Why It Matters That Obama Doesn't Hold Much Sway On Capitol Hill

Many analysts subscribe to the theory that the Congressional GOP is the main source of all dysfunction on Capitol Hill. Their monolithic will to block progress, this theory goes, impedes legislation on Capitol Hill and there's really nothing anyone can do about it but ask constituents to apply pressure.

Vox's Ezra Klein writes that Capitol Hill Democrats' frustrations with President Obama are "ridiculous." This is in reference to a New York Times article that described those frustrations. While the NYT got multiple Democrats on the record with those complaints, Klein cites "a lot" of conversations he has with members of Congress, saying that all of them agree that their voting pattern has not been changed by President Obama's behavior.

Putting aside one obvious thing - no legislator wants to admit that their ideals that underlie their voting behavior is so shallow and malleable that a cup of coffee with POTUS will change it, especially to a member of the press - we could find a myriad of examples in which President Obama's lack of sway within his own party may have impeded legislative action on the Hill.

Just this year, Democrats on the Hill led action against a bipartisan piece of trade legislation that the White House was publicly in favor of. As the Financial Times reported, Sen. Sherrod Brown and other pro-labor Democrats helped block legislation sponsored by Max Baucus and Dave Camp for the Trade Promotion Authority.

Now, this is a relatively small-bore issue, and it might be that no amount of Obama politicking would have caused Democrats to back off their opposition to trade legislation. Democrats can be quite monolithic and uncompromising when it comes to free trade agreements. (Why, one might be surprised that Democrats are often just as monolithic and uncompromising as one thinks Republicans to be!) But it's not just here. President Obama's relationship with Harry Reid has proven to be fractious, and it's not hard to imagine a better working relationship resulting in Harry Reid himself working harder for Democratic comity. Obama politicking might not be enough to pass gun control measures (though some have said that a more shrewd White House might have found victory on extended unemployment benefits extension), but to point out that Republicans have a few pet issues on which they won't compromise is not to excuse the White House.

As Joe Manchin told the New York Times, sometimes a little introspection is a good thing. It might be possible that there is literally nothing President Obama could have done over the previous six years that would have resulted in a better working relationship and more of his pet legislation passed. But no amount of anonymous conversations that Klein has with unnamed legislators will change that legislators, by and large, do think Obama could do better.

Republicans Shift Gears On Obamacare Attack Ads

Just as Democrats are shying away from “War on Women” tactics since American women see them as too divisive, Republicans are shifting away from attacking Obamacare directly in attack ads. Now, they’re pivoting towards the law’s impact on the economy (via Bloomberg):

The shift -- also taking place in competitive states such as Arkansas and Louisiana -- shows Republicans are easing off their strategy of criticizing Democrats over the Affordable Care Act now that many Americans are benefiting from the law and the measure is unlikely to be repealed.

“The Republican Party is realizing you can’t really hang your hat on it,” said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University. “It just isn’t the kind of issue it was.”

In April, anti-Obamacare advertising dwarfed all other spots in North Carolina. It accounted for 3,061, or 54 percent, of the 5,704 top five issue ads in North Carolina, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. By July, the numbers had reversed, with anti-Obamacare ads accounting for 971, or 27 percent, of the top issue ads, and the budget, government spending, jobs and unemployment accounting for 2,608, or 72 percent, of such ads, CMAG data show

It is a recognition that there’s more going on in this state and also nationally than just frustration over Obamacare,” said Jordan Shaw, Tillis’s campaign manager. “We have never had an approach to make this campaign all about the Affordable Care Act. You can’t have a conversation about Obamacare without talking about its impact on the economy.”

The Republican approach, long defined by a “repeal and replace” mantra, is also challenged by a policy void, said Jennifer Duffy, a Senate analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “You can’t really repeal it without creating a mess,” she said, “and the problem is they’re not entirely sure what to replace it with.”

The reason for pivoting on the Obamacare ads could be Gallup noting that “the rate of uninsured people has dropped in all except five states. Two critical states, Arkansas and Kentucky, had the biggest declines. In Arkansas, the rate of people without health insurance fell from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent in mid-2014,” according to Bloomberg.

As more people enroll under the Affordable Care Act, the harder it’ll be for conservatives to campaign against Obamacare. Whether we like it or nor, the larger electorate will see these ads as Republican attempts to take away their health care. That problem will be magnified once more Americans are enrolled under the ACA by 2016. Will our 2016 GOP nominee really campaign on a platform that seeks to take away insurance from millions of Americans–or at least that’s how the media will frame it? If that’s the case, Election Day 2016 will be a short night, with a Democrat back in the White House.

Yet, that doesn’t mean conservatives should just stop fighting Obamacare legally on what are legitimate constitutional issues. The second front in that war is having a replacement plan; something to tell voters besides “repeal it!”

Avik Roy released his white paper of the subject last week. It’s worth a read. But, Republicans have had alternatives to fix our health care system since the Clinton administration. Chris Conover at Forbes provided a history of Republican health care alternatives last summer, most notably Bushcare. 

In 2007, President Bush had a “reform plan that would have replaced the current tax exclusion for employer-provided coverage with standard tax deductions for all individuals and families,” Conover wrote. “The Bush plan called for a tax deduction that would have applied to payroll taxes as well as income taxes. Moreover, if one were worried about non-filers, the subsidy could easily have instead been structured as a refundable tax credit in which case even those without any income taxes would have gotten an additional amount.”

If Democrats were willing to work with Republicans back in the day, the reward could’ve been reducing the number of uninsured Americans by 65%, compared to Obamacare’s 45% when the law is fully-implemented by 2016. Oh, and the Bush plan had no mandate.

Right now, Republicans could continue to bash the president’s signature domestic achievement; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is still having trouble getting the Open Payments database off the ground. But what will get independents to tilt towards the right come Election Day is focusing on the law's impact on jobs and the economy, according to Republican pollster Whit Ayers. It’ll probably get even better once Republicans reach a consensus on how to replace Obamacare.  There's plenty of ideas out there.

Obama: “No God Would Stand For What [ISIL] Did Yesterday”

Speaking from Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday, President Obama delivered a somber yet moving speech eulogizing the life of the late American journalist James Wright Foley, who U.S. intelligence officials confirmed today was beheaded by ISIL.

“Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the civilized world,” the president said before eviscerating the evil and gruesome tactics of his killers.

“Let’s be clear about ISIL,” he said. “They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent civilians.”

“They’ve murdered Muslims [by] the thousands,” he continued. “They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes whenever they can.”

He also noted that ISIL massacres, rapes, tortures, and even enslaves their victims -- describing their ideology as both “bankrupt” and of no “value to human beings.”

“ISIL speaks for no religion,” he said. “No God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.”

Curiously, the president didn’t address how the U.S. would fight this growing terrorist threat. He did say, however, that the U.S. has no illusions about the dangers ISIL poses to the West and civilized societies everywhere.

“We will continue to confront this hateful terrorism,” he said. “We will do everything we can to protect our people and the timeless values we stand for.”

Still, the president didn’t take any questions from reporters, nor comment on the fact that an American journalist is almost certainly still being held prisoner by ISIL.

Instead, after reading his prepared remarks, he went "straight to the golf course."

Editor's note: This post has been updated.

Who Was Journalist James Wright Foley?

The Islamic terrorist group ISIS boorishly murdered American freelance photojournalist  James Wright Foley, decapitating him on camera in an attempt to shock the United States and President Obama into military stagnance in Iraq. Foley, a native of New Hampshire, lost his life to the very type of primitive and sadistic people he was attempting to expose.

This was not the first time Foley had been captured while working in the Islamic world. He was  abducted previously in 2011 by Qaddafi loyalists and held in Libya. After 45 days, he was released and sent a letter to his alma mater, Marquette University, a Roman Catholic institution in Wisconsin. He thanked the school for challenging him to “do more and be better.” After taking a volunteer trip to South Dakota and Mississippi with Marquette, Foley said he realized he was a “sheltered kid and the world had real problems.” 

During his imprisonment, Foley wrote that he prayed every day and even said prayers out loud with his imprisoned colleague, Clare. Here is a portion of the letter:

One night, 18 days into our captivity, some guards brought me out of the cell. In the hall I saw Manu, another colleague, for the first time in a week. We were haggard but overjoyed to see each other. Upstairs in the warden’s office, a distinguished man in a suit stood and said, “We felt you might want to call your families.”

I said a final prayer and dialed the number. My mom answered the phone. “Mom, Mom, it’s me, Jim.”

“Jimmy, where are you?”

“I’m still in Libya, Mom. I’m sorry about this. So sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, Jim,” she pleaded. “Oh, Daddy just left. Oh … He so wants to talk to you.

How are you, Jim?” I told her I was being fed, that I was getting the best bed and being treated like a guest.

“Are they making you say these things, Jim?”

“No, the Libyans are beautiful people,” I told her. “I’ve been praying for you to know that I’m OK,” I said. “Haven’t you felt my prayers?”

“Oh, Jimmy, so many people are praying for you. All your friends, Donnie, Michael Joyce, Dan Hanrahan, Suree, Tom Durkin, Sarah Fang have been calling. Your brother Michael loves you so much.” She started to cry. “The Turkish embassy is trying to see you and also Human Rights Watch. Did you see them?” I said I hadn’t.

“They’re having a prayer vigil for you at Marquette. Don’t you feel our prayers?” she asked.

“I do, Mom, I feel them,” and I thought about this for a second. Maybe it was others’ prayers strengthening me, keeping me afloat.

The official made a motion. I started to say goodbye. Mom started to cry. “Mom, I’m strong. I’m OK. I should be home by Katie’s graduation,” which was a month away.

“We love you, Jim!” she said. Then I hung up.

I replayed that call hundreds of times in my head — my mother’s voice, the names of my friends, her knowledge of our situation, her absolute belief in the power of prayer. She told me my friends had gathered to do anything they could to help. I knew I wasn’t alone.

James Foley chose to continue exposing the problems in the Islamic world after his initial release and was  captured again in Syria in November 2012. The Committee to Protect Journalists began a petition for his freedom after his second abduction. Sixty-six journalists have died covering the conflict in Syria and seven have been murdered, according to CPJ’s site. It is the most dangerous country for the media. 

In a Facebook post Tuesday,  Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, said she has never been more proud of her son:

We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.

We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.

We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.

President Obama was briefed about Foley’s murder while flying back on Air Force One to his vacation spot at Martha’s Vineyard. He is expected to address Foley’s death during a press conference at 12:45 PM EST Wednesday. 

FBI: We Think the Foley Video Might Be Genuine

The video in question has already been taken down from YouTube. Nevertheless, after analyzing and appraising its authenticity, the FBI has reportedly reached this tragic conclusion: it’s real.

Reuters has the details:

The FBI believes the Islamic State video purporting to show the beheading of American journalist James Foley is authentic, GlobalPost reported on Wednesday.

"The FBI on Wednesday morning told the Foley family they believe the video is authentic," according to GlobalPost, a Boston-based online publication that employed Foley as a freelancer.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who is on vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, is likely to comment on the video later in the day, a U.S. official told Reuters.

U.S. authorities had previously said they were trying to verify the contents of the video, which was released on Tuesday.

Remember, we haven’t received any official confirmation that the man executed in the video is James Foley. But if the FBI is supposedly already telling Foley’s family the rumors are true, that’s an ominous sign. Presumably, too, when the president updates the nation today at 12:45 PM EST (or, perhaps more realistically, 1:15 PM or later) we’ll know more about what happened.

Sit tight for our write-up.

UPDATE: U.S. intelligence has confirmed the video is genuine.

Contrast: David Cameron Suspends Vacation Over Foley Killing; Obama Heads Back To Vineyard

Yesterday, a video depicting the beheading of American journalist James Wright Foley was posted on YouTube. The jihadist in the video spoke with a London accent, prompting questions about whether the man was in fact a British national.

In response to these questions, British Prime Minister David Cameron suspended his vacation and vowed to get to the bottom of the situation. Obama, on the other hand, returned to Martha's Vineyard late Tuesday evening to rejoin his family on vacation. A statement was released through a spokesman late last night that said Obama was "appalled" by the gruesome beheading.

Compare:

The Prime Minister has broken off his holiday in Cornwall after just a day, having previously said that he would return "immediately" if the situation in Iraq deteriorated.

He made the announcement after Philip Hammond said that it appeared that the Islamic State extremist who beheaded Mr Foley is British.

Meanwhile:

President Obama went back to his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard Tuesday evening following less than 48 hours in Washington, leaving people puzzled over why he came back in the first place.

Obama’s two days in Washington were mostly quiet, and concluded with the president receiving his daily national security briefing in the morning, and joining Vice President Biden to huddle with members of his economic team in the afternoon.

Administration officials have insisted for weeks that the president just wanted to return to the White House for a series of meetings, but the explanation was met with a healthy dose of skepticism, since Obama rarely interrupts his vacations.

This is unacceptable behavior from the president, and he should look to Cameron for guidance on how to handle a situation like this. It isn't even confirmed that the man in question is British (for all we know, he could have been taught English by a Londoner or is a heck of an impressionist), yet Cameron recognized the gravity of the situation and did the appropriate thing by suspending his vacation.

It's no wonder ISIS thinks they can walk all over us.

McDonnell's Sister-in-Law Calls His Wife A "Vitamin Nut" During Corruption Trial

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's (R) corruption trial became a testy family affair Tuesday when his sister-in-law had nothing but harsh words for her brother's wife. The former First Family has been charged with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from business executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in exchange for promoting his company, Star Scientific, which sells dietary supplements, and offering him access to the governor's office. On the witness stand this week, McDonnell's sister tried to  place the blame for the unethical relationship on her sister-in-law:

“There are two sides to Maureen,” she testified. “You’re not sure which one you’re going to get — which one will show up.”

One, she said, was “very sweet, very tender.” She recalled how the former first lady sat with her husband’s mother as she lay dying, rubbing lotion on the elderly woman’s legs and head.

But, Maureen C. McDonnell added: “She could be very manipulative. She could be very unpredictable. She could be very deceptive.”

McDonnell's sister also referred to his wife as a "vitamin nut," suggesting she is the likely culprit in wanting to promote Williams' products. She isn't the only who had an unflattering description of the First Lady. On Monday, one of Governor McDonnell's longtime aides accused his wife of being so "diva-ish" that her staff once threatened to quit. 

So, why is McDonnell's defense team employing a strategy that is so critical of his spouse? Well, if they make the case that McDonnell was simply a victim of his wife promoting Williams' company behind his back, it could earn him some sympathy from the jury.

Whether or not the jury takes the bait remains to be seen. Until then, this is one Family Feud that will not end in cheers from a studio audience.

Rubio: It's Clear ISIS Has Already Declared War on the U.S.

The horrible barbarism of ISIS is just starting to impact and affect Americans directly. Katie wrote up the grisly news yesterday that 40-year-old American journalist, James Wright Foley, was allegedly beheaded by the terrorist group. (I haven’t seen the video, nor do I intend to, but the carnage speaks for itself).

As of this writing, ISIS' savage claims cannot be substantiated -- but the administration is nonetheless "appalled" by these recent developments. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda’s newest ally now claims to have another American in captivity, and is threatening to kill him too if the U.S. doesn’t stop their ongoing and effective airstrike campaign against ISIS in northern Iraq.

Even so, former CIA Director Mike Morell argued that even if he is assassinated, “we cannot let something like this stop us” from taking the fight to the enemy (via Noah Rothman):

In fact, we should pick up the pace here. The definition of terrorism is political violence…so we should mark this date down because this is ISIS’ first terrorist attack against the United States.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a presumed presidential hopeful himself, condemned ISIS today in clear and unequivocal terms. Here is what he said:

“The brutal execution of American journalist James Foley by ISIL is the latest example of the evil and barbarism of these terrorists. My thoughts and prayers are with the Foley family and with other Western hostages who at this hour are still being held.

“Just as Al Qaeda’s initial killings of Americans abroad foretold the carnage they would unleash within our borders, this barbaric beheading of a defenseless hostage is the clearest indication to date that ISIL has declared war on the United States, on the American people, and on freedom loving people everywhere.

“For more than a year, ISIL has been murdering civilians, raping women and young girls and enslaving them, and carrying out a systematic genocide of anyone who does not share their warped and extremist Islamist views. ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their view of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.

“I remain deeply concerned that despite the preponderance of evidence that proves ISIL is a fundamentally evil and dangerous terrorist threat to the United States, President Obama continues to appear unwilling to do what is necessary to confront ISIL and communicate clearly to the American people about the threat ISIL poses to our country and to our way of life.

The president will convene a press conference today to address the alleged beheading of James Wright Foley, and its implications. Stay tuned.

Obama Administration "Appalled" at Beheading of American Journalist "If True"

Late yesterday news broke that the terrorist group ISIS beheaded American photojournalist James Wright Foley and issued a challenge directly to President Obama. ISIS has also threatened to execute American journalist Steven Sotloff, who is still in their custody. 

When news broke last night, President Obama was on his way back to Martha's Vineyard. In a statement this morning, the Obama administration has said that "if" Foley was killed then they are "appalled." More from the Washington Examiner:

“If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available,” National Security Council spokesman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
We still have not heard directly from President Obama about the gruesome, savage murder of Foley. Foley's family has asked for privacy during this difficult time.

UPDATE: The White House knew ISIS was threatening to execute Foley. From ABC News: 

ISIS had recently threatened to kill U.S. journalist James Foley to avenge airstrikes the United States has conducted in Iraq, a senior U.S. official told ABC News.

The White House had been aware of the threat prior to the release of a video Tuesday night that appears to show the beheading of Foley and warns that militants will carry out a similar act against U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, who went missing in August, the official said.

"Establishment" Candidate Dan Sullivan Secures GOP Senate Nod in Alaska

Former Natural Resources Commissioner, Bush administration official, and state Attorney General Dan Sullivan won the Republican U.S. Senate primary last night in Alaska, the Associated Press reports. The AP notes that the Karl Rove-backed outside spending group, American Crossroads -- and the conservative Club for Growth, both endorsed him.

He also won, in part, because he crushed his two GOP rivals in the fundraising game:

A tea party attempt to overcome a mainstream Republican came up short in Alaska as former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan won the GOP primary to become his party’s candidate to take on U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in the fall.

Sullivan entered the primary the presumed front-runner, with the backing of national GOP powerbrokers and a huge cash advantage over his rivals.

Sullivan won by a rather comfortable margin:

With 80% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press projected that Mr. Sullivan would top the Republican primary field. He had 40.2% of the vote, compared with 31.8% for tea party candidate Joe Miller and 25.1% for Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.

Mr. Sullivan said in a statement that he looks "forward to painting a clear contrast between Mark Begich's inability to move our state forward and my vision for a brighter and better Alaska."

Speaking of Begich, a SuperPAC supporting him spent roughly $4 million during the late primary campaign attacking Dan Sullivan. At the same time, some of the attack lines used against him sound eerily familiar:

“Alaska’s bitter and divisive Republican primary exposed that Dan Sullivan does not look out for what’s in the best interests of Alaskans,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee deputy executive director Matt Canter in a statement from Washington early Wednesday. “After carrying water for Sarah Palin and trying to restrict access to public lands for hunters and fishers, Sullivan is now hoping to do the Koch brothers’ bidding in the U.S. Senate.”

Begich attacked Sullivan and Treadwell over women’s health issues — a recurring theme in races across the country this year, driven in part by the ongoing Obamacare debate — and joined the other Republicans in attacking Sullivan over his Alaska roots. (Sullivan is originally from Ohio and worked for the George W. Bush administration.)

Par for the course for Democrats these days, I suppose. But the goods news is -- and unlike, say, in Missouri -- there doesn’t seem to be any lasting ill-will between the Republican candidates. Both of Sullivan’s rivals called to congratulate him after he was declared the winner.

Hopefully now Republicans can unite in preparation for the general election campaign, and therefore pick up a seat they are more than capable of winning:

Alaska is a red-leaning state that could become one of the six Republicans need to net in order to win control of the Senate. John McCain defeated Barack Obama there by almost 22 percentage points in 2008. Begich, a former mayor of Anchorage, that year unseated GOP Sen. Ted Stevens, who had just been convicted in an ethics case that was later thrown out. Obama lost by a narrower but still large margin, 14 points, to Mitt Romney in 2012.

That's to say, it would be a painful loss to swallow if Republicans don't unseat Begich; after all, their chances of recapturing the upper chamber would be seriously diminished.

Hence why party elders (and grassroots activists alike) will be monitoring this race very closely through Election Day.

Islamic State Is Not a Terrorist Group, It's an Army

Earlier this month, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that inaction toward the radical Islamic State “is no longer an option.” She also appropriately called them what they are: an army.

“It takes an army to defeat and army, and I believe that we either confront ISIL now or we will be forced to deal with an even stronger enemy in the future,” she said in a statement. The Islamic State is “operating with military expertise, advancing across Iraq, and rapidly consolidating its position.”

According to a monitoring group's estimates, we now have numbers to confirm Feinstein's assessment. Including fighters in both Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State is  80,000 strong and growing by the day.

The Islamic State group has an army of more than 50,000 fighters in Syria, and recruited 6,000 people in the last month, a monitoring group has said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Tuesday that the group's recruitment push was gathering pace every month.

"July saw the largest recruitment since the group appeared in Syria in 2013, with more than 6,000 new fighters," he said.

"The number of IS fighters has passed 50,000 in Syria, including 20,000 non-Syrians," he said.

Al Jazeera cannot verify the observatory's figures. However, an Islamic State source backed the statement and told Al Jazeera that the group also had 30,000 fighters in Iraq.

Abdel Rahman said the new recruits in Syria included more than 1,000 foreign fighters from Chechnya, China, Europe and Arab countries. He said most had entered Syria from Turkey.

IS is not a problem that will remain in the Middle East if left unchecked. They have taunted President Obama and America at large on numerous occasions, and most recently released a video with the theme of “breaking the American cross.” In the video, they boast about “emerging victorious over “crusader” America,” Reuters reports.

JihadWatch.org explains further:

The Islamic State jihadis think of the U.S. as a Christian nation, and so they think of destroying it as breaking the cross, which language is also reminiscent of this:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the Cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and no-body will accept charitable gifts. (Bukhari 3.34.425)

Meanwhile, IS continues to warn that if U.S. airstrikes continue, Americans will be attacked “in any place.” The gruesome video of an IS militant purportedly beheading journalist James Foley in retaliation for airstrikes is one such example, and the executioner threatened to do the same to fellow American journalist Steven Joel Sotloff, depending on President Obama’s next move.

Millennials Aren't As Liberal Once They Start Making Money

There may be a glimmer of hope for the Millennial Generation–my generation– when it comes to attitudes about government and the welfare state. In 2008, young Americans got drunk on Barack Obama. I mean, insanely drunk over Mr. Hope and Change, who bamboozled them not once, but twice. So, it should come as no surprise that after Obamacare’s disastrous rollout and the president’s ineffectiveness as a leader that  a majority of young Americans would support recalling him from office.

Ouch! But, so what if they agree to this? They're still hopelessly liberal on everything, right? Emily Ekins at Reason says not so much, especially once millennials become employed and, you know, start making money:

Millennials also become more fiscally conservative as they age, make more money, and learn they will become responsible for paying for things. In fact majorities begin to oppose income redistribution and increased spending on financial assistance to the poor, and support for government guarantees drops once millennials start making between $40K-60K a year. Moreover, as they roll off their parents' health insurance policies and begin paying for their own, they no longer are willing to pay more for insurance even "if it helped provide health insurance coverage for the uninsured," flipping from 57 percent in support to 59 percent opposed.

When it comes to Social Security, 71 percent of millennials support creating private accounts:

Similarly, Pew found 67 percent of all Americans also favor allowing younger workers invest in private accounts. However, if allowing younger workers to opt out of Social Security meant reduced benefits to seniors, only 38 percent of all Americans would favor while 55 would oppose, according to Reason-Rupe. Millennials’ willingness to cut entitlements simply doesn’t comport with strong economic liberalism.

As for health care, 54 percent of millennials believe that government should ensure access, but Ekins noted “GenX was also more supportive when they were in their 20s and have since changed.”

You can read the rest of Reason’s report on millennials here.

Although, while millennials might go the way of the generations before them, they’re largely “unclaimed.” While Republicans’ espousing of social conservatism might turn them off, the GOP’s advocacy for free markets and economic independence might be a magnet. Yet, they’re unsure if such a system is the best for social mobility, according to the report. That’s an area conservatives can surely win, but only if we make the argument. Demography isn’t destiny–and it seems the notion of young Americans being lost to liberalism is a bit premature. 

After all, the majority of 18-year-olds voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

I double-checked this and found a Washington Post article from March 10 that touched upon this, saying Democrats have a young people problem as well:

Among self-reported voters who were 18 years old in 2012, Mitt Romney, not Obama, won the majority: 57 percent. Romney also won 59 percent among 19-year-olds, and 54 percent among 20-year-olds. These youngest voters of 2012 had entered the electorate in 2010-2012, when Obama’s popularity was much lower than the high point of his inauguration.

In other words, they saw the Obama agenda in action. 

Republicans have an inroad; let's see if they take advantage of it.


Uh, That's Possibly An Illegal In-Kind Contribution, Ms. Grimes

The Kentucky Senate race is going to be close, but Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes might have to explain an in-kind campaign contribution that could be illegal. Ms. Grimes has been traveling across the state in a 45-foot long bus, which was acquired by her father, Jerry. He’s renting it to her campaign for a fraction of the market price, which violates campaign finance laws (via  Politico):

Federal campaign finance law bars a campaign from receiving goods and services below the fair market value from a corporation, regardless of whether it is owned by a family member.

A review of Federal Election Commission records shows Grimes paid less than $11,000 through June to rent the bus for at least 24 days, amounting to about $456 per day. Officials at four bus companies said they typically charge $1,500 to $2,000 a day to rent a similarly sized bus, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign said it spent at least $2,200 per day to rent essentially the same bus during a swing earlier this month. That would amount to a savings of tens of thousands of dollars for the Democrat’s campaign.

The spending highlights the central role that Jerry Lundergan, a gregarious former Kentucky Democratic Party chairman and state lawmaker, is playing in his daughter’s bid to unseat McConnell. Polls show the GOP leader maintaining a very small lead in the race, one of the most closely watched in the country this year.

The difference between what the company is charging her campaign and the fair market value of the bus rental could be considered an illegal in-kind contribution, according to legal experts.

“If it’s coming from a corporation, it’s illegal,” said Larry Noble, who served as general counsel of the FEC for 13 years and now works at the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group. Corporations are prohibited from donating cash or gifts to a campaign, while individual donors’ limits cannot exceed $5,200 per election cycle.

Lundergan, Noble added, “can volunteer himself to the campaign, but what he can’t do is volunteer his company.”

Ms. Grimes isn’t the only person facing scrutiny for possible campaign finance violations. Incumbent Democratic Senator from Louisiana, Mary Landrieu, billed a charter flight to taxpayers, but it seems this wasn't the first time. Politico also reported that Sen. Landrieu has ordered her staff to review all travel records during her three terms as senator:

A review of Landrieu’s office expenditures and campaign records reveals two trips from 2012 that may have been improperly billed to her Senate office rather than her reelection campaign.

On Aug. 23, 2012, Butler Aviation charged $6,787 for an in-state flight for Landrieu that included multiple stops. The flight was from New Orleans to Vidalia to Shreveport to Alexandria and back to New Orleans, according to official disbursement records Landrieu filed with the secretary of the Senate.

On Oct. 18, 2012, Butler Aviation charged $3,437 for a Landrieu flight from New Orleans to Opelousas to Patterson and back to New Orleans.

Both trips included campaign-related events that raise questions about whether some or all of the costs of the charter flights should have been covered by Landrieu’s reelection campaign, rather than her official office.

Landrieu is facing a barrage of bad press over this issue. USA Today reported in July that she spent $47,000 last year on in-state flights using her official Senate office to cover the cost.

Landrieu has now ordered her staff to complete a review of all official travel she has taken during her three terms as a senator in an effort to limit the political damage by disclosing any improperly billed trips all at once.

Hence, why Republicans are calling her “Air Mary." Additionally, Mitch McConnell said Grimes  "cannot be trusted," citing the discount she received over her campaign bus.  Grimes has insisted she's paying rent for her transportation at market rates.

After Breaking Ceasefire Hamas Fires 50 Rockets Into Israeli Population Centers

Jerusalem - Since breaking another ceasefire agreement just hours ago, Hamas terrorists have launched at least 50 rockets into Israel. Populated areas like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have been targets and two rockets made it through the Iron Dome. 


Rocket sirens in areas close to Gaza have been sounding all night and will no doubt continue into the morning and day tomorrow. The war continues.

RickPAC Sets 'Record Straight' On Bogus Abuse Of Power Indictment

It’s no holds barred in RickPac’s latest video, which continues to eviscerate the legitimacy of the abuse of power indictment made against Gov. Rick Perry over a budget veto within the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving; she refused to resign, and Gov. Perry vetoed her Public Integrity Unit. And that’s how this whole circus began.


As Dan noted earlier today, the New York Times labeled the indictment "overzealous:"

 Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is one of the least thoughtful and most damaging state leaders in America, having done great harm to immigrants, abortion clinics and people without health insurance during his 14 years in office. But bad political judgment is not necessarily a felony, and the indictment handed up against him on Friday — given the facts so far — appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution.

For more than a year, Mr. Perry has been seeking the resignation of the Travis County district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg. He had good reason to do so: Ms. Lehmberg was arrested in April 2013 for driving with a blood alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit, and she verbally abused the officers who found her with an open bottle of vodka. She ranted and raved at the local jail, threatening sheriff’s deputies, and she had to be restrained in a chair with a hood over her head. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. In addition to endangering people’s lives, she instantly lost her credibility as a prosecutor of drunken-driving cases.

Bloomberg-Funded Gun Control Advocacy Group Targets Kroger Stores

Moms Demand Action, a gun-control advocacy group funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, want guns out of the grocery store. The group has challenged the nation’s largest supermarket retailer, Kroger Co., to ban open-carry policies in all of their  2,640 locations across America. 

The petition states that grocery stores are the last place mothers with their children want to see someone openly carrying a gun. One advocate even tweeted that she has instructed her kids to run if they see a man with a gun (question: does this mean they run from police officers?). 

Attached to the petition is the the picture shown below: 

The scenario used in the group’s media campaign undoubtedly is ridiculous. No one carries around an AK-47 in a grocery store. Even the  NRA acknowledged that carrying such weapons is abnormal and “downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself.”

This is hardly the first company Moms Demand Action has tried to force a gun-ban on. The group has recently petitioned Staples, Starbucks, Chipotle, Sonic, Target, Sonic, Chili’s, and Jack-in-the-Box to accept gun-bans. These have hardly been well-received. Staples actually  called in security to remove the group. Additionally, companies that have endorsed the ban have failed to create safer spaces for their customers. 

Ironically, there were two robberies and a shooting at Jack-in-the-Box restaurants within weeks of their request that law-abiding citizens visit unarmed, and a Sonic in Topeka, Kansas was robbed the very day on which that chain asked law-abiding citizens to leave their guns home.

Target stores experienced two robberies within weeks of "respectfully" asking law-abiding citizens to leave their guns home at home, and on July 22, the retailer had their first post-gun ban murder when a man was fatally shot at a Los Angeles-area target.

Kroger Co. seems unfazed by the petition. Spokesperson Keith Dailey claimed they have customers on both sides of the argument and trust them to act responsible in stores. 

BREAKING: ISIS Beheads American Journalist James Wright Foley

The terrorist group ISIS has allegedly beheaded American journalist James Wright Foley on video in Iraq in order to send a message to the United States. I'm not going to dignify the terrorists by posting the video here, you can look it up on your own if you'd like. A warning, extremely violent and difficult to watch. 

Wright's fellow journalist Ihan Tanir gave some background on the situation on Twitter.

More from Noah Rothman:

The American photojournalist James Wright Foley was working for Agence France Presse when he was captured crossing the Syria-Turkish border in 2012. The American war reporter had previously been held for six weeks by pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya while covering that conflict. Some believed that his capture would be similarly short-lived. Tragically, that would not be the case.

“On November 22, 2012, James Wright Foley, a freelance photo journalist, was taken by an organized gang after departing from an internet café in Binesh, Syria,” the FBI noted in November, 2012. “Foley had employed a translator to help him travel across the Syrian-Turkish border. The translator was also taken, but later released.”

Swift justice is in order. Immediately. May his family find peace in this extremely difficult time. 

Meanwhile the JV terror team, I mean ISIS, is threatening to kill American journalist Steven Sotloff next.

By the way, where is President Obama right now? On Air Force One headed back to vacation.

Oh My: Al Qaeda and ISIS Joining Forces?

It would seem so.

And while al Qaeda once famously severed ties with ISIS for its barbarism, now one of its most dangerous affiliates has come out publicly in support of them (via The Hill):

Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen is declaring its support for the Sunni extremist group that has taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria, creating the potential for a new alliance against the United States.

“We announce solidarity with our Muslim brothers in Iraq against the crusade. Their blood and injuries are ours and we will surely support them,” said a statement published by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen Times reported Tuesday.

“We assert to the Islamic Nation [all Muslims worldwide] that we stand by the side of our Muslim brothers in Iraq against the American and Iranian conspiracy and their agents of the apostate Gulf rulers," the statement continued.

AQAP is believed to pose the most dangerous threat to the U.S. of all the al Qaeda affiliates, because it has tried to stage attacks against the United States several times.

Was this not bound to happen at some point? Both al Qaeda and ISIS share the same goal of killing Americans and waging war against the U.S. This is beyond dispute. Meanwhile, ISIS has publicly taunted the president, vowing to "raise the flag of Allah in the White House” while al Qaeda, everybody knows, masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

I suspect, also, that al Qaeda operatives aren't universally opposed to ISIS’ decision to slaughter young Christians and ethnic minorities and sell the rest of their victims into slavery. Though perhaps, for now, maybe some are:

One expert, Saeed Al-Jamhi, head of the Al-Jamhi Center for Strategic Studies, told the Yemen Times that there were ISIS gunmen training fighters in Yemen, and some AQAP members fighting in Iraq.

Al-Jamhi also said there were divisions within AQAP over whether to support ISIS, but predicted that division would fade as ISIS increases its stature.

And its stature is indeed increasing. President Obama once dismissed them as “jayvee,” but their military capabilities, coupled with their bloodthirsty tactics, makes them a serious national security threat. President Obama himself has already said explicitly that they pose a danger to the Middle East and our diplomatic and military personnel stationed there. Now, apparently, AQAP is advising ISIS on how best to avoid US airstrikes, and maximize their influence in the region.

Worse, ISIS just released a video pledging to “drown all [Americans] in blood”:

The Islamic State militant group that has seized large parts of Iraq and drawn the first American air strikes since the end of the occupation in 2011 has warned the United States it will attack Americans "in any place" if the raids hit its militants.

The video, which shows a photograph of an American who was beheaded during the U.S. occupation of Iraq and victims of snipers, featured a statement which said in English "we will drown all of you in blood".

Parting question: Two terrorist organizations have apparently joined forces to wage jihad against the United States. So what, if anything, will be the administration's response?

If the Senate Splits, Biden Takes the Gavel

If neither Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) nor Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are allowed to claim victor over the coveted Senate Chamber gavel come election day, Vice President Joe Biden will play tie-breaker. 

In the event a 50-50 Senate is the outcome this November of an already polarized Washington,  Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution has the Vice President as the president of the Senate. Though it has only happened twice, the VP would then give the gavel to his or her party. 

Biden would be in high-heaven if this were to happen  says Senator Ted Kaufmen (D-Pa.), Biden's long time chief of staff. 

“He’d like two years of being the deciding vote, back in the cloakroom, in the Senate gym...I think he would revel in that.”

If this were to become a reality, Biden would be back in the spotlight and would hope to be seen as the savior of Obama's last two years in office where the loss of a Democratic-controlled Senate means further trouble for the Obama administration. 

Politico breaks it down this way: 

To hit a tie, Democrats would need a net loss of five seats, and most of them have already written off the seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. That leaves two, and between the races they’re facing in Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, Democrats say losing two seems a pretty safe bet. They’re not counting on pickups in either Kentucky or Georgia, where their prospects are best.

There are Democratic strategists that say this situation is realistic, which means the only way for Republicans to take the Senate is to win fair and square this November.  

Reidiculous: Dems ‘Doing Really Well In Montana,’ Will Hold Senate Majority

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is simply living in an alternate universe. While yelling into the clouds over the Koch Brothers’ evil plot to destroy America, he said today that Democrats “are doing really well in Montana.” And is optimistic that they'll maintain control of the Senate (via the Hill):

Reid predicted Democrats would lose a seat in South Dakota, but was optimistic about Montana despite Sen. John Walsh's (D-Mt.) recent decision to drop out of the race after a plagiarism scandal. We are doing really well in Montana," Reid told reporters on Monday.

If the election were held today, we'd be in the majority without any question, but the election is not today," said Reid, who argued "it's not going to be easy" for Republicans to win the Senate.

Democrats hope to take GOP seats in Georgia and Kentucky, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing a difficult challenge.

Of those two races, Reid added, “we are holding our own.”

In both Georgia and Kentucky, Republicans David Perdue and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are leading. Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn had the unfortunate mishap of having campaign memos leaked, which described her as a “lightweight, too liberal, and not a real “Georgian.” Oh, and those critiques are by her own staff. Her Republican opponent, David Perdue, leads with a comfortable seven-point lead, according to Insider Advantage’s poll.

In Kentucky, the race is going to be a tight one for Mitch McConnell, who’s battling for his political life, but even Huffington Post pollsters give him the advantage in that contest against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who infamously said that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system protects Israelis from Hamas’ underground tunnels.

McConnell’s campaign has worked hard to define Ms. Grimes, flooding the Bluegrass state with negative ads calling her “Barack Obama’s Kentucky candidate” and saying she supports “Barack Obama's anti-coal environmental platform,” according to the Wall Street Journal. And, they're working:

Those ads are having an impact. In a July poll sponsored by local media outlets, 33% of voters viewed her negatively, up from 27% in May, while the share of voters who view her positively, which was higher, stayed relatively flat.

In an interview, Ms. Grimes said she has attempted to spend time with people in Kentucky, not "pandering to the press."

"We are no better off for having Mitch McConnell there," she said, referring to his seniority in Washington. "It's not about the lines on a résumé. It is about the passion that you have to work in a bipartisan manner to put the people of this state first."

At the same time, McConnell isn’t doing too badly in the latest Bluegrass poll. He’s virtually tied with Grimes amongst women voters (46/47) and he’s winning the youth vote–those between the ages of 18 and 34–(49/44) over Grimes. Additionally, the poll finds that 27% of likely African-American voters would vote for Mitch McConnell.

As for Ms. Grimes slamming of McConnell’s service in the Senate, She does know that Democrats have been in the majority for the past eight years, right?. And since 2008, the working class of America has seen their average incomes drop by 6.5%, African-American median incomes falling by 9.5%, and Hispanic income dropping consistently every year since the 2008 presidential election, according to WPA Research.

That’s not a shining statistic if you’re running as a Democrat.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten threw cold water on Democratic hopes in Georgia and Kentucky last month:

In Georgia, the FiveThirtyEight projection is far more pessimistic about Democratic prospects than the polls. Here’s why: No Democrat holds an elected statewide office in Georgia. No Democrat has won a U.S. Senate race in the state in 14 years. No Democrat has won a presidential race in the state in 22 years. The Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn, is probably benefitting from name recognition; her father, Sam Nunn, was a well-regarded senator from the Peach State. That edge may disappear once voters realize Michelle is not Sam. Moreover, Republicans may coalesce around the winner of the contentious GOP primary between Jack Kingston and David Perdue.

Kentucky is a similar case — the polls show a Democrat holding her own a in a deeply red state. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has all the fundamentals going for him: President Obama is deeply unpopular in Kentucky, McConnell is an incumbent, and Democrats haven’t won a statewide federal race in Kentucky in 18 years. They haven’t won a Senate race in 22 years. In May, I estimated that these factors knocked down Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’s chances of winning by nearly 30 percentage points, from the low 40s into the teens.

Enten described Senate Democrats’ position in the 2014 elections as “perilous,” saying, “A tiny shift could tip the canoe and spill a lot of Democrats overboard.”

As for Colorado, need I say more about the candidate who even Montana Democrats say doesn’t “have a chance in hell?”

Republicans need to win six seats; they’re probably going to pick up Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s re-election bid is a bellwether for Arkansas and North Carolina. If she goes, most likely incumbent Democratic Senators Mark Pryor and Kay Hagan go as well. There’s also Jodi Ernst in Iowa, who could possibly fill retiring Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat. And don’t forget about Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado. Plenty of room for Republicans to maneuver and create upsets.

Election 2014 is 77 days away.

Granted, Reid is part of the Democratic leadership going into an election cycle hostile to his party. He needs to be Mr. Positive, the guy who keeps the liberal base at ease. In 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi filled this role when she said Democrats would maintain their majority in the House, despite the red tsunami that washed 63 of them out of office that November.

Nevertheless, it still makes Reid’s optimism look as insane as the alleged Koch Brothers' double secret probation plan to overthrow the country. 

NYT Editoral Board: The Indictment Against Rick Perry "Appears" to be "Overzealous"

Add the New York Times editorial board to the growing list of constitutional scholars, journalists, and political operatives who find the curious indictment against Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) to be a farce. The board doesn’t go as far as defending his tenure or his policies (in fact, they do the opposite) but they do nevertheless feel as if he is the victim of an “overzealous prosecution”:

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is one of the least thoughtful and most damaging state leaders in America, having done great harm to immigrants, abortion clinics and people without health insurance during his 14 years in office. But bad political judgment is not necessarily a felony, and the indictment handed up against him on Friday — given the facts so far — appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution.

For more than a year, Mr. Perry has been seeking the resignation of the Travis County district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg. He had good reason to do so: Ms. Lehmberg was arrested in April 2013 for driving with a blood alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit, and she verbally abused the officers who found her with an open bottle of vodka. She ranted and raved at the local jail, threatening sheriff’s deputies, and she had to be restrained in a chair with a hood over her head. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. In addition to endangering people’s lives, she instantly lost her credibility as a prosecutor of drunken-driving cases.

Yes, one wonders how the county’s district attorney -- who herself served time for drunk driving -- can reasonably be expected to effectively prosecute other loaded drivers. Meanwhile, her refusal to resign after overtures from the governor's delegates prompted the whole lawsuit in the first place. Now it’s no secret that Perry tried to entice her to resign the only way he knew how (cutting funding to her department) but did he also break the law? Even the NYT editorial board doesn’t think so:

But his ill-advised veto still doesn’t seem to rise to the level of a criminal act. After a complaint was filed by a liberal group, a judge appointed a special prosecutor, Michael McCrum, a San Antonio lawyer and former federal prosecutor, to take the case. A Travis County grand jury indicted Mr. Perry on two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. The indictment says he exceeded his veto power by combining it with a threat to Ms. Lehmberg if she didn’t quit.

Governors and presidents threaten vetoes and engage in horse-trading all the time to get what they want, but for that kind of political activity to become criminal requires far more evidence than has been revealed in the Perry case so far. Perhaps Mr. McCrum will have some solid proof to show once the case heads to trial. But, for now, Texas voters should be more furious at Mr. Perry for refusing to expand Medicaid, and for all the favors he has done for big donors, than for a budget veto.

In other words, there’s no evidence at present that suggests Perry is guilty of criminal wrongdoing. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t. Still, as former Clinton advisor Lanny Davis argues in a recent Newsweek op-ed, the indictment itself doesn’t really mean a whole lot:

It is even more outrageous to anyone who cares about due process and civil liberties to read the comments from local and state Democrats in the state Texas Democratic Party about the Perry indictment. Most of the comments I read used language of guilt or a presumption of wrongdoing because of the fact of the indictment.

In fact, an indictment is evidence of nothing. It is literally just an accusation, not even close to proven facts. Yet I read some Texas Democrats calling for Perry to resign — resign!

These cannot be Democrats who care about civil liberties or due process, much less the credibility of our party, which has always denounced those who presume guilt or even suggest wrongdoing after an indictment alone.

In my opinion, silence by Democrats about the Perry indictment and Democratic comments rushing to assume wrongdoing isn't acceptable.

Indeed, calls for Perry to resign are misplaced and premature at this point in time – as even prominent Democrats (and the New York Times editorial board) are more than willing to concede.

Awesome: Reporter Asks "Who Gets to Hold Hillary's Crown" When She Speaks?

Sometimes reporters just  tell it like it is. Nevada reporter Jon Ralston offered an epic rant to viewers Monday when he spared no insults against Hillary Clinton and her “royal” speaking demands: 

“We don’t have kings and queens in America, or at least we shouldn’t. But when I see the red carpet UNLV is rolling out for Hillary Clinton in two months I start to wonder. Unless you’re a mindless partisan, the details of that contract with the UNLV Foundation should disturb you.”

In case you weren't familiar with the revelation,  The Las Vegas Review-Journal obtained documents detailing Clinton's speaking demands ahead of her appearance at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas Foundation fundraiser. Here were a few of her totally normal requests:

She insists on staying in the “presidential suite” of luxury hotels that she chooses anywhere in the world, including Las Vegas.

She usually requires those who pay her six-figure fees for speeches to also provide a private jet for transportation — only a $39 million, 16-passenger Gulfstream G450 or larger will do.

And she doesn’t travel alone, relying on an entourage of a couple of “travel aides,” and a couple of advance staffers who check out her speech site in the days leading up to her appearance, much like a White House trip.

In the 2012 presidential election, it's safe to say former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's wealth was a handicap. Liberals accused him of being a one percenter who couldn't relate to the average American. A clever and relevant piece, “ Yes, Hillary Clinton Has a Mitt Romney Problem” suggests Clinton may face the same issue were she to run in 2016. The difference, however, is that the mainstream media will likely fail to make the same connection: 

In many ways Hillary is the perfect embodiment of this liberal mindset. She’s committed to fighting poverty and income inequality one charity gala at a time, growing increasingly confident in her moral superiority over her ideological opponents. Her multiple mansions are her just reward for being a good person. She has earned the presidency. Her multiple mansions are her just reward for being a good person. She has earned the presidency.

Come 2016, will voters distance themselves from Clinton for her red carpet treatment? Who knows. Until then, have a bit of fun watching all of Ralston’s stellar report:

BREAKING: Hamas Violates Another Ceasefire, Israel Responding With Strikes on Terror Targets

Jerusalem - The terrorist organization Hamas has violated yet another ceasefire just hours before an extended 24-hour ceasefire agreement was scheduled to end. Israel is responding accordingly.

Before the violation, an Israeli official talked about a push to demilitarize Hamas. You can read more about that here.

Democrats Accused of "Meddling" Alaska Senate Primary

The feud between Democrats and Republicans in Alaska's heated Senate race has potential make-it-or-break it consequences in the fight to control the Senate. 

Nearly $4 million in attack ads mudslinging GOP front-runner Dan Sullivan have been spent by supporters of Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, a ploy Republicans call "meddling" the Republican primary for an easier win in the general election. 

The Begich campaign and their supporters deny these claims, as Sullivan and his allies fire back with ads calling out Sen. Begich and his coercive tactics to beat Sullivan in November. 

Recent polls show that Sullivan is in the lead against opponents Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller. Art Hackney, an Alaska Republican operative who has been running a pro-Sullivan super PAC, told Politico that these attacks could have an impact on Tuesday's primary: 

“They’re trying simply to make sure Dan Sullivan is damaged goods,” said Hackney. “They’ve put a lot of money behind it, and, frankly, they’ve turned it into a primary that’s possible to go almost any way."

Netanyahu Spokesman on Looming Ceasefire Deadline/Deal: Israel Wants Demilitarization of Hamas

Jerusalem - As a midnight ceasefire deadline looms with just hours to go, Israeli officials and their allies are pushing for the demilitarization of Hamas in a final attempt to avoid future conflict with the terror organization. 

"What we're hoping to have is a situation where Hamas is demilitarized and we have allies, the American administration, the American Congress, the Europeans, the Egyptians and even the official Palestinian government in the West Bank [in agreement], but is Hamas going to voluntarily going to turn in their weapons? It's tough," Mark Regev, chief spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview Tuesday. "Ronald Reagan once said about the old Soviet Union, and I'm old enough to remember, he said, 'Trust but verify.' When dealing with Hamas in contrast you have to verify and you have to verify again and Hamas has broken ceasefires as recently as last week."

On the issue of a preemptive decrease in militarization of Hamas, officials are happy to report while not all Hamas weapons resources have been destroyed, they have been heavily depleted over the past two months.

"First we took out a lot of it, secondly they shot a lot of it at us and what's left is a residual capacity still there that's much less than what they had two months ago," Regev said. "Part of our challenge in this ceasefire is to make sure they [Hamas] don't rebuild tunnels and don't replenish their supply of rockets."

According to a report from Haartz, a Hamas spokesman said the latest 24-hour ceasefire extension, will be the last. As a reminder, the Hamas charter states, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

Negotiations for a long term peace deal are ongoing in Egypt. 

UPDATE: Immediately after I filed this story, this happened.

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