Immigration Caused Brown To Surge In New Hampshire

Yesterday, Dan reported that Scott Brown is within two points of incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Sheehan in the New Hampshire Senate race. He was trailing her by twelve points last month. Yet, Doherty noted that there is a lot of room for both sides to maneuver; there are a lot of undecideds to lock up. So, how did Mr. Brown gain traction with voters?

It seems immigration was the silver bullet (via Weekly Standard):

If the race is indeed tightening as the latest poll suggests, what could explain Shaheen's drop? Brown, despite having national name recognition and having represented New Hampshire's next-door neighbor in the Senate, may have been hurt early on by charges of carpetbaggery.

But Brown has also focused heavily on the issue of illegal immigration in television advertisements over the past few weeks, first highlighting security differences between the airport and the southern border, then hitting Shaheen more directly over her position on the Gang of 8 immigration bill, supported by President Obama. Shaheen, along with every other Democratic senator, voted for the Gang of 8 bill.

"Want to know why there's lawlessness on our border? Ask Senator Shaheen," said Brown in a 15-second TV ad that shows Shaheen and Obama standing together. "She voted against border security twice and for amnesty."

Brown's ads tying Shaheen to Obama's immigration policy may have been good politics. A recent national poll found Americans give Obama lower marks on immigration than his job generally, and 39 percent say they consider immigration one of their top three issues.

What’s interesting about this move is that you would think it would be a dud in liberal New England. After all, immigration is an issue, like health care, that gets conservatives animated. But, it seems even Granite voters have had enough with government inaction on immigration. Also, look the President’s approval numbers on the issue; it remains less than stellar. What other issues can Brown tie Obama to Shaheen?

Now, there were some tweaks concerning the respondents in the University of New Hampshire poll; they’re asking more self-identified Republicans. But, given that Republicans have the slight advantage this year, it’s not outlandish to say this could be the make-up of electorate come November (via Washington Post):

If you look back at UNH's April poll, you'll notice that Republicans backed Brown by about a 62-point margin. That's a big gap. But Shaheen had Democratic support at 74 points.

By August, Republicans had moved 14 points toward Brown (10 percent more for him; 4 percent less for her), while Democrats had only moved 10 points for Shaheen.

There was a tiny shift toward Shaheen among independents -- but since the pool of respondents was about the same, as we noted, that movement didn't matter much for the overall results.

Why the big move? One possibility noted by the pollster is that it is tied to Obama's flagging poll numbers. In the new survey, only 37 percent of respondents approve of the job Obama is doing. They heavily back Shaheen. But 59 percent disapprove of Obama -- and they heavily back Brown, though not as heavily.

And now we'll end with the standard, tedious truism that applies to most polling conducted well in advance of an election. What actually happens on Election Day depends on who comes out to vote. But if Republicans stay strong for Brown (partly thanks to ongoing frustration with Obama), and if they come out to vote, New Hampshire would be far closer than we might have expected.

Also, New Hampshire Republicans are splitting their support amongst a ton of candidates, besides Scott Brown. If Brown wins the primary on September 9, let’s see how the rest of the party rallies around him.

Although, there’s always someone to throw cold water on new developments to shock us back to reality. Sometimes it’s needed; other times it’s liberals just trying to keep their base calm, although FiveThirtyEight has also noted that Senate Democrats are in serious trouble. (via FiveThirtyEight):

Take the average, people. In the final week of the 2012 presidential campaign, there were multiple polls showing Republican Mitt Romney winning in Iowa. In October 2012, there was a poll showing Obama winning Arizona. Neither happened. Even good pollsters will occasionally have a result that is an outlier, and with enough polling, you’re guaranteed to have outliers.

It’s possible that Brown is slicing into Shaheen’s lead, but there hasn’t been any sign from any other pollster that Shaheen’s edge is down to 2 percentage points.

Yet, as many have pointed out online, the UNH poll was not part of this group. In late September, the Granite State Poll gave Obama a 15 percentage-point blowout win in New Hampshire. Next week, that lead was down to 6 points. Two weeks later, it was up to 9. Two weeks later, it was even. Two days later, the lead was back up, to 4 points. In the same span, the Huffington Post Pollster aggregate of polls never had Obama’s New Hampshire lead rising above 5 percentage points or dropping below 2 points.

Take what you want from this poll. It wouldn’t shock me if New Hampshire turns out to be a close one come Election Day.

My Name Is Don Lemon, And I Know Nothing About Firearms

It’s a well-known axiom that liberals know nothing about guns. Earlier this week, it was painfully obvious that CNN’s Don Lemon didn’t know the difference between an automatic and semi-automatic firearm. When pressed about this by conservative radio host Ben Ferguson, Lemon became visibly frustrated that someone explicitly showed that he didn’t know what he was talking about (via TPM) [emphasis mine]:

BEN FERGUSON: Don, what is your definition of an automatic weapon? What is your definition of an automatic weapon?

DON LEMON: Well, for me, an automatic weapon is something that you can shoot off a number of rounds, a number of rounds very quickly. I was able to buy an AR-15 within 20 minutes.

FERGUSON: Don, in all due respect, you don't know what you're talking about. An automatic weapon is when you pull the trigger one time and it continually shoots off, one after another after another after another.

Lemon said Ferguson was bogging down the conversation in semantics; that’s outrageous. Lemon obviously didn’t know what the difference was and tried to trivialize this; “regardless of what you want to call it” in his words. So, let’s get some things straight. 

First, a semi-automatic firearm simply means the weapon system fires once per trigger pull. It self-reloads after each shot. As described in the video below, functionally, a semi-automatic weapon is no different from your standard hunting rifle, which also fires once per trigger pull.

A fully automatic firearm discharges multiple rounds per trigger pull; it’s a machine gun.

Civilians can own semi-automatic firearms; all they have to do is pass a background check with their local firearms dealer. All dealers with a Federal Firearms License are required by law to conduct a background check on all gun purchases.

In Virginia, you go through two background checks for gun purchases. One is with the federal government via a 4473 form with the ATF. The second is with the Virginia State Police. If you fail a background check in Virginia, it depends on the dealer, but most likely he or she has already called the police on you, which would lead to an arrest.

Citizens are barred from owning automatic firearms or any weapon cited in the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA) without permission from the ATF. It’s a long, arduous process that could anywhere from 7-11 months. Adams Arms provides a nice summary of the process.

The NFA was passed in 1934, but the impetus to pass laws regulating the sale and possession of machine guns dates back to 1929 in the aftermath of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

So, there you have it, Mr. Lemon. You can’t argue semantics when the government passes different laws to regulate different types of firearms. Specificity was in mind when the NFA was passed and how it’s enforced today.

Lastly, stop saying how easy–or how much time–it took for you to purchase an AR-15 rifle. The anti-gun left proves nothing when they cite examples of law-abiding citizens purchasing firearms. They’re just providing anecdotes about a tradition that’s indelibly American.

Charles Cooke at National Review took Lemon’s comments to task saying:

One wonders in which other areas Lemon intends to subordinate engineering to linguistic expedience. After all, if “for me” is sufficient, we can start turning water into wine all over the place. “For me,” we might say, “that propeller is a jet engine.” “For me, that bicycle is an SUV.” “For me, that landline is a cell phone.” “For me, this manual car is an auto.”

Lemon doubled-down saying that this debate was a “distraction.” In an email to Talking Points Memo, he said:

I mis-spoke in our discussion of guns with Ben Ferguson ... I do know the difference between a semi and automatic weapon. And it doesn't change the point I was making - that sales are through the roof and we as a nation should decide if that's a good thing or not.

Again, that’s an easy one. It’s a good thing. If Lemon knows gun sales “are through the roof,” he should know that gun-related homicides are down 39 percent, according to the Department of Justice. In fact, the left-leaning Washington Post broke down the numbers last year:

The report, by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, painted an encouraging picture of long-term trends at a time of divisive political debate over guns and legislation to regulate them. Firearms-related homicides declined 39 percent between 1993 and 2011, the report said, while nonfatal firearms crimes fell 69 percent during that period.

Overall, the Justice Department report said, firearm-related homicides dropped from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011, while nonfatal firearm crimes declined from 1.5 million in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011. The drop extended to schools: Homicides at schools declined from an average of 29 per year in the 1990s to an average of 20 per year in the 2000s.

Over at Pew Research, they find that 56 percent of the American public doesn’t know gun violence has precipitously declined, which is shocking since they found gun homicides dropped 49 percent between 1993-2010:

Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.

So, if gun sales are up, that’s great. If gun-related crime is down, that’s great. If rising gun sales coincides with a massive drop in gun-related violence, that’s absolutely fantastic.

Last note: On August 19, Jimmy Fallon and Pierce Brosnan played GoldenEye. Fallon killed Brosnan with a semi-automatic handgun. Even video games from the 1990s are able to distinguish between automatic and semi-automatic weapons.  There you have it. Now, I'm off to the gun range. Happy Saturday, everyone! 

Editor's note: This post has been updated.

Should The U.S. Declare War On ISIS?

If there’s one thing that will generate bipartisan consensus on the Hill, it’s that the United States needs to get serious about confronting the Islamic State (ISIS) militarily. The National Journal recently posted a piece by James Kitfield, a senior fellow at Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress, argued that it’s time the U.S. declares war on the Islamic State–and have a debate on the U.S. interests at stake:

Washington is overdue for a serious debate about what U.S. national interests are threatened by the Iraq crisis.

Most importantly, ISIS today represents a direct and growing threat to the United States. It has attracted an estimated 12,000 foreign fighters to its black banner flying over Syrian and Iraqi territory, including hundreds of Europeans and Americans who can travel freely with Western passports. It has a bigger sanctuary, far more money, and is more indiscriminately murderous than al-Qaida was on Sept. 10, 2001. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has assured anyone who will listen that he eventually intends to direct his jihad at the United States, telling the U.S. soldiers who released him from prison in 2009, "I'll see you in New York."

A congressional authorization targeting ISIS, however limited in time or geography, would go a long way toward clarifying for the American people this growing threat to their security. In a recent exclusive interview, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the outgoing director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told me that Islamic extremist groups that have adopted al-Qaida's nihilistic ideology are stronger and more threatening today than before 9/11.

Although, Kitfield knows the risks the Obama administration faces by weighing into this debate, especially since the president campaigned on getting our troops out of Iraq:

There are other authorities Obama could draw on to justify U.S. military action, but both are problematic. Congress's 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force against the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks has long been interpreted to allow military attacks against al-Qaida and "associated forces." It remains the justification for the administration's targeted-killing-by-drone program. But al-Qaida has famously disenfranchised ISIS over its penchant for wantonly slaughtering fellow Muslims, and the Obama administration has said it wants to reform and eventually repeal the 2001 AUMF.

Even more problematic is Congress' 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Iraq. While still on the books, the 2002 AUMF is anathema for a president who ran for office touting his opposition to the Iraq War, and Congress's vote that enabled it. When the House of Representatives recently voted overwhelmingly to bar the administration from deploying military forces to Iraq for a "sustained combat role," the White House thus sought to pair that resolution with a full repeal of the 2002 AUMF.

Yet, as Dan noted earlier this week, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced their solidarity with ISIS. They’re now helping them how to avoid U.S. airstrikes and how to maximize their influence over the region. Even before this alliance was struck, NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said earlier this month that the Pentagon was estimating that dealing with ISIS would be a 10 to-20 year challenge.

Over at Hot Air, Noah Rothman wrote that conservatives generally agree that we should go to war in Iraq and Syria, but not occupy them.

Rothman cited Krauthammer in his piece, noting that ISIS is overextended. They have about 15,000 men trying to maintain control of an area four times the size of Israel. We wouldn’t need 250,000 men, which is what we mobilized by March of 2003 to go into Iraq; a smaller force would be more than necessary to drive Islamic State forces out of Iraq. When it comes to Syria, Krauthammer admitted that it’s a situation that would require a different strategy, one that could our troops in harm’s way; it’s a totally different animal.

Yet, even if the case is made cogently; even if the both parties agree; there’s still the Reid issue. Mr. Reid isn’t too happy about a vote reauthorizing the use of force in Iraq since it’ll prove disastrous for Democrats in tight races (via the Hill):

Will the Senate hold a vote less than two months before the midterm elections to authorize military strikes in Iraq?

Democrats in both chambers have called for Congress to take action, but it’s a vote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) almost certainly wants to avoid as he seeks to keep the upper chamber majority in his party’s hands.

Democratic strategists warn that voting on a use-of-force authorization before the election could prove disastrous to Democratic candidates in tough races.

Although, if there’s one senator who doesn’t want a ground war with ISIS, it’s Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who said, “I do not want to see us caught again in a ground war…I do believe there needs to be a heck of a lot of discussion in the Congress as to what our long-term plans are in Iraq and in the region.”

One biting irony in this whole mess is that the former Baath party officials and generals in Saddam’s army that we purged in 2003 are giving the Islamic State political credibility with locals–and are responsible for securing their victory in Mosul. Yet, these two groups “aren’t natural allies” (via Foreign Policy):

The group of ex-Hussein loyalists, known alternatively as the Naqshbandi Army or by the acronym JRTN -- the initials of its Arabic name -- helped the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, win some of its most important military victories, including its conquest of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. It has also given the terrorist army, which is composed largely of foreign fighters, a valuable dose of local political credibility in Iraq. JRTN, which was formed as a resistance group in 2006, is made up of former Baathist officials and retired military generals, and is led by the former vice president of Hussein's revolutionary council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who was once one of the most-wanted men in the country during the U.S. occupation.

ISIS and JRTN aren't natural allies. The former wants to erase Iraq's current borders and establish a caliphate, while the latter has been a largely secular movement that seeks to regain the official power and influence it held before the U.S. invasion in 2003. But they are aligned in their opposition to, and hatred of, outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government. Each side wants him to go, and JRTN recognizes that ISIS stands the best chance of violently overthrowing the Iranian-backed regime in Baghdad.

Then again, the Wall Street Journal reported today that the Islamic State’s momentum was maintained due to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's decision to “go easy on them,” thinking they would “cannibalize” the rebel Free Syrian Army. That was a big mistake.

Right now, our State Department State Department wants to make something clear, “This is not about ISIL versus the United States.”  I don't think we're going to be able to play that game very long.

Shocker: Most Americans Not Cool With Illegal Immigrants In Local Schools

President Obama has been very quietly distributing illegal immigrant children throughout the country, most of the time without even telling (much less asking) state and local governments. States such as Indiana and Virginia are now having to deal with the issue of allowing the immigrants to attend local schools. 

Unsurprisingly, Americans are none too happy knowing these undocumented immigrants will be attending school alongside their children. According to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll [emphasis added]: 

Thirty-two percent (32%) of Likely U.S. Voters think these illegal immigrants should be allowed to enroll in local public schools this fall, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifty-three percent (53%) disagree and say they should not be permitted to attend local schools. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

Where these illegal immigrants are now living remains unknown to most voters and many elected officials because the Obama administration has been transferring them secretly. Forty-seven percent (47%) of all voters believe the administration should have gotten the approval of elected officials in a state before housing the illegal immigrants there. Thirty-two percent (32%) feel such approval was not necessary, while 21% are not sure.

Allowing aliens to attend public schools while they reside illegally in our country is, apparently, a law, according to The Daily Signal's Genevieve Wood. Rather than paying to transport, extravagantly housing, and educating these children...we should be sending them home to their families. 

The New, Shameful, Liberal High School History Curriculum

Imagine if the only thing you were taught by Advanced Placement curriculum about Thomas Jefferson, the author of the single most important document in our country’s history, was that he was a wealthy landowner.

CollegeBoard, the issuer of Advanced Placement Exams has been condemned by the Republic National Committee for their newly revised Advanced Placement U.S. History exam and framework for “reflect[ing] a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects."

Some of our most influential historical figures are hardly mentioned, if at all.

George Washington is alluded to only once in the framework and it is in reference to his farewell address. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are mentioned only in the “Long Essay Questions” section, where they are listed as examples to illustrate the lack of change in the upper class in the pre-Revolution and post-Revolution world.

College Board gave this example in a practice AP essay given by students:

“[A good essay] might note, for example, that the outcome of the American Revolution saw no broad change in the composition of those who dominated the social, political, and economic structure of the former colonies. Those individuals who were wealthy, powerful, and influential before the event continued to possess wealth, power, and influence later. George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson could serve as examples.”

This new framework shows U.S. history in a negative light. It also has expanded the curriculum from five to 98 pages, allowing teachers less flexibility and making it harder for them to fulfill their state’s social studies standards.

While the new curriculum may be more “left-leaning,” I have had my own experiences with this issue specifically. Having taken AP US History last year, I experienced first-hand College Board curriculum. Even though the new standards had not yet been applied, I still could see how the most admirable aspects of our country’s history were often downplayed. This also could have been due to my very liberal teacher, who once when someone asked “Was Gerald Ford a Republican?” she replied saying, “Yes, wait what did you say?” After the question was repeated, my teacher said “Oh, I thought you asked if he was a bumpkin… although I can’t say that I would have changed my answer.” Or when we were discussing the 2008 election, she said “Oh well I hope none of you would have voted for Sarah Palin!” Don’t get me wrong, she was a great teacher, but the fact that her perspective was so biased, and the fact that I got a 5/5 on the exam, is indicative of how left-leaning the exam has become.

But that’s nothing compared to the new standards. How shameful and absurd that George Washington and the other founding fathers’ unprecedented and truly revolutionary vision is not highlighted.

While I intend to continue my study of US history in college, for many of those who got a high enough score on the exam, they may never have to take a US history class again. This is a concern shared by Jane Robbins, American Principles President, who said:

“Those who don’t go on to college to take US history in college, this is it. So, if this is the impression they come away with, I’m afraid that we are creating a cynical generation.”

College Board’s new framework and exam for AP US History are set to be implemented in the fall of 2014.

Sen. Pryor's Gutsy Pro-Obamacare Ad

Liberals rejoice! Vulnerable Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor has an ad that praises Obamacare. The media spot features his father, former governor and U.S. Senator for Arkansas David Pryor, detailing Mark’s struggle with cancer in the mid-1990s and how insurance companies didn’t want to pay for his care.

DAVID: When Mark was diagnosed with cancer, we thought we might lose him.

MARK: My family and my faith helped me through the rough times.

DAVID: But you know what? Mark’s insurance company didn’t want to pay for the treatment that ultimately saved his life.

MARK: No one should be fighting an insurance company while you’re fighting for your life. That’s why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for preexisting conditions.

In a previous post, I wrote that Republicans were shifting gears on how to attack Obamacare in political ads; they’re trying to put the focus on the law’s impact on jobs and the economy. Now, it seems Democrats are doing some strategic maneuvering as well on this issue (via Washington Post):

The [Pryor] spot represents an effort to shift the debate over the law away from the land of GOP talking points where it has resided so long — in this and so many other Senate races — and back to one of the fundamental moral imperatives driving health reform, i.e., protecting the sick and vulnerable from insurance industry abuse. Republicans have long sought to dominate in the anecdote war — stressing hyper-exaggerated horror stories about canceled plans and lost coverage — while refusing to acknowledge the existence of the law’s many beneficiaries. And Dems have been perhaps not engaged on this front forcefully enough, because in places where control of the Senate will be decided, pointing to the folks gaining coverage might not be compelling to the persuadable voters Obamacare has alienated.

Republicans will undoubtedly cast this as an acknowledgment that their attacks on Pryor over the law are working and could no longer be ignored. They’ll argue Pryor is, in desperation, using his faith and personal experience as a shield against those attacks. But this misses what’s really going on here. This ad is actually coming at a point where there are signs the anti-Obamacare fires are cooling somewhat. GOP advertising against the law has fallen off sharply, and is surprisingly low in Arkansas. The ad appears geared towards persuadable voters — particularly women — who, now that the Affordable Care Act is not quite the albatross it was a few months ago, might now be open to hearing the Democratic case for the law, straight from the candidate.

This is a gutsy move on Pryor’s part, but unlike what WaPo’s Greg Sargent says about Obamacare not being “quite the albatross” to Democrats; others say the law is still a huge problem for them (via Cook Political Report):

The ad came on the heels of reporting that the number of GOP ads attacking Obamacare has dropped off, leading some to speculate that the issue of Obamacare is no longer as toxic to Democrats as it once was. Has this issue finally run its course?

Short answer: No. Obamacare remains a liability to Democrats this fall. It remains widely unpopular in southern red states where control of the Senate will be determined. It may not be the issue this cycle, but it is still a top negative for Democrats. Plus, the more unpopular the President, the more politically toxic any issue associated with him or his administration. One Republican consultant told me he’s calling this the “O” election: it is defined by views of Obama. And among Republicans and independents, those views aren’t positive.

Republicans and their allies took to the airwaves early this cycle with ads that linked the unpopular law to Democratic candidates. In most places, that linkage has been accomplished. Once the link has been made, said one GOP strategist “you’ve gotten what you’re gonna get.” In other words, once a campaign has established that their opponent has supported Obamacare, the lines are now set and aren’t going to move with a higher volume of attacks. However, there’s life after the generic Obamacare attacks. Said that same GOP operative, “don’t leave Obamacare behind, build on it.”

Over at the National Interest, Walter Russell Mead blogged about the 33 customers suing Anthem Blue Cross for limiting their health care provider choices:

The Affordable Care Act has lately become more unpopular than ever, even though coverage has expanded (at least in name), and some states saw only average premium hikes. This lawsuit might point to a major reason why: Consumers don’t like to have their choices limited, especially as the result of having their plans cancelled.

As for the premium hikes, Forbes did a 3,137-county analysis and found that premiums went up by an average of 49% in the individual market. For women, premiums went up 82%. For men, there’s been a whopping 92% hike. Obamacare still sucks, but Americans know this. Now, Republicans need to “build” on it by opening a second front: how will they fix it? Again, there are plenty of conservative ideas out there.

Pope Francis Offers Condolences to James Foley's Parents

Pope Francis called the parents of slain journalist James Wright Foley on Thursday afternoon to offer his condolences. Foley was a faithful Catholic who previously wrote about praying the Rosary to keep himself focused while in captivity in Libya, as well as the power of prayer sustaining his strength while imprisoned.

I prayed she’d know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.

I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.

Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.

Pope Francis spoke to the Foleys through a translator for about 20 minutes, and the Pontiff was described as being "compassionate" and "loving" on the phone. Foley's father has described his son as a "martyr for freedom."

President Obama also called the Foleys on Thursday to express his sympathy.

The murder of James Foley by ISIS militants is a tragic loss that has rightfully been condemned by just about everyone. Kudos to Pope Francis for taking the time to console his parents.

White House Confirms James Foley Execution as First ISIS Attack on The United States

Speaking from Martha's Vineyard to reporters Friday afternoon, White House advisor Ben Rhodes confirmed the gruesome execution of American journalist James Foley earlier this week as "absolutely" the first terror attack from ISIS on the United States. 

"Absolutely. When you see somebody killed in such a horrific way that represents a terrorist attack, that represents a terrorist attack against our country and against an American citizen and I think all of us have the Foley family in our thoughts and prayers," Rhodes said. "The fact of the matter is that we've actually seen ISIL seek to advance too close to our facilities, certainly for our own comfort." 


Rhodes' statement came after NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked if the administration agreed with a statement made by former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell earlier this week, who said, "We should mark the date down, because this is ISIS’ first terrorist attack against the United States," shortly after Foley was beheaded on video by ISIL/ISIS terrorists.

University Professor: ISIS and Israel Are One in the Same

The false comparison in this tweet should be abundantly clear to pretty much everyone (via The Washington Free Beacon):

A Georgetown University professor whose father pled guilty to terrorism charges is facing criticism for comparing Israel to the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) on Twitter.

Georgetown University History Professor Abdullah Al-Arian, the son of Sami Al-Arian, a controversial Israel critic who pled guilty to conspiring with a terror group, tweeted out his take on a common nursery rhyme by comparing Israel to the terror group ISIL, which recently beheaded an American journalist on film.

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Israel goes to great lengths to protect innocent civilians from military force and rocket fire; ISIS actively seeks out innocent civilians to rape, murder, and crucify them. Israel watches in horror as Hamas breaks cease-fire agreement after ceasefire agreement; ISIS beheads American journalists in order to goad Americans and the West into fighting another war. Israel has a democratically elected government that espouses tolerance and inclusion; ISIS is committed to establishing an Islamic caliphate where those who do not convert to Islam are slaughtered as infidels.

There is no comparison between Israel and ISIS whatsoever. To suggest otherwise is wrong, purposefully misleading, and an insult to Israeli citizens everywhere.

UPDATE: Read more about Katie's recent trip to Israel here.

Hamas Executes 18 "Israeli Informants," Drags Men Through Streets

Hamas, the Islamic terror group operating in Gaza, has executed 18 people accused of being "Israeli operatives." There was no trial, no due process, just death. Some of the men were dragged through the streets as an example. More from BBC:

Hamas sources in Gaza say 18 people suspected of collaborating with Israel have been executed.

The killings came after an Israeli airstrike left three senior Hamas leaders dead on Thursday.

And by the way, they apparently also executed two women for good measure.

FLASHBACK: Nancy Pelosi calls Hamas a "humanitarian organization."

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Oh Jeez: Harry Reid Told Some Asian Jokes

Sen. Harry Reid is continuing his odd habit of providing racial commentaries. It seems that Asians were the next demographic on his list, where his speech to the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce included some awkward jokes about Asian-Americans (via Time) [emphasis mine]:

I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told the guffawing crowd at the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce. Video of the remarks was recorded by the Republican opposition research group American Rising.

Later, before walking off stage, Reid quipped: “One problem that I’ve had today is keeping my Wongs straight.”

The group decided against backing the Reid-endorsed Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Lucy Flores, supporting Republican Mark Hutchison instead, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

A spokesperson for Reid did not immediately respond to a request for comment

Sen. Reid has a history of making odd comments about ethnic groups, some of which have been racially-charged.

Back in 2008, Sen. Reid said that then-Sen. Obama would be successful in his presidential ambitions since he was a “light-skinned African American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” These private comments were included in Mark Halperin and John Heilemann book "Game Change." Reid later apologized for his remarks.

In 2010, during his re-election bid, Reid told a group of Hispanic voters at a campaign event that he doesn’t “know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.” That same year, Nevada elected Brian Sandoval, a Republican of Hispanic heritage, as their next governor. Sandoval handily beat Reid’s son, Rory, in that contest.

Right now, Sandoval’s incredibly popular, especially with Hispanics in Nevada; and has little to no opposition. Democrats were said to be having trouble finding a worthy opponent to challenge Sandoval in this Democrat-leaning state for 2014.

Oh, and if Sandoval decides to challenge Reid in 2016, things could get interesting.

UPDATE: (via the Washington Post): Almost forgot that he called New York Senator Kristien Gillibrand the "hottest member" of the Senate; she was sitting a few feet away from him. And, said that Sen. Ted Kennedy's death would make it easier to pass Obamacare.  He's very indelicate to say the least.  

Update II: I almost forgot to add what Hot Air's Noah Rothman tweeted earlier today.  Back in 2010, Reid criticized his then-Republican opponent, Sharon Angle, for making an Asian comment (via Politico):

 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pounding Republican Sharron Angle for telling a Hispanic student group they looked Asian, hoping to fire up a crucial voting demographic in the process.

"I really don't know what my opponent was talking about, because you all look like Nevadans to me," Reid said to cheers at a Las Vegas get-out-the-vote rally today [ 10/19/10].

...

Reid also blasted Angle at a press conference on Monday, saying, "Her mouth does not have the ability to speak the truth."

UPDATE III: Harry Reid has apologized.  The Senate Majority leader said, "My comments were in extremely poor taste and I apologize. Sometimes I say the wrong thing.”

That's an understatement. 

Inside The Bomb Shelters: A Look at The Reality of Israeli Civilian Life Under Terrorist Rocket Fire

Editor's note: I was in Israel this week on a trip sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters and hosted by Israel's Ministry of Tourism.

Israel – On Wednesday morning I walked downstairs at my hotel in Jerusalem to grab breakfast before jumping on a bus headed south to Gaza's northern border with Israel. The plans for the day had changed as a result of the ceasefire agreement falling apart late Tuesday, so we left around 8: 30. When I got to breakfast at 7:30, my Red Alert application on my cell phone already showed dozens of rockets had been launched into Israel from Hamas overnight. In fact, one siren had gone off in Jerusalem around 10 p.m. the night before a barrage of rockets had been fired at Tel Aviv. By the time breakfast started and ended, 12 rockets had been launched. More rockets were launched that day than during anytime so far in this war.

As we headed south and down the hill away from Jerusalem, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Being on a bus when rockets are being launched is not ideal. Roadways are considered open areas and often times the Iron Dome allows rockets headed for open areas to fall and running to shelter after the bus is pulled over isn’t an option. Regardless, I needed to get down to see how Israeli’s live under constant attack from Hamas terrorists. There are plenty of reporters stationed in Gaza and the West Bank, but it’s hard to find stories about the hell Israeli civilians go through when rockets are fired hundreds of times a day. Since June, Hamas has fired more than 3500 rockets at Israel. Over the past few days since the ceasefire was broken, Hamas has fired 300 rockets into Israel, killing a child and wounding others.

After a short drive from Jerusalem, we arrived at an intelligence center, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Less than five minutes after getting out of the parking lot and into the building, the rocket sirens went off and we quickly moved to a shelter down stairs.

“We work here and the thing that is the most most terrifying to me is to get used to the daily shutting because I have to say my children, one of them came with me today to work and he heard the alarm and just went away to the shelter. I don’t need to say anything to him, it’s building behavior and this is the most difficult for me because to get used to terrorism, to get used to this kind of life it’s catastrophic. We can’t live this way, that’s why we come here each day. No one gets a vacation,” one woman working at the Council explained. “We have to be strong, so our army can work.”

After our briefing in Hof Ashkelon, we continued to a little agricultural community on the border with Gaza called Netiv Ha’Ashara. A man named Raz, whose family has been in this area for decades, met us.

Ten minutes into our talk with him outside in a courtyard, the rocket sirens sounded again and we ran to get into shelters. Because Netiv Ha'Ashara is right on the border with Gaza, we only had five seconds to get there. Shortly after taking cover, we heard the Iron Dome intercept a rocket nearby. When we left the shelter we saw where the interception happened in the sky as a trail of smoke from the explosion was left behind.

When it was safe to go back outside, we moved inside to a community center that is used for gatherings. Raz briefed us on the challenges of living in the area, the history, etc. and then again, we heard the sirens. We ran to a shelter attached to the room and shortly after, heard an explosion. This time it wasn’t from the Iron Dome intercepting the rocket in the sky, but from a rocket landing in a nearby house.

Raz ran out to find out what happened and to make sure nobody had been hurt.

“There was a wreck in a house. This was a house that I used to live in until four and a half weeks [ago],” he said. “I built my new house here and I rented an apartment here and the one that is bombed now is where I lived four and a half weeks [ago]. The owner of the house had a baby two and a half weeks [ago].”

Walking around the community, Raz showed us a daycare center and the bomb shelter that sits just a few feet away. Many other shelters in the area were newly delivered over the past few weeks. 

Although rocket fire is a major ongoing concern, the people here have been dealing with them for 10 years. The success of the Iron Dome has saved lives and serves to combat rockets falling into communities. The biggest concern now are Hamas tunnels, which were used to kidnap three Israeli teenagers in June, sparking the conflict. Raz and dozens of fathers like him worry about terrorists using tunnels to get into their communities to kidnap their children, which is why he sleeps with weapons and military gear next to his bed. He also walks around with a pistol in his waistband. Thirty of the tunnels built by Hamas from Gaza to Israeli cities, towns and the backyards of civilians have been destroyed, but the government will not say if they have all been annihilated.

After leaving Netiv Ha'Ashar and the Gaza border we drove to Ashkelon, one of the large cities in Israel under constant rocket attack during our visit. We met with the mayor’s office and spoke to the vice mayor about life in a rapidly growing beach city. We also heard from two teenagers living and studying there.

“I want you to know it’s a very hard experience to live like this,” student and head of the Ashkelon Youth Council Yuvall Sadon said. “We try to do our best. We try to give all the children living in Ashkelon spirit and a sense of a little bit of fun and normalcy."

Sadon works to help get children into shelters when rockets fly into Ashkelon.

“As the head of the Youth Council in Ashkelon, what we did is we opened more than 100 shelters,” she said. “We help to guide little children in the shelter and every evening we try to do something for the youth because it’s summer, it’s our vacation and they took the freedom from us because we always have to be thirty seconds away from a shelter. It’s not normal, it’s not a game so we try to stay normal and we want peace and we things normalized. We don’t want war and we don’t want rockets. We’re sick and tired of this.”

Two hundred and seventy two Schools are supposed to open in seven days with 27,000 students in the city but that opening may be delayed due to continuing rocket fire.

Israel’s Iron Dome system is a miracle and although it stops people from being killed, it cannot stop the mental trauma and daily disruptions of living life Hamas wreaks on Israeli civilians. Not to mention the toll terror takes on the tourism industry and ultimately the economy. Regardless, life goes on.

“We go to PTA meetings, we go to shops, when we get old enough if we’re lucky we can play with our grandchildren,” our guide Amir Orly said. “For us Israel is home.”

GAO: Yes, Obama's Taliban/Bergdahl Exchange Was Illegal


This isn't necessarily "news," per se, but it's confirmation from a respected nonpartisan source.  The 'Taliban Five' for Bergdahl trade, sans mandatory Congressional notification, was not legal.  But the Obama White House executed it anyway, over the objections of the intelligence community:


President Obama's decision to exchange captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees violated federal law, according to a legal opinion the Government Accountability Office sent to Congress Thursday. That's because the administration failed to notify Congress at least 30 days before the transfer, as required under a law passed in February. The Pentagon notified Congress of the deal on May 31, the same day the transfer was made. And because Congress did not authorize spending for the exchange, it also violated the Antideficiency Act, a law intended to protect Congress's power of the purse. The Department of Defense spent $988,400 on the transfer, the Pentagon told the GAO. An intentional violation of the Antideficiency Act is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison, but those criminal penalties are rarely enforced.


Partisan hackery is expected from hacks, but a number of self-respecting Democrats raised concerns about the swap at the time.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California raised hackles about being kept in the dark by the executive branch, in contravention of the law.  The White House's excuse -- at least for awhile -- was that they had to act quickly with no leaks, or else the terrorists were going to kill Bergdahl.  This complicated their concurrent narrative that the arrangement was a normal "prisoner exchange," with plenty of precedent in US history.  Feinstein shot back that she'd seen no evidence to back up the administration's "they were going to kill him!" excuse.  Others also noted that she and her Republican colleague kept extremely sensitive Bin Laden raid details under wraps for months.  The Obama White House broke the law, then served up contradictory excuses for doing so.  In the end, not only did we effectively negotiate with terrorists to secure the release of an American soldier held hostage (setting aside Bergdahl's record of, um, "honor and distinction"), we released five high-rankingextremely dangerous Taliban commanders (who are vowing to resume jihad) as our end of the "deal."  And how's this for timing?


In an interview with the BBC, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond acknowledged that the apparent executioner spoke with a British accent and said the video seemed to be genuine. Hundreds of Britons are believed to have traveled to Syria to fight in the country’s civil war, including many who have joined the Islamic State...A European intelligence official said the British government was examining the video, and the speech of the purported executioner, to compare it with former Guantanamo Bay prisoners and other British residents believed to have joined the Islamic State. Both prisoners in the video are wearing orange shirts and pants, similar to orange jumpsuits worn by detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Western intelligence services are exploring the possibility that ex-Gitmo detainees (the supposedly "lower threat" ones, released prior to the 'Taliban Five') may hold leadership positions within the death cult that's marauding through vast swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory.  A former Guantanamo inmate was also implicated in the deadly 9/11/12 attack on the US compound in Benghazi, too.  It's almost as if a lot of these guys really were bloodthirsty Islamist radicals, not innocent victims of US overreach, after all.  That's why Congress has repeatedly refused to provide the funds to close the Gitmo detainment center, and why they passed a law that requires the White House to provide ample warning prior to releasing any further inmates.  The Obama administration ignored that law, and spent a lot of taxpayer money to complete the illegal transaction.  The broke the law knowingly, by their own admission, and in spite of what they knew to be the clear will of Congress.  Democrats have decried House Republicans' lawsuit against the White House's flagrant lawlessness on Obamacare, but what other recourse does Congress have to rein in an administration that ignores provisions of laws deemed inconvenient?  I know what Democratic campaign committees' answer would be, if only to touch off another round of fake hysteria, designed to extract additional millions from their gullible, paranoid base.

Richard Dawkins Defends Telling Twitter User to Abort Her Down Syndrome Child

Down syndrome is a condition in which a baby is born with an extra chromosome. Those diagnosed with the syndrome experience mental disability and a plethora of physical challenges. But, is that really justification for abortion? Ethologist Richard Dawkins thinks so. When a Twitter user asked his opinion on whether she should abort a child after learning he or she would have Down syndrome, he was harshly straightforward:

Because of the criticism he received as a result of the tweet, he wrote a response on his website, richarddawkins.net. He apologized not for the content of his tweet, but for the “feeding frenzy” it prompted, blaming the backlash on the fact that Twitter limited his response to 140 characters. So, he took the opportunity to offer a more in depth answer:

“Obviously the choice would be yours. For what it’s worth, my own choice would be to abort the Down fetus and, assuming you want a baby at all, try again. Given a free choice of having an early abortion or deliberately bringing a Down child into the world, I think the moral and sensible choice would be to abort. And, indeed, that is what the great majority of women, in America and especially in Europe, actually do. I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare. I agree that that personal opinion is contentious and needs to be argued further, possibly to be withdrawn. In any case, you would probably be condemning yourself as a mother (or yourselves as a couple) to a lifetime of caring for an adult with the needs of a child. Your child would probably have a short life expectancy but, if she did outlive you, you would have the worry of who would care for her after you are gone. No wonder most people choose abortion when offered the choice. Having said that, the choice would be entirely yours and I would never dream of trying to impose my views on you or anyone else.”

His expanded explanation may have been more elaborate, but it’s no less rational. One’s quality of life should not determine whether that person lives or dies, for every life has a purpose. In 140 characters, Dawkins was simply summing up his tragic point: a life with Down syndrome is not a life worth living. I would challenge Dawkins to consider this  statistic: 99 percent of those with the condition report being happy with their lives. 

But, he tweeted this defensive follow up trying to justify that other numbers are on his side:

Again, it may be the “norm,” but that doesn’t make it morally right. Sadly, 90 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Why should this be the case? Shouldn’t we be encouraging mothers that yes, their child will have obstacles, but they are strong enough to overcome them? Won’t that mother’s love for her child ultimately trump the challenges that will arise from his or her physical setbacks?

Dawkins didn’t offer any of these considerations and was unapologetic about his first argument:

To conclude, what I was saying simply follows logically from the ordinary pro-choice stance that most us, I presume, espouse. My phraseology may have been tactlessly vulnerable to misunderstanding, but I can’t help feeling that at least half the problem lies in a wanton eagerness to misunderstand.

One mother who gave birth to a child with Down syndrome isn’t letting Dawkins get away with his insensitive comments. Former Governor Sarah Palin had this to say:

“I’d let you meet my son if you promised to open your mind, your eyes, and your heart to a unique kind of absolute beauty,” Palin wrote.

“But, in my request for you to be tolerant, I’d have to warn Trig he must be tolerant, too, because he may superficially look at you as kind of awkward. I’ll make sure he’s polite, though!”

Doughy Dispute: Atheist Group Threatens Lawsuit Over Church Discount

For the owner of Bailey's Pizza in the small town of Searcy, Arkansas, keeping the Scripture and the sausage separate is something he believes he should not have to do. 

As a new business that opened less than two months ago, owner Steven Rose started to offer a discount for those who bring in their church bulletin. When the Freedom From Religion Foundation got word of this small, 10% discount, they sent a letter demanding he stop honoring the reduction saying it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Rose, a Christian who is actively involved in his local church, told KTHV that a wall inside the store reads, "God is the center of our lives, so our scripture wall is the center of Bailey's Pizza."

Rose told Fox News:

“I’m just selling pizzas, I love my Lord and you see it expressed all over my building – but I’m just selling pizzas. To me, if making a pepperoni pizza furthers the Kingdom – well I’m excited about that."

When a North Carolina restaurant started offering a discount for those who pray before their meal, the FFRF did the same thing and got their way.

“We are no longer issuing the 15% praying in public discount,” read a sign posted at the Mary’s Gourmet Diner. “It is illegal and we are being threatened by lawsuit. We apologize to our community for any offense this discount has incurred.”

Rose told TheBlaze.com that he does not plan on getting rid of the price cut for church-goers. Conservative legal firms have volunteered to represent Bailey's Pizza in the event the FFRF takes legal action over a discount that is a mere ten cents on the dollar. 

Uh Oh: Shaheen Only Up 2 Points in NH Now?

There is, as Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende has argued, a distinct correlation between the president's job approval rating and how his caucus performs down-ballot every election cycle. And President Obama’s sinking numbers seem to be immensely benefiting none other than New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown -- a GOP hopeful many pollsters believed had little chance of winning just a few weeks ago.

In July, according to a WMUR Granite State poll, incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) was crushing her presumptive GOP opponent by a dozen percentage points -- 50 percent to 38 percent, respectively. Now, however, the same in-state survey shows the race is very much in play:

Last month, Brown trailed Shaheen in the WMUR Granite State Poll by 12 points. The new poll shows Shaheen leading brown by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent.

"I feel very good because when I'm going out and about into people's businesses, holding town halls -- town halls are an important thing -- and conveying my thoughts about being an independent voice for New Hampshire, it's resonating," Brown said.

"This will go down as one of the most important days of this New Hampshire U.S. Senate contest," said James Pindell of WMUR Political Scoop. "For much of the year, this race appeared to be slipping away from Scott Brown, but now he's back and within the margin of error."

Some pollsters argue Brown’s newfound popularity is inversely proportional to the president's sliding approval ratings, which currently sit at 38 percent in New Hampshire. The candidate himself, however, disagrees. Instead, he thinks it has more do with how hard he’s working, and his willingness to hold town halls all over the state:

Either way, Mitt Romney's endorsement last month only bolstered his cause. After all, the former Massachusetts governor is fairly popular in New Hampshire and won the first-in-the-nation Republican presidential primary in 2012. And although Brown isn’t the GOP nominee yet, he is showing signs of improvement.

Still, we probably shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves:

There is still plenty of room for movement, as the poll shows that 60 percent of voters have not definitively settled on a candidate.

Lots of undecideds out there, in other words. So keep that in mind

For what it’s worth, Republicans need to net-gain six Senate seats to wrestle majority-control of the upper chamber from Democrats.

Hagel: ISIS Is 'Beyond Anything That We've Seen'

President Obama may be in denial over the serious threat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) poses to the U.S., but senior military officials are not.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described IS as an “imminent threat to every interest that we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.”

He was also asked directly about the threat posed to the United States and if it's comparable to 9/11. 

The Islamic State is “as sophisticated and well-funded as any group we have seen,” he replied. "They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of ... military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we've seen."

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Islamic State has an “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision” and “will eventually have to be defeated.”

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials were worried about the possibility that European or U.S. nationals, radicalized after fighting in Iraq or Syria, would return to their home countries.

Dempsey suggested Islamic State would remain a danger until it could no longer count on safe havens in areas of Syria under militant control. [...]

"To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a non-existent border."

It was only in January that President Obama described the group as “jayvee.”

With Full Hearts National Religious Broadcasters Conclude Solidarity Trip to Israel

Members of the National Religious Broadcasters have landed back in the United States after concluding a four-day Christians in solidarity trip to Israel this week.


“Our purpose was two fold. One, to show the people of Israel we support them in a time of crisis because Hamas is attacking them and this isn’t a time for neutrality. Hamas is a terrorist organization, we saw that, that they were using terror and the Israelis are trying to protect innocent civilians. It was good for us to see that and just show solidarity with those who were under attack,” NRB President Dr. Jerry Johnson said at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv before boarding his flight back to the United States early Friday morning. “And then also with the tourism industry just to say you know, 'We think other Americans should come, other Americans should get flights and hotels, go to the restaurants. It’s a time to support the economy and the life, the nation of Israel.'" 


Johnson brought 10 Christian broadcasters on behalf of the NRB to Israel who have a combined listening audience of 60 million people per day through religious radio and television programs. He put the trip together specifically because Israel is under attack from Hamas and to combat rising anti-Semitism not just in the United States, but also around the world. Participants included President of AnGeL Ministries and daughter of Billy Graham Anne Graham Lotz, President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins, President & CEO of the Total Living Network Jerry Rose, Evangelical Action Director at The Institute on Religion & Democracy Chelsen Vicari, Co-Founder of Precept Ministries Kay Arthur and others.


“We want to send a message back to Christians, to churches, to Americans, this is the time for you to take a stand with Israel and to get involved,” Johnson said.

NRB board member and President of Son Broadcasting Annette Garcia, who visits Israel often, also stressed how now is an important time to visit the Jewish country.


“I think that this trip was just a magnificent way to be able to show our solidarity and I think like Israel always does, Israel unites Christians together on their behalf and that’s what I feel like we did,” Garcia said. “As our guide said, as he was leaving [after dropping off the group at the airport] he told us he had to come back in because he missed us. His heart, the way he expressed it, is the way I feel when I leave Israel. This is our family and these are the people that we support and that we love and my heart is full when I get on that plane and I feel like I’m actually leaving home instead of going home.”

Editor's note: I was in Israel this week on a trip sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters and hosted by Israel's Ministry of Tourism.



This ISIS Terrorist Will Never Harm Anyone Again

I wrote a post about the Islamic State’s now-deceased press officer two weeks ago; he was a central figure in part 1 of Vice News’ multi-part documentary profiling the terrorist army organization and their warped ideology. You’ll recall he gracelessly insulted our men and women in uniform and vowed to "raise the flag of Allah” inside the White House.

Thankfully, that'll never happen. Why? Because he's already met his maker (via Noah Rothman):

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) put it rather well this week when describing the rabidity of death-loving fanatics like the late Abu Mosa: “ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their view of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.”

I don’t disagree. Therefore, the more Abu Mosas we send to an early grave, the better.

Is The Next Front Of The 'Clinton Wars' Being Waged In Virginia?

Are we seriously going back to this drivel? Although, it’s not a national campaign, John Foust, the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s 10th congressional district, recently slammed his Republican opponent, Delegate Barbara Comstock, for not holding a “real job.” Yeah, this lunacy is back (via Ashburn Rising) [emphasis mine]:

While earlier this week in Ashburn, Comstock left much of the harsh rhetoric to her supporters, Foust took the reins of criticism in his own hands during a stop at his new campaign office in Leesburg.

On creating jobs, Foust said, “In her mind that means giving tax benefits to special interests and the super wealthy. I don’t think she’s even had a real job.

Back in 2012, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen ignited a firestorm when she said that Ann Romney hadn’t worked a day in her life. Pretty much everyone distanced themselves from her comments and called them inappropriate, including President Obama; Rosin later apologized on CNN.

Yet, while being a stay-at-home mom is hard work, Comstock has conquered on both fronts. She’s the mother of three children and was an aide to retiring Rep. Frank Wolf. She later became chief counsel for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

And, that is why her candidacy possibly reignited the “Clinton Wars.” Foust’s supporters are probably ignorant of the fact that Comstock was the point of the lance, alongside the late Barbara Olson, in digging up information about the alleged shady dealings within the Clinton administration. As a result, the Clinton White House named them the “Barbarellas” (via Politico):

Comstock’s history with the Clintons dates back to 1993. At the time, she was working as an aide to GOP Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia when some of his constituents lost their jobs in the White House travel office. Wolf tasked Comstock with finding out why the firings happened and whether the Clintons were trying to make room in the office for their personal allies.

Republicans won the House majority in 1994, and Comstock became the chief counsel on the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

Comstock’s legal training prepared her to burrow through mounds of government documents, spotting patterns in discrete facts that eluded others. She deposed countless high-level White House officials and allies, including John Podesta and George Stephanopoulos. When Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung appeared before the committee in 1999, Comstock did the grilling.

The other trait Comstock’s admirers and critics consistently point to: a work ethic bordering on compulsive.

“Late night calls from Barbara Comstock were not unusual,” David Brock, the onetime conservative opposition researcher and Comstock confidant, wrote in his 2002 book, “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative.” “She often telephoned with the latest tidbit she had dug up in the thousands and thousands of pages of administration records she pored through frantically, as if she were looking for a winning lottery ticket she had somehow mislaid.”

The late Barbara Olson, Comstock’s co-investigator on the committee, wrote in her own book that the two took extraordinary measures to prevent Clinton backers from sabotaging their work.

“We changed our locks; not even the cleaning crews had access to our tiny room,” Olson wrote in “Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” published in 1999. “I generally arrived at 6:30 a.m. and tried to leave for home before 8:00 p.m. My colleague Barbara Comstock continued the vigil and wouldn’t leave until 4:00 a.m.”

Foust is quoted in the piece saying he was unaware of the dynamics of the “Clinton Wars” since he was busy getting his law firm off the ground and raising his family.  Nevertheless, the Clinton crew is fearful of Comstock returning to Congress and getting back on the “warpath,” especially with the Benghazi investigation still ongoing.

In the meantime, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright is hosting fundraisers for Foust and Jamie Gorelick, who served as Clinton’s deputy attorney general, gave him a $1,000 donation. She responded to many of Comstock’s subpoenas, according to Politico.

It looks like the Clinton people are out for a little revenge.

AFP Launches Ad in Alaska Attacking Begich's "Absenteeism"

"No excuses. Do what it takes to get the job done." That's the Alaskan way of life, according to Steve Perrins, owner of Rainy Pass Lodge, the oldest hunting lodge in the state. One person who doesn't seem to share this mentality, however, is Senator Mark Begich (D-AK). In a new Americans for Prosperity ad, Perrins questions Begich's absenteeism in the nation's capital:

"I think our state is a little ticked off that our senator, Mark Begich, is not showing up for his job."

Alaskans are being kind on the senator. Last year, Begich missed more votes than 80 percent of all senators.

AFP President Tim Phillips commented on the senator's disappearing act:

"When it comes to critical issues facing Alaskans, Mark Begich seems to have more important things to do than fight for them in the United States Senate. Missed votes means the voices of Alaskans are marginalized and unheard. With one of the worst voting records in the Senate, Begich has failed to represent Alaskans on important issues like government spending, energy regulations and agricultural policy. Unfortunately, Mark Begich just hasn't been showing up for work."

How long, really, does it take to give a 'yea' or 'nay'? Representing his constituents in Congress certainly doesn't appear to be too high on Begich's agenda.

Perrins asked the important question:

"How can we count on Mark Begich to fight for Alaskans when he won't show up to work in Washington, DC?"

Most people who don't show up to work lose their jobs. Alaskans, therefore, have more than a right to fire Begich. 

Watch the entirety of the effective ad  here:

Paul Ryan: Of Course Republicans Won’t Force Another Government Shutdown...

...before the 2014 midterm elections, that is. After that all bets are off, it seems, and there are no guarantees.

Inspiring.

And yet public opinion shows pretty convincingly that Republicans were on the losing end politically of last year’s partial-government shutdown. For two weeks, government offices, major tourist attractions, and even the open-air World War II Memorial in D.C. were temporarily closed. And while Republicans did their best to expose the White House’s calculated and incredibly petulant efforts to exploit the crisis, most Americans pinned the blame squarely on congressional Republicans. No surprises there. You might even recall that's exactly what happened the last time congressional lawmakers found themselves negotiating during a government shutdown.

Nonetheless, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently told Roll Call that House Republicans have supposedly learned from their past missteps. To that end, he said, they are committed to passing a spending resolution funding the government at least through December:

On a possible government shutdown: In his book, Ryan calls the 2013 shutdown a “suicide mission” for the House GOP, and on Wednesday he told CQ Roll Call he agreed that Republicans were easy to blame for the events that transpired.

But House Republicans won’t repeat that mistake this September, Ryan predicted: “We will pass a clean [continuing resolution], and if for some reason the Democrats don’t take that, then they will clearly have shut the government down … it will be patently obvious … that they are playing politics with this, and trying to trigger a shutdown so they can blame us, but we’re really blameless in this particular situation.”

Ryan’s confidence that his conference will cooperate in passing a stop-gap spending bill free of controversial policy riders — ”until Dec. 11 is what we’re thinking,” said Ryan — contradicts Democrats’ cries over the past few days that the GOP is spoiling for another shutdown that could cost them the election in November.

The last thing the GOP needs, I think, is to be blamed for another government shutdown just before Election Day 2014.

What, if anything, could damage or diminish their electoral prospects more?

CNN's Lemon Battles Rapper Over Ferguson--Let's "World Run By White Supremacy" Comment Slide

Another example of the "how would this be handled if a Tea Partier were the jerk" question [Please read Mary Katharine Ham's excellent post from yesterday on this]. It sure wouldn't be patience, toleration, extended coverage in order to reconcile matters, and a long-extended bro handshake. G'me a break! Note how the "white supremacy" line is not even noticed by Don Lemon.

McCain Calls for More ISIS Airstrikes

Senator John McCain (R- Ariz.) expressed his anger with President Obama's reaction to the beheading of American journalist James Foley and called for a dramatic increase of airstrikes to the region. He believes that this tragic incident should be a "turning point" for the president's strategy in defeating the Islamic terror group. 

McCain said to Reuters:

"First of all, you've got to dramatically increase the airstrikes. And those airstrikes have to be devoted to Syria as well...We have to defeat them, not stop them."

McCain's aggressive and passionate denouncement of the ISIS group in light of Foley's murder has been much more than what American's have seen from President Obama. The president eulogized Foley yesterday in a statement, but didn't speak of how America plans to fight what McCain calls "the most vicious terrorist organization that we've ever encountered."

To The Arizona Republic, McCain said:

"This president has ignored the threat for a long period of time, and now we're paying the price."

McCain reports that ISIS is now the world's largest terror organization and has a large inventory of stolen Iraqi military equipment:

"The more he (Obama) delays and the more he acts incrementally, the more ISIS adjusts and the more difficult they will become," McCain said. "And one of the decisions that he has to make is to attack ISIS in Syria because they are moving the captured equipment there and they are fighting there and their enclaves are there. They have erased the border between Iraq and Syria. They are now an enclave larger than Indiana."

Poll: Americans Favor Criminalizing Kids Playing Unsupervised

According to a new Reason/Rupe poll, an astounding 68 percent of Americans surveyed said that it should not be legal for children under the age of nine to play outside unsupervised. A smaller, yet still sizable, percentage of people surveyed agreed that 12-year-old children should also not be allowed to be outside unsupervised.

A whopping 68 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that.

What's more: 43 percent feel the same way about 12-year-olds. They would like to criminalize all pre-teenagers playing outside on their own (and, I guess, arrest their no-good parents).

A woman in South Carolina was arrested for letting her nine-year-old play outside at a park while she was at work, and a woman in Connecticut was arrested for leaving her preteen alone in a car.

Growing up in Maine, I spent a decent amount of time outside by myself as a child without parental supervision. I went sledding and ice skating without my mother hovering over me—way before I ever had a cell phone. I biked through the neighborhood without parental guidance. I babysat children starting around age 11. Nobody died.

Parents should be trusted to know what's best for their children. Crime rates are at their lowest in decades, and arresting parents for letting their children play unsupervised is doing nothing but waste valuable police time. Society needs to lighten up a little, and these poll numbers are very troubling.