ICYMI: Hillary's Really Not 'Dead Broke'

Yeah, I know this isn’t a shock, but Hillary Clinton isn’t “dead broke.” Those infamous words uttered during her interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer in June of 2014 seem to plague the campaign, though it’s hardly enough to shift any Clintonites away from her. It nevertheless provides Republicans and Hillary’s Democratic opponents with some nice ammunition to use against her.

In all–and to no one’s surprise–the Clintons are loaded; they’re rolling in it; and they made $141 million between 2007 and 2014 (via CNN):

Hillary and Bill Clinton earned nearly $141 million over the course of eight years and paid $43 million in federal taxes, according to tax returns her campaign released Friday.

In a lengthy statement and on her campaign website, Clinton detailed that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, paid more than $43 million in federal taxes from 2007 to 2014, over $13 million in state taxes and donated nearly $15 million to charity over the same period.

The couple earned a total of $140.9 million, with an adjusted gross income of $139.1 million, the returns show.

Clinton said she and her husband paid an effective federal tax rate of 35.7 percent and a combined federal, state, and local effective rate of 45.8 percent last year.

We've come a long way from my days going door-to-door for the Children's Defense Fund and earning $16,450 as a young law professor in Arkansas -- and we owe it to the opportunities America provides," Clinton wrote in the release.

Hey, I like the something out of nothing narrative too. It’s indelibly American, but the donors who stuff her war chests are hardly stalwarts of the proverbial little guy.

That eight-year period, we know that she wasn’t on her way to the poor house; we all knew this. Moreover, then-former President Bill Clinton was making–on average–$24,000 a day within the first few months of leaving officer in 2001. It’s beyond patently false, which is why many Clinton supporters described the remarks as disastrous. Her little tidbit about her meager salary from her Arkansas lawyer days will probably do little to improve her favorability, trust, and competence numbers, which are appalling.

Nevertheless, the weekend document dump also said the former first lady is in excellent health. At the same time, after a year since the “dead broke” comments, it may be the one that might cause Clinton the most grief, as it’s still fresh in most people’s minds, according to the NYT’s Maggie Haberman. Let’s see how this turns out; we still have a long way to go before 2016 is over.

Hillary and Bill's income from speeches for 2013 are also included. It's quite massive as well. 

Jeb Bush’s Campaign Fundraising Haul Leaves Him PACked With The Most Cash

Last Friday, political action committees (PACs) had to file their mid-year reports, and Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise PAC is doing quite well. In all, the Wall Street Journal  reports that the super PACs backing 17 presidential candidates for 2016 raised more than $250 million, nearly doubling the $125 million raised by candidates for their respective campaigns. The publication also noted that out of the $250 million that went to the super PACs, at least 40 of the richest Americans in the country doled out $60 million for the PACs supporting the top-tier candidates. Oh, and Jeb Bush and his campaign apparatus garnered the lion's share of their donations:

The committee backing Jeb Bush was the most aggressive in adapting to the less regulated political environment. Half of the 40 billionaires identified by The Wall Street Journal donated a combined $17.4 million to Right to Rise USA while it was on the way to raising an unprecedented $103 million. That super PAC far surpassed its rivals in a crowded GOP field as well as Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.

“Billionaires and millionaires have become the dominant players in financing the 2016 presidential campaigns,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group that has filed complaints against Mr. Bush with the FEC and the Justice Department. The complaints say Mr. Bush avoided campaign donation limits for candidates by starting a super PAC in January and delaying the official announcement of his campaign until mid-June. Right to Rise USA officials say they have complied with election law.

Wealthy benefactors helped close the gap in June when the Bush super PAC was more than $9 million shy of reaching the much-talked-about goal of $100 million before the end of the reporting period, setting off a last-minute scramble for cash. In the last two weeks of the month, Right to Rise saw an infusion of $12.7 million.

The group’s fundraising report showed 23 individuals and companies wrote checks of $1 million or more; another two dozen gave between $500,000 and $1 million.

The Bush campaign also revised the definition of a small donor, reporting 3,300 checks of $25,000 or less. Most campaigns identify a small donor as giving less than $200.

Among the billionaires who wrote million-dollar checks to the Bush-aligned committee: hedge-fund manager Louis Bacon, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, and Texas oil tycoon Trevor Rees-Jones. His wife, Jan Rees-Jones, also gave $1 million.

The super PAC had asked donors not to give more than $1 million but abandoned that cap on the day Mr. Bush formally entered the primary and could no longer solicit unlimited contributions.

At the same time, Hillary Clinton's PACs received some big cash from the one percent as well, including George Soros (of course):

Priorities USA Action, the primary super PAC backing Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, raised $15.6 million in the first half of the year from 33 donors, a filing with the Federal Election Commission on Friday showed.

The super PAC, run by political strategist Guy Cecil, received eight checks for $1 million, all of which came in during the final week of June; the last day for super PACs to report donations was June 30. Mr. Cecil noted earlier this month that $12.5 million of the super PAC’s haul came in the month of June, following a shakeup that included replacing Buffy Wicks, a veteran field organizer for President Barack Obama, with Mr. Cecil, a who worked for Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 campaign and is seen by donors as closer to the Clinton campaign.

Among the top donors to the super PAC were billionaires financier Donald Sussman, global investor George Soros and media magnate Haim Saban. Mr. Soros gave $1 million to Priorities and another $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, a second super PAC backing Mrs. Clinton. That super PAC has not yet filed its disclosure with the FEC, but said earlier this month it had raised $7.7 million. That brings the total super PAC haul for Mrs. Clinton to $24 million.

The PACs for New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieMike Huckabee, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also got some help from the one percent.

Obviously, there will be some people who will be unnerved by this influx of money into politics since Citizens United. Yet, we should all be reminded that a) the rich have First Amendment rights too (as do corporations) b) Americans spend more on yogurt than they do trying to invest in politicians that they entrust with keeping their best interests protected in Washington (or so they say on the campaign trail).

Before the 2010 elections, George Will wrote:

Total spending, by all parties, campaigns and issue-advocacy groups, concerning every office from county clerks to U.S. senators, may reach a record $4.2 billion in this two-year cycle. That is about what Americans spend in one year on yogurt but less than they spend on candy in two Halloween seasons. Procter & Gamble spent $8.6 billion on advertising in its most recent fiscal year.

So, let’s not get crazy about campaign finance just yet. This was as expected, especially with Bush’s campaign haul. The war chests are filling up, some more than others. Yet, at the end of the day, the debate that we should be having is not the wealthy buying elections, but whether a confederation of super PACs or a national party’s committee is more efficient at winning elections. Which is king: soft or hard money?

Surely, the seasoned campaign operatives know the answer to this question. 

Last Note: Hillary's Foundation donors (shocker!) also give big bucks to her campaign:

The Clinton Foundation saw a significant increase in donations this year from fundraisers who also have volunteered to steer at least $100,000 each to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, a review of a list of the donors made public Thursday shows.

At least 14 of the fundraisers, called Hillblazers, donated to the foundation in the first half of 2015 and have cumulatively given between $22 million and $55 million since the organization started in 1999, according to a comparison of the foundation and campaign disclosures. At the end of 2014, those 14 fundraisers had given between $16 million and $38 million. Eight of these donors stepped up their foundation donations enough to be pushed into a higher bracket in the first six months.

The uptick came as the Clintons sought to fund a $250 million endowment for the foundation before she entered the Democratic primary. If she wins the presidency, Mrs. Clinton and potentially her husband would have to suspend fundraising while she is in office. Mrs. Clinton already has quit doing so during the campaign.

Defund Planned Parenthood Bill Defeated in Senate

Despite the grisly revelations of the past few weeks, which caught Planned Parenthood employees negotiating the sale of fetal body parts as if they were goods and services, the Senate today voted to keep Planned Parenthood funding "intact" (here's some context behind that word.)

The Democrats who voted against the measure are of course recycling an old argument:

Yet, as Katie explained this morning, the defund bill would not just halt funding for Planned Parenthood - it would redirect the money to other community clinics that offer important health services and don't provide abortions.

Today's outcome was expected. Sixty votes is a challenging threshold, especially with only 54 Republican senators. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) received justified criticism from the pro-life movement when he rejected the opportunity to include the legislation on last week's highway funding bill as an amendment, which had a better chance of passing.

Despite the failed bill, there's no doubt that the outrage against Planned Parenthood is growing and the vote was an important symbol in the fight to expose the abortion giant's agenda. Americans are becoming increasingly aware that Planned Parenthood is not exactly the "women's health" organization it claims to be and their representatives' strange and unconvincing defenses are only further damaging their reputation. 

Update: As least one brave Democrat voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

Update II: The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List has released a statement following the vote, noting the positive pro-life trend in the Senate, despite the legislation's abrupt halt.

“When the Senate last voted to defund Planned Parenthood, only 42 voted for it. Since that 2011 effort, things have only gotten worse for the nation’s largest abortion provider. The Center for Medical Progress has released less than half of its damning evidence of brutality and callousness at Planned Parenthood and, as more videos are made public, outrage will surely grow,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

Update III: The final tally was 53-46.

Updated IV: Make that two brave Democrats. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana also voted pro-life.

Monmouth Poll: 52 Percent View Trump Favorably

Donald Trump is, of course, the GOP frontrunner. This explains why, like other polls before it, a brand new Monmouth University survey shows him in first place, ahead of Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), Scott Walker (R-WI), and everyone else. (Only these two candidates, by the way, registered double-digit support with Trump in the race). And while many of us expect The Donald’s reign of relevance to end or implode eventually, there’s no denying the fact he's sittin' pretty heading into Thursday night’s primetime debate:

Republicans worried about Trump’s rise -- and sustained popularity -- often cite the fact that it’s early in the primary season, and therefore his days in contention are numbered. That is to say, while poll after poll clearly shows him winning handily, his favorability ratings are too low for him to be taken seriously over the long run. And yet, this poll completely flips that explanation on its head. It appears Republican primary voters are, in fact, warming up to him:

The Monmouth University Poll also found that GOP voter opinion of Donald Trump continues to improve. It now stands at 52% favorable to 35% unfavorable. It was 40% favorable to 41% unfavorable three weeks ago. Before he announced in June, it stood at a significantly negative 20% favorable to 55% unfavorable.

Impressive. A 12-point boost in popularity over such a short period of time is no small feat -- and a major departure from what previous polls have found. Two weeks ago, for instance, a Suffolk University/USA Today survey discovered that 61 percent of respondents viewed Donald Trump unfavorably. So, unless this poll is an outlier, slowly but surely Republicans are beginning to view Mr. Trump less harshly than they once did. Simply stated, they appear to be coming 'round.

Good News: Boehner Probably Won’t Golf With Obama Again

Speaker of the House John Boehner probably won’t ever golf with President Obama in the foreseeable future because some folks get “bent out of shape” about it, according to the Hill. Last week, Speaker Boehner did an interview on the Golf Channel where he detailed his golfing outings with the president. Both Boehner and Obama like the sport to relieve stress.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he is unlikely to hit the golf links any time soon with President Obama because people get “bent out of shape."

“The President has suggested, ‘Hey, do you think it is too much trouble to play golf again?’ ” he said in excerpts of an interview on the Golf Channel airing Monday.

“I have to look at him and say, ‘Yes, because everybody gets bent out of shape worried about what we are up to, when all we are really going to do is just play golf.’ ”

The avid golfer dished on his 2011 round of golf with Obama, when the two defeated Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), who is now running for the GOP presidential nomination.

Obama invited the speaker to golf with himself and the vice president, giving Boehner the choice to pick a fourth. When he brought along Kasich, Obama decided to split up the Ohioans.

“The President and I whipped up on them pretty good and they paid up,” he said.

“As soon as we got in the cart I said, Mr. President, just remember something, this is just golf.”

At the same time, the president has been criticized for the amount of time he’s been on the fairway, especially after he made his way back onto the course once he delivered his remarks condemning ISIS for murdering American journalist James Foley while vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard last summer.

Aurora Shooting Trial Allows Death Penalty as Possible Punishment

The jury in James Holmes’ trial took a step toward giving him the death penalty today, determining that none of the factors in Holmes’ personal life outweighed the evil of his crimes. Two weeks ago, the jury convicted him on all 24 counts of first-degree murder, as well as 141 other counts.

This moves the sentencing trial into its third stage, during which time family members will be able to speak directly to Holmes and tell them how the attack has affected their lives. At the end of that stage, each of the jury members will decide whether to give Holmes the death penalty. They must vote unanimously in order to give him the death penalty.

The judge read through each count of first-degree murder today, reading the question: "Does the jury unanimously find beyond a reasonable doubt that the mitigating factors that exist do not outweigh the aggravating factors proven by the prosecution in phase one of the sentencing hearing?"

Each question preceded the same answer: "Yes."

NYT: Damn These Republicans For Dishonoring Their Commander-in-Chief on the Iran Deal

The tiresome, partisan New York Times editorial board is terribly unhappy with Republicans, which means it's a day ending in 'y.'  This time, they're upset over vigorous, substantive opposition to the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran, which they cast as borderline treasonous:

The exaggerations and half-truths that some Republicans are using to derail President Obama‘s important and necessary nuclear deal with Iran are beyond ugly. Invoking the Holocaust, Mike Huckabee, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, has accused Mr. Obama of marching Israelis “to the door of the oven.” Tom Cotton, a senator from Arkansas, has compared Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped negotiate the deal, to Pontius Pilate. What should be a thoughtful debate has been turned into a vicious battle against Mr. Obama, involving not just the Republicans but Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The unseemly spectacle of lawmakers siding with a foreign leader against their own commander in chief has widened an already dangerous breach between two old allies. Policy considerations aside, what is most striking about the demagoguery is how ahistorical, if not downright hypocritical, it is. Negotiating with adversaries to advance a more stable world has long been a necessity, and Republican presidents have been among its most eager practitioners.

Because the Times' editors and Democratic lawmakers were famously loyal to the previous Commander-in-Chief, right?  Benjamin Netanyahu believes the accord profoundly endangers his country's safety; many Republicans agree, and have also concluded that the deal imperils the United States.  President Obama likes to tout other foreign leaders' support for the agreement, even pressing British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby the Senate on its behalf.  Is this an "unseemly spectacle," too?  An American politician siding with foreign leaders over his own Congress?  It's a nonsense argument, designed to re-imagine principled opposition on a crucial issue as illegitimate and unpatriotic nihilism.  End of Discussion.  It's also amusing that the Times editorial explicitly sets aside "policy considerations," which are the entire basis for most opponents' critiques, in order to showcase the brilliant insight that past Republican presidents have engaged in diplomacy with US adversaries.  They present this as a "gotcha."  It's nothing of the sort.  Republicans aren't opposed to fruitful and productive negotiations that advance American interests and make the world safer and more stable.  They're opposed to lopsided agreements that give away the store to fanatical terrorist regimes while actively destabilizing the world.  The editorial also ignores the substantial cohort of Democrats who are assailing the accord as weak and unacceptable.  The Times would like its readers to believe that opposition to the deal is just another partisan project from wild-eyed know-nothing Republicans.  In fact, it's serious, informed and bipartisan.

The Times concludes that the "preponderance of responsible opinion" supports the agreement as "the best way to ensure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon."  This assertion ignores the bipartisan group of foreign policy heavyweights -- including multiple former Obama administration officials -- who've laid out 'red line' Western demands that must never be conceded to Iran.  The White House crossed every one of them.  It ignores nuclear experts who've spoken out against inspections loopholes, and who've debunked Obama's central defense of the deal.  And it ignores the overriding point, effectively admitted by the president himself, that at best, this agreement delays Iran's nuclearization by a number of years.  It does not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; it virtually guarantees it, while bestowing the West's blessing on Iran's rogue program, breathing life into the regime's economy, funding their international terrorism, and easing restrictions on other illicit endeavors.  The administration has given Iran almost everything it could have dreamed of, secured precious little in return, and moved its own goalposts dramatically.  Republicans are treacherous for noticing, it seems.  One wonders what the Times editors think of Iran's cheating, Obama's previous false assurances --  or this:

Amano's trip comes amid Iranian accusations that Washington is violating the deal by suggesting that that the enhanced IAEA surveillance would bring the benefit of making any potential attack on Tehran's atomic program more potent. Reza Najafi, the IAEA's chief Iranian delegate, quoted White House spokesman Josh Earnest as saying that would result in more pinpointed U.S. or Israeli military action against Iran — if needed — "because we'd been spending the intervening number of years gathering significantly more detail about Iran's nuclear program."

When in doubt, blame the Israelis. The Times editors can't be pleased with these numbers, which we'll explore in further detail later:

"Traitors" everywhere.

Uh-Oh: Obama to Unleash 'Biggest Step Ever' to Combat Climate Change

President Barack Obama on Monday will be revealing new regulations to cut down on so-called "carbon pollution," calling it the “biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken.”

Obama will be specifically targeting power plants, forcing them cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32%. Discovery highlights some quotes from Obama's statement:

“Power plants are the single biggest source of harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change,” added Obama, who made the battle against climate change a core promise of his 2008 election campaign.

“But until now there have been no federal limits to the amount of that pollution that those plants can dump into the air.”

He added that without imposing limits, “existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air weekly.

“For the sake of our kids, for the health and safety of all Americans, that’s about to change.”

This is a good example of how the left tries to distort the language. "Carbon pollution" is really just carbon dioxide, which is what we exhale on a daily basis and what plants need as energy in order to undergo photosynthesis. It's not "pollution." But to a low-information voter, the term "carbon pollution" makes it sound like a harmful chemical, when it's not.

Here's the kicker: Obama claims that these new regulations will lower energy bills and will create renewable energy jobs. Because Solyndra and the numerous other green-energy companies worked out well, right?

And data shows that energy bills will in fact rise from these new regulations. The economic consulting firm NERA estimates that the regulations will cost $366 billion and energy bills will rise by double-digits in 43 states. In addition, the North America Electric Reliability Corporation estimates that the regulations will result in coal plants closing before any new ones can be built.

This is troubling given that over 40% of worldwide energy is produced from coal. If coal plants are closing well before new ones can be built, then the only logical conclusion is inevitable blackouts and brownouts. 

Back in 2008, Obama told the SF Chronicle that electricity rates would "necessarily skyrocket":

And they are going to skyrocket- unnecessarily, as this is all over the phony issue of climate change.

The Obama administration will argue that there will be savings coming from renewable energy jobs. But the AP points out that this likely won't happen:

Although the administration predicts the plan will actually lower the average U.S. energy bill by almost $85 in 2030, companies that produce and distribute electricity aren't buying it. The savings come from increased use of wind, power and hydro plants, which operate at a cost of close to zero after they're installed. But acquiring and constructing renewable power sources is still very costly, making it less cost effective in many circumstances.

Obama's EPA has been targeting coal for years, and the coal workers are suffering:

America’s coal miners are so desperate, beaten down by the lowest prices in eight years, increasing competition and mounting environmental regulations, that they’re battling each other for scraps. Alpha Natural Resources Inc., once the second-largest U.S. coal producer, filed for bankruptcy Monday.

The dominant energy source since the Industrial Revolution, coal has seen its role reduced. Details emerging ahead of the release of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan on Monday show pressure to curb its use will only intensify over the next 15 years, escalating the industry’s fight for survival.

Which is completely in line with the degrowth movement. If you've never heard of the degrowth movement, here's how they describe themselves: (emphasis mine)

Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localized economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions. Such societies will no longer have to “grow or die.” Material accumulation will no longer hold a prime position in the population’s cultural imaginary. The primacy of efficiency will be substituted by a focus on sufficiency, and innovation will no longer focus on technology for technology’s sake but will concentrate on new social and technical arrangements that will enable us to live convivially and frugally. Degrowth does not only challenge the centrality of GDP as an overarching policy objective but proposes a framework for transformation to a lower and sustainable level of production and consumption, a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems.

Radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin describes Obama's EPA as the "main federal governmental fortress" of the degrowth agenda:

Levin documents these observations, writing, “[I]n 2013, 2014 and 2015, the EPA released (or is planning to release) a series of regulations designed to destroy the coal industry and diminish the oil and gas industries.” One such regulation is the “New Source Performance Rule” (NSPS), which, as Levin explains “mandates that every newly constructed coal-burning power plant in the United States use a costly and unproven technology to reduce its carbon emissions. The cost of implementing this technology is so exorbitant it makes building most new, coal-burning power plants impracticable.”

Another is the “Existing Source Performance Rule” (ESPR) which, as Levin further explains, “sets preposterously high emission standards for power plants, including those that burn coal. The goal of this rule is to force current power plants that use carbon sources such as coal and natural gas to charge increasingly higher rates to consumers for power, eventually driving these energy companies out of business.”

Levin summarizes that these EPA rules would “institute by coercion major parts of the degrowth agenda through deindustrialization, drive up the cost of energy production and use, and ultimately drive down the quality of life and living standards of Americans.”

Which is exactly what these new regulations are going to do, it is simply another way to deindustrialize America.

Oh Yes: Joe Biden Seriously Weighing Presidential Run

The New York Times, fresh off a bitter lambasting from Hillary Clinton's campaign, explored rumors over the weekend that Vice President Joe Biden is considering jumping into the 2016 presidential contest.  The story quotes sources close to the Biden camp and reports that the Vice President's son's dying wish was for his father to take another shot at the White House:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his associates have begun to actively explore a possible presidential campaign, an entry that would upend the Democratic field and deliver a direct threat to Hillary Rodham Clinton, say several people who have spoken to Mr. Biden or his closest advisers. Mr. Biden’s advisers have started to reach out to Democratic leaders and donors who have not yet committed to Mrs. Clinton or who have grown concerned about what they see as her increasingly visible vulnerabilities as a candidate. The conversations, often fielded by Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, have taken place in hushed phone calls and over quiet lunches...On Saturday, the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported that Mr. Biden had been holding meetings at his residence, “talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in” to challenge Mrs. Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating states….Ms. Dowd reported that as Beau Biden lay dying from brain cancer, he “tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.” Mr. Biden’s other son, Hunter, also encouraged him to run, she wrote. The support Mr. Biden has garnered speaks to growing concerns among Democrats that Mrs. Clinton could lose in Iowa and New Hampshire, as the populist message of one of her opponents, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, draws swelling crowds.

Fox News anchor Bret Baier noted on Twitter that the network's Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry beat the Times to the story last week:

In any case, Biden's entry into the race would be something of a game-changer, challenging Hillary Clinton's diminished but still dominant position as the Democratic frontrunner.  He has high name recognition as the sitting Vice President and would have access to elements of the powerful fundraising and campaign machine that twice got his ticket elected.  His presence in the race may also keep President Obama sidelined throughout the primaries; Obama might decline to publicly take sides in a battle between his two-time running mate and his former Secretary of State -- who'd be the heavy favorite.  With an endless stream of stories about Mrs. Clinton's ethical (and potentially legal) problems and influence peddling making headlines week after week, some Democrats are growing concerned about her viability in a general election.  Her favorability ratings have taken a dive, along with her marks on honesty and empathy.  Democrats who oppose Mrs. Clinton's candidacy have begun rallying around self-described Socialist Bernie Sanders, whose far-Left ideology and unpolished demeanor and appearance likely render him unelectable.  Biden would offer a more plausible, more mainstream non-Clinton alternative.  But Biden comes with baggage and vulnerabilities of his own: He's seen by many as an avuncular gaffe machine, a reputation that is well earned.  He'd also have zero wiggle room to break with the Obama record, and voters are not enamored with the notion of a third Obama term.  And Biden polls worse than Hillary in head-to-head match-ups with leading GOP contenders:

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 4.36.34 PM

Whether Biden could take Hillary out is also an open question; he'd be a major underdog, but polling suggests that his potential support would come disproportionately at her expense.  I'll leave you with Chuck Todd speculating -- or reporting? -- that the 'Biden's getting serious' whispers are actually being spread by Team Hillary, as a means of "trying to smoke [Biden] out."  Hmmm:

Oh, one more set of data points:

The addition of Biden would make the Democrats' field even older and even whiter.

Tongue-Tied Part II: DNC Chair Avoids Saying What Differentiates Democrats From Socialists (Again)

Last week, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): what's the difference between a Democrat and a socialist? He also asked if presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, should be allowed to speak in primetime at the Democratic National Convention next year given his self-avowed democratic-socialist views. Daniel aptly noted that the DNC chair was quite “tongue-tied,” and, of course, didn’t answer the question.

It was rehashed on the Sunday morning talk show circuit. NBC’s Chuck Todd threw the same question at Schultz on Meet the Press. She again deployed evasive maneuvers, saying that the real debate/discussion will revolve around the differences between the two parties. Matthews, who was a guest on Sunday’s broadcast, added his two-cents about the difference between a Democrat and socialist.

“Socialists traditionally believe in government control of the economy, and Democrats believe in modifying the economy to help the people at the bottom with a safety net,” he said.

As for why Schultz ducked and dodged on this question again, Matthews said, “Well, politically, she didn’t want to offend the Bernie people…Maybe there is an intellectual problem, but I will give her the benefit of the doubt and say it was really a political problem she faced.”

First, I will second what Mediaite’s editor Andrew Kirell noted about that quote from Matthews: “Ouch!” Second, either way, Schultz still has to answer the question at some point. Does the DNC want a self-avowed socialist speaking at the convention in primetime? Are they comfortable with someone who has views which are far to the left than the general electorate having a sweet speaking spot? We’ll see what comes of this. Maybe this point will be dead, in which case I would still hope for an answer from the DNC chair about the differences between a socialist and a Democrat since she has nothing to lose politically from giving the proper definition. Heck, 52 percent of Democrats view socialism favorably.

Senate To Vote on Defunding Planned Parenthood Today

After a series of recently released undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress showed Planned Parenthood doctors openly discussing the sale of fetal tissue and pushing baby body parts around in a dish, the Senate is set to vote on defunding the abortion giant today. Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in taxpayer funding each year and 60 votes are needed to strip the funding, which is unfortunately a far reach.

Writing in TIME today, Senators Joni Ernst, Rand Paul and James Lankford laid out their case

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s single largest provider of abortion services. Through a series of videos that have been recently released about Planned Parenthood’s callous harvesting operation, the realities of abortion have become public. Polite company does not want to discuss what really happens to children in an abortion clinic. For those brave enough to watch the videos, they have been horrified by the utter lack of compassion shown for these women and their babies. Even Hillary Clinton rightly acknowledged last week that the images are “disturbing.”

Tiny arms, legs and organs are placed in dishes and picked apart with tweezers. Unborn babies are seen as valuable – not as a new life, but as the source of parts eligible for sale. One employee haggles over prices and another discusses the benefit of selling individual organs rather than whole children because, “Per item works better so we can see how much we can get out of it.”

The videos also depict sterile discussions with Planned Parenthood employees raising questions about whether they may be altering the method of an abortion to increase the chances of keeping baby organs intact to make them more appealing to buyers. Intact, because human organs have value.

As one Planned Parenthood employee said, “You try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

If they are human organs outside of the womb, they had to be human inside the womb. It is disingenuous for Planned Parenthood to say in one moment that it is just fetal tissue, but in another moment acknowledge that it is human baby organs to be harvested and sold for medical research. Children in the womb are still children.

The Senate will soon vote on a bill to redirect federal taxpayer money from Planned Parenthood to women’s health care at places like community health centers and hospitals, which have almost fifteen times more facilities nationwide and provide more comprehensive health services. Our focus remains on ensuring that taxpayer dollars are utilized to protect federal funding for health services for women, which may include diagnostic laboratory and radiology services, well-child care, contraceptives, prenatal and postnatal care, immunizations, cervical and breast cancer screenings and more.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did the same in a local Kentucky newspaper over the weekend. 

As Kentucky’s senior senator, I am grateful to represent a state where so many people value and cherish the dignity of life in all its stages. I’ve heard from many of you who share my outrage over these videos. And many of you are even more outraged that Planned Parenthood actually receives taxpayer funds to do its bidding—more than $500 million annually.

So am I. I have opposed public funding of Planned Parenthood for years and continue to do so. I believe in the sanctity of life, and I don’t think Kentucky taxpayers should have to fund practices they find morally reprehensible.

That’s why, as Senate Majority Leader, I asked a group of Republican senators, including Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and Kentucky’s own Rand Paul, to draft legislation to protect women’s health services by redirecting Planned Parenthood’s federal funds to other women’s health organizations that we know are focused exclusively on helping women.

It's important to point out that the legislation being voted on today reallocates $500 million Planned Parenthood receives annually to other community health centers, making the claim that Republicans are trying to limit women's access to healthcare completely false.

But will this actually work? Unfortunately, it's not likely. Not only does Majority Leader Mitch McConnell need Republicans to vote for the measure, but Democrats too, who are rarely skeptical of any kind of abortion regulation in the name of "women's health." As Leah pointed out last week, despite the gruesome revelations of Planned Parenthood baby organ practices, a number of Republicans still support the organization. Futher, even if it did pass President Obama has vowed to veto the legislation

It’s truly astonishing how anyone can watch the now four videos that have come out in recent weeks exposing Planned Parenthood’s illegal sale of fetal body parts—not to mention today’s game changer that they harvest the organs of babies born alive—and still put politics before doing what’s right: ending taxpayer funding of the abortion giant.

Unfortunately Republican Sen. Mark Kirk seems to be doing just that. On Wednesday he said he’d oppose a Republican-backed bill to strip taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood.

“In other states tissue donation programs should be investigated but in Illinois there is no similar program,” Kirk told The Hill in a statement. “I do not plan to cut access to basic health care and contraception for women, the majority of whom have no other resources.”

He’s not the only Republican who opposes such a measure, however. Sen. Susan Collins told reporters on Wednesday that she’s “still looking at the bill.”

The Center for Medical Progress has released four videos at this point exposing Planned Parenthood for selling baby parts at the best prices. The group reportedly has at least nine more videos set to release.

RNC Chairman Warns Third Party Run Would Be a 'Death Wish'

Just when the GOP thought it was in the clear after The Donald told Dana Loesch that he wasn’t considering an independent run, he followed up later by saying he might if the RNC isn’t fair to him. That, of course, would be disastrous, and RNC Chair Reince Priebus discussed what exactly a third-party run would mean for both parties.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Priebus said that it would “only make sense" that candidates "wouldn't run as a third party." Doing so, he continued, would be a “death wish” for both parties.

The Hill has more:

"If you're going to run for the nomination of our private organization, which is the Republican Party, that it only makes sense that you would, number one, agree that a Republican would be better than a Democrat running on the other side and that you wouldn't run as a third party," he said.

Donald Trump recently told The Hill in an exclusive interview that the chances he will launch a third party White House run will "absolutely" increase if the RNC is unfair to him during the 2016 primary season.

"I think a third party, at least a serious one, on either side of the aisle, would be a death wish to both parties. So I don't think it's unreasonable to say that candidates ought to support on our side, the Republican nominee, if it's not them, and they ought to pledge not to run as a third party," Priebus added.

On whether he has reached out to candidates, Priebus said he hasn't made phone calls to "every candidate."

Priebus said Trump was not hurting the Republican party's image, but added, "Donald Trump speaks for Donald Trump, and no, I don't think it has anything to do with the Republican Party...None of these candidates speak for the party."

Priebus said the GOP would likely have a Republican nominee by March or early April.

#DisarmTheiPhone Newest Campaign to Somehow Make the World Safer

Emojis. Some people <3 them and some people :( them. A group out of New York state, however, is taking things a step further: it's trying to ban the pistol emoji, dubbing it as "a gun we all carry that we can give up."


I honestly thought this was some sort of 4Chan-esque prank a la "Cutting for Bieber" (NSFW/NSFL), but it appears to be legit. Which is sad: people, especially anti-crime activists, should be spending their time coming up with ways that will actually reduce gun violence rather than try to police what is on an iPhone. 

While the campaign is using the hashtag #DisarmTheiPhone, it should be noted that there are numerous other emojis depicting ways a person could potentially kill someone. A quick skim of the emoji catalogue reveals a knife, wrench, bathtub, fist, hammer, bomb, syringe, fire, and pill symbols. It's clear the iPhone is still quite heavily "armed," even if the pistol emoji is removed. (Heck, half of the weapons in the game Clue are available in emoji form. A candle is coming in the next unicode update.)

Furthermore, the statistics in the video are misleading. There were not 33,000 gun homicides in the United States. In 2012, there were 12,765 total homicides in the United States, and of those, about 8,855 were committed with firearms. The "33,000" number cited in the video includes approximately 25,000 suicides committed with a firearm, which, while still sad, should not be categorized alongside homicides. 

Additionally, gun violence is not a "losing battle." Crime rates have been consistently going down and violent crimes are at their lowest level since 1978. Given that emojis were first released in unicode form on the iPhone in 2010, there actually is a (likely entirely spurious) correlation between the availability of the pistol emoji and a reduction in gun crime.

Removing the pistol emoji won't do anything to reduce crime, nor will it "send a message" that Americans want stricter access to guns. Emojis were invented in Japan and were initially only available to Japanese consumers--who have some of the strictest gun laws in the world. The availability of the pistol emoji has not led to a movement to change Japan's gun laws, nor has there been any sort of crime associated with the image.

A quick glance of the "#DisarmTheiPhone" hashtag on twitter reveals that most people see this campaign for what it is: utter nonsense.

Murder, Kidnapping, Attempted Rape, and More: Another Week of Illegal Immigrant Crime

Lest we forget why cracking down on illegal immigration ought to remain one of the nation's top priorities, here are just a few news stories from this past week to remind you, especially in the wake of Kate Steinle's murder, how frequently these entirely preventable crimes occur. 

- On Monday afternoon Juan Razo murdered a 60-year-old woman, tried to kill another woman, and attempted to rape his teenager niece in Painesville, Ohio. Police had confronted Razo, who was spotted in a suspicious vehicle, earlier this month, during which time he admitted to being in the country illegally. Deputies then called U.S. Border Patrol, but the agency didn’t respond to take him into custody since he had no known criminal record. Thus, the officers could not hold him. 

- In North Carolina, police arrested Jose Orlando Garcia for kidnapping a 6-year-old girl with the intention of raping her. According to the report, ‘Garcia grabbed the girl by the arm, opened a window to a vacant apartment and forced her through a window against her will.’ The illegal immigrant was charged with breaking and entering, abduction of a child, first-degree kidnapping and indecent liberties with a child.

- In Texas, a 16-year-old Mexican national who admitted to being in the country illegally was arrested on Saturday after he set a police patrol car on fire, aimed a rifle at an officer, and led them on a 35-minute car chase during which time he swerved at two motorcycle officers who were escorting a funeral, striking one of them. He told officers his actions were retaliation for ‘his people’ and called the incident a ‘war against the government’ “because the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is always sending Mexicans back to Mexico for no reason, when those immigrants are the ones doing all the work here in the U.S.,” thefacts.com reported. He was charged with aggravated assault on a public servant with a deadly weapon; possession of a controlled substance; evading arrest with a vehicle; and arson. 

- For many youths who fled gang violence and poverty in Central America, the future may not be so bright for them here—and it will be even worse for American citizens. According to authorities, in two counties in Long Island, New York, gangs associated with MS-13 are actively recruiting ‘the more than 3,000 migrant children younger than 18 who have recently settled in the area.’ Hear that? Thousands of potential new gang members. Great.

Spoiler Alert: People With No Firearms Training Get Killed In Self-Defense Simulator

Okay. I mean, this shouldn’t be a shocker, but people who have no firearms training didn’t survive the firearms training simulator located at Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland. Another non-surprise is that police officers did well; though some might add that concealed carry holders spend more time at the range than police officers. Regardless, the Washington Post  reported on how determining life and death situations–and when to use deadly force–is difficult; something that any gun owner, or person with common sense, would already know:

[A] new study from researchers at Mount St. Mary's University sheds some light on why people don't use guns in self-defense very often. As it turns out, knowing when and how to apply lethal force in a potentially life-or-death situation is really difficult.

The study was commissioned by the National Gun Victims Action Council, an advocacy group devoted to enacting "sensible gun laws" that "find common ground between legal gun owners and non-gun owners that minimizes gun violence in our culture." The study found that proper training and education are key to successfully using a firearm in self-defense: "carrying a gun in public does not provide self-defense unless the carrier is properly trained and maintains their skill level," the authors wrote in a statement.

They recruited 77 volunteers with varying levels of firearm experience and training, and had each of them participate in simulations of three different scenarios using the firearms training simulator at the Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland. The first scenario involved a carjacking, the second an armed robbery in a convenience store, and the third a case of suspected larceny.

They found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, people without firearms training performed poorly in the scenarios. They didn't take cover. They didn't attempt to issue commands to their assailants. Their trigger fingers were either too itchy -- they shot innocent bystanders or unarmed people, or not itchy enough -- they didn't shoot armed assailants until they were already being shot at.

First, the National Gun Victims Action Council (NGVAC) is a pro-gun control group, who seem to be driving home that “police know what to do, average Joe don’t” narrative when it comes to firearms and self-defense. That’s fine. It’s also axiomatic. If you’re not trained to do “x,” you’re probably going to suck at it–and with firearms; that’s especially the case. In fact, without proper safety, it’s downright irresponsible that could get yourself or other around you injured, even killed. As an avid shooter, my first step was to take a safety course from a NRA-certified instructor. It lasted a few hours, but it taught me basic safety, and what to look out for (squib loads, hang fire, etc.) and what to do if such malfunctions occur when I’m at the range.

Regarding self-defense, like the examples in the video, of course, people with zero experience in anything firearms-related aren’t going to fare well. Also, the Post noted that the sample size is also very small, so one shouldn’t cite this piece in future debates about gun control. So, yes, we can agree that folks with zero training will probably die.   Yet, the premises of the NGVAC, such fighting the “epidemic of gun violence” and “why gun violence is a direct consequence of current gun laws,” are still painfully wrong. The country is safer, violent crime’s downward trend continues, and gun-related homicides are down 39 percent between 1993-2011, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

If firearms safety and training is what NGVAC is trying to promote, they should work with an organization that does this pretty successfully, and respects the Second Amendment as well. It’s called the National Rifle Association.

Last Note: Yet, there seem to be times when you know that using deadly force is the only way out of a dangerous situation.  Even pastors of churches know this

UK Conservative: The Magna Carta is the 'Most Important Bargain Struck' in Human History

Eight hundred years ago the Magna Carta was signed and miraculously preserved for all mankind. But why does it matter to us — and why are we called to celebrate its octocentenary?

The Heritage Foundation explains:

Magna Carta – the Great Charter – is one of the foundational documents in Anglo-American legal history. Ironically, it began, not as a statement of principle, like our Declaration of Independence, but as a peace treaty. Signed on June 15, 1215, in a field at Runnymede, England, Magna Carta sought to end the barons’ rebellion against King John by forcing the crown to adhere to the laws and customs of the realm. Magna Carta was initially thought to be a failure because King John repudiated the treaty almost before the ink was dry. But time has been good to the Great Charter. In fact, it is difficult to overstate the importance of Magna Carta in the development of Anglo-American law. English law treats it as “the Bible of the English Constitution.”

The American Framers used the phrases “the law of the land” or “due process of law” in numerous important contemporary legal documents, including statutes passed by colonial assemblies, resolutions enacted by the Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence, and state constitutions. Magna Carta has come to stand as proof that a written document can make important revisions to the law, fend off tyrannical government officials, restrain even the sovereign’s power, and grant rights to the entire community, not merely to certain favored individuals – an enduring legacy that helped to establish “the rule of law.”

And of course, property rights.

Daniel Hannan, who is a bestselling author and long-serving member of the European Parliament, spoke about the importance of the charter last Wednesday at The Heritage Foundation.

Among other things, he explained why the Magna Carta was such a revolutionary invention, becoming, in some ways, indispensable to the American Founders at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

“What happened on that reedy stretch of river, in my constituency 800 years ago, was the most important bargain struck in the history of mankind,” he intoned. “This was the first time that [the law was seen] as something bigger than the will of the king.”

“It’s almost impossible now to imagine what a revolutionary ideal that was,” he continued. “That above the king was something you couldn’t see or hear or touch or taste, but that bound the sovereign as surely as it bound [his subjects]. And in that [document] lies the seeds of all the freedoms that we now regard as modern and rational: Regular elections, jury trials, uncensored newspapers, equality between men and women, habeas corpus.”

And so, perhaps not surprisingly, he likened the great English charter to a famous foundational text, one that provides both moral clarity and legal instruction.

“I’ve always thought of Magna Carta as, if you like, the Torah of the English-speaking peoples,” he said. “It’s the text that sets us apart, while at the same time [offers] universal truths for the rest of mankind; something that happened to take place among the English-speaking peoples, but is applicable anywhere if people adopt the same precepts.”

“What an extraordinary secular miracle,” he added. “And it’s one that has a special place for all of us, wherever our ancestors came from, who now speak this language and live in common law societies.”

Nonetheless, Hannan lamented the fact that the great and imperishable charter had been neglected – and underappreciated – for centuries by the English.

"What an extraordinary oversight that there was never a monument there [in the United Kingdom] until 1957 when a pillar was finally erected...by the American Bar Association,” he said.

“At last, I am glad to say we have rectified that omission,” he went on to say. “I was very proud to have been involved with the raising of the first British memorial at the place where freedom was born.”

Unreal: Gun Used in Terror Attack on Mohammed Cartoon Contest Sold Through Operation Fast and Furious

On May 4, 2015 Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson drove from Phoenix to Garland, Texas to carry out a terror attack against conservatives hosting a Mohammed cartoon contest. When they arrived on scene, they were immediately shot and killed by police after opening fire outside the building.

It turns out Soofi purchased his gun under the Holder Justice Department's Operation Fast and Furious back in 2010. As a reminder, Operation Fast and Furious was a program that ran from 2009-2010 in which federal agents purposely allowed the sale of thousands of weapons, including handguns, AK-47s and .50-caliber rifles, to known drug cartels. Agents deliberately allowed weapons to be trafficked and lost in Mexico. Now, Barack Obama's bloodiest scandal has hit home once again. Richard Serrano at the LA Times has the incredible details:

Five years before he was shot to death in the failed terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, Nadir Soofi walked into a suburban Phoenix gun shop to buy a 9-millimeter pistol.

At the time, Lone Wolf Trading Co. was known among gun smugglers for selling illegal firearms. And with Soofi's history of misdemeanor drug and assault charges, there was a chance his purchase might raise red flags in the federal screening process.

Inside the store, he fudged some facts on the form required of would-be gun buyers. What Soofi could not have known was that Lone Wolf was at the center of a federal sting operation known as Fast and Furious, targeting Mexican drug lords and traffickers. The idea of the secret program was to allow Lone Wolf to sell illegal weapons to criminals and straw purchasers, and track the guns back to large smuggling networks and drug cartels.

Soofi's attempt to buy a gun caught the attention of authorities, who slapped a seven-day hold on the transaction, according to his Feb. 24, 2010, firearms transaction record, which was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. Then, for reasons that remain unclear, the hold was lifted after 24 hours, and Soofi got the 9-millimeter.

In other words, ATF and the FBI pushed through a shady gun sale that ultimately was used in a terror attack against Americans on U.S. soil.

Not surprisingly the FBI has been stonewalling information about Soofi's firearm and the guns used during the Garland attack for months. They did the same when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed by Mexican drug bandits in Arizona on December 15, 2010. The guns used in his murder were also sold as part of Operation Fast and Furious. More from Serrano:

A day after the attack, the Department of Justice sent an "urgent firearms disposition request" to Lone Wolf, seeking more information about Soofi and the pistol he bought in 2010, according to a June 1 letter from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, to U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch.

Though the request did not specify whether the gun was used in the Garland attack, Justice Department officials said the information was needed "to assist in a criminal investigation," according to Johnson's letter, also reviewed by The Times.

The FBI so far has refused to release any details, including serial numbers, about the weapons used in Garland by Soofi and Simpson. Senate investigators are now pressing law enforcement agencies for answers, raising the chilling possibility that a gun sold during the botched Fast and Furious operation ended up being used in a terrorist attack against Americans.

Keep in mind not a single person involved in Operation Fast and Furious has been fired. In fact, many Department of Justice officials and ATF supervisors have been promoted. ATF agents who exposed the scandal, however, have faced extreme retaliation in addition to career and personal sabotage. 

Tongue-tied: DNC Chair Can't Tell the Difference Between Democrats and Socialists

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz stammered when asked about the difference between a Democrat and a socialist. The DNC Chairwoman was on "Hardball" with Chris Matthews, and apparently, his question was a hardball for Wasserman-Schultz. 

Matthews pressed her several times on the question. The only answer she could muster was a vacuous attack on Republicans:

"What is the difference between a Democrat and a socialist?" Matthews asked, leaving Wasserman Schultz at a loss for words.

"I used to think there is a big difference. What do you think it is?" Matthews tried again. "A Democrat like Hillary and a socialist like Bernie Sanders."

"The more important question is what is the difference between being a Democrat and being a Republican," she said.

"What's the big difference between a Democrat and a socialist?" Matthews again asked.

"The relevant debate that we'll be having this campaign is what's the difference between a Democrat and a Republican," Schultz said.

"The difference between a Democrat and Republican is that Democrats fight to make sure everybody has an opportunity to succeed and the Republicans are strangled by their right-wing extremists," she said.

You'd think she could rise above that kind of pettiness and at least provide a rational answer to her own question, especially after shirking the question that Matthews posed. 

Even still, I guess you can't blame her for hesitating at the question. The "difference" between a Democrat and a socialist? Well, let's just say that may be a loaded question. "Difference," after all, is a very strong word.

George H.W. Bush Recovering Nicely From Broken Neck

Last month, former President George H. W. Bush suffered a fall at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine and broke a bone in his neck. On July 30, he took to Twitter to assure everyone that he's doing well, and thanked everyone for the well-wishes. He even cracked a joke in the process.

The former president turned 91 in June. To celebrate his 90th birthday last year, he jumped out of a plane. It's safe to say that he won't be doing that again in the near future.

Best wishes for a continued recovery!

Parental Advisory: Supermarkets to Shield Minors from Cosmo Magazine

In a major win for parents, the prolific supermarket chains RiteAid and Delhaize America have decided to shield minors from the filth that is Cosmopolitan magazine, The National Center on Sexual Exploitation explained in a recent email to supporters. 

NCSE partnered with Victoria Hearst, granddaughter of renowned publisher William Randolph Hearst, to bring awareness to the dangerous presence of Cosmo in supermarket checkout aisles, where children are exposed to the magazine’s often sexually explicit covers. Hearst is so disgusted with Cosmo's indecent features she once referred to the magazine as ‘porn,’ Thanks to NCSE’s Cosmo Harms Minors campaign, coupled with thousands of customer complaints, the above stores have agreed to put Cosmo behind blinders.

NCSE responded to the significant victory:

“Cosmopolitan magazine regularly features articles, and occasionally explicit pictures, encouraging girls to participate in group, anal, and violent torture sex, and it blatantly targets young girls by displaying teen idols on their covers. Recently, Cosmo even posted an article encouraging readers to visit hardcore porn sites, including one site that is particularly focused on the extremely violent torture of women,” says Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “We are thankful to RiteAid and Delhaize America for not allowing this harmful material to be in plain view of minors at their stores, and we encourage other chains to follow suit, and to refuse to sell this pornographic magazine to minors.”

Hawkins, knowing Cosmo's editors have no intention of their own to censor the provocative circular, further challenged Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles to a public debate on whether her magazine was suitable for children:

“If Joanna Coles, Cosmopolitan’s Editor in Chief, doesn’t agree to this modest step, then I challenge her to debate before an audience of parents in any city, in any state, at any time, on the question of whether a magazine promoting explicit instructions on group, anal, and torture sex should be displayed and sold to children."

Cosmo’s rated R agenda has no place in supermarket checkouts, where minors are faced with salacious images and headlines. Thanks to RiteAid and Delhaize America for taking this important first step.

One Last Jab At Obama In Kentucky’s Gubernatorial Race

Matt Bevin may have failed miserably at challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014, but he could become Kentucky’s next governor this fall. Bevin won by a razor thin margin in the May 19 primary against Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. He now faces Kentucky Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, who was handily beaten by Rand Paul in 2010 Senate race, in the general. Nevertheless, President Obama is still widely unpopular in the Bluegrass State, which seems poised to take one more jab at him before it catches up with the rest of the country in directing their admiration or ire towards Hillary Clinton (via National Journal):

[I]n Kentucky, where voters will pick a governor in November, the anti-Obama strategy is getting one more run on center stage.

The Republican Governors Association already has released its second TV ad this year connecting Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for governor, with Obama. And if the subject seems repetitive to voters who have seen it for years, there's a simple reason: It works. Republicans won 24 of 36 governor's races in 2014 using the same attack lines, and Obama is still hugely unpopular in Kentucky, where Sen. Mitch McConnell used the tactic to great effect last year, too; the president's approval rating has remained stuck at around 33 percent.

And while the Republican nominee, Matt Bevin, entered this year loaded with baggage from his 2014 primary loss to McConnell, it looks increasingly likely that Bevin could ride one last anti-Obama campaign to victory in November before the president leaves office.


In a debate between the two candidates last Thursday, Bevin focused his attacks on Conway's support for Obamacare, Medicaid expansion, and Kentucky's state health exchange, Kynect, as well as Conway's choice not to defend the state's gay-marriage ban in court—issues with easy connections to Obama and national Democrats.

Conway's main challenge is overcoming those issues. Conway's decision last year not to defend the state's ban on gay marriage as attorney general puts him on the side of the courts and national public opinion—but the headlines would only remind Kentucky voters that he doesn't share their views. Most Kentuckians still oppose same-sex marriage, and after June's Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationally, some county clerks still refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Yet, Conway has a slight edge over Bevin, leading 45/42 in the latest Bluegrass Poll. Yet, Democrats–and Conway’s campaign–acknowledge that this is going to be a tough election (via Courier-Journal):

"This is a close race and we're not taking anything for granted," Daniel Kemp, Conway's spokesman, said in a statement.

"But what this poll does show is that Jack Conway's message of creating good-paying jobs, investing in early childhood education and holding the line on taxes is resonating. Jack and Sannie (Overly, his running mate) look forward to working hard over the next three months, sharing their plan with Kentuckians in every corner of the commonwealth," Kemp said.

Bevin didn't question the results either.

"That's probably accurate," he said in an interview. "No one poll means anything. It's about where we would expect to be. This is a neck-and-neck race."

He noted that 38 percent of voters are Republicans and he polls above that number. "So numerically we should be a much bigger statistical underdog than that. ... I'm delighted by where we are and I'll continue to run like we're 10 points down like we always have from the time we entered the primary."


Democratic political consultant Danny Briscoe said the poll results are a mixed bag for Conway.

"The good news is, he's ahead," Briscoe said. "The bad news is, he's not at 50 percent."

The poll was conducted between July 22 and 28. The sample size was made up of 685 likely voters, with three-fourths of the people polled being contacted by landline, while the other 28 percent were reached via mobile phone, questionnaires, and other devices, according to the Courier-Journal. A sample size of 600 is the minimum when polling statewide.

Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report, which is featured in Roll Call, has moved tis races from tossup/Democratic tilt to pure tossup. He noted how Bevin could benefit from being in the public eye longer than Conway, who hasn’t been seen on television since his re-election campaign four years ago. Yet, there’s still a lot more campaign left, but the attacks Conway hurls at Bevin need to show results soon:

Losing the gubernatorial race still wouldn’t compare to the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats losing in the semifinal of the Final Four basketball tournament in April, but it would be a stinging defeat. Democrats have lost just two gubernatorial races since World War II, 1967 and 2003, when outgoing Democratic Gov. Paul Patton left office in scandal.

If it happens again, Democrats are likely to blame Conway for being a weak candidate instead of drawing a broader conclusion about the president’s or the party’s standing. Conway’s detractors say he’s not as moderate as Beshear and that he sounds like he’s from East Louisville. Kentuckians haven’t elected a governor from Louisville since the mid-1950s, but Bevin is from New England and lives in Louisville as well.

Democrats might explain away a gubernatorial loss, but the races in Kentucky this year will have an impact on next year. The party will immediately look to one of November’s winners (or losers) to run for Senate in case GOP Sen. Rand Paul is unable to appear on the ballot. But the filing deadline for federal candidates is Jan. 26, before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses and likely before it is clear whether Paul is a presidential contender or pretender.

Just like any off-year election, the winning party will trumpet the results as a sign of things to come while the losing party will dismiss it as an aberration. In the case of Kentucky, Democrats shouldn’t dismiss the weight of Obama’s job approval rating on their nominee, but next year should also feature the higher turnout the party was expecting.

WH Totally Supports What Planned Parenthood Is Doing, Notes Its 'High Ethical Standard'

While the recent videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practice of selling and negotiating the price of aborted babies’ body parts—and the organs of those born alive—has convinced some Democrats that enough is enough when it comes to taxpayer funding for the abortion giant, others are remaining steadfast in their support for the group. Unfortunately, the White House is among the loyal, it seems.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, White House Press Secretary maintained that the undercover videos were highly edited and distorted. And when asked by a reporter where he is receiving his information, Earnest’s replied Planned Parenthood.

“Based on the public comments of Planned Parenthood, who has indicated that the views that are represented in the video are entirely inconsistent with that organization’s policies and with the high ethical standard that they live up to,” he said.

The reporter pushed back: “So would it be unfair to say that you’re simply taking your talking points from Planned Parenthood on these videos?”

No, it wouldn’t.

Unfortunately, this type of blind support for the morally bankrupt organization means that even if Congress did pass legislation that would strip Planned Parenthood of its funding, President Obama would veto it.

"On balance, the president would not be supportive of any sort of congressional act like that," Earnest said. "Apparently, Republicans are just getting started in that effort and that is an effort we oppose."

Is Hillary’s Unfavorable Problem ‘Exaggerated’?

We’ve been covering Hillary’s favorable/unfavorable ratings for quite some time now. You can read more about that herehereherehereherehere, and here

Her popularity is plunging like a rock. Meanwhile, she’s not performing all that well in key swing states, either. Charlie Cook wrote in National Journal about whether the tide has shifted on the Democratic side:

Up until now, the controversy regarding then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email server has been one that has consumed only those who fit into one or more of the following categories: conservative Republicans, regular Fox News-watchers, conservative talk-radio listeners, or Clinton-haters (both professional and amateur). In probably a hundred conversations or Q&A periods I have had in which the email server came up, it was from someone who fit the description above, but never from a swing voter, moderate, independent, or Democrat.

The most recent development—that the inspector general of the intelligence community found that in a sample of 40 emails provided by Clinton from her server, four (or 10 percent) included classified material—potentially puts a different twist on things. Even taking into account the chronic problem in the federal government of overclassification, stamping almost anything more sensitive than a Chinese take-out menu as classified, this story would seem to reinforce critics' claims that the Clintons don't play by the rules. And if the emails did contain classified material, contrary to Clinton's insistence that they didn't, then the former secretary of State was not particularly truthful.


While in all probability Clinton remains the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination, it is true that her favorable ratings have taken a tumble. For over four years, from 2009 until well into 2013, Clinton's favorable ratings in the Gallup Poll were in the 60's, but a few months into 2013 they started a plunge down to 43 percent. Arguably, her favorable ratings were unsustainably high during her tenure as secretary of State, when she was a diplomat more than a politician. Yet it does raise the question of what happens if the USS HRod begins taking on water. What would Democrats do? Is there an emergency "break the glass" option if real questions of Clinton's electability arise? It seems extremely unlikely that any one issue could bring Clinton down, but what if she begins to suffer 'death by a thousand cuts'?

Would Vice President Joe Biden and/or Sen. Elizabeth Warren jump in? Or would/could someone not being currently mentioned throw a hat into the ring, like say, Sen. Sherrod Brown or former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg? Presumably Bloomberg would need to join the Democratic Party, but then again, has Sanders joined yet? Or would O'Malley effectively win the political Powerball by being the only plausible alternative running? While all of this is just idle speculation, it is an interesting hypothetical.

Yet, and here’s where the cold water is thrown: Does this even matter? Does Hillary’s awful approval numbers matter in the sense that it probably won’t impact how voters, especially those of a liberal persuasion, will cast their ballots next year. They may not trust, or like, Hillary, but by God they’re not voting Republican. In 2012, there were certainly some conservative voters who did not like Romney, but they couldn’t stomach a second term for Obama, so they went for him. As we all know, the night ended in great disappointment.

Also, Bill Clinton’s favorability ratings were also terrible in 1992, but he managed to trounce George H.W. Bush. As The New York Times’ Upshot blog noted, the favorable/unfavorable gauge might not be accurate. Moreover, it could be way too early to tell:

Candidate perceptions are not a good predictor of the ultimate election outcome, especially this early. In April 1992, for instance, a Gallup poll found that Bill Clinton’s ratings were 34 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable, but he went on to defeat George H.W. Bush by more than five percentage points in the popular vote seven months later. By contrast, even though an April 2008 Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans had a favorable view of John McCain, he ended up losing to Barack Obama by more than seven percentage points.

While it might seem obvious that people vote for the candidate they like best, that notion often gets the direction of causality backward. In the heat of the campaign, we ultimately tend to find reasons to support candidates who share our party affiliation or seem to have a good record in office (and to oppose candidates who do not). One way people do this, as the George Washington University political scientist John Sides notes, is by focusing on the positive aspects of candidates they are inclined to support (Mitt Romney’s management experience) and playing down any less appealing aspects (his likability).

So, what say you? Will this be a repeat of 1992 with a large portion of Democrats, who have a “meh” attitude toward Hillary voting for her in droves, like Bill? Or will people catch Obama fatigue, yearn for change, and therefore have their minds more open to a Republican? We still have a long way to go until 2016, and there are plenty of opportunities for both sides to screw up royally that could render the favorability factor (or non-factor) in this race moot. You can also debate among yourselves in the comment section below.

Again, just throwing this out there.

Social Security Cuts Are Coming

Social Security is known as the "third rail" of politics because of how politically sensitive it is. Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to take away your Social Security every campaign cycle, it seems.

But what politicians don't tell you is that Social Security cuts are going to come unless the program is reformed, because it is headed towards insolvency. Fast.

Myra Adams writes in National Review that she found an asterisk in her Social Security statement that said the following:

The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2033, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 percent of scheduled benefits.

Adams then looked through some past Social Security statements and found one from March 2009, which also had an asterisk that said:

The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2041, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 78 percent of your scheduled benefits.

In a six-year span, the Social Security Administration became significantly more pessimistic about the program's future. What will Social Security look like in the next six years?

A brief history of the program: In "Ameritopia," Mark Levin writes that structure of Social Security came from a man named Henry Seager, a former professor at Columbia University. The SSA even provides links to each chapter of Seager's book, "Social Insurance: A Program of Social Reform," calling Seager's book a "classic" and that Seager's view was "general viewpoint favored by many of the founders of Social Security in America."

This is what Seager wrote in his first chapter: (emphasis mine)

It is the purpose of these lectures to insist that for other great sections of the country- sections in which manufacturing and trade have become the dominant interests of the people, in which towns and cities have grown up, and in which the wage earner is the typical American citizen- the simple creed of individualism is no longer adequate. For these sections we need not freedom from governmental interference, but clear appreciation of the conditions that make for the common welfare, as contrasted with individual success, and an aggressive program of governmental control and regulation to maintain these conditions.

The whole point of social insurance then, to Seager, is all about sticking it to individual liberty and putting more control in the hands of the government.

Social Security was signed into law in 1935, despite public opposition. FDR sold Social Security to the public as social insurance, but his administration argued to the Supreme Court that it was a tax, an argument the court bought hook, line and sinker. The payroll tax, which was intended to fund your Social Security account, is in fact a regressive tax. It was all about politics to FDR: (emphasis mine)

As Mark Levin notes, Roosevelt was emphatic that these taxes had nothing to do with the program’s economic viability or lack thereof. They were, FDR said, “politics all the way through,” enacted “to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits.” Even if the numbers did not add up, the universal sense of entitlement fostered by framing assessments as contributions rather than taxes assured that “no damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security program,” as FDR presciently put it.

That is what Social Security has all been about: politics. It was all about gaining and maintaining control for progressives.

Because the court ruled Social Security as a tax, the payroll tax does not in fact fund your own Social Security. It is instead a pay-as-you-go program where the younger generation (us) funds the older generation, resulting in a demographics problem in driving up Social Security's deficit. The Social Security fund has also been raided by politicians for years to pay for their own programs. This would be known as a Ponzi scheme in the private sector.

As a result, Social Security currently faces $22 trillion in unfunded liabilities and is expected to be insolvent in 2033, hence why the asterisk on Adams's Social Security statement said that her benefits would be reduced in 2033. And this is only for the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund. The Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund runs out of money by the end of next year

By 2039, the cost of Social Security and other entitlement programs will require 100% of our tax dollars- and that's a conservative estimate.

For all the fear-mongering about Republicans taking away Social Security, the cuts will happen on their own because there won't be a Social Security by 2033.

We might not be that far away from being Greece after all.

Poll: By the Way, Most Voters Would Not Re-elect President Obama

One might say that the president was rather presumptuous when he declared, passionately and quite seriously, that if he launched another bid for the White House, he would emerge victorious. But would he?

The voters have spoken, it seems, and it doesn't look good, at least according to a new Rasmussen poll.

Not surprisingly, almost every self-declared Republican surveyed (93 percent) said they would decline to pull the lever for President Obama if he was on the ballot. (I suppose after six and half years, the public is ready for a change). But far more interesting, perhaps, is the fact that nearly one-third of Democrats said the incumbent president would not earn their vote of confidence. Dang:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 30% of Likely U.S. Voters say they would vote for the president if he ran for a third term. Sixty-three percent (63%) would not. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Most Democrats (57%) would vote to give Obama a third term. Ninety-three percent (93%) of Republicans, 68% of voters not affiliated with either major party - and 32% of Democrats - would not.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, if you ask me. Oof.