest film “We Ride to DC,” grassroots filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch kicked off his Fighting for America Tour this month, which will bring him to more than 20 cities across the United States.

Addressing tea party, Republican, and veterans groups, Lynch met more than 1,000 Americans throughout Florida last week, and spoke about a wide range of topics affecting the country. His focus, however, was on immigration—the subject of his first two documentaries, “They Come to America” and “They Come to America II.”

The former businessman has two goals in mind for the three-month tour: educate Americans about what’s really going on at the Southwest border and get them fired up.

“First of all, just when you look at immigration, immigration is the number one issue facing America … and yet, even the well-informed tea partier or the well-informed GOP member, they still don’t know all the facts,” he said in an interview with Townhall, pointing to the administration’s inflated deportation numbers and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s backing of work visas for illegal immigrants.

When they hear the truth, he said, “they’re baffled.”

After discussing the immigration crisis at the Jupiter, Florida event, Lynch analyzed which possible Republican presidential candidate could really fix the problem. The Palm Beach Tea Party reports:

… Mr. Lynch gave his view of the current crop of candidates. Marco Rubio “will not be re-elected to the Senate”, let alone the Presidency. Chris Christie “is not an effective leader” if he didn’t know about the bridge lane closures, Ted Cruz “will be completely destroyed by the mainstream media who despise him”, Rand Paul has been pandering and opposes voter ID laws, and Ben Carson “does not want the job”, as well as being in favor of full legalization. On the mention of Jeb Bush, his comment was drowned out by the laughter in the room, most of whom oppose our former governor’s views on common core and immigration reform.

While Lynch’s goals for the tour may have only been about educating people and encouraging them to take a stand against the direction this country is heading, many attendees in Florida had another objective: Find out if he will run for president in 2016.

The native New Yorker was first asked this question on Facebook last year. Since his latest film “We Ride to DC” was released, however, it has become a question he fields from his loyal followers daily, he explained.

When Townhall asked YN1 Lauren Price USN (Ret.) whether anyone at the Tampa Bay event she cohosted questioned Lynch about about running, her response was, “everyone did.”

Lynch, for his part, said he’s considering it.

“If people would rally behind me like Ben Carson I would do it because I want the job. I know I could get in there and get things done,” he said. “The reason why Ben Carson, I believe, is asked is because people want somebody who’s outside, they do not want a D.C. insider.”

Aside from being an acclaimed filmmaker and award-winning entrepreneur, it's Lynch’s ability to connect with people of all stars and stripes that has helped garner interest in him as a possible candidate. 

“He truly can affect every single person that he talks to,” said Price, who is the cofounder of VeteranWarriors, a veterans advocacy organization. “Dennis does really relate to every single person he speaks to regardless of their walk of life, or income, or gender, race, religion … and that’s what we need in a leader in this nation.”

If he plans to run, Lynch said he's counting on what happened in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, when David Brat, a college economics professor, ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the primary election.

“If I decide to do this, I am 100 percent banking on what happened in that Cantor primary. I am banking on the fact that David can beat Goliath with the real, true message, and without having to have the money bank.”

“I very much want him to run,” Price said. “I’m hoping that it comes down to it, after he’s finished with his tour, that he decides to go ahead with it and surround himself with really strong people that can help make that happen.”

North Korea: Isn't America Just so Terribly Racist?

Apparently, the Kim regime is back on their moral high horse again, absolutely appalled about what’s going down in Ferguson, Missouri. The horrifying violence and rioting we’ve seen, North Korea’s state mouthpiece recently claimed, is an obvious sign that the United States is a backwards and racist nation:

North Korea has joined the ranks of America's foes who have seized on riots in Missouri, saying the nation is the "graveyard of human rights" and should mind its own business rather than criticise others. The police shooting of an unarmed black teenager and subsequent crackdown on protesters in the Midwestern town of Ferguson has also given China, Iran and Russia ammunition to sound off about America's flaws.

North Korea, which is regularly condemned by Washington and others over allegations of gross human rights abuses, said the US had no right to pass judgement on others. "The US is indeed a country wantonly violating human rights where people are subject to discrimination and humiliation due to their race, and are in constant fear that they may get shot at any moment," a spokesman from North Korea's foreign ministry was quoted as saying by state-run news agency KCNA.

Coming from North Korea, of all places, such unwanted and unveiled criticisms are as expected as they are rich. The United Nations, for example, recently proclaimed last February that this mecca of tolerance and freedom is so evil that it “does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.” Furthermore, the UN went on to say, for all of its empty denunciations of racism in America, North Korea is a pretty racist society itself:

The report noted that the DPRK consists of a rigidly stratified society with entrenched patterns of discrimination. Discrimination is rooted in the songbun system, which classifies people on the basis of State-assigned social class and birth, and also includes consideration of political opinions and religion, and determines where they live, work, study and even whom they may marry. Violations of the freedom of movement and residence are also heavily driven by discrimination based on songbun. Those considered politically loyal to the leadership can live and work in favourable locations, such as Pyongyang. Others are relegated to a lower status. For example, the distribution of food has prioritised those deemed useful to the survival of the current political system at the expense of others who are “expendable.”

In other words, North Korea is structured to feed the strong, do away with the “expendable,” and reward only those who are loyal to the state. And they think America is a terrible place?

We may not be a perfect nation, but it’s far from the dystopian nightmare that is, and has always been, the "Democratic" People's Republic of Korea.

Russia To Ukraine: We're Back!

Yesterday, Russia entered the Ukraine (via NYT):

Determined to preserve the pro-Russian revolt in eastern Ukraine, Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday, sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory.

The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week, further blunting the momentum Ukrainian forces have made in weakening the insurgents in their redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk farther north. Evidence of a possible turn was seen in the panicky retreat of Ukrainian soldiers on Tuesday from a force they said had come over the Russian border.

Russia, which has denied it is helping the insurgents, did not acknowledge the military movements. But the Russians have signaled that they would not countenance a defeat of an insurgency in the heavily Russian eastern part of Ukraine, which would amount to a significant domestic political setback for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in his increasingly fractious relationship with the United States and its European allies.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said these developments were “of deep concern to us.”

While we all wait for the next hashtag from the Obama administration that will do nothing to ameliorate the situation, we should all appreciate Ricochet’s Jon Gabriel tweet, who suggested that maybe the Russians are doing this to get it out of their system.

Awful: Nine Year-Old Arizona Girl Accidentally Kills Range Instructor

I’m sure you’ve heard of the tragic story coming out of Arizona of a nine year-old girl who accidentally killed her range instructor, Charles Vacca, while firing an Uzi submachine gun. The girl couldn’t control the firearms’ recoil and hit Vacca with a bullet to the head. Vacca was not known to have had any accidents as a rangemaster, but there seems to have been a severe lapse in judgment, which had fatal consequences (via NBC News):

Sam Scarmardo, the manager for the Last Stop's shooting range, told NBC News that "the established practice at most shooting ranges is 8 years old and up with parental supervision."

He said Vacca was a "great guy, with a great sense of humor" and called him "very conscientious and very professional."

Scarmardo said that the range has never had a similar incident in over a decade of being open — "not even a scratch."

"I just ask everybody to pray for Charlie, and pray for the client, she’s going to have a hard time," said Scarmardo.

Ronald Scott, a Phoenix-based firearms safety expert, said most instructors usually have their hands on guns when children are firing high-powered weapons. "You can't give a 9-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it," Scott told the Associated Press.

From the video, you hear Vacca instructing this girl on how to fire the Uzi. After firing her first shot, he says, “alright, full auto” right before a stray bullet kills him. [Warning: Content may be disturbing]

I’m an avid shooter. I love going to the range. Seeing kids who are around this girl’s age learning how to shoot isn’t aberrant or outside the mainstream. I’ve seen many fathers take their sons, daughters, and–at times–their wives to the range to learn how to shoot and learn basic safety. But, here’s the difference. They aren’t using automatic weapons. They’re using semi-automatic rifles or handgun with .22LR ammunition. It’s a brand of ammunition for firearms that's well suited for first-time shooters. It has relatively low recoil, if any, making it the optimal choice for those who just want to get a feeling for the weapon system at their first outing. Starting out with an Uzi probably isn't the best choice for a first-time shooter let alone a child. 

National Review’s Charles Cooke, another shooter, also commented this tragic incident. Besides reiterating that young shooters should use .22-caliber ammunition, he said [emphasis mine]:

As a general rule, smaller people — especially children — are restricted to smaller weapons that are commensurate with their size. At my range, kids who are being taught to shoot are not only limited to .22LR ammunition but also to long guns that they can get their shoulder behind. That way, if the gun pushes back, it hits something solid. This may cause bruising, sure. But it’s unlikely to be dropped or to fly upwards — or, heaven forbid, to kill somebody. When American children used to go to school with a rifle slung over their back, it was almost certainly a low-powered .22. There weren’t many Tommy Guns in American classrooms.

An Uzi, on the other hand, seems to be the worst of both worlds – especially when it is chambered in a larger caliber. Because their recoil tends to push the weapon upwards, handguns are inherently more difficult for young people to control. This is especially so when they keep firing upon a single trigger pull. Frankly, it is difficult to imagine a gun less suited to a small girl.
...
[I]t does suggest gross negligence on the behalf of the range, the instructor, and the parents. I’m all for teaching children about firearms at a young age. But there is a good way to do this and a bad way to do this. We shouldn’t be giving nine-year-old girls automatic weapons.

I couldn't agree more.

This isn’t a case about lax gun laws, or the need for more gun control; but I’m sure the anti-gun crowd will find some way to exploit this incident to further their agenda. Right now, our thoughts and prayers should be with Mr. Vacca, this girl, and their families. 

Poll: Meanwhile, Romney's Crushing it in Iowa

Maybe I spoke too soon.

Hypothetically, according to a new USA Today/Suffolk poll, if Romney defies the odds and runs again for president in 2016, the Hawkeye State may be his for the taking. After all, more than a third of respondents said they’d ditch the candidates they’re currently backing, and choose him instead:

According to the new poll, if Romney was added to the list of potential 2016 GOP White House contenders, 35% of Iowa Republicans say he'd be their first choice in the Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses and is considering another bid in 2016, is a distant second, at 9%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who narrowly won the 2012 caucuses, are each at 6%. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are each at 5%, with the remaining potential candidates tested were all in the lower single digits.

Remember, Romney initially thought he won the Iowa caucuses in 2012; it was only later determined that, in fact, he didn’t. The poll, though, suggests that if he ignores the wishes of his wife and family and does run, he could potentially win. That's a seductive and intriguing proposition, but is it enough to sway him to take the plunge?

Incidentally, he appeared on the Hugh Hewitt Show earlier this week, and, as Allahpundit noted, left the door kind of open to running again -- but not really:

In all seriousness, I’m utterly convinced he’s not running, as nice as that might sound, and as fun as that might be. But if he does, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong.*

*It’s not going to happen.

IRS: By the Way, We Destroyed Lois Lerner's BlackBerry After Targeting Questions Started


If you missed my piece yesterday on Lerner's reportedly not missing emails, click through and spend five minutes catching up on the evolving timeline.  The "official" story keeps shifting, so it's important to track the changes. This week's previous development was that a Justice Department attorney informed a watchdog group that all government emails are, in fact, archived, but that retrieving the messages "destroyed" by Lerner's hard drive crash/scratch would be more trouble than it's worth.  Now we have another drip of damning information, courtesy of Fox News:


Lois Lerner’s Blackberry was intentionally destroyed after Congress had begun its probe into IRS targeting of conservative groups, a senior IRS lawyer acknowledged in a sworn declaration. Thomas Kane, Deputy Assistant Chief Counsel for the IRS, wrote in the declaration, part of a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the IRS, that the Blackberry was "removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012." That date - June 2012 - is significant because by that time, ex-IRS official Lerner had already been summoned before congressional staffers who interviewed her about reports of the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. "We had already talked to her. Our personal staff and Oversight Committee staff had sat down with Ms. Lerner and confronted her about information we were getting from conservative groups in the state of Ohio and around the country," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Fox News.

Remember, Republicans in Congress started asking pointed questions about abusive targeting practices all the way back in 2011, at which point Lerner's hard drive allegedly malfunctioned -- a "fact" that did not become public until this summer, and was not reported at the time to the National Archives, in violation of federal law.  Also recall that then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman -- the guy who visited the White House on numerous occasions -- testified in early 2012 that no targeting was taking place.  The agency finally copped to their malfeasance in the spring of 2013 in an attempt to preempt a forthcoming Inspector General report.  With questions and controversy swirling, the IRS deliberately destroyed Lois Lerner's government smart phone.  Lerner has emerged as the point person in the DC-based targeting scheme.  She initially lied, claiming she'd had no involvement in the practice.  Today's Fox News story follows up on the revelation that Lerner's emails may still be stored somewhere:


An administration official told Fox News Monday night that Judicial Watch misinterpreted the Friday phone call. "There was no new back-up system described last week to Judicial Watch," he said. "Government lawyers who spoke to Judicial Watch simply referred to the same email retention policy that Commissioner (John) Koskinen had described in his Congressional testimony." But Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents other conservative groups suing the IRS, cited a whistleblower who bolsters Judicial Watch's interpretation. "I received information from a former Department of Homeland Security official who had security clearances. He just retired in April," Mitchell said. "He contacted me and he contacted Judicial Watch and some members of Congress and said there is backup material."

There's a big difference between "back-up systems exist, but they're too hard to access" and "back-up systems exist, but these emails are totally gone."  The bit from Cleta Mitchell is intriguing, too, as it appears to confirm Judicial Watch's interpretation of what the DOJ lawyer told them last week.  There is no reason to believe the administration is telling the truth, given their ever-changing tales.  This imbroglio is littered with "smidgens" of corruption, and the administration continues to stonewall investigators following the destruction of evidence.  Will we ever get answers?

Is Hagan’s Handshake With Obama The Kiss Of Death?

Some Democrats are exuding more temerity when it comes to what they support and how they say it. In Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor released two new ads. One supporting Obamacare and the other claiming his Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, is pro-Ebola. North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan greeted President Obama as he visited her state to address the American Legion National Convention yesterday. On the tarmac, she shook hands with him. Is this the kiss of death?

Chris Cillizza at Washington Post said this was a bad decision, but it could’ve been worse:

1. Hagan is going to get blasted for being an Obama clone -- whether or not she shook his hand on the tarmac today. (The Republican National Committee released a statement Tuesday morning noting that she voted with the president 96 percent of the time.)

2. Being perceived as running away from Obama could dampen enthusiasm for Hagan within the Democratic base -- particularly within the African American community.

3. Richard Burr, the Republican U.S. Senator from the state, was also on the tarmac… which gives Hagan a bit of cover.

Sean Sullivan added:

But to keep her job, she also needs to hold on to the votes of plenty of people who like the president.

North Carolina has a substantial population of African Americans and Hispanics, who tend to view the president in a far more favorable light, and Hagan is working hard to turn them out. There are also a crucial cross-section of younger, liberal voters in the state's Research Triangle -- an area that's home to three large universities -- whose level of participation in November will also be important for Hagan.

It supports the notion that Hagan’s handshake was necessary for her political survival, the lesser of two evils. Maybe she thought she could make it up by courting veterans. In her address to the American Legion, she touted her family’s military roots and criticized the president for not taking a firm leadership role in reforming Veterans Affairs (via Charlotte Observer):

Hagan, a Democrat who is locked in one of the nation’s tightest Senate races, said she told the president that “promises alone aren’t going to get it done” in righting the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The Obama administration must understand that we need a complete change in culture at the VA,” she said. The administration, she added, “has a long road ahead to restore the faith and trust of our veterans.”

As she fights for a second term, Hagan courts a powerful voting bloc in what she calls the nation’s most military-friendly state: North Carolina’s 770,000 veterans and 116,000 active-duty troops.

Sounds good until you find out that she campaigned on reforming the VA back in 2008. She toured around the state with former Georgia Senator Max Cleland.

Leaving out the handshake, Hagan has been trying to tie her Republican opponent, Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives Thom Tillis, to the politics in Raleigh. As N.C. GOP strategist Paul Shumaker said, “Kay Hagan is hoping the sins of Raleigh are much bigger than the sins of Washington.” One of those sins liberals are highlighting is the education cuts North Carolina enacted in 2013.

Tillis is tying Hagan to Obama, who voted with the president 96 percent of the time. But Governor Pat McCrory hasn’t ruled out calling another special session of the legislature to settle some economic bills that are still on the table before the November election. That’s not the best timing.

Even with the president’s approval rating in the Tar Heel hovering around an abysmal 41-45% percent (Gallup: 41, USA Today: 45), with moderate voters becoming more dissatisfied with the president, this is going to be a tight race.

According to Gallup, self-identified Democrats and Republicans are evenly split. While Obama has abysmal approval numbers in the state, it’s still ranked the highest amongst states where Mitt Romney won in 2012. Thus, the Hagan=Obama attacks have limited impact.

Hagan may attack Tillis on the shenanigans in Raleigh, but on state government, while behind the national average, 51 percent of North Carolinians say they have a "great deal” or "fair amount “of confidence in Raleigh, according to the poll. Also, while N.C. voters’ confidence in their economy is in “positive territory,” it also lags behind the national average.

Concerning left-leaning polls, Public Policy Polling (PPP) has 34 percent of N.C. voters approving what Republicans are doing in state government, with 51 percent disapproving. Yet, PPP noted that Hagan’s approval rating is a dismal 42 percent, but that’s much higher than Tillis; he’s at 28 percent, but 24 percent aren’t sure what to think of him one way or another. He’s got some room to grow.

Regardless, as most of you probably already know, competitive races will come down to turnout:

North Carolina's midterm Senate race looks to be one of the most competitive in the country. Gallup data show that North Carolina has lost the Democratic tilt it possessed in 2008, and that the two major parties are now nearly tied in self-reported party identification. As with all elections, especially midterm, turnout will be a deciding factor -- revealing which party or constituency is most motivated to vote.

The determining factor for this race may be whether more North Carolinians fault Obama and Senate Democrats such as Kay Hagan for the state's underwhelming economic performance, or the Republican officials in charge of the state government in Raleigh.

Last spring, the New York Times reported that the divide between younger and older voters in North Carolina is “the most pronounced in the country." With younger voters projected to stay home, “Ms. Hagan would need to retain nearly all of her support from six years ago” to win an older demographic in the midterm years; a feat that borders on the impossible. 

Obama Bypassing Senate's Constitutional Ratification Power on Climate Change Treaty?


Sort of, but some details remain murky.  Via Jim Geragthy, the New York Times reports today that the Obama administration is seeking to commit the United States to an anti-climate change international treaty without even attempting to seek formal approval from the Senate.  According to the explicit verbiage of the Constitution, two-thirds of the upper chamber must assent to such an agreement in order for it to take on the binding effect of law. Given that Harry Reid couldn't lasso the votes to advance cap-and-trade when his caucus enjoyed a huge majority in 2009 and 2010, accumulating 67 votes in the current Senate environment for an initiative like this is unlikely in the extreme.  From the Times' story:


The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress. In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path.
 
What the administration is pursuing, then, is a "hybrid agreement," according to the Times. The proposal would "blend legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with new voluntary pledges. The mix would create a deal that would update the treaty, and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification."  Here's what the plan would look like:


Countries would be legally required to enact domestic climate change policies — but would voluntarily pledge to specific levels of emissions cuts and to channel money to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change. Countries might then be legally obligated to report their progress toward meeting those pledges at meetings held to identify those nations that did not meet their cuts. “There’s some legal and political magic to this,” said Jake Schmidt, an expert in global climate negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “They’re trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold” in the Senate.


Magic, swoons the guy from the left-wing environmental group whose homepage features a video from actor Robert Redford lashing out at "big oil."  I'd call it confusing, at best.  The US would be "legally required" (how?) to "enact" (does that require Congress, or are they just for show?) some form of "domestic climate change policies."  What would satisfy that so-called requirement?  Any bill at all?  It's unclear.  But then the emissions targets themselves would be entirely voluntary, even as signatory nations would be "obligated to report their progress" towards those voluntary, non-binding pledges.  Some of those details are to be hammered out at a drafting session in Peru before Christmas.  The Times piece makes only passing reference to the fact that any treaty would be useless without countries like China and India signing on (and abiding by their voluntary goals), which is hardly a minor detail.  The story also notes that the Senate "refused to ratify" the Kyoto protocols treaty in 1997, framing the issue as one of Republican obstruction.  For the record, the Senate voted 97-0 against even considering Kyoto ratification.   The article describes GOP opposition as a combination of nihilism, mindless skepticism of the "established science of human-caused global warming," and provincial self interest.  Sen. Mitch McConnell, for instance, represents a state with major interests in coal, "the world’s largest source of carbon pollution," the Times informs its readers.  And the award for the most alarmist sentence in the story goes to...


"The strategy comes as scientists warn that the earth is already experiencing the first signs of human-caused global warming — more severe drought and stronger wildfires, rising sea levels and more devastating storms — and the United Nations heads toward what many say is the body’s last chance to avert more catastrophic results in the coming century."


Last chance before catastrophe.  As I've written previously, I believe that anthropogenic climate change is real -- but the evidence also strongly indicates that unilaterally shackling America to the Left's preferred policy "solutions" would be economically harmful, if not ruinous, and wouldn't even dent the problem they're supposedly trying to address.  Unless and until other massive emitters get on board, this debate is entirely academic. All pain, no gain.  I'm also skeptical of the politicized "scientific community's" shrill alarmism.  The Economist noted last year that many of climate science's dire projections have not been confirmed by actual data, and that global warming has mysteriously paused for more than a decade in spite of soaring carbon emissions. And it didn't help matters when the devastating East Anglia scandal broke in 2009, revealing that supposed impartial empiricists were hiding and fudging data to fit their preferred narrative. Eminent scientists were shown to be petty, ideological tyrants, subordinating real data and the principle of scientific transparency to their political and personal agendas.  It's difficult to take dire warnings from these people seriously at this point.  They're terribly compromised.  Finally, regardless of the merits of climate change, the Constitution says what it says.  No president can simply assert a quasi-legally-binding international treaty into existence. Allahpundit thinks Obama may be trying to goad Republicans into another shutdown or impeachment talk, either of which would be politically exploitable.  That may be part of it, but it seems to me that Obama has basically given up on doing his job within, let's call them, traditional confines.  He's an unpopular lame duck -- who will get lamer after November -- but he remains highly ideological, so he's going to invent pretexts to try to impose his will as best he can.  Whether it works, or holds up in court down the road, is of minimal concern.  "Fundamentally transform" as much as possible, and see what sticks. 

Obligatory Date Rape-Detecting Nail Polish Is A Good Idea Post

Four gentlemen at the North Carolina State University have developed a nail polish for women, Undercover Colors, which can detect if their drinks have been spiked with date rape drugs by changing colors. These guys have known someone in their lives that has been sexually assaulted, which galvanized them into action. Their invention is American innovation at work–and everyone should be nodding their heads in agreement that this is a good idea, unless you’re a feminist.

That’s right; some in the wet blanket brigade say that finding ways to prevent rape somehow promotes rape, or something. Some of their responses have been downright angry (via Think Progress) [emphasis mine/edited for language]:

“I think that anything that can help reduce sexual violence from happening is, in some ways, a really good thing,” Tracey Vitchers, the board chair for Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER), told ThinkProgress. “But I think we need to think critically about why we keep placing the responsibility for preventing sexual assault on young women.”

Women are already expected to work hard to prevent themselves from becoming the victims of sexual assault. They’re told to avoid wearing revealing clothing, travel in groups, make sure they don’t get too drunk, and always keep a close eye on their drink. Now, remembering to put on anti-rape nail polish and discreetly slip a finger into each drink might be added to that ever-growing checklist — something that actually reinforces a pervasive rape culture in our society.

“One of the ways that rape is used as a tool to control people is by limiting their behavior,” Rebecca Nagle, one of the co-directors of an activist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture that challenges the societal norms around sexual assault, explained. “As a woman, I’m told not to go out alone at night, to watch my drink, to do all of these things. That way, rape isn’t just controlling me while I’m actually being assaulted — it controls me 24/7 because it limits my behavior. Solutions like these actually just recreate that. I don’t want to f**king test my drink when I’m at the bar. That’s not the world I want to live in.”

According to Alexandra Brodsky, one of the founders and current co-directors of Know Your IX, a survivor-led group working to address campus sexual assault, well-intentioned products like anti-rape nail polish can actually end up fueling victim blaming. Any college students who don’t use the special polish could open themselves up to criticism for failing to do everything in their power to prevent rape.

Maya Dusenbary at Feministing  wrote a post asking a few questions regarding the product, and noted that date rape drugs aren’t used often to facilitate sexual assault [bold text is the product description]:

If your product becomes popular enough to have a real deterrent effect — in other words, to actually “make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman’s drink” and not just afraid to spike a nail-polish-wearing woman’s drink — what is stopping rapists from simply using other means, including the current go-to drug, alcohol, to facilitate the crime? Are you working on developing a product that will make them afraid to actually rape?

We are Undercover Colors and we are the first fashion company empowering women to prevent sexual assault.

Do you know the definition of “empowering“? It involves giving someone the power to do something. “Giving” is not synonymous with “selling.” More importantly, do you know the definition of “prevent”? It is not synonymous with “avoid.” Personally avoiding sexual assault — or one particular, rather uncommon type of sexual assault — is not the same as preventing sexual assault. I’m not against the former, but I personally prefer to donate to folks working to do the latter. And I’m not so into a company that raises money by conflating the two.

So, this product could help eliminate a small percentage of sexual assaults; why is that a bad thing? Of course, men should be taught not to rape; it’s part of the ever-expanding conversation about being a good person, not committing crime, getting an education, and becoming a productive part of society. Sexual assaults are inexcusably high in the United States, but these social shifts take time. Tragically, at times, it’s taken a great many steps.

For now, let’s celebrate that there’s something new in the arsenal that helps women avoid being sexually assaulted. As Reason’s Elizabeth Brown wrote yesterday, “teaching men not to rape and helping women avoid rape aren't mutually exclusive options.”

It's been said so many times already so as to be a cliche, but no one accuses security cameras of encouraging "theft culture". And neither do most people blame theft victims for getting robbed just because they didn't have security cameras. This sort of surveillance is simply an extra precaution that some homeowners and businesses take, particularly if circumstances (living in a wealthy neighborhood that's often targeted, living in a high-crime neighborhood, etc.) suggest a higher likelihood of their property being robbed.

Similarly, I find it hard to believe the mere existence of discreet date-rape detection tools would lead to the belief that anyone not employing them deserves being drugged. No one's gonna start expecting all women to start slathering this stuff on all the time. But someone who frequents crowded clubs, or a college student going to a keg party, or someone on a first date may find that taking this added precaution seems worthwhile. Are we supposed to prefer they get drugged and assaulted while we're waiting for a perfect, rape-free culture? As writer and activist Maggie McNeill commented on Twitter, I'm skeptical about "solutions" to crimes & social problems "that require establishing a Utopia first."

Some people agree with Ms. McNeill. Not every woman feels the same way about the nail polish. If you read the comments on Dusenbary’s blog, most posts are supportive of the new product. One commenter said, "I think you’re just pissed because MEN thought of this brilliant product instead of a woman!"  She added that Feministing should be "ashamed" to criticize the nail polish and its inventors.

Charlie Crist: C'mon Guys, I've Always Been a Democrat

It must feel good to be Charlie Crist. Four short years after flaming out in the GOP US Senate primary (he lost to Marco Rubio, as it happens) the former Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat finds himself once again nominated (albeit from a different party) to be Florida’s next governor. (He previously served in that official capacity from 2007 to 2011).

In any case, he secured the Democratic nomination without a sweat last night, and offered these words of wisdom while marveling in his victory:

Crist said the strong showing is a sign that Democrats believe in him. “Frankly, I think I was on their side when I was in the other party,” he said as he prepared a victory speech. He said a friend once told him, “Charlie, you’ve been a Democrat your whole life, you just didn’t know it.’ Well, now I know it.”

Good Lord. Meanwhile, the Associated Press gently reminds us that only a few shorts years ago (an eternity in politics, I suppose) he aligned himself with such progressive juggernauts as Ronald Reagan and Jeb Bush:

Crist, 58, previously won three statewide races as a GOP candidate, and it wasn’t that long ago that he called himself a Ronald Reagan/Jeb Bush Republican. He was once considered a potential running mate for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain and had the backing of GOP leaders in a 2010 bid for Senate — until Rubio used an image of Crist hugging Obama to chase Crist from the primary. Crist then ran as an independent, but he ended up a distant second. In 2012, he endorsed Obama for a second term.

So he went from being a possible Republican veep choice in 2008...to endorsing Barack Obama in 2012. That should pretty much tell you everything you need to know about him.

Nonetheless, a freshly-released SurveyUSA poll out this month indicates that the race is very much a dead heat:

In this 10th tracking poll for WFLA-TV in Tampa, SurveyUSA adds the name of Libertarian Adrian Wyllie to the "who would you vote for" question, and finds the results largely consistent with previous releases, where survey respondents could select an option for "some other candidate" to express support for Wyllie.

Today, it's incumbent Republican Rick Scott 44%, Democratic challenger Charlie Crist 41%, Wyllie 4%. Wyllie appears to take ever-so-slightly more votes from Scott than from Crist, an analysis of the results reveals. That's because in 8 out of the 9 previous WFLA-TV tracking polls, Scott has led among independent voters, but today, with Wyllie siphoning off 12% of the independents, Crist leads among independents 37% to 30%.

Well, Crist used to be an independent, so it only make sense that he would eventually capture some of this crucial voting bloc, especially with a third party candidate in the mix. Also, guess what? If he wins, he will be the first politician in American history to occupy the state’s top executive job as both a Democrat and a Republican.

Can't you just feel the excitement in the air?

Ha! Canada Tweets 'Geography Guide' For 'Lost' Russian Soldiers

Leave it to our neighbours to the north to gently, hilariously, tell Russia to back off of Ukraine:

The tweet is from an account for Canada's NATO delegation.

Yesterday, 10 Russian soldiers were captured in Ukraine. They claimed that they had "accidentally" crossed the border while on patrol.

"These servicemen really did take part in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border, crossing it likely by mistake at an unequipped and unmarked point, as far as we are aware they offered no resistance to the Ukrainian armed forces when arrested," a Ministry of Defence source told Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.

This isn't the first time Russian soldiers have miraculously appeared in places their government claimed they were not stationed in. In late July, a selfie-addicted Russian soldier/Instagram fanatic published several posts that were geotagged in locations in eastern Ukraine, where Russia had vehemently denied sending troops.

Whoops.

Let's hope Russia heeds @CanadaNATO's advice and stays out of Ukraine. Or learns borders. Or something.

Joe Biden Tweets Absurd Claim His Granddaughters Somehow Lack Rights

Poor Joe Biden's granddaughters. While the rest of the country has granted women full rights as citizens to vote, drive cars, own property, sign documents, play sports, etc., apparently these unfortunate girls are stuck in the 19th century.

Biden did not elaborate further as to which rights his granddaughters lack compared to his grandsons.

As our friends at Twitchy pointed out, quite a few CEOs are women—as is a fifth of the U.S. Senate—and the next president of the United States could quite likely be a woman. But none of that applies to the Biden granddaughters, apparently.

As the proud granddaughter of a stonemason and a hardware store owner, I can't really say that I have any fewer rights than my little brother. Granted, my grandfathers weren't former senators or vice presidents or college educated, so I may be a tad privileged when I'm making this claim compared to Biden's granddaughters. Anyhow, as a female growing up in the United States, I've had basically every opportunity open to me. I can vote and be elected to public office. I'm not required by law to cover my hair or face. I don't have to dress in disguise as a male to see a sporting event. I'm not at risk of having my genitals mutilated, and gendercide of females is not accepted nor encouraged in this country. I wasn't forced to study a "traditionally female" subject in college. I didn't have to worry about being kidnapped by militants who don't believe in educating girls when I was in elementary school. If I eventually marry, have children and decide to stay at home with them, it will be my choice to do so, not a legal requirement nor a societal expectation. These are all actual issues that women face in different countries. What, pray tell, am I missing here that I somehow do not have access to in the United States due to my chromosomal makeup?

American women, such as myself and Biden's granddaughters, have it better than just about every other woman in the world. To suggest that somehow we are disadvantaged due to our genders or that we're lacking in rights compared to our brothers is flat out wrong. Biden needs to remove himself from the 1800s and rejoin the 21st century.

CBO Report: Obamacare Denting Labor Force

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its long-term budget and economic projections, updated from their April 2014 report. Not a lot has changed in the intermediate months, but a few aspects of the report stick out.

First, the deficit this year is slightly larger. Slower-than-expected economic growth has lowered the CBO's projections for revenue this year. Second, their long-term deficit projections over the 2015-2024 period has been lowered by $69 billion.

What's interesting is the CBO's analysis of the makeup of the labor force. Over the next ten years, the CBO doesn't project a return to the size of the labor force that we saw pre-2007 recession. In fact, the size of the labor force from 1984-2007 now looks to be a historical outlier:

What the CBo does write, though, is that one of the downward pressures on the labor force is Obamacare. As the report finds:

Over the next few years, CBO expects that the rate of labor force participation will decline about 1/2 percentage point further... the most important of those factors is the ongoing movement of the baby-boom generation into retirement, but federal tax and spending policies will also tend to lower the participation rate. In particular, certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act will tend to reduce labor force participation, with the largest effect stemming from the subsidies that reduce the cost of purchasing health insurance through the exchanges. Because the subsidies decline with rising income (and increase with falling income) and make some people financially better off, they reduce the incentive for some people to work as much as they would without the subsidies.

We won't rehash the debate here over whether or not it's a good thing for the welfare state to provide so much that people will choose not to work - but it's pretty undeniable at this point that ACA is disincentivizing work for Americans in an era where we're wondering if the decline in labor force participation is the new normal.

PBS To Air Documentary Sympathetic to Abortionists

How did we go from Barney to this? 

On Monday, PBS will be airing the documentary "After Tiller," which paints late-term abortionists in a sympathetic light. (You may recall our piece on this film from last year.) 

The documentary claimed these abortionists are "victims" of pro-life aggression. The message was questionable enough, but even more egregious was the fact that the film was released on the heels of convicted murderer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s sentencing. Gosnell was guilty of killing babies, keeping their feet in jars and putting mothers’ lives in danger in his clinics. He performed late-term abortions - the same practice the people in “After Tiller” are trying to save. Now, PBS is airing the documentary as a part of their "POV" series, or “Documentaries with a point of view.”

Here is a description of the film from the PBS.org:

Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's After Tiller is a deeply humanizing and probing portrait of the only four doctors in the United States still openly performing third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas—and in the face of intense protest from abortion opponents. It is also an examination of the desperate reasons women seek late abortions. Rather than offering solutions, After Tiller presents the complexities of these women's difficult decisions and the compassion and ethical dilemmas of the doctors and staff who fear for their own lives as they treat their patients.

Clearly, the film has chosen sides in the pro-life/pro-choice debate. So, since PBS has chosen to air this more or less pro-abortion documentary, surely they’ll give airtime to pro-life films or documentaries like “The 40 Film,” right? Or, how about the upcoming Gosnell: The Movie? Filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney succeeded in reaching the funds necessary in their crowd sourcing campaign to produce a movie exposing Kermit Gosnell and the atrocities in his filthy abortion clinics. PBS will gladly accept that submission, right? Yeah, I won’t get my hopes up either.

Some have charged PBS with pushing a liberal agenda for years. In his book “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV,” author Ben Shapiro got executives to admit that even shows seemingly as innocuous as “Sesame Street” have included bits of progressive propaganda.

This time, however, their agenda isn’t so subtle. If you are upset about PBS’s decision to feature a sympathetic film about abortion, write or call the station and insist you don’t want this kind of film to air on the same channel your children are learning their ABCs.

Brutal: Dems' MT Senate Candidate Freezes in TV Interview, Is a Revolutionary Socialist


Believe it or not, this clip is probably the least of Montana Democrats' problems with their newly-minted Senate candidate.  But let's watch it anyway.  Her train of thought chugs to a cringe-worthy standstill midway through her rehearsed answer, leading to an awkward silence. After several seconds, the reporter takes pity on his interview subject and gamely bails her out with a lay-up question (via the Free Beacon):



Curtis: "It’s my honor to travel around the state now for the next nine weeks and continue talking and listening to Montanans about the issues that are important to them. And…"

[Five Seconds of silence, Curtis looks at the ceiling, blinks, cracks embarrassed smile]

Interviewer: Where are you from?

There are a lot of things Ms. Curtis doesn't seem to know, such as her positions on major issues.  From a CNN profile:  "When asked her position on the situation in Iraq, Curtis told CNN, 'Give me a little more time.' On the border crisis, 'I'll need more time, you know only 11 days ago I was painting my storm windows.'"  What she does know is that she's against "the one percent" and hates Paul Ryan's budget.  Democrats' chances of holding this seat sustained a major blow when placeholder Senator John Walsh dropped out of the race, following damning plagiarism revelations.  Walsh had been hand-selected to replace longtime incumbent Sen. Max Baucus, who was flagging badly in polls, and who was tossed a lifeline by the White House when he was selected as US Ambassador to China.  Scrambling to field someone in the race, the party settled on Curtis, whose political views (the ones that she doesn't need 'a little more time' to determine) don't inspire confidence. Phil Kerpen does some digging:


Montana Democrats nominated in his stead State Rep. Amanda Curtis, a member of the radical, revolutionary socialist group Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Rep. Curtis was nominated for the United Stated Senate by the Montana Democratic Party on August 16, 2014. Less than two weeks earlier, on August 4, she tagged herself in [a] photograph featuring IWW banners and identifying Curtis as an FW, or “Fellow Worker,” the term used in IWW for group members...On August 7, 2014, Rep. Curtis changed her Facebook profile photograph to a picture of former Communist Party USA chair Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who received a state funeral from the Soviet Union in 1964...One post of Mr. Curtis’s that Rep. Curtis shared on July 31 suggests that, in the event she and her allies cannot accomplish their objectives through electoral victories, they will resort to “sterner means.”

Also known as "violence."  Curtis' group advocates the abolition of "wage slavery" and "eventually end[ing] the capitalist system."  Montana's unions have eagerly endorsed her, natch.  When asked about these radical Socialist viewpoints, a campaign aide told CNN, "Amanda grew up in a family that struggled to put food on the table so she knows first hand the struggles of Montana working families...we must put working Montana families ahead of corporate special interests."  A sanitizing dodge, not a denial. Elsewhere in 2014 Senate races, Sen. Kay Hagan hugged President Obama upon his visit to North Carolina, while trying to distance herself from him (she's voted with Obama 96 percent of the time), a new ad from Sen. Mark Pryor intimates that his Republican opponent is soft on Ebola, and Alaska's Republican nominee shoots a television set -- literally -- in a new television spot: