Ouch: Only 5 Percent in NH Poll Say Hillary is Trustworthy, Sanders 93 Percent

We knew it wasn't going to be a good night for Hillary Clinton. But, this early exit poll indicates it's going to be a downright hellish evening in New Hampshire for the Democratic presidential candidate. Democrats in the Granite State were asked to judge the trustworthiness of Clinton and her opponent Bernie Sanders. They were almost unanimous.

Yikes.

Perhaps this poll helps explain why Sanders is ahead in New Hampshire by double digits. Her dismissive attitude toward her email scandal and Wall Street connections may account for why the state is giving her the cold shoulder. 

The numbers to come may be just as painful. 

LIVE BLOG: Battle in New Hampshire

7:42: Traffic to a polling place in Merrimack is atrocious. 

7:27: Video of the long lines:

7:25: There are long lines at a number of polling places around New Hampshire, both for registering and for voting, which isn't surprising since the Secretary of State predicted record turnout earlier today.

7:00: Majority of polls are officially closed and the vote totals are starting to roll in. You can follow live election results here.

6:45: Polling for the first-in-the nation primary closes in 15 minutes as voters anxiously await results.

Ben Carson: Yeah, I'm Totally Open To Being Trump's Vice President

Speaking on Fox Business Network on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson said that he would consider being the running mate of one of his fellow candidates as long as they shared a "significant philosophical alignment." When pressed further, Carson admitted that this includes Donald Trump. He declined to name someone who he would not entertain a run with.

Interesting. While rumors of Carson dropping have swirled since the Iowa caucuses (turns out he was just refreshing his wardrobe), being publicly open to the idea of being vice president cannot be comforting to his supporters.

Like Matt wrote earlier: is it time for Carson to bow out from the race?

First Exits: Independent Voters Break For The Democrats, Could Spell Trouble For Hillary

The first exit polls are out, and most Republican voters were undecided until a few days ago. Moreover, the most recent GOP debates proved to be a very important factor for New Hampshire voters as well. Around a quarter of Democrats came to their decision within the last few days (via CNN):

Republican voters expressed deep worries about both the economy (three-quarters were very worried) and the threat of terrorism (6-in-10 very worried). About 9-in-10 said they were dissatisfied with the federal government, including about 4-in-10 who were angry about the way it was working. And for many, the dissatisfaction extends to the GOP itself. Half said they felt betrayed by politicians from the Republican Party, and about the same share said they wanted the next president to be from outside the political establishment.

Though Democrats voting on Tuesday were less apt to say they felt betrayed by their party or to express anger with the federal government, about three-quarters said they were worried about the economy. About 4-in-10 said they thought life for the next generation of Americans would be worse than life today, and 9-in-10 said they thought the nation's economy favored the wealthy.

Still, Democrats who went to the polls Tuesday -- to vote in a race featuring two seasoned politicians -- were more apt than Republicans to say they wanted the next president to have experience in politics, only about one-quarter said they preferred a president from outside the political establishment.

Only about one-quarter of Democrats said they made up their minds in the final days of the contest, well below the share of Republicans deciding late.

CNN’s political director David Chalian added that regarding independent voters, who make up the majority of registered voters in New Hampshire–they’re making up more of the electorate in the Democratic primary than the Republicans (41/35).

John King added that when it’s Sen. Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton with registered Democrats, it’s a close race. Sen. Sanders begins to pull ahead when independents are added into the mix.

Parting thought: Things could change, as New Hampshire polling isn’t the most accurate (via WaPo):

The truth is that New Hampshire primary polls are frequently wrong in predicting not only the margins of victory but also the winners.

• In 1980, a CBS poll showed Ronald Reagan beating George H.W. Bush by 45 points, though his actual margin of victory was 27 points.

• In 1984, the final Washington Post-ABC News poll had Walter Mondale tied with Gary Hart, and the final CNN poll had Mondale winning by six points. Hart won by nine.

• In 1988, Gallup had Bob Dole beating George H.W. Bush by eight points, and the Post-ABC poll had Dole up by three. Bush won by nine.

• In 1996, CNN-Time showed Dole winning by 15 points. Patrick Buchanan won by one point.

• In 2000, the average of all polls showed John McCain beating George W. Bush by eight points. McCain won by 18 points, more than twice what polls predicted. Though this was a larger average error than in 2008, it was not labeled a “fiasco.”

Why are polls often wrong? It’s not usually because of methodological issues but because of timing. When pollsters conclude their interviews (some by Friday, others as late as Sunday), many voters have not made up their minds. Exit polls show that 30 to 45 percent of voters make their decisions in the final three days of the campaign; 15 to 20 percent do so on Election Day itself.

Stay tuned for more updates.

UPDATE: GOP voters split between wanting an "outsider" over an establishment candidate.

It's Come To This: Trump Repeats Supporter's Remarks On Cruz, Called Him A P**sy

Well, as New Hampshire voters head to the polls, let’s not forget how the Donald christened the occasion by repeating what one of his supporters said about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). At a rally prior to Election Day, a Trump supporter called Cruz a “p**sy,” which drew a mock chastisement from the billionaire business magnate (via the Hill):

[Warning: some strong language]:

Trump: Repeating Cruz Is A 'P**sy' Was 'Like A Retweet'

Language warning: Donald J. Trump shrugged off calling Sen. Ted Cruz a "p**sy" by claiming, "It was like a retweet." Read more: http://trib.al/YJndxyb

Posted by The Daily Caller on Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"She just said a terrible thing," Trump said, stopping his own remarks at the arena in Manchester and pointing out a woman in the audience, beckoning her to raise her voice.

"You know what she said? Shout it out, 'cause I don't want to," Trump continued. "OK, you're not allowed to say – and I never expect to hear that from you again – she said ... he's a p**sy."

"That's terrible, terrible," Trump said as the audience erupted into a mix of laughs and cheers and he threw his hands into the air and moved away from the microphone.

Katrina Pierson, a Trump spokesperson, called this incident a free speech victory:

We have a full-blown assault on the First Amendment. Donald Trump has single-handedly brought back freedom of speech. And yes, he did repeat what a voter said. But, at the same time, this is also the “Live Free or Die” state. This is where your rights are really important to you as an individual. And the fact that Donald Trump is out there saying what he thinks and means is important.

So, we have presidential candidates seemingly embracing attacks, like calling each other p**sies, on the campaign trail. At the same time, this is fitting with Trump’s character.

Expanded Medical Marijuana Bill Proposed in Iowa

A bill in Iowa proposed today by Republican State Rep. Peter Cownie would expand the state's current medical marijuana law and would open up the drug to more patients with a variety of conditions, as well as permit people to grow marijuana. Currently, medical cannabis is only available in oil form for people with epilepsy.

Some Republican House lawmakers are supporting legislation that would create a system for manufacturing, distributing and possessing some forms of medical marijuana in Iowa, though it's unclear what type of support the bill will get from party leaders.

The bill would expand the state's current law on medical marijuana, which allows some epilepsy patients to use cannabis oil.

The new legislation would expand it to include more products and patients though it would prohibit the smoking of medical marijuana.

Twenty three states, plus the District of Columbia, permit the use of cannabis for a variety of medicinal purposes.

Friendly Reminder: Bernie’s $70 Billion-a-Year ‘Free College Aspect’ Is Not ‘Awesome’

MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff was on a bus taking New Hampshire voters to the polls in Durham, when he asked first-time voter Grace, whom she was supporting. She was backing Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) due to his democratic socialist leanings, and the fact that the “free college aspect was awesome.” She added that most of her friends are going for Bernie as well.

It sounds like a nice plan, but as with many of Bernie’s policy’s–they’re half-baked. Let’s go back to Kevin James’ May of 2015 column, where he detailed the free college initiative–and how it would fail:

The idea would cost $70 billion per year, more than twice what the federal government spends on Pell grants. And much of that money would provide a free education to students whose families can already afford it.

But even more important than how much we spend and who we spend it on, we should ask ourselves what impact free public college would have on the delivery system of higher education. That is, would free college make higher education more efficient, more innovative and higher quality?

[…]

Right now we have a decentralized system where students can take much of their student aid with them to the institution of their choosing. This enables a wide variety of organizations – public and private – to offer a range of different educational programs.

In contrast, free public college would limit choice as many private institutions, now trying to compete with a highly-subsidized, free public option, would likely struggle to survive. In addition to reducing options, this would significantly reduce pressure on public institutions to serve students effectively.

Many free college proponents would likely point out that by providing aid directly to institutions, the government can actually exert more direct control over how they operate. For example, Sanders' bill would require institutions to reduce their reliance on adjunct professors. But are such top-down controls really likely to create the dynamic and innovative system that we need? By trying to dictate innovation from Washington, such a proposal is more likely to create a system that is rigid, bureaucratic and unresponsive to the changing needs of students and the economy over time.

[…]

… there are a remarkable number of regulatory barriers preventing new and innovative educational institutions from gaining a foothold. Thus, what occurs naturally in other industries – innovative market entrants shaking up the status quo – rarely occurs in higher education. Policymakers must work to clear out unnecessary regulatory underbrush that impedes new options.

Fundamentally, the "price" of free public college is more than the money taxpayers would spend on it. By moving us to a system based largely on public institutions managed through top-down regulation, Sanders' proposal would exacerbate the challenges above, not solve them.

Let’s not kid ourselves; education has a multitude of problems, and James adds that government needs to focus on making things cost less that deliver, instead of just throwing money at the issue–a typical move by Democrats since it’s easy to sell and explain, regardless of the economic consequences. He also wrote that we should “foster more entrepreneurship in higher education,” and force colleges to have more skin in the game, instead of just worrying about meeting enrollment quotas and graduation rates; they should be invested more in the outcome of their students. The huge part of this will come from the entrepreneurial side, which under socialism, cannot thrive.

Here We Go: Voting Underway New Hampshire, Trump and Sanders Are Frontrunners


MANCHESTER, NH -- Coming out of Iowa, a few narratives began to congeal: Hillary is going to struggle to put Bernie away. Trump isn't a mirage, but his support is overstated, and he's beatable. Cruz's ground game is the real deal. Rubio is a legitimate contender. Other GOP campaigns are on life support. So how will the revamped script read after tonight? On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders appears destined for a significant win, battering Hillary in a state that may be in the Vermonter's backyard, but that she famously won in 2008. Thus, the prohibitive Democratic frontrunner will emerge from her first two primary elections having tied and lost to a Socialist. The road ahead will get less arduous for her, but it's likely to be a much longer journey than she'd bargained for. In RepublicanWorld, things are murkier.  The increasingly profane Donald Trump is the odds-on favorite to win comfortably. He's up by 17 points in the RCP average. The only question seems to be whether he'll underperform his polls again, not whether he'll prevail at all. Even a few days ago, this may have been less clear. I've spoken to three separate, plugged-in sources who've all told me the same thing: In the days following his surprisingly robust Iowa finish, Marco Rubio appeared to be on track to seriously challenge Trump for first place here in the Granite State.  That's how trajectory looked, they say. But after a debate performance that was at best mixed, featuring a memorably painful exchange with Chris Christie, Rubio finds himself in a dogfight for second place.  New polling has him sitting anywhere from second to fourth, the latter of which would be a disaster for his campaign.  Why the focus on Rubio?  Allahpundit explains:

I’m not overstating it when I say that the nomination may hinge on how Rubio finishes tonight. If he’s a strong second, he’ll be a strong favorite in betting markets to win it all; if he finishes behind Kasich and (especially) Bush, there’ll be mass panic within the GOP establishment about how to stop Trump and Cruz over the next six weeks. If Rubio can’t pull out a win in South Carolina or Nevada after this, he’s likely done, and whether he can win there depends in part on whether he can surprise everyone tonight.

May hinge.  A silver medal for Rubio here keeps him on pace to make a strong play for the GOP crown, especially as rivals continue to drop out.  He'll demonstrate that he can take a hard punch and get right back up.  It'll be off to South Carolina, where Ted Cruz will be lying in wait with a fresh line of attack (which Rubio should be able to parry, assuming he's not once again caught like a deer in the headlights by an obviously-telegraphed hit).  The field will thin out, and Rubio will take a major step closer to the three-man race he wants.  Another bronze would be an under-performance, as the conventional wisdom would take root that Rubio's debate gaffe inflicted real damage, ramping up pressure to over-perform in at least one of the two remaining February nominating contests. Not good, but salvageable.  But if the Florida Senator ends up in fourth place or worse, it's a catastrophe for his candidacy.  This cycle may be too unpredictable to declare his campaign over after that type of outcome, but he'd be in deep, deep trouble.  And because the likeliest beneficiary of Rubio's potential New Hampshire swoon is John Kasich -- who, let's face it, lacks a path to the nomination, even if he comes in second place -- a Marcoplosion might usher the race into a Trump vs. Cruz stage.  (On that note, I recommend Liam Donovan's sharp piece on the GOP establishment's foolish and short-sighted dalliances with The Donald).

As for the other candidates, Ben Carson's tactical decisions continue to point toward an exit ramp sooner or later, especially in light of his indignance over the Cruz campaign's exploitive maneuver in the Hawkeye State.  Cruz, by the way, is almost in a no-lose situation in New Hampshire, unless he really bombs.  An unsurprising middling result doesn't hurt him much with South Carolina up next, but an unexpectedly strong showing (fueled by his ground operation) would give him another burst of energy and momentum. Carly Fiorina, who has campaigned hard, hasn't made many inroads since her sparkling debate showings early in the cycle.  I'm not sure she survives an 'afterthought' finish in New Hampshire.  And despite their big night on Saturday, the remaining trio of governors all need to make big statements here, which can't happen. Chris Christie may be in the most danger, having gone all-in on the Granite State with relatively little to show for it in the polls.  If Jeb Bush finishes behind, say, Trump, Rubio, Kasich, and maybe Cruz, he'll again have poured enormous resources into a state in which he ended up petering out.  Placing in the top three (not beyond the realm of possibility, according to some polls) would be a boost, however, and he certainly has the money and infrastructure to keep truckin' basically for as long as he wants.  At least one governor's campaign will effectively or literally end tonight.  Maybe two.  And possibly even three, depending on how things shake out.

So if the eleventh hour analysis is correct, and Rubio's post-New Hampshire standing is a major cipher to unlocking the dynamics of the remainder of the race, what can we expect from him this evening?  His team has begun downplaying the risky "3-2-1" strategy we wrote about late last month, with the candidate emphasizing slow but steady delegate accumulation.  Is that a sign that they're pre-spinning what they now expect to be a third-place or worse result tonight?  Or is it the same sort of sly expectations management that undeniably contributed to the "Marcomentum" media boomlet after Iowa?  We'll soon find out.  I'll leave you with a few sights and sounds from the campaign trail over the last few days, followed by yet another stark illustration of how certain longstanding political rules of thumb simply don't seem to apply to Donald Trump -- who is running far ahead among an electorate that is known for prizing retail politics and policy depth:


Parting thought (via AP): Who's the "real" Rubio?  The guy who got stuck on repeat at the debate, and who allegedly doesn't react well to setbacks?  Or the guy who recovered well in that same debate, seemed unfazed by mid-interview heckling on national television, and whose charisma is winning over voters one by one on the ground?

Congress Criticizes Obama Budget For Putting Climate Change Ahead of National Security

President Obama’s final budget request is full of the bloated bureaucracy we’ve come to expect. The proposal, which is over $4 trillion, places a fee on oil and raises taxes. Of particular target though is Obama’s plan to fund environmental initiatives at the demise of economic prosperity.

A few specifics:

The economy will continue to grow by about 2.5% over the next decade. Congress will enact a $10-a-barrel tax on fuel oil, raising $319 billion over 10 years. Congress will pass immigration reform, resulting in another $170 billion in new revenue over the next decade. And off-budget war spending will decrease by $636 billion through 2026.

As you can imagine, this request raised more than a few red flags.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) was pleased that Obama’s budget would help his state’s infrastructure, but was concerned about the price Americans will pay with the proposed tax increases.

“A $10 tax on every barrel of oil would cripple Alaska’s economy, which is already reeling from low oil prices. He also proposes to increase taxes on Americans by $3.4 trillion over the next ten years and wrack up $10.6 trillion in new debt, which would total a whopping $27.4 trillion by the end of his budget. This is also unacceptable. Alaskans sent me to D.C. to grow our economy and ensure that the next generation is not saddled with our debt. This budget does the opposite.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul had another reason for being concerned about the president’s proposal. He argues that placing such a high priority on climate change dangerously takes attention away from national security at a time when the terror threat is red hot.

“The President’s budget request does not reflect the fact that we face the highest terror threat level since 9/11,” he said. “While the budget calls for a number of necessary security enhancements, it still falls short where we need it most. Our city streets have become the front lines in the war against Islamist terror, yet the President proposes slashing funding to state and local first responders. The threat at our borders is rising by the day, yet the President proposes cutting the number of border patrol agents. And while I am pleased to see the White House has finally included a few budget lines to address terrorists’ recruitment of Americans, the President’s overall budget still proposes spending billions more on countering climate change than on countering violent extremism here at home.”

Last week, President Obama tried to brag about the latest jobs report that showed an unemployment rate that had dropped under 5 percent for the first time in 7 years. Reality, however, paints a different picture. The real number is more like 10 percent. Oh, and the GDP only grew by .8 percent in the fourth quarter, investors.com reports.

Is it any wonder Congress is hesitating to take advice from the man who presided over this ailing economy?

Testimony: ISIS Likely To Strike in U.S. Within The Year

Testifying on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart warned about ISIS striking inside the U.S. within the year. 

"[ISIS] will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016," Stewart said during testimony. 

NSA Director James Clapper, who was also testifying, warned ISIS is using the refugee stream from Iraq and Syria to disguise fighters and to transfer them into the United States. This is the same tactic intelligence has seen used a number of times throughout Europe. ISIS has also been using refugee camps to recruit new fighters. 

Further, Clapper confirmed ISIS has in fact produced and used chemical weapons in Iraq.

Awkward: Iowa Dems Are Refusing to Release Raw Vote Totals

After last Monday's ridiculously close caucus in Iowa, many Bernie Sanders supporters were crying foul at the results. Now, they have another reason to be suspicious: the Iowa Democratic Party has announced that they will not be releasing the raw vote totals from the caucuses. The party did, however, release the vote totals in 2008.

Despite calls to simplify the caucus process and prevent the errors that plagued this year's caucuses, Iowa Democrats are holding firm to their current system.

Sanders' boost brought him to a quarter of a percentage point within Clinton's number. The winner of the popular vote, meanwhile, remains unclear as state party officials have declined to release raw votes.

The mistakes have also led to calls for the Iowa Democratic Party to change its process, which differs from the Republican Party's method of conducting a simple, secret straw poll. The Democrats use complex math formulas, coin tosses and past voter turnout to calculate numbers from a series of headcounts.

On Sunday, The Des Moines Register quoted a news release by Iowa's Democratic Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire, who promised to convene a committee that would "improve on our caucus process while preserving what makes it special."

Many, however, are drawing the obvious conclusion that refusing to release the numbers indicates that Clinton didn't win the popular vote in Iowa.

Massive Turnout Expected For Granite State Rumble

Hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire voters are expected to flock to the polls today. Secretary of State William M. Gardner predicts that 282,000 Republican ballots will be cast, along with 268,000 Democratic votes. There are also over 389,000 Independent voters who can vote in either primary (via CBS Boston):

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said he never expected to see anything like the 2008 voter turnout for the state’s first-in-the-nation primary for a long time–but this year, he says, there may be even more activity.

“I expect that we’ll exceed 500,000,” Gardner told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “I think we’ll get up into even 550,000.”

[…]

Independent voters, officially known as “undeclared,” make up 44 percent of registered voters. They can vote in either primary, making them a key group on Tuesday.

Besides Independent voters, USA Today  also mentioned that out-of-state college students could declare residency in New Hampshire, which should boost Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) numbers, given that young voters are overwhelmingly backing him in this primary.

The publication added that there would be something of a “political earthquake” if either Sanders or Trump should lose. The chances of that, albeit very slim, is more on the Republican side, though that still doesn’t mean that people will be watching who will be the runner-up in the GOP contest. The historic high turnout could also help the anti-establishment wings of both parties, and if Christie, Fiorina, Carson, Kasich, and Bush do poorly tonight, they should all consider doing something else than running for president.

Top Clinton Aides Abedin and Sullivan Sent Classified Info on Personal Email Accounts, Too

When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was busted last year for using multiple private email accounts and a private home-brew server to conduct all of her official government business, she claimed all email was reviewed and that emails containing personal information were deleted upon her departure from the position. The rest, she reassured, was turned over to the Department as required. 

Now that we know Clinton hosted thousands of pages of top secret, classified information on her server, including extremely sensitive human source information, the looming question has become whether the aides she assigned to go through her email, not to mention those who received classified information through email, had the required security clearance to do so. Considering the Inspector General reviewing the case had to obtain special clearance to handle a number of Clinton's emails because of the high level of sensitive material contained within them, the answer to that question is likely no. 

Today, Judicial Watch is out with a report showing not only did top Clinton aides Huma Abedine and Jake Sullivan also use unsecured, personal email accounts to communication with Clinton during her time at the State Department, but they received classified information from her on those accounts.

Judicial Watch today released nearly 70 pages of State Department records that show that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides, Deputy Chiefs of Staff Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan, received and sent classified information on their non-state.gov email accounts.  The documents, also available on the State Department website, were obtained in response to a court order from a May 5, 2015, lawsuit filed against the State Department (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00684)) after it failed to respond to a March 18 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The new documents show that Hillary Clinton used the clintonemail.com system to ask Huma Abedin (also on a non-state.gov email account) to print two March 2011 emails, which were sent from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (using the moniker “aclb”) to Jake Sullivan on Sullivan’s non-state.gov email account.  The Obama State Department redacted the Blair emails under Exemption (b)(1) which allows the withholding of classified material.  The material is marked as being classified as “Foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the US, including confidential sources.”

The newly released Abedin emails include a lengthy exchange giving precise details of Clinton’s schedule using unsecured government emails. The email from Lona J. Valmoro, former Special Assistant to Secretary of State Clinton, to Abedin and Clinton reveals exact times (including driving times) and locations of all appointments throughout the day. Another itinerary email provides details about a meeting at the United Nations in New York at 3:00 on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, with the precise disclosure, “that would mean wheels up from Andrews at approximately 12:00pm/12:15pm.

“These emails show that Hillary Clinton isn’t the only Obama official who should be worried about being prosecuted for mishandling classified information.  Her former top State aides (and current campaign advisers) Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan should be in the dock, as well,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said about the findings in a statement.  “The Obama State Department has now confirmed that Clinton, Abedin, and Sullivan used unsecured, non-government email accounts to communicate information that should now be withheld from the American people ‘in the interest of national defense or foreign policy, and properly classified.’ When can we expect the indictments?”

Yesterday the FBI officially confirmed what we already knew: Hillary Clinton is under criminal investigation for a number of reasons. One of them is due to her use of a private email server to store and share classified information. Her closest aides may soon be under FBI criminal investigation as well, if they aren't already.

North Korean Scientists Have Outsmarted the Global Community

In what started last month as a hydrogen bomb test, and then progressed into to an actual missile launch on Sunday just hours before the Super Bowl, has become something more than just another crazy outburst from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.  In recent days, many believed that Sunday's missile would come crashing down after the launch and be salvaged for study and that the satellite released into orbit would simply tumble through space without direction.  Both of these rumors may be false.   

According to CBS News:

In a statement Tuesday, South Korea's Defense Ministry said it believes the North deliberately blew up the rocket's first stage after burnout to prevent South Korea from retrieving rocket debris. It was deliberately rigged to blow up after separation Sunday, for the express purpose of confounding foreign analysts.

And as for the tumbling satellite:

Additionally, Western analysts initially believed the satellite itself was "tumbling" and not stable enough to transmit data back to its controllers and fulfill its official mission as an Earth observation satellite. However, Pentagon officials told CBS News correspondent David Martin the North Koreans have stabilized the satellite. 

With all that is going on in the world, I would not put it past our incompetent leaders to have botched this whole ordeal.  The constant underestimation of our enemies is going to eventually put American lives at risk.  

Report: Hillary's Wall Street Speech Transcripts Would 'Bury Her'


In my piece this morning examining the floundering and mildly desperate state of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, I asked this question: "We know she was reckless in her handling of national security secrets, but she's assiduously protective of whatever she said in those speeches. Why?" The assumption is that rather than corroborating her implausibly revisionist characterizations of what she said to those elite bankers who paid her six-figures per speech (her typical fee), the hidden transcripts would reveal a very chummy posture toward her supposed mortal enemies, or whatever. Such a revelation would further undermine her credibility among the Democratic base's rabidly anti-Wall Street base, buttress one of Bernie Sanders' central lines of attack, and again expose her as self-serving and genetically incapable of ruthful candor. Which brings us to this Politico story. Drip:

When Hillary Clinton spoke to Goldman Sachs executives and technology titans at a summit in Arizona in October of 2013, she spoke glowingly of the work the bank was doing raising capital and helping create jobs, according to people who saw her remarks. Clinton, who received $225,000 for her appearance, praised the diversity of Goldman’s workforce and the prominent roles played by women at the blue-chip investment bank and the tech firms present at the event. She spent no time criticizing Goldman or Wall Street more broadly for its role in the 2008 financial crisis. “It was pretty glowing about us,” one person who watched the event said. “It’s so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director.” ... Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon dismissed the recollections as “pure trolling,” while the Clinton campaign declined to comment further on calls that she release the transcripts of the three paid speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs, for which she earned a total of $675,000.

Why not produce the transcripts to prove that this is "pure trolling"?  No comment.  Got it.  Vanity Fair  notices an intriguing quote from one of Politico's sources:

If the transcript came out, “it would bury her against Sanders,” the source added later. “It really makes her look like an ally of the firm.” The drip-drip of quotes characterizing Clinton’s comments will only increase the pressure on the candidate to redefine her strategy against Sanders, who is running away with the lion’s share of young voters, particularly women, who overwhelmingly favor the Vermont senator’s populist campaign. Clinton retains her dominant position in the primary states after New Hampshire. But her seeming inability to hold off the brutal attacks on her cozy relationship with Wall Street speaks to a startling lack of foresight.

That last bit is key.  Bernie Sanders isn't going to "bury" Hillary Clinton, nor is anything in those transcripts. The party establishment simply won't allow it, as the recent torrent of "sexism" bullying demonstrates.  They're just getting started against him; plus, the race will soon shift to more favorable Clinton terrain.  But Hillary and her team will have to get their hands dirty in destroying Sanders, which isn't likely to go over well with his hordes of young fans, whose antipathy toward her already poses a potential general election problem.  More worrisome for Democrats, though, is Hillary's stunning unpreparedness to handle questions about her high-dollar speeches to financial firms. For all the attention paid to Marco Rubio's repetition of a canned (but correct) line at the latest debate, that was a tactical misstep.  Clinton's responses on this issue belie a shocking strategic blind spot, both before and after delivering those lucrative addresses.  She's been awkward and unconvincing overall, and on the question of releasing the contents of her remarks, she's careened from unresponsive cackling, to signaling an openness to doing so, to demanding that other candidates do the same first.  Stated bluntly, Hillary Clinton is not a very good or appealing political candidate.  She is off-puttingly calculating, painfully inauthentic, and often flatly dishonest.  Questions of influence peddling aren't going anywhere.  The FBI's criminal investigation is real.  Her unfavorability rating is high.  Her trustworthiness numbers are low.  Her relatability is weak.  And yet, she'll be Democrats' nominee, because they have no other choice.  Hence the appearance of some hilariously accurate swag at a recent Clinton rally.  Oof:



Is It Time For Ben Carson To Call It A Day?

As New Hampshire votes today, the gifted neurosurgeon is registering near the bottom of the barrel concerning the polls, and there isn’t much hope he will do better as this primary continues. Granted, his campaign insists he’s going to stay in the race, but executed a Thursday Night Massacre last week, slashing staff as his campaign war chests aren’t as full as they were when he was a top tier candidate (via WaPo):

Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination has struggled to keep pace with rivals, will cut more than 50 staff positions Thursday [Feb. 4] as part of an overhaul and downsizing of his campaign.

Salaries are being significantly reduced. Carson’s traveling entourage will shrink to only a handful of advisers. And instead of flying on private jets, Carson may soon return to commercial flights.

[…]

Campaign officials, who confirmed the moves after The Washington Post obtained an internal memo about the layoffs, stressed that key aides in upcoming GOP primary contests will remain in place and that Carson is determined to stay in the 2016 race.

But they acknowledged that Carson’s funds have diminished as he has fallen from the top tier, forcing him to make sweeping changes to a campaign that had swelled into a bustling operation of about 125 people.

While he finished fourth in Iowa, Carson is projected to garner three percent of tonight’s vote for an eighth place finish–behind Fiorina and Gov. Chris Christie:

Trump holds 31%, down two points from the February 3-6 release, but within the poll's margin of sampling error.

Behind him, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio earned 17% support -- within the margin of sampling error of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 14%, but significantly ahead of the fourth and fifth place candidates in the poll, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 10% and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 7%.

Behind Bush, Carly Fiorina stands at 5%, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4% and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 3%.

As we head into South Carolina, he’s trailing Bush, but maintaining another fourth place standing.

So, things don’t look better going into the Palmetto State, and they’re probably not going to get better heading into Super Tuesday. There doesn’t seem to be much of an avenue to clinch his way back into the top tier. It’s a solid three-man race between Trump, Cruz, and Rubio, though a small handful of polls are showing Bush at second (we’ll see about that … if true, it could be too little, too late). Even with Rubio’s less than stellar debate performance last Saturday, his campaign saw a surge in fundraising over his answer about abortion and social issues. Concerning Carson, his performance was soporific, though dotted with the usual quips. In other words, and this is for a long time now, the man just doesn’t have a presence that should get people excited about him. Maybe primary voters were excited about him for a hot second, given his incredible life story and anti-establishment sentiments, but as this marathon dragged on–people jumped ship.

We’ll see what happens after tonight.

Last Note: Also, look at what Fiorina, Kasich, and Christie do afterwards. I would add Bush, but he has money that can easily carry him through South Carolina. He could stick it out a bit longer. 

Clapper: North Korea Could Recover Plutonium 'Within Weeks'

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Tuesday morning that North Korea has restarted their plutonium reactor. In a testimony in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he detailed what is likely to happen next:

The confirmation is perhaps no surprise. North Korea launched a rocket over the weekend as Americans were prepping for their Super Bowl parties.

The National Intelligence director also warned that we may see an increase in homegrown terror threats:

“The perceived success of attacks by homegrown violent extremists in Europe and North America, such as those in Chattanooga and San Bernardino, might motivate others to replicate opportunistic attacks with little or no warning, diminishing our ability to detect terrorist operational planning and readiness," he said.

Clapper weighed in on the Iran threat as well, calling the nation “the foremost state sponsor of terrorism" and that the White House's nuclear agreement will only act as a means for Iran "to remove sanctions while preserving nuclear capabilities.”

Clapper’s comments will not sit well with President Obama, who has repeatedly tried to ensure Americans that his nuclear deal with Iran is a peaceful one. The agreement, he declared at the UN last year, successfully prevented a potential war and has kept our world safe.

One of these men is telling the truth.

Flop Sweat: Seven Reasons Why Hillary's Campaign Is A Mess


MANCHESTER, NH -- On primary day here in the Granite State, please consider the current state of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign:  (1) She is about to get beaten handily by a disheveled Socialist in a state she carried over Barack Obama in 2008, on the heels of a virtual tie in Iowa. According to recent polling, she trails Marco Rubio in New Hampshire, and is underperforming Sanders by double-digits against Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.  She's trailing Sanders among all Democratic age cohorts aside from her own -- senior citizens -- and getting absolutely blown out with voters under 40:


(2) After days of mendaciously portraying the FBI's serious, expanded, multi-pronged criminal investigation into her national security-compromising emails and related conduct as a "security review," the Bureau has now publicly repudiated her spin.  It's real, and it's spectacular.

(3) In an effort to signal that the contents of the dozens of (non-deleted) top-secret-and-above emails found on her unsecure server were "innocuous" (false), Hillary's campaign is asking that the emails be released publicly -- knowing full well that isn't possible, for national security reasons.  It's her own former agency that has deemed those messages so sensitive that they cannot even be disclosed in redacted form.

(4) Meanwhile, while cynically urging the release of national security-endangering emails, Team Clinton is resisting publishing the transcripts of her six-figure speeches to Wall Street firms.  She claims she used those addresses to speak truth to power, warning bankers about mortgage crisis before the 2008 crash.  Really?  Let's see the proof of that self-serving tale. She also says she accepted the financials firms' high speaking fees because "that's what they offered."  No, it's what she charged.  By the way, how do we know these withheld transcripts even exist?  Because she herself required them, along with other elaborate speaking demands.  We know she was reckless in her handling of national security secrets, but she's assiduously protective of whatever she said in those speeches.  Why?

(5) Relatedly, Clinton insists she can't be bought, yet serious unanswered questions remain about the dodgy and unreported donations to the Clinton Foundation "slush fund" (and lucrative speaking fees) from people and entities that were actively lobbying her State Department.  Also, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has raised the issue of Hillary's 2001 switched vote in the Senate, for which Hillary has an incoherent explanation.

(6) Frustrated by Bernie Sanders' insolent refusal to instantly bow to her coronation, Hillary Clinton and her allies have ratcheted up their cries of "sexism."  Gloria Steinem suggested that young women supporting Sanders were only doing so to chase boys (hooray, feminism), Madeline Albright said there's a "special place in hell" for women who don't help other women (she must've strongly supported Sarah Palin, right?), and accused rapist and serial harasser Bill Clinton scorched Sanders' supporters with charges of misogyny.  The Clintons no doubt expected they'd be able to hold off on playing this card promiscuously and shamelessly until the general election, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  When Hillary finally wheezes across the nomination finish line and begins turning this garbage against the Republican ticket, the GOP would be wise to remind voters over and over again that she used the same divisive tactics against a far-left member of her own party...and his supporters, many of them women.

(7) And it wouldn't be a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign without rumors and reports of a staff shake-up in the face of underwhelming results.  Your thoughts, David Axelrod?


No worries, Clinton supporters.  She'll eventually steal America's hearts with her breezy relatability and remarkably lifelike spontaneity:



Obama Lied: $750 Million in Taxpayer Funded Obamacare Subsidies Went to Illegals in 2015

Remember this moment from 2009 when President Obama was trying to reassure Americans that Obamacare would not benefit illegal immigrants? 

"There are also those that claim our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This too, is false. The reforms I am proposing do not apply to those who are here illegally," Obama said.

"You lie!" South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson shouted out.

Well, it turns out Congressman Wilson was absolutely correct. According to a new report illegal immigrants received nearly a billion dollars in Obamacare subsidies last year, a far cry from being barred from using the government healthcare program.

Illegal immigrants and individuals with unclear legal status wrongly benefited from up to $750 million in ObamaCare subsidies and the government is struggling to recoup the money, according to a new Senate report obtained by Fox News.

The report, produced by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, examined Affordable Care Act tax credits meant to defray the cost of insurance premiums. It found that as of June 2015, “the Administration awarded approximately $750 million in tax credits on behalf of individuals who were later determined to be ineligible because they failed to verify their citizenship, status as a national, or legal presence.”

The review found the credits went to more than 500,000 people – who are illegal immigrants or whose legal status was unclear due to insufficient records.

Keep working America, bloated and irresponsible bureaucracy depends on it, as do those who are in the country illegally.

On another note, not only are illegal immigrants obtaining hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the form of Obamacare subsidies, they're also voting in elections.

Christie in NH: Rubio’s Super PAC ‘Cuts People’s Throats’

In a Manchester, NH diner Tuesday morning, the “Fox and Friends” anchors showed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie a clip of his rival Marco Rubio attacking his record of supposedly donating to Planned Parenthood and pushing gun control. "Of course he doesn't want to talk about his record," Rubio concluded.

“At least I have a record,” the governor responded, before insisting the accusations were untrue.

The only thing Rubio will be remembered for in the Senate, Christie added, will be pushing for amnesty with his “arm around Chuck Schumer.”

The governor has been relentless in his targeting of Rubio ever since last Saturday’s debate. In that 3-hour slugfest, Christie exposed Rubio's tendency to regurgitate the same talking points. Rubio fell right into the trap by repeating himself – multiple times. 

Christie continued his criticism of the Florida senator Tuesday, accusing him of smiling and spouting out his scripted speeches, before his Super PAC goes out and “cuts people’s throats.”

Donald Trump is still well in front in New Hampshire polls, but John Kasich and Jeb Bush appear to have received bumps from last weekend’s strong debate performances.

So, while Trump is more or less guaranteed the top spot, there is a level of uncertainty about who will round out the second through sixth places. The real question is: Was Rubio’s momentum hampered by Christie’s attacks?

Wow: 40 Percent of Driver's Licenses Given Out in California Last Year Went to Illegals

In January 2015, California officially approved a measure allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license in the Golden State. Some background: 

California on Friday will start taking driver's license applications from the nation's largest population of immigrants in the country illegally.

California officials say they can't predict how many people will line up immediately to apply, but the number of people making appointments for a license more than doubled when immigrants were allowed to sign up. Appointments are required to apply for a license except at four newly-created DMV offices.

California is one of 10 states that now provide licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. The licenses issued to immigrants without legal status will include a distinctive marking and are not considered a valid form of federal identification.

As a result, 40 percent of new driver's licenses issued last year went to people living in the country illegally.

Since California implemented Assembly Bill 60 last January, an estimated 605,000 driver’s licenses were issued to undocumented immigrants in the Golden State, with 400,000 of these licenses issued during the first six months of 2015.
The licenses have “federal limits apply” printed on them – meaning that federal officials and law enforcement officers in other states are not required to accept them as a valid form of identification.  

Opponents to issuing illegal immigrants driver's licenses argue not only does the practice overload the system, but it gives people in the country illegally, violating federal law, an advantage and privilege that should be reserved for those who go through the proper legal channels for residency or citizenship.

Dixville Notch Votes: Kasich, Sanders Win Respective Primaries

Dixville Notch, a small unincorporated community of nine registered voters nestled in New Hampshire's White Mountains, is the first place in the state to vote during each election. The midnight voting tradition dates back to 1960, making it the longest continuous streak of midnight voting in the country. While two other small New Hampshire communities will also vote at midnight this year, Dixville Notch's teeny-tiny election has the most notoriety and is referred to as the first vote in the nation.

This year's results: A close win for John Kasich over Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders demolished Hillary Clinton.

Polls in the rest of New Hampshire close at 7:00 p.m., and it will certainly be interesting to see if this tiny community is an accurate barometer of the state's politics.

UPDATE: The Kasich camp is pretty stoked by this victory:

FBI: Yeah, We’re Looking Into Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Server

Katie or Guy will have more on this in the coming days, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation has publicly stated that they’re looking into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and that it’s an ongoing process. They wouldn’t give specifics. Such confirmation was made public after Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit over release of the Clinton emails (via The Hill):

The FBI formally confirmed that its investigation connected to Hillary Clinton’s private email server remains ongoing in a letter released on Monday.

The letter from FBI general counsel James Baker comes one day before the New Hampshire primary.

The message does not offer new details about the probe, which the bureau has been reluctant to discuss. However, it represents the FBI’s formal notification to the State Department that it is investigating the issue.

Since last September, “in public statements and testimony, the Bureau has acknowledged generally that it is working on matters related to former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server,” Baker wrote to the State Department.

“The FBI has not, however, publicly acknowledged the specific focus, scope, or potential targets of any such proceedings.

“Thus … we remain unable [to] provide [details about the case] without adversely affecting on-going law enforcement efforts,” he concluded.

The letter was sent on Feb. 2 but released on Monday as part of an ongoing lawsuit related to the disclosure of Clinton’s emails from conservative watchdog Judicial Watch.

There’s been a lot of talk about indictments handed down over Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal server, which had classified information sent through it. Twenty-two recent emails are so sensitive that they’re not being made public, and the former first lady’s position was made more precarious (or at least to it should) when it was discovered that she had instructed a staffer to remove the classified markers on a document and send it unsecure. CIA informants and deep cover agents were possibly exposed through the server.

Updates are sure to follow.

Obama’s $10–a-Barrel Oil Tax Will Do Nothing To Fix Infrastructure–And It Could Mess With Hillary

President Obama is planning $300 billion in infrastructure and other green energy-related projects over the next ten years, which is part of a string of last minute budget requests that have zero chance of passing Congress. The president's plan to pay for it all: a $10-a-barrel oil tax (via Politico):

The biggest chunk of Obama’s proposed new spending, about $20 billion a year—roughly equivalent to the EPA and Interior Department budgets combined—would go to “enhanced transportation options,” especially alternatives to driving and flying. That would include subways, buses, light rail, freight rail modernization projects, and a major expansion of the high-speed rail initiative that Obama launched in his 2009 stimulus bill. It would also include a 150 percent increase for a more popular stimulus program known as TIGER, which provides competitive grants for multi-modal transportation projects with measurable economic and environmental benefits.

Obama’s plan will also include about $10 billion a year to encourage local, regional and state governments to plan and build smarter infrastructure projects, including incentives to reduce carbon emissions through land-use planning, public transit, electric-vehicle charging, and other strategies. There would be a Climate Smart Fund to reward states that make greener choices with existing federal dollars, as well as competitive grant programs to promote region-wide planning, more livable cities, and infrastructure projects with greater resilience to climate impacts.

Finally, Obama will call for more than $2 billion in annual investments in clean transportation research and development, including efforts to deploy self-driving cars, charging stations for electric vehicles, greener airplanes, and other climate-friendly technologies.

As with most policies emanating from this administration, it won’t nearly be enough to ameliorate America’s infrastructure woes (via Wired):

The new law “falls far short of the level needed to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs and fails to deliver a sustainable, long-term source of revenue,” according to Trip, a private nonprofit research think tank. Last year, Trip found that clearing the epic backlog of repairs to roads, highways, and bridges would cost $740 billion. Even Obama’s relatively aggressive proposal doesn’t get there. According to The Washington Post, once the tax is fully phased in, it will generate about $65 billion annually—but not all of that is going toward infrastructure repair. And even if it were, we’re looking at more than a decade just to fix the stuff that’s broken now.

And it could screw Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail:

…[B]y raising the specter of new taxes on fossil fuels, it could create a political quandary for Democrats. The fee could add as much as 25 cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline, and even with petroleum prices at historic lows, the proposal could be particularly awkward for Hillary Clinton, who has embraced most of Obama’s policies but has also vowed to oppose any tax hikes on families earning less than $250,000 a year.

Hillary’s proposed agenda for America is projected to cost us $1 trillion in new spending. The promise of tax hikes not being impacting families who make less than $250k is also a long lost promise; Obama included a cigarette tax to pay for State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Also, there’s the Obamacare tax slapped on those who remain uninsured under the new Affordable Care Act. More Americans are remaining uninsured since paying that tax is often cheaper than paying the premiums for the plans under Obamacare. Oh, and premiums are set to spike just before Election Day.

Infrastructure is part of the economy; it’s in bad shape. The president has a plan, albeit a bad one, to fix it–and you can bet that the press will be asking her if she would undertake a gas tax to pay for such projects if she’s elected come November. Additionally, does she support the president’s dead on arrival tax hike?

Yes, this policy could spur debate, which seems to be the intention, but it could also allow voters (and the media) to ask her about how she would pay for her own infrastructure agenda as well. Yet, given the hollow promises of no tax increase for the middle class made by Democrats, you can bet that Clinton will duck, dive, dip, and dodge on this gas tax question to further avoid alienating voters. Either way, it could end up being a pickle for her, as she would have to defend a tax and spend policy that usually doesn't turn out well for Democrats. Not to mention, detrimentally impact millions the home budgets of millions of hard working Americans who will have to eat the tax.

Speaker Paul Ryan was quite adamant that this proposal is a non-starter.

"Once again, the president expects hardworking consumers to pay for his out of touch climate agenda. A $10 tax for every barrel of oil produced would raise energy prices—hurting poor Americans the most. This announcement, the latest in a series of regulatory attacks on the energy sector, proves President Obama is still on a mission to destroy a major backbone of the U.S. economy. The president should be proposing policies to grow our economy instead of sacrificing it to appease progressive climate activists. The good news is this plan is little more than an election-year distraction. As this lame-duck president knows, it's dead on arrival in Congress, because House Republicans are committed to affordable American energy and a strong U.S. economy."

Dear Beyonce

Congratulations on your successful Super Bowl Halftime show. It was many things to many people, but it certainly wasn't a transparent political hit job designed to perpetuate the lies and influence of the Black Lives Matter movement. I want to share with you a very simple solution I have developed that solves the problem of police shootings in the United States. While it may not work in every single situation, this one weird trick for every citizen would prevent the vast majority of officer involved shootings. Enjoy.


           Sincerely, 

-Leigh Wolf