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 cracking 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.

Democrats for Life of America Urges Congress to Defund Planned Parenthood

Democrats for Life of America released a statement calling for Congress to defund Planned Parenthood and to divert funds to community health centers that provide comprehensive healthcare for women--without doing abortions.

The statement came as a result of the undercover videos that show how Planned Parenthood is possibly violating federal law with the sale of fetal body parts. These videos have renewed the push to strip Planned Parenthood of its nearly half-a-billion dollars of federal funds.

DFLA Executive Director Kristen Day elaborated in the statement that community health clinics provide care that Planned Parenthood does not--such as mammograms--and are more widely available throughout the country than Planned Parenthood clinics.

“Supporters of Planned Parenthood have expressed concern that women will not have access to medical care. We share that concern, which is why we are calling on Congress to reallocate the funding to Community Health Centers,” said Day.” There are 9,000 Community Health Center sites across the country; almost every single Congressional district has at least one. They vastly outnumber the 700 Planned Parenthood facilities, and they provide fuller services for families. We want to ensure that women still have access to the services and support they need.”

There are thousands of other health clinics who provide free and reduced-cost vital healthcare to women around the country, and these clinics deserve federal money. Planned Parenthood has been credibly accused of violating federal law, and should at the very least be investigated.

Video: Visitors Leaving National Archives Mostly Clueless About Their First Amendment Rights

The sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day to visit the National Archives, until MRCTV’s Dan Joseph jumps out of the bushes to ambush unsuspecting visitors leaving the building about their First Amendment rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Okay. Joseph didn’t ambush people per se, but he did ask more than a few folks leaving the Archives if they could name the rights, which are protected by the First Amendment since they just left the building that holds the original copies of the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.

Not surprisingly, many folks could name and list all the rights that are protected; more than a few thought it contained the right to bear arms. We all know that’s the second one. One person took a shot and said it guarantees the right to vote. Nope.

Joseph tries to persuade a woman to go back into the Archives and learn them. It was all in good fun, though the lady did say she didn’t want to get back in line again.

We Now Know Where Lois Lerner's Emails and Backup Tapes Were Destroyed

There have been dozens of questions surrounding the disappearance of emails belonging to former IRS official Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the IRS targeting scandal. Some of Lerner's emails have been recovered, after IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said under oath they were lost forever. Thousands are still missing. But perhaps the most compelling questions that have been asked since the IRS targeting scandal broke in May 2013 are 1) Exactly where were Lerner's emails and backup tapes destroyed? 2) Who destroyed them?

Now, we have an answer. According to Americans for Tax Reform, Lerner's hard drive was destroyed by the IRS "Midnight Unit" in West Virginia: 

Backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 Lois Lerner emails were destroyed by an IRS entity officially known as the "Media Management Midnight Unit" located in Martinsburg, West Virginia, according to documentation released this week by the House Oversight Committee. In all, 422 backup tapes holding the emails were magnetically "degaussed" despite an agency-wide preservation order and congressional subpoena. Degaussing is a process whereby powerful magnets are used to erase data on a storage tape.

The preservation order came from IRS Chief Technology Officer Terence Millholland in response to Congressional subpoenas over Lois Lerner's emails. However, the agency completely failed to ensure the order was followed or understood. According to the House Oversight report:

-"The IRS failed to ensure compliance with the preservation order at each turn. The IRS failed to confirm compliance with the preservation order in February 2014, upon learning of the gap in emails; failed to ensure the Media Management Midnight Unit, the team that destroyed the backup tapes, properly understood the preservation order; and failed to make certain that individuals who ordered the destruction of the specific media, in this instance the backup tapes, properly understood the preservation order."

Keep in mind Lerner's hard drive didn't simply "crash" on its own, but instead had physical damage. According to one Treasury Inspector General, the hard drive likely crashed due to "an impact of some sort." The question is who damaged the hard drive and whether it was done on purpose to destroy evidence.

New documentation released by the House Oversight Committee this week again raises questions on how Lois Lerner's hard drive was physically damaged and whether there was some kind of deliberate act to destroy data on it.

The House Oversight Committee report cites an officially transcribed interview with John Minsek, senior investigative analyst with the IRS Criminal Investigations (CI) unit. Minsek examined the Lerner hard drive in 2011. In the transcribed interview, he notes Lerner's hard drive contained "well-defined scoring creating a concentric circle in the proximity of the center of the disk."

Earlier this week a federal judge threatened to "haul into court the IRS Commissioner to hold him personally into contempt," for ignoring court orders and refusing to turn over emails belonging to Lerner by deadline.

The Friday Filibuster: It Keeps Getting Worse

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics. 

Closing Numbers

45% of Americans believe Democrats govern in a more honest and ethical way that Republicans; only 29% said Republicans governed this way.

56% of Colorado voters oppose tougher gun control laws.

11.3 million illegal immigrants were in the U.S. as of 2014, outnumbering the 9.6 million Americans who were unemployed last year.

52% of Americans oppose the Iran deal.

68% of Republicans view the GOP favorably, the lowest percentage in more than two years.

45% of American Jews disapprove of the Iran deal.

Planned Parenthood’s Demise?

It keeps getting worse and worse for Planned Parenthood. Fresh off of two undercover videos that showed high level abortionists with the clinic negotiating the sale of fetal body parts, two more disturbing videos were released this week. The third video shows abortionists procuring fetal tissue for profit and the fourth reveals the group is willing to sell organs from delivered babies. It is gruesome stuff and finally seems to be getting the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill who may actually be able to do something about it. The Senate will vote on defunding the abortion giant, though disturbingly, two Republican senators seem to oppose this effort. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood’s CEO is struggling to justify the revelations and the group is practically begging the media to stop covering the scandal. Hillary is flip-flopping in her response to the videos, first admitting they are disturbing, then reversing course saying she proudly stands with the group. Other Dems, however, are finding it a bit harder to defend the group. One Ohio Dem introduced a bill to actually strip Planned Parenthood of state funding. Of course, things are different in California, where the Los Angeles Superior Court ordered the Center for Medical Progress to desist from releasing any new footage further exposing Planned Parenthood. 

In case you want to make an impact now, 2ndVote has compiled all major companies that directly support Planned Parenthood, and here you can see how much the abortion giant is actually costing you. 

Iran Deal: Still Awful

The White House caved on all three ‘red line’ demands of Iran and Kerry even admitted this week the deal “may” lead to U.S. deaths. Iran would also like to supply its own soil samples from the alleged nuclear site, thereby inspecting itself. Sen. Tom Cotton grilled Kerry on the deal (a video that's well worth watching). Israel, meanwhile, is saying that U.S. officials are withholding major parts and details of the deal from them. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee also took flak this week for implying that the Iran deal could initiate another Jewish Holocaust.

Campaigns & Elections

On the Left:

Contrary to what Hillary had hoped, the email scandal isn’t go away; it’s so bad even Democrats can’t seem to look the other way. One “Meet the Press” anchor said the probe into the scandal is incredibly significant, also noting her dismal favorability ratings. And her email lies were eviscerated by MSNBC of all places. One report found that her emails contained classified materials from five U.S. intelligence agencies! And now Team Hillary is worried about Biden 2016, who it's been revealed has an affinity for skinny dipping in front of female Secret Service agents. Things are not looking good for the former secretary of State, or the Democratic Party, as they’re also running out of time to find solid House candidates to put forward.

On the Right:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich finally cracked the top 10 in polling this week, putting him on the debate stage with the other big hitters. Carly Fiorina also got some much-deserved attention this week for her foreign policy speech at the Ronald Reagan Library. And whether or not the Koch brothers’ rejection of Trump will help or hurt the candidate remains to be seen.

Gun Control

The push for more gun control never seems to end. This time Senate Democrats are asking gun dealers for help in expanding background checks. Meanwhile, Americans see more guns as the solution to fighting crime, not the problem. And Black and Hispanics are lining up in droves for concealed carry permits in Chicago.

In Other News

  • The Kentucky Juvenile Department banned a minister from Biblical counseling.
  • House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen should be fired and impeached for obstruction of justice. And on top of that, a federal judge said he’d haul Koskinen into court and personally hold him in contempt over Lerner emails.
  • Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) was indicted on racketeering charges this week.
  • MSNBC has axed Alex Wagner and Ed Schultz's shows. 

Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer Feven Amenu.

Lawless: Three Federal Judges Slam Obama Administration's Noncompliance

A string of federal judges have been angrily slamming their gavels this month, incensed over a similar issue they're encountering. See if you can spot the trend, with a hat tip to Gabriel Malor. On the president's legally-dubiousunpopular immigration fiat:

A federal judge up in arms about non-compliance with a court order blocking President Barack Obama's recent executive actions on immigration is demanding that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and four other top immigration enforcement officials appear in a Brownsville, Texas, courtroom next month to explain why they should not be held in contempt of court. U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued an order Tuesday afternoon requring the five officials to show up for a hearing Aug. 19. However, the judge also said he would cancel the session if he's "satisifed" with the government's actions to limit or revoke 2,000 three-year work permits it issued to illegal immigrants after Hanen issued an injunction that limited new permits to a two-year duration. "This Court has expressed its willingness to believe that these actions were accidental and not done purposefully to violate this Court’s order. Nevertheless, it is shocked and surprised at the cavalier attitude the Government has taken with regard to its 'efforts' to rectify this situation," Hanen wrote. "The Government has conceded that it has directly violated this Court’s Order in [the government's] May 7, 2015 advisory, yet, as of today, two months have passed since the Advisory and it has not remediated its own violative behavior. That is unacceptable and, as far as the Government’s attorneys are concerned, completely unprofessional," the judge added in his order (posted here). "Neither side should interpret this Court’s personal preference to not sanction lawyers or parties as an indication that it will merely acquiesce to a party’s unlawful conduct."

On Obama's corrupt Internal Revenue Service and its smug, unaccountable chief:

A federal judge threatened to hold IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in contempt Wednesday after the IRS failed to produce, as ordered, newly recovered emails of former IRS official Lois Lerner. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan had ordered the IRS on July 1 to turn over Lerner emails on a weekly basis in response to a lawsuit by the watchdog group Judicial Watch…At a U.S. District Court hearing in Washington Wednesday, Sullivan threatened to hold officials, including Koskinen, in contempt for not producing the documents as ordered every Monday. “If there is further noncompliance, I will haul into court the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service to show cause why that person should not be personally held in contempt of court. I can't make that any clearer,” the judge told Geoffrey Klimas, the Justice Department attorney representing the IRS, according to the minutes published on Judicial Watch's website. The judge dismissed the reasons provided by the IRS and the DOJ for not producing the documents, at one point saying, “I think the government's position is clearly indefensible. It's ridiculous. It's absurd...”

Judge Sullivan is a Clinton appointee, by the way. And on the Obama State Department's noncompliance on the court-ordered timely release of Hillary Clinton's emails -- at least the ones that weren't permanently deleted:

An irritated federal judge Thursday put the Hillary Clinton email scandal into stark terms, grilling the State Department on a pattern of delayed document releases that has turned a possible bureaucratic logjam into a major problem for the leading Democratic presidential contender. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, known for his blunt manner, said he simply did not understand why the State Department has dragged its feet on responses for emails in requests to the Freedom of Information Act. "Now, any person should be able to review that in one day — one day,” the judge said, examining a request for just over 60 emails. “Even the least ambitious bureaucrat could do this.” Leon articulated what has been a major concern of State Department critics who contend that the agency is dragging out responses to FOIA requests to protect Clinton, who served as secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s first term...More Clinton emails are expected to be released Friday under a court-ordered process that has underscored Leon’s unhappiness. And in a twist, State also revealed holes in its own federal record as officials said they were still awaiting some work-related emails from Clinton’s top department brass, including Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills. One of them, Clinton’s former spokesman, Philippe Reines, for example, on Tuesday turned over 20 boxes of work-related emails taken in part from a personal email account, calling into question the extent to which top aides to the former secretary of state also engaged in controversial email practices.

That last bit further undermines Hillary Clinton's tale about how and why "all" of her work-related emails are preserved for the record, a claim that has been proven false by evidence.  Former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress over his unresponsive stonewalling on the 'Fast and Furious' federal gunrunning scandal.  Holder also appeared to have perjured himself before Congress regarding the Justice Department's wiretapping of journalists.  Republicans have also sued the president over unilateral Obamacare changes, EPA regulations (successfully), and illegal recess appointments (successfully).  The Obama administration does not believe the rules apply to them.  I'll leave you with Obama's remarks on the first day of his presidency, vowing that "transparency and the rule of law" would be "touchstones" of his administration:

Team Hillary Now Worried About Biden 2016

Decision time for Biden 2016 is upon us. In June, the vice president said that he would make his intentions known sometime in August–and now Hillary’s people worried that Joe might just toss his hat into the ring because … why the hell not? According to Fox News' Ed Henry, the Clinton camp went into DEFCON 1-mode when Biden’s chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, was seen having breakfast with major Democratic donor Louis Susman. Susman insisted the meeting was personal; she has known Ricchetti for years, and therefore she’s “not planning anything.” Yet, Henry noted that the door is still open for both a Biden run and for Susman to potentially raise cash for him.

As mentioned before, the vice presidency is usually the last line for most on a political resume. Retirement is probably the next chapter of Biden’s life once Obama exits the White House, so why not give a 2016 run another shot. He has nothing to lose by doing this, which he has said repeatedly to colleagues is the first thing he thinks about regarding elections. He also says it’s the secret to his success, though representing deep-blue Delaware probably had something to do with it as well.

So far, a Draft Biden movement started up, a super PAC in Chicago has been pushing the VP to run, and another top Democratic fundraiser–Jon Cooper–is ready for Biden as well. Cooper raised about $1 million for Obama’s campaigns, according to the Wall Street Journal. Lastly, Team Clinton should be somewhat wary of a Biden run given that the vice president seems more electable than ever. As Josh Kraushaar wrote in National Journal, the inevitability of the Clinton train has been wrecked by a series of gaffes, her private email server included, that have destroyed her approval ratings. In key swing states, the former first lady isn’t doing much better than Donald Trump regarding favorability ratings. Trustworthiness and authenticity are lacking with Clinton, and this has all culminated in Mr. Biden looking better than ever:

If Obama's former campaign strategists truly believe that a Democratic candidate only needs to mobilize and microtarget the base to win the presidency, who better to do that than Obama's unfailingly loyal No. 2? Biden, after all, pushed the president to come out for gay marriage against his best political instincts. He led the administration's uphill fight for gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, heading its task force on the subject. He's helped with the administration's lobbying effort for its Iran deal, pitched wary Democrats on the benefits of fast-track trade, and stood by the president's side when he praised the Supreme Court's ruling upholding Obamacare subsidies.

And at a time when authenticity is a highly valued asset—for better or worse—Biden boasts the natural political skill set that Clinton clearly lacks. He's a happy warrior who enjoys campaigning and isn't constrained by talking points or rope lines. He's able to ham it up with union rank-and-file, while also giving a stem-winding speech blasting Republicans in Congress. His all-too-frequent malapropisms are endearing at a time when voters are cynical about scripted politicians.


For Obama supporters, the case for Biden should be an easy one to make: He's a liberal loyalist for this president who doesn't shade his views with excessive nuance. With Biden, there wouldn't be mealy-mouthed hedging. He'd be an unequivocal champion of the president and his agenda. And with Obama's job approval stabilizing—it's been within one point of 46 percent in nearly every week this year—there's a logical, if challenging, path for an unapologetic Obama cheerleader to win the presidency.

Yet, while Kraushaar said that Obama’s political team has done what it can to curtail Biden building a political team, that could easily change in a heartbeat given how the S.S. Hillary seems to be taking on water. Moreover, in 2013, Richard Benedetto, a retired USA Today White House Correspondent, wrote that the president was seemingly laying down the political foundations for a 2016 run. He cited Biden’s increased media presence with his attendance at the annual Army-Navy game, quarterbacking the presidential task force on gun violence post-Newtown, negotiating the fiscal cliff deal, and speaking with a multitude of foreign leaders. Maybe it was done as a secondary protocol just in case Hillary turns out to be what most expect her to become in the 2016 election: an unlikable, non-transparent candidate who walks a waffled line on the campaign trail. That probably took a more violent turn when her people decided to rope off the press like cattle during a Fourth of July event. Regardless, Biden watch is on for August. Let’s see what happens.

So Long: MSNBC Axes The Cycle, Alex Wagner, And Ed Schultz

As Mediaite initially reported about MSNBC, the liberal news organization is making some changes, with Now with Alex Wagner, The Cycle, and The Ed Show all being cut from the lineup. The publication reports that Ari Melber of The Cycle will remain with the network as a legal correspondent, and Wagner will remain as well. The Cycle’s other co-hosts, Touré, Abby Huntsman, and Krystal Ball are all leaving. Oh, and Ed Schultz is out too. Here’s a copy of the memo they received from MSNBC President Phil Griffin:


I’m writing to share a number of changes we’re making as we build a new daytime lineup with the best live, breaking news coverage on television.

As of this Friday, “The Cycle,” “Now with Alex Wagner” and “The Ed Show” will air their final shows.

Alex Wagner will stay with MSNBC and play a key role in our political coverage as we head into the 2016 election. And Ari Melber will continue in his role as Chief Legal Correspondent. But we will be parting ways with some friends – Ed Schultz, Krystal Ball, Abby Huntsman and Toure will be leaving MSNBC. Please join me in thanking them for their numerous contributions over the past several years, and in wishing them great success.

Beginning in a few weeks, Chuck Todd will bring his unmatched brand of political insight and analysis back to MSNBC with a daily one-hour program. That show will air weekdays at 5pm.

I know you read press reports last week speculating about these changes. I hope you can understand that we were not able to confirm at that point because we had not yet finalized many of the decisions I’m sharing with you today, and we hadn’t yet spoken directly with the people involved.

In the coming weeks, as we complete our plans to create a new look and flow for our dayside programming, our 3pm to 6pm hours will begin the pivot towards live, breaking news coverage – with interim hosts from among our very talented ranks. And then, in September, we’ll unveil a 9am to 5pm schedule driven by dynamic coverage of breaking news events that are shaping the day.

Change can be hard. There’s no doubt it’s been a difficult time, but we have exciting opportunities ahead.


So, the good news is that some insufferable liberals are leaving the network. The Media Research Center’s Newsbusters blog will surely miss some of these characters, but they still have Maddow and Chris Matthews to keep an eye on for the foreseeable future.

Report: Hillary Emails Contained Classified Materials From Five US Intelligence Agencies

Hillary Clinton, in early March:

"I Did Not Email Any Classified Material To Anyone On My Email. There is no classified material."

We recently learned that the above statement was the latest in a series of lies spun by Mrs. Clinton pertaining to her national security-endangering email scheme, which has now been referred to the Justice Department and FBI by two Inspectors General for further investigation. Within a 40 email sample reviewed by the IG offices, fully ten percent of the messages included classified materials -- which were classified at the time, not retroactively, as Mrs. Clinton has tried to claim.  Now we're beginning to get a more complete picture of just how just how comprehensively false her "no classified material" assertion was:

The classified emails stored on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server contained information from five U.S. intelligence agencies and included material related to the fatal 2012 Benghazi attacks, McClatchy has learned. Of the five classified emails, the one known to be connected to Benghazi was among 296 emails made public in May by the State Department. Intelligence community officials have determined it was improperly released. Revelations about the emails have put Clinton in the crosshairs of a broadening inquiry into whether she or her aides mishandled classified information when she used a private server set up at her New York home to conduct official State Department business. While campaigning for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Clinton has repeatedly denied she ever sent or received classified information. Two inspectors general have indicated that five emails they have reviewed were not marked classified at the time they were stored on her private server but that the contents were in fact “secret.” … “Even if Secretary Clinton or her aides didn’t run afoul of any criminal provisions, the fact that classified information was identified within the emails is exactly why use of private emails ...is not supposed to be allowed,” said Bradley Moss, a Washington attorney who specializes in national security matters. “Both she and her team made a serious management mistake that no one should ever repeat.”

Again, these classified and secret emails were discovered within a small sub-sample of the broader contents of her server -- tens of thousands of emails of which have been permanently deleted by Clinton and her lawyers, without any supervision. And with respect to Mr. Moss, these were not "management mistakes." Her decisions were calculated and deliberate. As Andrea Mitchell's intelligence sources concluded this week, the only conceivable reason someone in Clinton's position might set up a private email server in violation of numerous records-keeping rules and regulations would be to thwart efforts at oversight and accountability. And the excuse she initially floated was promptly debunked by her own virtual paper trail; the sorts of records, ironically, she sought to expunge.  In light of the IG's evidence regarding Clinton's unsecure email server and her dishonesty about transmitting highly sensitive materials, the intelligence community is reportedly girding itself for a full-scale security breach:

The U.S. intelligence community is bracing for the possibility that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email account contains hundreds of revelations of classified information from spy agencies and is taking steps to contain any damage to national security, according to documents and interviews Thursday. The top lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committee have been notified in recent days that the extent of classified information on Mrs. Clinton’s private email server was likely far more extensive than the four emails publicly acknowledged last week as containing some sensitive spy agency secrets. A U.S. official directly familiar with the notification, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the notification of possibly hundreds of additional emails with classified secrets came from the State Department Freedom of Information Act office to the Office of Inspector General for the Director of National Intelligence...The U.S. official said the intelligence community has been informed that secret information had been contained in some of Mrs. Clinton’s private emails that originated from the FBI, the DNI and the CIA as well as a spy satellite agency. It is believed the 30,000 emails remain on a thumb drive in the possession of Mrs. Clinton’s private attorney, David Kendall.

Team Clinton is busy assuring everyone that her lawyer's thumb drive -- which is apparently loaded with state secrets -- is secure.  The State Department is also playing defense for her, adopting a "nothing to see here" approach.  Once again, though: What about the those 32,000 permanently deleted emails, which the Chinese, Russians and others almost certainly have in their possession?  Hillary Clinton lied that each and every one of those destroyed emails were entirely personal in nature.  Subsequent evidence, furnished by the hack of a third party's insecure email, has proven this claim  to be false. Mrs. Clinton broke the rules to serve her own political interests, and flat-out lied about it, over and over again.  And while her arrogance, secrecy and dishonesty are certainly important elements of the email scandal, the real story is how her reckless and self-serving schemes demonstrated a shocking ambivalence toward US national security.  I'll leave you with this, which is…not the hallmark of a campaign that's going particularly well:

The infamous "right-wing conspiracy" now includes the New York Times, apparently. Sure, that'll sell.

Claim: Joe Biden Likes To Swim Nude in Front of Female Secret Service Agents

Apparently Vice President Joe Biden, who is reportedly readying a campaign against Hillary Clinton for the White House, has even creepier habits than we previously thought. 

According to Secret Service expert and best selling author Ronald Kessler, Biden likes to skinny dip in front of female Secret Service agents assigned to protect him. Naturally, they find this offensive.

"Talk about a war on women. Biden likes to swim nude both at his Vice President's residence in Washington and also at his home in Wilmington which he goes back to several times a week, all at our expense. By the way, a million dollars in Air Force 2 expenses, and this offends female Secret Service agents," Kessler said to Fox News' Sean Hannity Thursday night. "You know, they signed up to take a bullet for the President as you said but they didn't sign up to...they certainly didn't sign up to see Biden naked. It is offensive, it's abusive."

Joe Biden isn't just "uncle Joe," he's the Vice President of the United States and a potential presidential nominee with a long history of creepy, gross behavior that shouldn't be tolerated or laughed at. Further, his creepy behavior is a reflection of his character, which should be taken seriously should be decide to run for President.

Hillary Reverses Course: I Proudly Stand With Planned Parenthood

On Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Hilllary Clinton expressed concern over new undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood doctors haggling over the price of aborted baby parts. 

“I have seen pictures from them and obviously find them disturbing," Clinton said in an interview with The New Hampshire Union Leader.

But just 24-hours later, Clinton has changed course, saying last night that she proudly stands by and supports the abortion giant.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, the daughter of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards is working for the Clinton campaign.

The Clinton campaign has drawn heavily from pro-abortion professionals. One of its top officials in Iowa, the nation’s first primary state, is Lily Adams, daughter of Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards. Jane Emerson, the women’s outreach director of Clinton’s failed 2008 campaign, previously served as CEO of the abortion provider’s South Carolina operations.

Planned Parenthood has also partnered with Clinton’s controversial family foundation, helping with six projects under the Clinton Global Initiative umbrella. The Clinton Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.  

Further, a new report from America Rising shows how extensive the relationship between the Clintons and Planned Parenthood has been over the years. 

In 2014, Clinton was honored with the organization’s Margaret Sanger award. In 2009, Clinton spoke at Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s annual gala. Clinton also spoke to the group in Washington, D.C. in 2007.
Planned Parenthood maintained close ties to Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State.
Clinton praised PPFA’s work around the world, and PPFA returned praise when Clinton left the
State Department. Under Clinton, PPFA and its affiliates received millions in grant funding for
international program implementation and advocacy. During Clinton’s tenure, PPFA and its
affiliates also spent over $3.3 million lobbying federal agencies, including the State Department and
USAID, on several issues and pieces of legislation.

Bill Clinton also has a close relationship with Planned Parenthood. PPFA has praised Bill Clinton
and currently highlights him and his presidency on its website. Bill Clinton has also defended PPFA
against proposed cuts in federal funding by Congressional Republicans.

Over the years, the Clintons have received almost $67,000 in campaign contributions from Planned
Parenthood and its employees. So far in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton has received
almost $12,000 from employees of Planned Parenthood, including several maxed-out donations
from heads of PPFA affiliates.

Planned Parenthood is also close with several Clinton-connected groups who have gone all-in on her 2016 campaign.

Planned Parenthood is also connected to the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.
Its affiliates have contributed to the Clinton Foundation, and since 2008, PPFA has partnered with
CGI on projects around the world.

Planned Parenthood is under heavy scrutiny from law makers on Capitol Hill after a series of undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress show Planned Parenthood doctors haggling over the sale of aborted baby parts. The videos are graphic, with one released yesterday showing doctors detailing "intact" organs and playing with brain, heart and eyes in a pan.

Poll: Trump Fares Worst in the General Election

Donald Trump may be surging in GOP polls, but according to a new Quinnipiac poll, he is the worst performing Republican in the general election. He even loses to one of the weaker Democratic candidates: the socialist, Bernie Sanders.

The new poll shows Trump losing to Hillary Clinton, the probable Democratic nominee, 48 to 36. That's a 12-point loss to a woman the American people do not trust. We knew from prior polling data that Americans don't trust Hillary — but interestingly, this new poll shows that Trump's trust levels are just as low as hers. Fifty-eight percent of Americans distrust Donald Trump, while 57 percent distrust Hillary.

Trump also loses to Bernie Sanders 45 to 37 — an eight-point differential. He also loses to Joe Biden (who hasn't declared a candidacy) by 12 points — 49 to 37. Trump may be surging in GOP quarters, but he would clearly be a dead loss in a general election. He doesn't beat a single Democrat in this poll.

Let's also mention that Trump lost to Sanders by 21 points in another recent national poll.

Trump's low numbers against Democrats are highly telling in part because other Republicans do quite well by comparison. Scott Walker beats Bernie Sanders by five points, ties Joe Biden, and trails Hillary by one point. Jeb Bush also beats Sanders by five points, trails Joe Biden by one, and beats Hillary by one.

These results, along with the extensive swing-state polls from last week, put both Scott Walker and Jeb Bush in strong positions going forward. Walker led Clinton by nine points in Colorado, three points in Virginia, and eight points in Iowa. He's also in second place among GOP voters, and he looks poised to win the Iowa caucus as the current front-runner in that state. Trump's surge has certainly challenged Walker in Iowa, but Trump still trails him by two. If Trump's support has maxed out at this point (and it likely has), Walker's lead will likely only improve in Iowa.

Bush has shored up much of the moderate GOP vote, though that support is now being contested by John Kasich, the newest of the GOP candidates. Kasich claimed five percent of the GOP vote in the recent nationwide poll, and Bush — who last week received 15 percent support — has now fallen to 10 percent.

The Trump surge has largely skewed our understanding of how conservatives see the other Republican candidates. His rise has caused support for the other prominent conservatives to dry up — particularly for Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio. Trump is likely also stealing support from the still-prominent Scott Walker. The numbers are still very much in flux, and we'll have to wait until the debate season (which starts August 6) to see how they begin to shake out. If Trump declines, we'll get a better picture of what conservatives actually think about the other candidates. They are arguably the best Republican field since 1980, and this is an election that Republicans can win.

If there's any candidate who can become the anti-Trump, it will probably have to be a governor — and it is likely Scott Walker. It will have to be a governor because the senators in this race are all in some way tainted by Washington, and Trump is drawing most of his support from anti-Washington frustration. Walker possesses all the characteristics of a true reformer: he's foreign to Washington, has a stellar track record in Wisconsin (a potential swing state), and brings youthful energy. There are, of course, others who can fill those shoes: Rick Perry, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal — successful governors each in their own right. We'll just have wait and see what the debates hold.

Democrats Are Finding It A Bit Harder To Defend Planned Parenthood

The videos released by the Center for Medical Progress allegedly showing Planned Parenthood illegally engaging in the selling and procuring of body parts from aborted babies has reignited the abortion wars, especially late-term abortions. Pretty much everyone is against late term abortion, and 60 percent of American women are for abortion bans after 20 weeks into a pregnancy. This isn’t a controversial position, the undercover investigation by the Center for Medical Progress is forcing Democratic presidential candidates to respond to the grisly procedure they’ve captured on video, and it’s got them a bit tongue-tied, according to Dave Weigel of the Washington Post. For starters, this isn’t your typical “war on women/women’s health” narrative. This is about the illegal harvesting of baby’s body parts:

Clinton's "disturbing" comment, made in an interview with New Hampshire's Union Leader, landed poorly. It did not matter that Planned Parenthood's CEO Cecile Richards had apologized for the conversations in the video sting. The Democratic frontrunner, seemingly, had been forced into a defensive crouch. "She needs to clarify what her [point of view] is, and articulate it strongly and without apology," former Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt told MSNBC's Irin Carmon. "I just think that when candidates get to the firing line of a campaign they get thrown off balance and waffle."

Clinton's closest competitor, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (R-Vt.), fared no better -- at first. On July 17, when the videos broke, he cited Richards's statement and averred that "the tone was terribly wrong" in the fetal tissue conversation. "He has not gone out of his way to defend the group," wrote Mother Jones reporter Molly Redden in an article shared nearly 3000 times on Facebook.

Only today [July 29] -- before the Senate GOP press conference -- did Sanders release a new statement about the coming vote to defund Planned Parenthood. "The current attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood is part of a long-term smear campaign by people who want to deny women in this country the right to control their own bodies," said Sanders. "Let’s be clear: Federal funding for Planned Parenthood does not pay for abortions. The vast majority of government funding that Planned Parenthood receives is through Medicaid reimbursements."

Yet, that didn’t seem to cut it with the pro-abortion zealots. Weigel quoted feminist writer Katha Pollitt who wasn’t all too happy about Sanders’ later statement since he didn’t outright defend abortion.

“It's a little mealy-mouthed, no? … As I read it, he doesn't defend abortion specifically. He says Planned Parenthood provides gyno care for millions of poor women."

Granted, this is one of many fronts in the cultural battle over abortion. Pro-abortion activists claim we’re a pro-choice nation, but that’s hardly accurate. Over the years, the pendulum has swung in either direction; it’s a highly volatile subject regarding polling. Yet, pro-life activists are probably somewhat frustrated given that the majority of Americans support the Roe v. Wade decision, but also support restrictions on the act. The rates of approval drop like a rock when you discuss late-term, or third trimester, abortions. Now, we have the macabre dynamics of possible illegal body parts sales that are occurring under the umbrella of Planned Parenthood. Either way, it’s a public relations nightmare­–or it should be–for this organization. Nevertheless, their allies in the media have done a good job in omitting coverage of the investigation, opting to discuss how some dumb lion was killed by a Minnesota dentist with a bow and arrow*.

According to Katie Yoder at the Media Research Center, the Big Three–CBS, NBC, and ABC–have devoted 30 minutes covering poor, dead Cecil the Lion, while giving the Planned Parenthood videos a meager 11 minutes and 13 seconds of airtime over the course of two days.

Guy wrote yesterday that PP has hired a crisis PR firm that’s circulating memos to members of the media begging them to not report on the videos.

Exit Question: Who got Cecil’s skin? James Earl Jones looked really good wearing lion back in 1988.

Last note: there’s the tired talking point that the Center for Medical Progress videos are heavily edited. The full videos are listed on their YouTube channel as well.

UPDATE: It seems Hillary had a "come to Jesus" moment.

*That’s awesome!

RINO Alert: Romney Says Cruz's Comments On the Iran Deal 'Hurt the Cause'

Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized current GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Twitter Thursday morning for his comments on the Iran deal.

The comments Cruz made were:

“If this deal is consummated, it will make the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz said during a round table Tuesday. “Billions of dollars under control of this administration will flow into the hands of jihadists who will use that money to murder Americans, to murder Israelis, to murder Europeans.”

This led to this tweet from Romney:

And this hurts the cause how, exactly? Iran sponsors terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and the Obama administration is giving Iran $150 billion in sanctions relief in this deal. Why wouldn't Iran spend that money to embolden Hamas, Hezbollah and the rest of their jihadist allies? 

Susan Rice- the same Susan Rice who said that deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl "served with honor and distinction" and went on the Sunday talk shows spreading the lie that a video caused the Benghazi terror attacks- even admitted that this is a likely scenario:

"We should expect that some portion of that money would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we've seen in the region up until now," Rice said.

According to Susan Rice, calling for the ethnic cleansing of Jews and firing rockets into Israel is just "bad behavior."

So given that Iran could spend as many as $150 billion from the Obama administration on its terror proxies, Cruz's statement is completely factual. That does not hurt the cause of trying to bring down the Iran deal.

Twitter seems to agree, as The Right Scoop has collected a series of tweets excoriating Romney for this tweet. This tweet really puts it all in perspective:

Romney is really not in a position to be lecturing current GOP presidential candidates about what hurts or helps "the cause" given that he lost to Obama in 2012, who was a fairly weak candidate given the terrible state of the economy and since Islamic terrorism was on the rise.

Romney feels the need to attack Cruz because Romney is not a conservative. It would make sense then that Romney would want a more moderate candidate to win the GOP nomination than Cruz, probably somebody like Jeb Bush or Chris Christie.

Some Republican Senators Actually Oppose Defunding Planned Parenthood

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.”

Kirk, it should be noted, is up for re-election next year and is a top target for Democrats.

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.”

“If it is an amendment defunding Planned Parenthood before we have more facts in, then I would likely oppose the amendment,” she said.

But supporters of the bill explicitly point out that it is crafted in a way that doesn’t take funding away from women’s health. Just take a look at this provision, which Guy pointed out yesterday (from the AP, emphasis his):

GOP senators unveiled a bill Tuesday evening prohibiting federal aid to Planned Parenthood and directing that the money instead be directed to "other eligible entities to provide women's health care services." Aides said an initial vote on the measure, sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, was likely early next week. The bill cites state and local health departments, federally backed community health centers and other providers of health services to women who might get the money. Republicans were hoping that might encourage Democrats to pull funds away from Planned Parenthood, which even some abortion-rights Democrats have avoided defending since the videos were released.

“We introduced legislation last night that would ensure taxpayer dollars for women’s health are spent on women’s health, not a scandal-plagued political lobbying giant,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday.

“It’s a simple choice,” he added. “Senators can either vote to protect women’s health, or they can vote to protect subsidies for a political group mired in scandal.”

Call Me, Russ: Feingold Instructs Wisconsin Democrats To Omit His 10+ Years in Washington

In the spring, former Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold decided to toss his hat in the ring for a rematch against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who beat him in the 2010 elections. Feingold, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992, is a formidable challenger to Johnson–and he has to win if there’s any hope for the Democrats in retaking the upper chamber of Congress. In May, Democrats were still viewing Feingold’s loss in 2010 as a “fluke” (via National Journal):

Without a Feingold victory, the party has very little chance of winning control of the Senate. A Feingold loss would likely indicate a very strong year for Republicans nationally. And in such a case, it's difficult to imagine how Democrats could knock off enough better-entrenched incumbents in redder states to overcome such a setback in Wisconsin.

Democrats need to win at least a net of five Senate seats next year to guarantee a majority. (The number shrinks to four if they win the presidency.) But even on a map laden with Republican incumbents defending blue-state seats, Democrats have few better opportunities than Wisconsin, where Johnson is widely considered, even by Republican operatives, to be the GOP's most vulnerable incumbent. (Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk also is in the running.)


Six years later, even with Johnson as the incumbent, GOP strategists think they can still frame the race as one between a political outsider and a career politician. Helping their cause, they say, is the belief that Feingold, a crusader for campaign finance reform, will green-light the help of political committees and super PACs—the kind of outside spending he once made a career out of opposing and eschewed in 2010.

"After decades in politics, Feingold's ego still can't grasp that he was soundly defeated by Oshkosh job creator Ron Johnson in 2010," said Andrea Bozek, spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Wisconsin families rejected Feingold's broken promises and his liberal record once and they are going to do it again. Wisconsin voters know a desperate career politician when they see one and that is why they will re-elect their independent leader, Ron Johnson."

In June, Feingold banked $2 million for his 2016 war chest, and was reportedly trying to solicit advice from Wisconsin Democratic operatives who hadn’t spoken with the former senator throughout his entire career. Yet, it seems to be an effort to learn from his 2010 mistakes ... regarding messaging; Russ isn’t backing away from his progressive roots.

That tweak on the messaging front was showcased this weekend, where the chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, Martha Laning, said to supporters that they should call Feingold “Russ” because they don’t want to highlight the fact that he’s been in Washington for over a decade (via Free Beacon):

They want us to say ‘Russ,’” Laning said, “because the last campaign was all about ‘16 years, 16 years, 16 years, he’s there too long,’ and so they want to say ‘he’s just one of us. We want to go back to Russ being Russ.’”

The informal salutation “seems very disrespectful,” she said, but the campaign has insisted on the personal touch as a way of downplaying Feingold’s political career, which spanned nearly three decades.

“The second one is we never want to say ‘go back to the Senate,’ we just want to say ‘electing him to the Senate.’ They want to totally get away from all that,” Laning added.

Yeah, do these people think that Google somehow doesn’t exist? Oh, and Feingold’s team really isn’t happy about the video:

An insider close to Feingold made it clear that the ex-senator's team is none too pleased with the video or Laning, who was elected to the top Dem post in June.

"This is no time for on-the-job training," said the source, who asked not to be named because he's not authorized to speak for the campaign. "I'm pretty certain they don't want Martha Laning to use the words 'Russ Feingold' ever again."


In a statement, Laning accused the Republicans of using her remarks to attack Feingold personally. She said Feingold has always been "Russ" in her mind.

The newly elected Democratic Party boss did admit one mistake.

"Unfortunately, I mischaracterized what Russ says both publicly and privately, to even his closest Democratic supporters," Laning said. "This Senate seat is not his or Ron Johnson's because it belongs to the people of Wisconsin."

But she is not the first prominent Democrat to make such an error.

In a May email to party members, former Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate encouraged people to attend a fundraising reception "to ensure we have the resources we need to retake Russ Feingold's U.S. Senate seat."

Still, even with these trip ups, Johnson and the Republicans will have to seriously hold the line in Wisconsin, which hasn’t gone Republican in a national election since the 1984.

(H/T Free Beacon/ Lachlan Markay)

Will The Koch Rejection Hurt Or Benefit Trump?

Billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch have given a rather explicit “no thanks” concerning giving Donald Trump an audience to their vast network of donors and access to their voter databases. It’s not personal, it's just business seems to be the overarching theme here. Both Trump and David Koch have a close relationship, with their respective mansions near one another in Palm Beach, Florida (via Politico):

The Koch brothers are freezing out Donald Trump from their influential political operation — denying him access to their state-of-the-art data and refusing to let him speak to their gatherings of grass-roots activists or major donors.

Despite a long and cordial relationship between the real estate showman and David Koch, as well as a raft of former Koch operatives who are now running Trump’s presidential campaign, the Koch political operation appears to have concluded that Trump is the wrong standard-bearer for the GOP. And the network of Koch-backed policy and political outfits is using behind-the-scenes influence to challenge Trump more forcefully than the Republican Party establishment — by limiting his access to the support and data that would help him translate his lead in the polls into a sustainable White House campaign.

The Koch operation has spurned entreaties from the Trump campaign to purchase state-of-the-art data and analytics services from a Koch-backed political tech firm called i360, and also turned down a request to allow Trump to speak at an annual grass-roots summit next month in Columbus, Ohio, sponsored by the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity, POLITICO has learned


The Koch network — a coalition of individual donors and independent groups and companies — intends to spend a whopping $889 million in the run-up to 2016, and is not obliged to stay neutral. While it appears increasingly unlikely that it will officially endorse a GOP primary candidate, it has nonetheless shaped the process by determining which candidates are granted access to i360’s data and the grass-roots activists convened regularly by groups including AFP and Concerned Veterans for America.

Yet, the publication also noted that this “snub” isn’t so bad for the Trump crew; a) the Donald is a billionaire himself and could inject his own cash into his campaign, rendering the donor access moot b) because the Donald can inject hard money the Koch super PACs could have given regarding some positive attention is also rendered moot.

Koch money is soft money, which is not to say that it’s ineffective. The Koch’s political activities are doing great work spreading the principles of economic freedom. But they cannot bring the message home in the way hard money donations a la Trump campaign donations (and the RNC) can do regarding the ground game. Also, it's hard to say if the attention Trump is getting would have been better-or at equal levels–if the Kochs had opened the door to him. Moreover, some of Trump’s top campaign operatives are former Americans for Prosperity staffers.

So, while the Kochs' 2016 war chest is expected to be near $900 million, it’s highly appealing to the other candidates in the field. Trump, not so much. He can go far. He’s here to stay, but we don’t know how much of his own wealth he’s willing to invest in this 2016 venture. His fundraising goals are shoddy, but his bank accounts (again) can surely make those weak totals irrelevant. If he’s willing to dole out the cash, Mr. Trump can go a lot further than most are giving him credit for as 2016 ramps up:

While others like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush have raised tens of millions from early donors and Super PACs, Trump has brought in only a little more than $92,000 from people sending him cash. If that trend continues, we may see if he’s really willing to put his personal fortune where his mouth is.

“The non-politician so far has been the best politician,” says Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer. “We need to take this seriously but I think the Republicans will do everything in their power to prevent him from ultimately being the candidate.”

Despite others out-fundraising him, “the free media that he’s managed to get tallies way more than anyone has actually spent in real dollars,” says Yahoo Finance Senior Columnist Michael Santoli. That has allowed Trump to spend relatively little of his own money -- he has loaned the campaign $1.8 million so far.

Trump has a long way to go, however, before voters can officially make their voices heard. Will he flame out in a few weeks like Herman Cain did in the 2012 cycle? Trump may have the cash to prevent that, but Santoli believes it all comes down to “his willingness to bankroll himself over time and whether the act grows tired or whether he reaches the limit of people who are receptive to him.”

If things flame out, it’s obviously not over for the Donald. He said he would “ride into the sunset,” investing in other ventures in order to make America great again.