At Netroots, House Democrats Slam Gerrymandering, Say Gridlock Unites Them

We’ve heard this ad nauseum from the media and members of Congress that it’s just too divided up on the Hill. It’s too gridlocked, or something. As George Will said in his acceptance speech upon receiving the George Washington Award from Americans For Prosperity Foundation in 2010, “gridlock isn’t an American problem; gridlock is an American achievement.” At the liberal conference Netroots Nation earlier this month, a panel comprised of Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D- CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), and Dan Kildee (D-MI) all said it made up the ingredients for a “crazy Congress.”

The panel, moderated by Huffington Post politics reporter Sabrina Siddiqui, is described as such:

From endless Obamacare repeal votes to the IRS “scandal” to the disgusting politicization of Benghazi, the 113th Congress has been a sight to behold. Hear from two progressive Members of Congress serving their first term on how they persevered to move the ball forward on progressive issues despite a conservative majority bent on picking useless political fights. Come to this panel for an inside look at how progressives are fighting the good fight in this House of Representatives—and what it will take to break through and win on important issues.

Siddiqui described the IRS fiasco as a “so-called scandal” in her opening remarks – and went on the list the various issues Congress faced, or is still debating, while House Republicans try to get to the bottom of what happened at the IRS when Lois Lerner was running the division overseeing tax-exempt nonprofits; issues like the Violence Against Women Act, Hurricane Sandy relief, sequestration, immigration reform, and Syria to name a few.

She then posed a question to Rep. Kildee and the rest of the congressmen about what they’ve learned since being elected to Congress.

He said it was much more partisan than he had imagined, but said he was able to work on what he planned on working on – to a certain degree – in urban policy. Yet, as being the minority party in the House of Representatives, Congressman Kildee said he frustrated that his side is “playing more defense than offense.”

Congressman Takano said that he doesn’t get easily frustrated, which he attributes to his teaching career before entering public life; he taught high school for twenty-four years, so you know that tests your patience. The response drew some laughter from the audience.

“I try to keep my expectation in line,” he said. But Rep. Takano knew what he was getting into when he assumed his congressional office on January 3, 2013, where the lame duck Congress was still trying to hash out something for Sandy victims. Rep. Takano said House Republicans would eventually do the right thing, but had to be shamed into it by the Senate.

Although, he noted that the high point of the alleged dysfunction was the government shutdown. But Democrats in the House and Senate, along with President Obama held the line and the Republicans finally backed off their demands over Obamacare.

Rep. Takano said the tone changed after the shutdown with his Republican colleagues. They reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act, which he said would’ve been impossible in prior to the shutdown. So, standing firm against Republican hostage tactics, as he described them, was essential.

Rep. Lowenthal agreed with the premise that House Democrats play a lot of defense on the Hill, but said it’s important to be in that position on some. The congressman is on the Committee on Natural Resources, which he describes as highly partisan, where discussions about drilling on federal lands are common. “Somebody has to stand up and talk about the debate about some of the impact of climate change. And that’s what we do as progressives,” he said. It’s all about framing the debate.

He mentioned that one of the good things about the dysfunction in Congress is that it’s allowed Democrats to come together and create a political apparatus they can use when they retake the House. Rep. Lowenthal prides himself in being a member of the Progressive Caucus, where fellow Democrats support each other and lay out their policy objectives.

Lowenthal then railed against House Republicans, labeling them as arrogant and unwilling to heed to the will of the American public. “Remember history is on our side; the people are on our side; it’s only because of a crazy gerrymandering and the things that have happened in this county that we’re not in control of the Congress. America is not represented by the people who it really wishes to represent,” he said. So, that sentiment has also brought House Democrats, or at least the progressive ones, together.

Rep. Kildee also detailed how House Republicans are abusing the rules in way that’s unprecedented. Specifically, the number of closed rules on legislation that Kildee says silences the minority.

Granted, this is about House, but is he aware that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid nuked the Senate filibuster rules on most presidential nominees and appointments?

The panel moved on to discuss immigration reform and the border crisis. Rep. Takano noted that these immigrant children are turning themselves in to immigration authorities, so it’s not about needing for more border guards.

These fleeing awful conditions –gang violence being one of them – and that they should be able to make their case in front of a judge; hearings that are already law under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

Rep. Lowenthal described this as a test for America, saying the law is clear that these children have rights and deserve their day in court. He also said the largest Cambodian and Vietnamese populations in the United States live within his district, where he remembers Americans welcoming Cambodians fleeing Pol Pot. After Saigon fell in 1975, we welcomed those Vietnamese refugees.

The problem with that analogy is that Mexico and Central America aren’t being ravaged by civil wars or experiencing mass slaughter at the hands of genocidal dictators. They’re also not fleeing political persecution.

House Democrats are waiting in the tall grass for Republicans to implode. As expected, they’re unhappy being in the minority, but see they’ve gridlock as a way to build a political infrastructure for when they’re in the majority.

Of course, they railed against gerrymandering; Takano wants districts to be redrawn based on independent commissions like in California. Oh, and they’re the party of the middle class.

One last note on gerrymandering, the 2011 redistricting gave the GOP no advantage whatsoever (via Washington Post):

2012 compared to the 2010 Districts

What if we “re-run” the 2012 House election, but using the old districts? We have done that simulation, using the 2008 presidential vote in both the old and new districts to capture how the redistricting might have moved partisans around. If we assume that nothing else affects House election outcomes but the partisanship of the districts—in other words, if we allow redistricting to have its maximum possible effect—we find that the 2011 redistricting cost Democrats 7 seats in 2012. This is not nothing, but it’s far less than what the Democrats needed to take back the House and about half what Wang estimated.

2012 compared to history

Perhaps the pre-2011 maps are not the right standard. In fact, there is evidence they were already biased toward Republicans. The question is whether that advantage is a product of redistricting. In turns out when we go back further in time across multiple redistricting cycles, House elections have tended to favor Republicans for at least a couple decades. Once we put 2012 in this historical context, it does not stand out as a “great gerrymander” at all.

Conclusion

We’ve written cautionary notes about redistricting several times in the past months. Simply raising the possibility that redistricting isn’t always as powerful or pernicious as its critics suggest sometimes leads people to conclude that we are “gerrymandering deniers” who think redistricting has no partisan consequences whatsoever.

That is not the case. The analysis above does not confirm the worst fears about the “great gerrymander” of 2012. But given the challenge of answering “compared to what?”, we would not argue that the 2011 redistricting gave the GOP no advantage whatsoever. Political science research on redistricting has confirmed that control of the line-drawing process does yield some benefits. The challenge is in estimating what those benefits are. We have tried to show that the answer is far more complicated, and that the magnitude of the redistricting effect is probably smaller than many have assumed.

And, then there’s this bit from Philip Bump, also of the Washington Post:

Gerrymandering is a game of increments, not sweeping change. If the goal has been to solidify districts as Democratic or Republican to make it easier for incumbents to win handily, that doesn't appear to have happened widely. If, instead, the goal is to pick up a seat here or there -- as was certainly the plan in Florida -- that has likely been more successful.

But the idea that we've moved away from some golden era of hard-fought contests between cigar-chompin' politicians simply isn't true. As these maps of the results of the six races above make clear, elections have always been a mix of close and landslide contests. The average margins of victory in our 435 House races remains pretty consistent.

Keep Your Guns at Home: Stay Granted in Washington D.C. Carry Case

The ability for citizens, D.C. residents and outsiders alike, to carry a handgun open or concealed in Washington D.C. didn't last long. Just days after Federal Judge Frederick Scullin knocked down Washington D.C.'s complete carry ban as unconstitutional, he has issued a 90-day stay in the case. More from the Washington Times:

The order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Scullin brings a temporary reprieve to D.C. officials, who were sent scurrying over the weekend to interpret the effects of the ruling that gutted the city’s restrictive gun laws.

An order issued Saturday by the judge struck down the city’s ban on the carrying of guns in public as unconstitutional. While still struggling to comprehend the scope of the order, D.C. police ordered officers to stop arresting people for carrying legally registered guns on city streets.

D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan asked Monday for a stay either pending a potential appeal of the case or for 180 days to give city lawmakers time to craft appropriate legislation to regulate the carrying of guns in public.


In the meantime, NRA News host Cam Edwards has an idea:



Emails: Insurers Warned of Big Premium Increases, Requested and Received Expanded 'Bailout'


Lots to get to on the Obamacare front today, starting with the contents and implications of newly-revealed emails between the Obama administration and major health insurers. The House Oversight Committee has released the batch of correspondence, which paints a cozy picture of coordination and high stakes, high dollar back-scratching. White House officials coach insurance executives on how to discuss the law publicly -- praising them for helpful performances -- and insurers request and secure more generous Obamacare 'bailouts,' in exchange for minimizing unavoidable premium spikes. The exchanges show how Team Obama worked hand-in-glove with an industry it has vilified as greedy and unfair for public consumption. Healthcare policy expert Jeffrey Anderson has more in the Weekly Standard:


Behind the scenes, Big Government and Big Insurance maintain a cozy alliance that the Obama administration actively nourishes, often at taxpayer expense. Indeed, as emails recently obtained by the House Oversight Committee show, Big Government and Big Insurance have worked together to promote Obamacare. They’ve also worked together to make sure taxpayers will help bail out insurance companies who lose money selling insurance under Obamacare — that is, unless Republicans stop this from happening. Moreover, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is among the prominent White House officials who’ve been in the middle of this collaboration between insurers and the administration — between those driven by the profit motive and those driven by the power motive…


The Obama administration was coming under increasing political pressure — as millions of Americans found out that (contrary to Democratic messaging across the years), if they liked their health plan, that didn’t necessarily mean they could keep their health plan. After Obama lawlessly empowered himself to un-ban the plans that Obamacare had banned by law, insurers weren’t happy, so the administration responded by paying them off. It did so by changing the rules regarding two programs buried in the bowels of Obamacare — its risk-corridor and reinsurance programs. As Jay Cost and I wrote this spring, the administration changed the rules “to funnel more money to insurers. Put simply, the administration lowered the threshold at which insurers become eligible for reinsurance money, and it made more generous the formula by which insurers get paid under the risk corridors.” In the process, Obama effectively turned the risk-corridor program into his own personal slush fund.


When President Obama announced his on-the-fly "fix" to the unfolding "keep your plan" political crisis (by decreeing that millions of non-compliant plans could be effectively un-cancelled -- a change that a number of states rejected), insurance carriers became very concerned about the financial fallout of that decision. The resulting confusion, lost revenue, and problematic risk pools could force them to compensate with dramatically higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Very bad politics. Not only did they receive the changes they were seeking in the 'bailout' policy outlined above, they also demanded that the White House drop the pretense that any changes to the bailouts would be budget neutral. The administration complied, announcing that it would use "other sources of funding" to make insurers whole -- a maneuver of dubious legality, according to Anderson. The indefatigable Phil Kerpen consolidated and embedded some of the juicier bits of the emails into tweets:




Despite these taxpayer-funded 'bailout'-style gambits, rates are still being hiked significantly across the country. Recall the "summer drumbeat." The increases consumers are experiencing are being artificially held down by these reinsurance and risk corridor "slush funds" -- which, we remind you, are paid for by taxpayers. What happens when these provisions expire in a few years? Insurers are hoping that the risk pools will be more stable and predictable by then, but adverse selection is already a very real problem. Will the bailouts be extended (by Congress or unilaterally), thus ballooning the cost of Obamacare? Or will costs climb steeply, quite possibly driving healthier people out of the market? I'll leave you with some Obamacare odds and ends:


(1) Obamacare's automatic renewal policy, designed to streamline and simplify the process, may end up hurting many consumers: "If those amounts are too low, consumers could get sticker shock over their new premiums. Too high, and they'll owe the tax man later...It could be a new twist on an old public relations headache for the White House: You keep the health plan you like but get billed way more," reports the Associated Press.


(2) USA Today profiles two women who signed up for Obamacare plans, only to discover that they could not "keep their doctors, period" as promised by the president. Instead, these latest victims of 'access shock' are grappling with severely pared down provider networks. Welcome to the growing, disgruntled club, ladies.


(3) Supporters of the new law are once again trying to claim credit for a slowdown in Medicare spending that has pushed its latest insolvency date back to 2030. The government's own bookkeepers have determined that Obamacare has had no measurable impact in the current health costs slowdown (costs are still headed in one direction: up), which has been heavily influenced by the sluggish economy. The Washington Examiner's Phil Klein notes that Medicare's chief actuary is warning that Obamacare's Medicare "savings" aren't sustainable:


Paul Spitalnic, the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also cautioned that it would be hard to maintain the policies put in place by Obamacare, which are responsible for helping to extend the trust fund on paper...Obamacare, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is to spend more than $1.8 trillion over 10 years to expand insurance coverage -- spending that is supposed to be offset by a combination of tax increases and extracting savings from Medicare. One of the misleading arguments that the Obama administration has been making since the debate over the passage of the law is that the the same dollars of savings could simultaneously be used improve the solvency of Medicare while paying for a new expansion of entitlements...If Obamacare uses the money generated by its Medicare cuts to pay for expanding health coverage — as called for by the law — then it doesn't help Medicare's long-term finances. On the other hand, if Obamacare does use savings generated from Medicare cuts to pay for future Medicare benefits, then Obamacare will add substantially to the overall federal deficit.


If Medicare reimbursement rates were to plummet as a result of the mandated cuts, "lawmakers would likely intervene to prevent the withdrawal of providers from the Medicare market and the severe problems with beneficiary access to care that would result," Spitalnic said. In other words, those on-paper savings are likely to vanish due to political considerations, pushing Medicare toward insolvency at a faster clip. The political Left is committed to defending the reckless and unsustainable status quo out of political expediency.

“Republicans Should Have Held Their Convention in Detroit”

Liberals can and should be criticized for using cheap shots and outlandish rhetoric (“war on women” ring a bell?) to beat their conservative opponents each campaign cycle. But Republicans are just as much to blame for letting the discourse continue. Author David Horowitz, in his new book, “Take No Prisoners: The Battle Plan for Defeating the Left,” explains he’s had it with Republicans and their weak responses to Democrats’ dirty tactics. But, the author doesn't just complain about their lackluster fighting spirit - he arms conservatives with the tools they need to throw their own political punches.

“20 years of frustration lies behind this book, of trying to get Republicans to fight, Horowitz told Townhall. "This is a how-to-fight book.”

Horowitz insists that Republicans can no longer expect to win elections on policy alone, evident in campaigns like the 2012 presidential election.

“Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist, said ‘everybody has a game plan, until you punch them in the mouth.’ The Democrats have a big punch, which they use every election. Which is, of course, to describe Republicans as anti-woman, anti-black, anti-poor, and defenders of the rich. Republicans have no punch, they have no answer to this. It’s monotonous. The Democrats haven’t changed their campaign theme in 20 years. But Republicans have no answer. You have a candidate like Romney who was centrist, seemingly unassailable, and they spent $200 million and demonized him. He had no answer to their attacks. Now there is an answer. And the book lays out the answer that Republicans need.”

If he was running a campaign, Horowitz would throw some of these charges at his opponents:

“Republicans have to answer this by defining Democrats as immoral and evil [...] Democrats control all the major cities in America and they have for 50 to 100 years. Everything that’s wrong with inner cities, the Democrats are responsible for. Democrats have welfare programs that seduce single mothers into having more and more children so they can get pittances that the welfare system hands out. This not only puts mothers, but children in lives of permanent poverty."

Case in point: Detroit.

“Republicans should have held the convention in Detroit – which is a symbol of what the Democrats have done. Detroit, in 1961, was America’s richest city. But, that was the year a Democrat was elected there and for the next 50 years, the Democrats have controlled Detroit and ruined it. Two-thirds of the population has fled. The Democrat Party there were racist, anti-business. They drove business out of Detroit, they drove the ripe middle class out of Detroit. In one generation, they took a crown jewel of first world and created a third world city. So, if Republicans held the convention in Detroit, it would be a symbol of every reason why you should never vote for a Democrat.”

But, Republicans' choice in Cleveland suggests they are more concerned about gaining momentum in a swing state than making a direct mockery of Democrats. Horowitz says Republicans refusing to challenge their opponents has become the norm.

“When have you heard a Republican attack a Democrat as racist for the inner cities they control and the welfare programs that they have devised? They have destroyed the black family, in particular. They talk about the food stamps, but they never use the word ‘racist’ in connection with the food stamps. Take away their incentives to make a living. It’s like extending unemployment insurance for years.”

Horowitz pinpointed a few bold conservatives today who are aren’t afraid to verbally challenge liberals, but insists no leader has employed this ‘take no prisoners’ mentality when it really mattered.

“I think there are conservatives: Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, Ted Cruz is approaching this, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX). But no, I don’t think there was one candidate in the last election. There were 12 – none of them had this mentality.”

The author offered suggestions as to how Republicans can engage the other side and win – especially on one particular issue.

“By using the left’s tactics against it – by making these issues moral. Obamacare is a declaration of war on individual freedom. That’s what’s wrong with it. The government comes in and tells you you have to get into a medical program and you have four choices. They are the ones that make the choices. They tell you if you’re doing the right thing, making a proper living. We’re going to stick our hands in your pockets and we’re going to subsidize people who aren’t working and who don’t play by the rules.”

You can read more about Horowitz's game plan for Republicans in "Take No Prisoners."

TIME's Transgender: "God Has A Plan...My Work Is Just To Submit To That Plan"

CBS "This Morning" had on TIME magazine cover "girl" and movie star of the Netflix series, "Orange is the New Black," Laverne Cox. I'm posting this clip in order to spotlight how it embodies the zeitgeist we are living in.

I sympathize with those who suffer deep pain over gender confusion, but when Laverne Cox states, "God has a plan for you that you can't even imagine for yourself, and a lot of my work is just to submit to that plan." it begs the question as to why he isn't embracing his birth gender as a central dimension of God’s will for his sexual identity. When transgender individuals declare their sex to be a mistake, they are repudiating God’s own verdict on His creation and His plan for humanity. Let's face it, when submission is rooted in your own heart and will, you are not submitting to God but to yourself.

Trey Gowdy Announces First Benghazi Hearing

In an interview with Fox News' Catherine Herridge Tuesday morning, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy announced the first Benghazi select committee hearing will be held in early September. The announcement comes after months of quiet investigation from the Committee, which was announced by House Speaker John Boehner in May. The select committee includes seven Republicans and four Democrats.

Reform Conservatism's Federalism Blind Spot

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat published a must-read column Sunday on, "The New Republican Populism," a subject Townhall Magazine has covered extensively. Douthat writes:

So haltingly at first, and then with increasing seriousness, Republicans began to look for a different path back to power — one tailored to the party’s growing dependence on working-class votes, and one designed to deliver populist substance as well as style.

Thus far they have circled around two broad approaches. One, dubbed “reform conservatism,” seeks to make the welfare state and tax code more friendly to work and child-rearing and upward mobility — through larger wage subsidies, bigger child tax credits, and a substantial clearing-out of the insider-friendly subsidies and tax breaks and regulations that drive up costs in health care, real estate, energy and higher education.

The other, “libertarian populism,” is even more zealous about attacking rent-seeking and crony capitalism, while also looking for other places — criminal justice reform, notably — where a libertarian approach to public policy might benefit people lower on the economic ladder.

These two approaches substantially overlap (with the main difference being a skepticism among the libertarians about targeting tax cuts and subsidies specifically to parents and the poor).

This is an exceedingly fair recap of Reform Conservatism and Libertarian Populism, although if he had more space, Douthat could have more extensively explained why Libertarian Populists are so skeptical of expanding federal government programs that target "parents and the poor."

For example, as Douthat mentions elsewhere in his column, both Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) have outlined Reform Conservatism-friendly proposals that would consolidate many of our federal government's anti-poverty programs into one place and then let states decide how best to implement those programs.

Consolidation. More power to states. Sounds great. Maybe conservative even.

But both proposals ignore the reality of our modern administrative state and seem to have completely slept through the Obama administration.

Rubio would funnel all federal anti-poverty programs "into one single agency" that would administer "a revenue neutral Flex Fund" that would transfer money "to the states so they can design and fund creative initiatives that address the factors behind inequality of opportunity."

Ryan wants a pilot program that would allow states to apply for "Opportunity Grants" that would "consolidate several means-tested programs into a new Opportunity Grant program." Under the Ryan plan, states would have to submit "concrete" plans that "would have to meet four conditions."

Both of these proposals suffer from the same flaw: the executive branch would still be entirely in control of writing the regulations and making the implementation decisions for these programs.

Do you trust the same administration that is using the No Child Left Behind law to force Common Core on our states to decide if states have met Ryan's four conditions for Opportunity Grant approval? Do you trust the same administration that is epically abusing its enforcement discretion at the border to rewrite immigration law to fairly administer Rubio's Flex Fund?

The questions answer themselves.

The problem with both the Ryan and Rubio poverty plans is that they increase the power and discretion of the executive branch over the states. Both would be a major expansion of what George Mason University Law School professor Michael Greve calls "cartel federalism," a brand of federalism which is undermining the Founder's true vision. Last year Greve explained:

At the fiscal front, the central problem is the flood of transfer programs that encourage states to “experiment” with federal dollars. The most menacing example is Medicaid, which now consumes almost a quarter of state budgets. For the most part, this is not a result of federal coercion or mandates. It is a result of the states’ voluntary decisions to expand Medicaid so as to attract federal matching funds. The states’ perverse incentive to expand their domestic welfare state on our collective nickel—trillions of nickels—is, again, a federalism problem. So is the moral hazard that attends these arrangements that is, the risk that states will spend themselves to the brink of bankruptcy in hopes of a federal bailout. Greece exemplifies that problem; but then, so does Illinois.

There are better ways to help Americans escape poverty. Specifically, conservatives should push to cut the regressive, job-killing payroll tax. Such a tax cut, paid for by eliminating loopholes that benefit rich coastal elites (like the state and local tax deduction), would create jobs, increase the incentives for people in poverty to work, and put more money in every working American's paycheck.

White House, MSNBC Can't Stop Talking About Impeachment


Republicans are not planning to impeach President Obama. Yes, Sarah Palin has called for it. The South Dakota GOP passed an impeachment resolution. Andy McCarthy is out with a book arguing that the legal foundation for ousting Obama exists, but the political will does not. And the occasional House back-bencher floats the 'I-word' from time to time. But there is no groundswell of support, or any semblance of a serious campaign, to remove the President of the United States from office. That's not a thing. When asked about Palin's impeachment advocacy House Speaker John Boehner -- who's suing Obama for executive overreach -- flatly responded, "I disagree." The Republican chairman of the relevant House committee has shut the idea down, too. Indeed, the parties most excited about invoking the specter of impeachment are the White House...


A top aide to President Obama said it's possible that Obama could be impeached by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. House Speaker John Boehner's decision to proceed with a lawsuit against the president has "opened the door" to the third presidential impeachment in the nation's history, Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters at a Friday breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor...Later, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said "prominent voices in the Republican party" have called for impeachment, but was hard-pressed to name one other than Palin. "I think there are some Republicans, including some Republicans that are running for office, hoping that they can get into office so they can impeach the president," he said.



...and MSNBC:



The uptick in impeachment hand-wringing from the Left isn't an accident. It's a coordinated fundraising and base-goosing effort that's latched onto this CNN poll as a news hook:


Roughly a third of adult Americans want to see President Barack Obama impeached, according to a new CNN poll released Friday. Support for impeachment cuts down party lines, with 57% of Republicans favoring the idea but just 35% of independents and 13% of Democrats feeling similarly.


A majority of Republicans! This is serious, they clamor. Not really. In 2006, roughly the same percentage of CNN poll respondents favored impeaching George W. Bush, presumably with heavy support from Democrats (that survey didn't include internals). A substantial majority of liberal Vermont residents told a CBS News pollster they wanted Bush impeached in 2007. In short, it's not unusual for partisans to want the other guy thrown out. Hell, more than half of self-identifying Democrats believed that it was at least "somewhat likely" that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance, according to a 2006 poll. Congressional Democrats never came close to advancing articles of impeachment against the 43rd president even though some really wanted to -- including the powerful House Judiciary Committee Chairman. Rep. John Conyers and dozens of fellow liberals convened fantasy impeachment hearings in the Capitol basement in 2005, before they took over the lower chamber. Obama impeachment chatter hasn't even sniffed that level of, er, "seriousness." Here's what's going on: Democrats are desperate to light a fire under their base before November, as enthusiasm indicators have looked fairly grim so far. One way to galvanize support and raise easy money is to try to convince low information lefties that the nasty, racist GOP is actively scheming to bring down The Precious. The White House, evidently, is not above playing along with the charade. This is about fear-mongering and raising cash, plain and simple. Did I mention that Democrats are desperate? Here's a screen grab from an endless parade of borderline stalker-esque, impeachment-themed contribution solicitations:


fundraiser1
fundraiser2

Netroots Nation: Of Course, Photo Voter ID Is The 'New Jim Crow'

Well, it wouldn’t be a liberal conference without liberals discussing voter rights and voter ID legislation that they allege is being used to suppress the vote. Jess McIntosh, the communications director of EMILY’s List, moderated the panel, which was filled by Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, and Jocelyn Benson. All three women are running or ran for the position of Secretary of State. Nina Turner is the current Democratic candidate in Ohio; Oliver is running in New Mexico; and Benson ran for the office in 2010 in Michigan.

McIntosh noted that there have been efforts to curb voting rights before, but we’re, or shall I say liberals, are seeing a full-blown assault on voting rights since the 2012 election.

Benson noted that this battle in our democracy (we’re a constitutional republic) has always existed in American society since our founding; it’s just taken different forms. The power this office holds was on display during the 2000 presidential election under then-Florida Secretary of State Katharine Harris, which elicited disgust, even hisses, from the audience when Benson mentioned her name.

It shows “how important this one office is to ensuring that democracy works the way it’s supposed to,” she said.

“If we leave you with anything here today, I hope that we leave you the the recognition that each of you have a responsibility to make sure these offices are not just another office on the ballot in this year’s election or in future elections, but are ones that are taken seriously and that we talk about as very, very powerful positions for ensuring that every other issue we work on actually is able to come to fruition through the democratic process.”

Oliver said when she became Bernalillo County Clerk in 2007, her first goal was to make sure the office functioned properly. After all, Bernalillo is the most populous county in the state; the county seat is the city of Albuquerque.

After getting her office in order, Oliver said it was necessary to give her residents more opportunities to cast their ballots in elections.

On the alleged assault on voter rights, Oliver described it as “an insidious thing because it takes the form of trying to win at the expense of people’s personal civil rights.” Hence why she decided to run for Secretary of State, saying “I’m running against a current incumbent who has been sort of taking the mantra, or carrying the mantel forth of [John] Husted and [Scott] Gessler and some of these other bad guys and really replicating those same things, only they look a little bit different in my state, but it’s basically the same idea: let’s keep people from casting ballots.”

For Nina Turner, it’s all about protecting the “greatest equalizer” in our society. She described how voting no longer comes with any obstacles regarding race, sex, and socioeconomic status. But she’s running to become Ohio’s next Secretary of State to stop the wave of voter suppression happening across the country, which she decried as “immoral.” She said Republicans “subscribe to a mantra of if we can’t beat them, cheat them.”

When it comes to the issue of access to voter materials, like being able to register to vote, Oliver noted how there are kiosks in New Mexico’s Department of Motor Vehicles where you can register to vote after waiting a millennia for your driver’s license. Not many people have participated.

In Ohio, Turner listed occasions where voting rights are being suppressed. The state legislature took away “golden week,” where one could register and vote at the same time. Ohio residents are now unable to participate in Sunday voting, where African-Americans would go to early voting locations after services to cast their ballot. Why? Because African-Americans tend to vote Democratic, said Turner, remember, “If you can’t beat them, cheat them.”

Another example of voter suppression she gave was the Cincinnati Board of Elections’ decision to move the early voting location outside of the city. By bus going one-way, it took ninety minutes, but it gets worse; you had to walk a half-mile from the bus stop to the polling location. Turner pointed out the obvious: this would be devastating to people who are public transportation dependent.

She said the video is somewhere in the archives of MSNBC; the Ed Show and the New York Times documented this development. I’ll let you troll around for that on your own.

But what about those horrible, racist photo voter ID laws?

Oliver noted how incumbent New Mexico Secretary of State – and her Republican opponent – Dianna Duran said she was pushing for such a policy to protect the integrity of the elections. Right now, New Mexico doesn’t have such a law, which Oliver hopes will remain, especially if she’s elected, but commented on how proponents of the legislation talk about this issue. They say, according to Oliver:

“We can’t trust the election process. That all of us that are going out to vote and our neighbors and our friends, that we can’t trust that it’s really them; that who they say they are that are going to the polls and therefore we must put these – and let me be perfectly frank – these sort of new Jim Crow laws in place, such as photo voter ID, such as rolling back early voting etc. etc. that’s what it is.”

On voter fraud, Oliver insisted, “this stuff hardly ever happens” and that attempts at in-person voter fraud in her county are mythical.

My colleague Katie Pavlich wrote two years ago that UN poll watchers were “baffled” that our elections don’t require voters to verify their identity. As for concerns about people not the proper documentation, it only costs $10 for a non-driver’s license in New York (4 years) or New Hampshire. It used to be $13.50 in Pennsylvania, but their fees went up astronomically to $27.50 due to the state’s new transportation bill. That’s an issue for another time.

New Bloomberg Anti-Gun Ad Inadvertently Proves Why Women Need Guns

Bloomberg's new anti-gun Organization Everytown is out with a new advertisement that inadvertently proves why women should be trained and armed before being faced with a violent attacker.

The new ad shows an unarmed woman with her child alone in her home when her violent ex-husband shows up at the door in a violent rage. She calls 911, but because when seconds count the police are minutes away, that phone call didn't matter. The ex-husband breaks down the door, takes the kid and pulls a gun on the woman. All of this could have been prevented if the woman had a firearm in her possession as soon as she saw her ex-husband pounding on the door.

The point of the video according to Everytown is to urge people to contact their legislators about keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Fair enough, but what happens when a domestic abuser disobeys firearms laws already on the books and gets a gun illegally (as most criminals do)? As the video makes clear, there was a restraining order against the husband, which he violated. What are women supposed to do when violent attackers disobey the laws? I happen to believe that a piece of paper and a false assurance police will show up on time aren't good enough. Women must be able to go on the offensive with equal force to protect themselves.

When Everytown was established earlier this year, the group's organizers made it clear they were going after women. Unfortunately, the anti-gun, unarmed policies Everytown stands behind only make women more vulnerable, not less. Their own advertisement proves it.

Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing about "protecting women from gun violence" as part of the Violence Against Women's Act.

H/T @DavidRGreen_

Gun control is a war on women. Be sure to check out my book Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women to find out why.


UPDATE: An antidote.

Good News: Russia Accused of Violating Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Reagan Put in Place

"The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War has been over for 20 years." -Barack Obama, October 22, 2012.

It's been 12 days since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot out of the sky by Russian separatists with a surface to air missile, yet President Vladimir Putin seems untouched by global outrage over the incident. Now, the United States is accusing the Russians of violating a key nuclear test ban put forth by President Ronald Reagan and the former Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev. The accusation comes after it was discovered Russia has been testing long range missiles for years. More from the New York Times:

The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in a letter on Monday.

At the heart of the issue is the 1987 treaty that bans American and Russian ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of flying 300 to 3,400 miles. That accord, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, helped seal the end of the Cold War and has been regarded as a cornerstone of American-Russian arms control efforts.

Russia first began testing the cruise missiles as early as 2008, according to American officials, and the Obama administration concluded by the end of 2011 that they were a compliance concern. In May 2013, Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department’s senior arms control official, first raised the possibility of a violation with Russian officials.

“The United States has determined that the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the I.N.F. treaty not to possess, produce or flight test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.”

Meanwhile, sales to Russia from the United States have increased, not decreased, since heavy sanctions were put in place months ago.

U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade data show that exports rose 17 percent from March through May _ the most recent months for which the data is available _ compared with the previous three months, before sanctions were imposed. The value of exports has risen in each consecutive month this year, an unusual trend in a trade relationship that historically fluctuates on a monthly basis.

Russian markets account for less than 1 percent of U.S. exports, but what the U.S. sells to Russia is largely high-tech and expensive goods, including technology and equipment for the energy sector, which faces the threat of targeted sanctions.

I'll leave you with this.

Court Rules in Favor of Ground Zero Cross, Rejects Atheists' Appeal

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the 17-foot cross beam salvaged from the wreckage of Twin Towers will remain in the National 9/11 Museum, despite the very best efforts of American Atheists Inc.

In “American Atheists v. Port Authority of New Jersey and New York” the group asserted that the artifact's positioning in the museum towered "over any other symbols in the vicinity, expressing Christian primacy." It charged that the Latin cross's dominance violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause and the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

The judges found, however, that the "Ground Zero Cross" is a constitutional and an important symbolic artifact from the terrorist attack. According to the ruling:

"The stated purpose of displaying The Cross at Ground Zero to tell the story of how some people used faith to cope with the tragedy is genuine, and an objective observer would understand the purpose of the display to be secular...there is no evidence that the static display of this genuine historic artifact excessively entangles the government with religion."

This common sense ruling still comes as a major legal victory. Eric Baxter, Counsel for the Beckett Fund, noted that the court made a very key distinction:

“Even though the Ground Zero Cross is unquestionably a religious symbol, and holds deep religious meaning for many people—particularly those who found hope and inspiration in its discovery—the government does not violate the Establishment Clause by recognizing and educating others about the actual role played by religion in our history and culture.”

This historic relic will now continue to show the importance of religion in the United States for years to come.

Sarah Palin Launches Online Web Channel

Former GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin has launched a new online community dubbed the Sarah Palin Channel. The channel will feature videos of Palin and her family as well as "behind the scenes" videos of the Palin household as well as links to Bristol Palin's blog and video chats with Palin herself. Access to the channel is available via a subscription.

We'll go directly to the root of the problems confronting America. We'll talk about the issues mainstream media won't talk about.

The Palin family is quite familiar with reality television. "Sarah Palin's Alaska" lasted for one season on TLC in 2010 and "Amazing America with Sarah Palin has been renewed for a second season on the Sportsman Channel.

The channel can be accessed via computer, tablet or smartphone.

While this is certainly an unusual endeavor for an ex-politician, all power to Palin for marketing her personal brand.

Ebola Virus Sweeps West Africa in Largest Recorded Outbreak

Incidence rates continue to climb as the Ebola virus spreads through West African nations in what epidemiologists are calling the largest-ever recorded outbreak of the disease.

As the Associated Press reports, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has taken initiative to contain the virus by calling for the quarantine of entire communities and closing all but three land border crossings into the country.

The disease, which is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluid, puts both public health officials and the general population at risk. Those infected include two Americans, a medical director from Samaritan's Purse and a missionary worker with the Christian humanitarian organization Serving in Mission. Thousands more have fallen ill and nearly 700 have died.

USA Today has the stats:

Since it was detected in March, the number of cases attributed to Ebola in the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea stands at 1,201, including 672 deaths:

Symptoms of Ebola include acute weakness, sudden onset fever, headache, muscle pain, and in some cases, internal and external bleeding. The incubation period from the time of contraction can range anywhere from two to 21 days and the virus only becomes contagious once the patient begins to show symptoms.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is currently no cure for Ebola and no vaccine to prevent it. Though the fatality rate is a staggering 90 percent, the disease can be treated by maintaining adequate blood pressure, balancing electrolytes, and quickly treating any other developing infections.

The latest scare arose in the Nigerian city of Lagos after a man traveling from Liberia brought the virus with him. As health professionals are working to stop the spread, we must be reminded that the threat of infectious disease is just one flight away.

Those Asians Are 'Very Tight,' And Other Memos From The Nunn Campaign

With David Perdue’s win over Rep. Jack Kingston in the Georgia Republican primary, the game is set. But it isn’t without Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn making more mistakes, like, uh, her campaign releasing campaign memos outlining their game plan.

Over at National Review, Eliana Johnson wrote how these memos were posted, albeit temporarily, in December of last year and seemed to have been regarded as confidential. Well, not anymore (via NRO):

Much of the strategizing in the Georgia contest as is typical in southern politics, revolves around race. But the Nunn memos are incredibly unguarded. One is from Diane Feldman, a Democratic pollster and strategist who counts among her clients Minnesota senator Al Franken, South Carolina representative James Clyburn, and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Feldman, who did not return calls seeking comment, is frank in her characterization of the demographic groups — Jews, Asians, African Americans, Latinos, and gays — that are essential to a Democratic victory. The Nunn campaign declined to comment about the document on the record.

The campaign’s finance plan draws attention to the “tremendous financial opportunity” in the Jewish community and identifies Jews as key fundraisers. It notes, however, that “Michelle’s position on Israel will largely determine the level of support here.” That’s a position she has yet to articulate, and Israel goes unmentioned on her campaign website.

Asians are also identified as key fundraisers. The community is described as “very tight,” one in which people work to “become citizens quickly.” Nunn’s strategists also say there is a “huge opportunity” to raise money from gays, bisexuals, and transgender individuals, who are described as having “substantial resources.”

As southern whites have moved to the right, Democrats have been forced to cobble together a coalition of minority voters. Feldman recommends as a goal winning just 30 percent of the white vote while working to increase turnout among African Americans and Latinos. So while Jews, Asians, and gays are characterized as potential “fundraisers,” African Americans and Hispanics are the ones the campaign needs to get to the polls in historic numbers, the document makes clear.

Johnson elaborated on how Democrats know that Nunn will struggle with rural voters, which is why they’re focusing on turning out Hispanics and Blacks in historic numbers; something that’s described as “critical” to victory.

Democrats know that they have trouble with white voters in the South, and Johnson made it clear in her piece that no Democrat has come within the thirty percent mark since 2002.

Then again, Democrats may have jeopardized their hopes of picking up this very winnable seat for Democrats by sharing their playbook. Here's a list of Nunn's faults, which includes "service awards to terrorists."

Pushback Documents

The Research team will produce a "pushback" document for each identified vulnerability in Michelle's record, as well as common attacks frequently leveled against Democratic Senate candidates

These will be prepared as early as possible and will serve as the basis for our response when attacks are leveled against Michelle. Some, such as the document relating to Michelle's conservation easements, are complex and lengthy; while others will be short "fact checks" pushing back against common distortions (e.g. "Obamacare cut $500 billion from Medicare).

Points of Light

Grants to problematic entities

Layoffs

Liens (POL)

POL audit/IG report

Travel packages investigation

service awards to inmates, terrorists

Nunn’s salary

Bio/Personal

Nunn is too liberal

Nunn is a rubber stamp for Democrats

Nunn is Obama’s/Harry Reid/Nancy Pelosi Best Friend

Nunn is not a 'real' Georgian

Nunn is a lightweight

Conservation easements

Issues/Legislation

Serve America Act Healthcare/Obamacare

Gay Marriage

Guns

Cut Medicare/Social Security

Syria

Points Of Light was established by Bush 41 to encourage volunteering. Nunn became the CEO of the foundation in 2007. Under Nunn's tenure, they gave grants to Islamic Relief USA, a group that Johnson says is legally separate from Islamic Relief Worldwide, which has Hamas ties; but shares their "a common vision, mission, and family identity.”

When it comes to raising money, Nunn’s campaign listed all of their targeted “affinity groups,” or groups with “particular connection with Michelle,” and their messages to each of them. The memo obviously includes women and floats around this message marketed for them to help fill the Nunn campaign coffers: “Women ended the government shutdown. Help me get to Washington where I can bring a much needed [sic] spirit of collaboration.”

You can read the rest of the memos here

2014 Michelle Nunn Campaign Memo

Inspector General Report: Hundreds of Thousands of Machine Guns, Rifles Given to Afghani Security Forces Are Missing

In more good news coming out of the Middle East today, hundreds of thousands of weapons given to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the United States, including machine guns, are missing.

According to a report issued earlier this month from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) titled Afghan National Security Forces: Actions Needed to Improve Weapons Accountability, nearly half of weapons issued are unaccounted for.

"Controls over the accountability of small arms provided to the ANSF are insufficient both before and after the weapons are transferred. Accountability over these weapons within DOD prior to their transfer to Afghan ownership is affected by incompatible inventory systems that have missing serial numbers, inaccurate shipping and receiving dates, and duplicate records, that may result in missing weapons prior to transfer to the ANSF," the report states. "However, the problems are far more severe after the weapons are transferred to the ANSF. ANSF record-keeping and inventory processes are poor and, in many cases, we were unable to conduct even basic inventory testing at the ANSF facilities we visited. Although CSTC-A has established end use monitoring procedures, the lack of adherence to these procedures, along with the lack of reliable weapons inventories, limits monitoring of weapons under Afghan control and reduces the ability to identify missing and unaccounted for weapons that could be used by insurgents to harm U.S., coalition, and ANSF personnel."

Through corruption and bad accounting practices, these weapons more than likely in the wrong, violent hands of terrorists.

Severe Buyers' Remorse in CNN Poll: Romney 53, Obama 44


A new CNN poll reveals that if a do-over of the 2012 presidential election were held today, Republican Mitt Romney would handily defeat President Obama. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and the survey is meaningless on a practical level. The old cliche is spot on: The only poll that counts is on election day. Nevertheless, the findings reinforce a trend of deteriorating public confidence in the man Americans re-elected less than two years ago. Romney, who fell to Obama by three percentage points nearly two years ago, has now opened up a nine-point lead in a hypothetical head-to-head contest. What explains the double-digit swing? Major shifts among women, young voters and independents. According to CNN's respected 2012 exit polls, Obama won female voters by 11 points, carried young voters by 23 points, and lost independents by five points. Today?


RomneyDoOverPoll


Anti-Obama shifts of 18 points, 16 points, and 15 points, respectively. I suspect this poll comes as cold comfort to Romney, who might be thinking, "I literally told you so, America." On the stump, Romney frequently suggested that a more accurate variation of Obama's "Forward" slogan would be "Forewarned." Voters appear to be belatedly realizing that the Republican nominee was right about Obama, as well as a number of his policies. Before conservatives get cocky over Obama's dramatic fall from grace, though, they should note that the same poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Romney by double-digits in a 2016 match-up. Romney has stated repeatedly and unequivocally that he will not seek the presidency for a third time, though rumors continue to swirl. In the ridiculously early GOP nomination sweepstakes, the survey finds a logjam near the top, with Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Paul Ryan tightly packed within the 11 to 13 percent support range. Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz are next with eight percent apiece, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio at six percent, and Gov. Scott Walker at five percent. In far more relevant polling news, a massive nationwide survey conducted by the New York Times, CBS News and YouGov points to a continued GOP advantage -- but not a wave-level advantage -- heading into the November midterm elections.


The Republicans appear to hold a slight advantage in the fight for the Senate and remain in a dominant position in the House. They need to pick up six seats to gain Senate control, and they hold a clear advantage in races in three states: South Dakota, Montana and West Virginia. The data from YouGov, an opinion-research firm that enjoyed success in 2012, finds the G.O.P. with a nominal lead in five additional states. The five states where the Republicans hold a slight lead in the YouGov panel include three Southern ones — Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — where Democratic incumbents face tough re-election contests and where Mitt Romney won in 2012. Republicans also have a slight edge in Iowa and Michigan, two open seats in states that usually vote for Democrats in presidential elections.

If these results were to hold, Republicans would net eight Senate seats, two more than they need to secure the majority. For a more detailed look at the Senate battle, click through to my lengthy analysis from last week. But such a huge poll that uses a still-emerging online methodology should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, compared to other polling, these projections look a bit sunny for Republicans in North Carolina, and very optimistic in Michigan. On the other hand, they may underestimate the GOP's chances in places like Alaska and Colorado. This "mega poll" appears to be right on target in measuring Republicans' three likeliest Senate gains (Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia), and predicts the party will retain its contested seats in Kentucky and Georgia (the latter race just took an embarrassing and possibly catastrophic turn for the Democrats). It also finds that the GOP is "overwhelmingly likely" to keep its House majority, and could well expand it. I'll leave you with this nugget out of Texas:


Palestinian Spokesman: Tunnels Into Israel Were For Well-Meaning Palestinians To Travel

Maen Areikat, Palestinian Representative to the U.S. appeared with "the Beard" today to give us this sound bite:

Mrs. Obama's Desperate Plea

With her husband’s approval rating dipping lower every day, and a smaller electorate expected this November, Michelle Obama has the right to worry about the fast approaching 2014 midterm elections. Hence why the First Lady released a misleading, borderline desperate video this weekend.

“Equal pay for women, immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring that women can make their own decisions about their bodies and their health care. My husband is working so hard on all these issues. But he needs leaders in Congress who will work with him – leaders who care about what’s going on in your lives and who will fight for you every single day.”

Apparently those heartless House Republicans could care less about their constituents.

Mrs. Obama then got straight to her point:

“We need you to be as passionate and as hungry as you were in 2008 and 2012.”

One year she notably forgot? 2010, a year when Americans were very passionate. They were passionate about the ugly economy. They were passionate about the high unemployment. Oh yeah, and they were especially passionate about the government getting between them and their doctors. That’s why these incensed voters turned our country red.

A new CNN poll puts the Democrats’ peril in perspective:

In the generic ballot question, the Democrats have a 4-percentage point 48 percent-44 percent edge over the Republicans among registered voters. The generic ballot asks respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates.

A smaller electorate could heavily favor the Republican Party. Single women, younger voters and minorities - who are generally consistent Democratic voters - typically vote in fewer numbers during midterms, according to wcti12.com.

She can keep urging her supporters on, but it’s clear voters aren’t “passionate” about the party who pushed through this disaster.

Watch: Emily Miller Explains New DC Firearm Carry Rules

In a major victory for Second Amendment rights over the weekend, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin struck down the Washington D.C. total ban on concealed and open carrying of firearms as unconstitutional. The ruling came after a five year long court battle and effective immediately, D.C. police cannot arrest someone for carry a legal firearm.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision striking down the city's 32-year-old ban on handguns. Since then, the city has rewritten its laws, lawsuits have been filed and even Congress has waded into the fight.

In a decision made public Saturday, Scullin concluded that the Second Amendment gives people the right to carry a gun outside the home for self-defense. He cited two U.S. Supreme Court cases as important to his ruling — the 2008 opinion striking down the District of Columbia's ban and a 2010 ruling involving Chicago's handgun ban.

"There is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia's total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny," wrote Scullin, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and is a retired Army colonel.

This morning Emily Miller, author of Emily Gets Her Gunand an expert in understanding D.C. gun laws, explained on Fox and Friends what the ruling means for carrying a firearm in the District.

"Anyone who is a none D.C. resident who legally can carry in their home state, whether open or concealed, can carry in D.C.," Miller said. "D.C. residents, if you have a registered gun like I do, I can carry. If you do not have a registered gun you can still be arrested on the unregistered gun law."

Hamas Breaks Ceasefire, Demands a New One...While Firing Rockets


UPDATE - Despite the UN's (and President Obama's) insistence on an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the battle in Gaza rages on. Israel is blaming errant Hamas rockets for horrible explosions at a hospital and a refugee camp, killing at least 10 people earlier today. The IDF published an infographic that it says tracks 100 Hamas rockets that have fallen within Gaza's borders since July 8:



Tragically, one of Hamas' rockets found its intended target today: Israeli civilians. Attention, "proportionality" fetishists (update: it now looks like those killed were Israeli soldiers):


Four people are pronounced dead from a mortar attack in the Eshkol region, and three others remain in serious condition...Hamas is celebrating the “success” of the mortar shelling at the Eshkol region.


And another Hamas attack:


Five Gaza militants breach Israeli border and open fire at IDF troops, causing several casualties. The troops returned fire, and it is possible some of the militants escaped back into the Strip. Troops are combing the area. Residents of a community in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council and of another community in the Sdot Negev Regional Council near the Gaza border have been instructed to remain in their homes.


::Original Post::


This past weekend's 12-hour humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas, announced late Friday, represented a short respite in the three-weeks old conflict between the two sides. The first party to break the temporary calm was Hamas, after the terror group rejected Israel's offers to extend the peace window:


The Israeli cabinet approved a 24-hour extension of its cease-fire Saturday but said it would respond to any future rocket fire from Gaza after Hamas rejected an earlier proposed four-hour extension and fired rockets into Israel. The announcement came after Hamas confirmed that it fired five rockets at Israel late Saturday after rejecting an earlier offer from Israel to extend a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire by four hours, casting new doubt on international efforts to broker an end to 19 days of fighting. The terror group said two of the rockets were aimed at Tel Aviv. Police in Israel's second-largest city dispersed a peace rally attended by several thousand people because of the threat, a spokesman said. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight (2100 GMT) Saturday. Meanwhile, the Israeli military warned residents of areas where there had been heavy fighting against returning there.

Lots of information packed into that paragraph. Despite sustaining rocket fire after a rejected extension, the Israeli government nevertheless green-lit a day-long, good faith ceasefire. The Hamas rockets that punctured the quiet were aimed at Tel Aviv, where Israeli peace demonstrators had to be rapidly dispersed for their own safety. These people were demonstrating for an accommodation with the terrorist cartel that was literally trying to kill them. As Israel prepared to re-engage in the fight, it re-issued warnings to Palestinian civilians against returning to dangerous areas. Hamas, which targets Israeli innocents, also admonishes its civilians against heeding the IDF's warnings. They're more valuable to the terror campaign as human shields, frustrating Israel's response. And they're more valuable to the anti-Israel public relations campaign…well, dead. To the surprise of no one, Israel's unilateral 24-hour ceasefire didn't last:


Israel observed a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire from 8 a.m. on Saturday, during which time Gazan civilians stocked up on essential supplies and buried their dead. Israel offered to extend the cease-fire by four hours, and later by 24 hours, but was rebuffed in the form of rockets fired from Gaza. Israel continued to observe a cease-fire until mid-Sunday morning when volleys of rockets led the security Cabinet to order the Israel Defense Forces to continue its strikes on Gaza.


"Ceasefire," Hamas-style:



Having rejected several Egypt-proposed ceasefire agreements while breaking and violating the agreements to which they have acceded, Hamas had the gall on Sunday to insist upon a new one. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the absurdity and dishonesty of the terrorist organization's demands on Fox News Sunday:


"Well, Hamas has broken five ceasefires that we accepted, and we actually implemented. They rejected all of them, violated all of them -- including two humanitarian ceasefires in the last 24 hours. Now they come with their own ceasefire proposal, and believe it or not, they're violating even their own ceasefire proposal. They're shooting at us as we speak. So Israel is not obliged, and is not going to let a terrorist organization determine when it's convenient for them to fire at our cities, at our people…we'll take the necessary action to protect our people."

Jennifer Rubin is exasperated by US Secretary of State John Kerry's inept meddling in the conflict, upbraiding him for being "in the wrong place, talking to the wrong people about the wrong thing." He's undermined Israel by throwing a lifeline to Hamas. Read her full analysis to get a sense of how badly he's bungled things. Rubin also links to a fascinating Times of Israel piece describing the degree to which "civilian life" in Gaza is intertwined with Hamas' terrorist activities, and the ongoing struggle of the IDF to try to respect innocent life deliberately embedded in a war zone:


Hamas has planted its military assets deep inside the very fabric of Gazan civilian life, [a military source] said. “Hamas operatives and area commanders, as well as their rocket cell members, keeps one part of their home for normal family life. A second part of the home is the command center, or the start of a tunnel. Daily life and military infrastructure are totally interwoven,” the source said. . . . “I have not entered one civilian home that did not have weapons, suicide belts, or booby traps in it. You can see the booby traps from the outside,” the source said. Any home found to be containing women and children leads to an immediate halt of the raid, he added. “We hold our fire, there’s no question. We don’t take chances with children and women. We allow them to leave, and then continue the raid. That’s who we are, and this is the source of our strength,” he added.


Meanwhile, Hamas sympathizers marched in Chicago over the weekend, as Europe continues to brace for more anti-Semitic violence. For many, Israel's defensive war effort is merely a "news hook" excuse to unleash their Medieval hatred of Jews. Awful:


Protesters have attacked synagogues, smashed the windows of Jewish-owned business and torched others, in scenes disturbingly reminiscent of the 1938 Kristallnacht in France. The marchers have chanted “Jews to the gas chambers”, and Jewish people have been attacked on the streets of Berlin. An 18-year-old Jewish man claimed on Friday he had been punched in the face in an unprovoked attack while wearing a skull cap in the centre of Berlin, in what would be the second such incident in less than a week. Police had to step in to protect an Israeli tourist couple from protesters who charged at them shouting “Jew! We’ll get you”...One Facebook page created in the last week, entitled Jeunes Revolutionnaires Francais, or Young French Revolutionaries, posted the names, photographs and addresses of 32 French Jews encouraging members to target them. After the picture of one young man seen wearing a skullcap was put up, he was attacked in his home in the Paris suburbs on Thursday evening by a group of masked men with iron bars. The group, which picked up 2,000 followers and more than 1,500 “likes”, was taken down on Friday night after it was reported to the social network...in Austria this week, a friendly football match between the Israel’s Maccabi Haifa and a French team had to be called off, after protesters stormed the pitch and fought with the players. The Haifa captain, Yossi Benayoun, defended his players for fighting back, saying “We had no choice but to defend ourselves”. The pitch invaders in Austria were mostly immigrants of Palestinian origin, and around Europe the new anti-Semitism is being seen a phenomenon confined to Arab and Muslim communities.

I'll leave you with a short spin around the globe, where American foreign policy is failing or nonexistent: (1) ISIS' march of terror through Iraq continues apace. The terrorists are destroying cultural and religious icons, as they keep Baghdad in their crosshairs. The Obama administration is responding by seeking the full repeal of America's authorization of force resolution vis-a-vis Iraq. (2) American officials have unveiled new evidence that proves how deeply involved Russia is in Eastern Ukraine -- further verification that Russia is directly attacking its neighbor. Moscow-backed rebels continue to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft following their downing of a large passenger jet with Russian equipment. The Obama administration's response is unclear. (3) The State Department evacuated US embassy in Tripoli and rushed its diplomats out of the country in a final admission that Libya is now a failed state, overrun by radical jihadists. The Obama administration supported the military effort to oust Mommar Gaddafi from power in 2011. The situation on the ground has steadily deteriorated ever since, punctuated by the Benghazi attacks of September 11, 2012. (4) As for Syria, where presidential red lines have been breached and re-breached, this Washington Post editorialheadline sums things up: "Syrian death toll and extremist threat increases, but the US does little." Click through and read it. We're not in good hands.

Bipartisan Deal on VA Reform Close to Complete

There are five days before the House and Senate will be forced by law to go on their August recess. With a race to the finish, it looks like a bipartisan Veteran's Affairs reform deal may be reached before the deadline Friday. More from Fox News:

The leaders of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees reached a tentative deal Sunday to improve veterans' health care -- a potential solution to help fix such ongoing problems as delays for benefits and long waits for medical treatment concealed by secret lists.

The tentative deal would also end speculation about whether Congress would indeed begin a five-week summer recess without a legislative solution amid widespread national outrage over problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The committee chairmen, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., worked through the weekend and have scheduled a press conference for Monday to talk about the tentative deal.

A spokesman for Sanders confirmed the agreement Sunday.

The pair said in a joint statement that they had "made significant progress" toward an agreement on legislation "to make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals."


The VA scandal, which involves the deaths of dozens of veterans waiting for care in VA hospitals, is the only scandal both Republicans and Democrats both show outrage over. That being said, coming to an agreement about how to fix the VA is another story and bipartisan bickering has been at the center of the hold up for reform. It's been months since we first heard about secret waiting lists for veterans.

“In the wake of the biggest scandal in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs, I am committed to working in a bipartisan manner with the Senate to send the president a VA reform package that will increase accountability at the department and provide veterans facing unacceptable waits for VA medical care the option to receive private-sector treatment. But arriving at a compromise will be impossible if Senate Democrats refuse to even participate in Veterans’ Affairs Conference Committee meetings and negotiations as they did today," House Veteran's Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller said late last week in a statement. “The crisis at VA is not a partisan problem, and I will do everything I can to prevent this from devolving into an exercise in the sort of bickering and name calling for which Washington has become infamous."

Miller also said he is willing to negotiate with the Senate for as long as it takes to get a bill through. The House legislation being offered as a solution to VA problems includes language that allows government employees working inside VA hospitals to be more easily fired for misconduct and incompetence.

Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Miller worked over the weekend to reach a deal and will hold a press conference Monday at 1:30 to discuss a compromise. Lets hope Congress can get something done before leaving Washington on Friday.

Wikipedia Bans House Staffers From Editing Pages

Following the launch of the Twitter account @congressedits, which shows edits to Wikipedia made from the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses associated with Congresss, Wikipedia has announced a 10-day ban on House staffers using that IP address to edit pages anonymously. Staffers, inspired that their Wikipedia edits would subsequently be broadcast to the 25,000-plus followers of @congressedits, were making unusual edits to various pages, prompting the temporary ban. House staffers that have official accounts on Wikipedia are still permitted to edit pages.

The Hill reports:

Apparently in reaction to the account, House staffers made a series of tongue-in-cheek edits, knowing they would show up on Twitter.

For instance, the Wikipedia page for “Moon landing conspiracy theories” was changed so that the theories were noted to be “promoted by the Cuban government.” Edits were also made to pages for the fictional reptilian race of aliens, ice cream brand Choco Taco and the secret society Skull and Bones.

As the edits are anonymous, it is unlikely the Choco Taco-loving conspiracy theorist working for the House of Representatives will ever be revealed.

August Recess Fast Approaching, Congress Down to the Wire on Immigration

Incoming House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) dodged questions Sunday when asked if House Republicans would delay Congress’ five-week vacation in order to address the continual crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Indecision over how to approach the steady influx of migrant children has lawmakers playing the finger-pointing game in Washington. The House, Senate, and White House will need to act quickly and work together if they hope reach a deal by the end of the week.

Scalise stressed the urgency of the situation while speaking with FNC’s Chris Wallace this morning. He declared that Congress is ready to tackle the issue but President Obama is more interested in securing funds for the Democratic party than securing the border:

Well, it’s ironic. We’re here in Congress right now and the president doesn’t want to work with us while we’re in town, he wants to wait until people are gone. The president has a lot of time on his schedule to secure fundraisers, but he has no time to secure the border. He has not taken his job seriously in this regard. The House is willing to lead. The House has laid out what we’ll do to solve this problem. The president just wants to sit back and play politics. He’s flying around the country doing fundraisers, he doesn’t have time to sit down and work with Congress.

He could solve this problem today. He has been AWOL, he doesn’t want to solve this problem, but we do.

We’re going to stay, we’re going to work, and we’re going to get our job done. I’d like to see the Senate take something up and do their job. I’d like to see the president do his job. But we’re not going to wait for that.

Here’s a little secret about members of Congress: they are people just like us and they like to go on vacation just like us. There is no easy solution to the complex problem at the border. We will see what happens in September.

Bipartisanship: Democrats and Republicans Agree Obama Doesn't "Get It"

One of the biggest structural problems of the Obama Administration is that the White House has been an ineffective participant in negotiations with Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans have complained about the White House's ineffectual manner in Capitol Hill dealings, and a new round of complaints highlight that the Obama Administration still hasn't learned from its mistakes.

As the Associated Press reports:

President Barack Obama's request for billions of dollars to deal with migrant children streaming across the border set off Democrats and Republicans. Lawmakers in both parties complained that the White House — six years in — still doesn't get it when it comes to working with Congress.

Obama is the "only person in America who can sign something into law and help bring members of his party on board for an outcome on a given piece of legislation that requires bipartisan support," McConnell said in an interview. "So it's a mystery, but that's the way they operate."

Several Democratic lawmakers echoed McConnell but spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid alienating the president of their party. They said they were baffled by the White House's tactics in handling the border request. Several Democrats expressed frustration that the president and administration officials weren't more involved in legislative fights.

The Obama Administration at this point is either stubbornly ineffectual or completely incompetent. The complaints in this area have been the same throughout the entire Obama era, and they haven't gotten any better. President Obama's tactics seem to come down to making a wide-sweeping declaration and expecting it to just "get done," without actually working with Congress. This frustrates both Democrats and Republicans, and Obama refuses to actually try to remedy themselves in this area.