UC Berkeley Students Ignore Filmmaker Waving ISIS Flag, Spew Hate When Brings Out Israel's

The University of California-Berkeley is about as liberal an institution as they come—but how exactly would students react to seeing ISIS and Israel’s flags being waved, filmmaker Ami Horowitz wondered.

What he discovered was surprising even for him.

“There’s a whole layer cake of shock for me when it comes to what I experienced in this video and certainly, there’s nobody there that doesn’t know what ISIS is and what kind of atrocities and evil they represent, and to have nobody push back, I was pretty blown away,” he said.

Horowitz said he waved the ISIS flag for two hours and got absolutely no response from students, with the exception of one approaching him to let him know he could not smoke on campus. When he switched to Israel’s flag, however, he said it took less than 30 seconds for the “vitriol to come pouring in.”

“There’s a real disease of thought on our college campuses and I think it’s important to highlight that,” he said.

H/T: WeaselZippers 

Four Pinocchios: WaPo Fact-Checker Shreds WH on Executive Amnesty 'Precedent'

If you've been following our coverage of President Obama's executive action on immigration, you already know that a key pillar of the White House's defense is that plenty of precedent exists for this type of move.  Nothing to see here, except a bunch of anti-Obama overreaction from the usual suspects (if the "usual suspects" include multiple Congressional Democrats and Independents).  We've repeatedly linked to a pair of columns that take apart the Obama administration's dishonest justification; they point out that Obama's move is much, much broader in scope and implication than anything executed by his predecessors -- whose far narrower previous orders either applied to discrete, targeted groups of people, or were issued in an effort to enforce a duly-passed law.  The White House seems to be gravitating toward one ostensible parallel in particular, stating that Obama's decision is comparable to President George HW Bush's 1990 action on immigration.  The president himself touted this example during his appearance on ABC's This Week, which we discussed earlier:

“If you look, every president – Democrat and Republican – over decades has done the same thing as I mentioned in my remarks,” he added. “George H. W. Bush, about 40 percent of the undocumented persons at the time were provided a similar kind of relief as a consequence of executive action.” When asked about using executive action, the president said his view on the issue has not changed. “If you look – the history is that I have issued fewer executive actions than most of my predecessors, by a longshot,” Obama said. “The difference is the response of Congress, and specifically the response of some of the Republicans. But if you ask historians, take a look at the track records of the modern presidency, I’ve actually been very restrained, and I’ve been very restrained with respect to immigration. I bent over backwards and will continue to do everything I can to get Congress to work because that’s my preference.”

First off, tallying the raw number of executive orders is pure misdirection.  Conservatives aren't objecting to how many unilateral actions Obama has taken; they're upset about the magnitude, impact and context of those decisions.  Obama surely realizes this, but since he's staked much of his legacy on the "stupidity" of the American people, this sort of answer is par for the course.  As for the 'Bush did it, too!' excuse, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler -- who last week dismantled Obama's 'royal flip-flop' on the legality of this decree -- again goes to work:

Bush’s action in 1990 was designed to ease family disruptions caused by the landmark 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which allowed nearly 3 million illegal immigrants to gain legal permanent residency...The 1.5 million [40 percent] figure is too fishy to be cited by either the White House or the media. As best we can tell, this is a rounded-up estimate of the number of illegal immigrants who were married (1.3 million became 1.5 million.) But that figure was already overstated because it included applications that were pending or on appeal...Indeed, the 100,000 estimate that the INS gave on the day of the announcement might have been optimistic. Fewer than 50,000 applications had been received before the policy was superseded by a new law. The numbers generated by that law — a little more than 140,000 — further indicate that the universe of potential applicants was much smaller than 1.5 million, especially given that the law eased restrictions even more. In the end, 200,000 amounts to about 6 percent of the illegal immigrant population at the time, not 40 percent. Small wonder the White House prefers the larger number.

Ed Morrissey summarizes:

This is the report that the White House apparently seized like Rose grabbing a door off the Titanic, but it doesn’t support their argument at all. That’s because the actual number of applicants under Bush’s action came to just under 47,000. That’s 1/30th of the claim made by Earnest and Obama. Within a month, Kessler notes, Congress passed an amended version of the immigration law, which Bush signed, which gave an even wider window for family members to apply for deportation protection. The total number of those who applied under the new law, over a four-year period, was about 200,000 — less than 1/7th of the numbers Earnest and Obama claimed, and only about 6% of the overall illegal immigrant population at the time. None of this was a secret, and certainly shouldn’t have been to the White House, which has access to all of this data. Apparently, all they know how to do is troll Google for any supporting argument they can find.

Setting aside the bogus, wildly inflated statistics (pattern of behavior, anyone?) Bush's move in 1990 was undertaken in an effort to enforce a law passed by Congress and signed by President Reagan.  Obama's decision, by contrast, was explicitly triggered as a means of circumventing Congress, a "consequence" of its failure to comply with the president's policy preferences.  We've been wondering about how Republicans might retaliate against this overreach; Sen. Ted Cruz said over the weekend that he wants the Senate to block all Obama appointees until the amnesty is rescinded:

As we noted last week, Cruz isn't alone on this one. When I first saw the headline about the Texan's proposal this morning, I thought, what about Hagel's replacement? Would Republicans really allow the Secretary of Defense position to sit vacant or with a placeholder for an extended stretch while America is at war with ISIS?  Cruz allows an exception for "vital national security positions," which has to include SecDef -- right?  Also, kudos to Chris Wallace for a good, tough question on the Attorney General issue.  Would the Cruz plan ensure that, gulp, Eric Holder stays on the job even longer?

White House Plays Dumb Over Advisor Al Sharpton's $4.5 Million in Unpaid Taxes

MSNBC host, self-proclaimed civil rights activist, professional race-baiter and shakedown artist Al Sharpton apparently owes $4.5 million to the IRS in unpaid taxes. On top of this long list of titles, Sharpton also serves as an unpaid advisor to the White House and President Obama on civil rights issues, race and politics. In fact, just three days after the 2014 midterm elections Sharpton was invited to the White House to offer advice about how to work with the GOP in the new Congress. In August, President Obama spoke for Sharpton's National Action Network. The video of Obama's speech is available on the official White House YouTube page and is watermarked with the WhiteHouse.gov logo. 

"I want to say thank you to your leader, Rev. Al Sharpton, give him a big round of applause. I appreciate being an Action President."

Regardless of Sharpton's indisputably long history, partnership and many White House visits to meet with President Obama, recent news of Sharpton's massive tax bill have Obama administration officials playing dumb. 

"There was a rather long story in the New York Times last week about Al Sharpton having allegedly having back taxes up to $4.5 million between personally and his for-profit entity. He has said that he's paid a bunch of it, there's some dispute about how much has been paid or not. He's here frequently at the White House as an advisor to the President, the President spoke to his organization a few months ago. Is the White House concerned he hasn't paid his taxes," Fox News' Ed Henry asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Monday. 

"Ed I have to be honest with you I haven't read those stories. I can tell you the question you are asking though does illustrate the kind of important and justified restrictions that there are on political interference with any sort of tax investigations or tax enforcement. I am confident that this administration is allowing whatever enforcement procedures are underway to be carried out," Earnest said. 

"But an adviser to the president should pay his or her taxes?" Henry asked further.

"I think every American should pay his or her taxes”  Earnest continued.

Shorter White House: Sharpton owes taxes? What

On a related note, during a recent speech in Chicago the White House stripped out a line from President Obama about unpaid bills piling up on his desk.

During a rare trip home to Chicago, Obama on Monday lamented the life he left behind. “One of the nice things about being home is actually that it’s a little bit like a time capsule,” he told supporters at a fundraiser.

“Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills,” he joked. “I think eventually they got paid–but they’re sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”

The White House, however, left the president’s quip about his unpaid bills out of the official transcript.

According to the transcript, the president said “we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some–newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”

This morning, the White House issued an updated transcript, but it still didn’t mention the “unpaid bills.” Instead, it included an “inaudible” in that portion.

As the old cliche goes, birds of a feather flock together.

Ferguson Grand Jury Has Reached A Decision

It has arrived. The Ferguson grand jury has finally reached a decision over whether any criminal charges will be filed against Officer Darren Wilson who was involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown last summer; Brown’s death spurred days of protests and a renewed discussion about race relations.

Some schools in Ferguson have been closed, police have set up barricades and a command center, and Gov. Jay Nixon recently declared a state of emergency (via USA Today):

A St. Louis County grand jury has completed deliberations in the case of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen in August touched off weeks of sometimes violent protests, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

Some Ferguson, Mo., schools were closed, a police command center was in place and barriers have been set up to help control protests near the courthouse in St. Louis and in downtown Ferguson, a suburb of the city.

Police officials and protest organizers have collaborated on rules of engagement. Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and activated the state's National Guard.

The evidence brought before the grand jury may not reach the public for some time, if at all. If Wilson is indicted, evidence presented to the grand jury would not be released because it would be used during the trial. And St. Louis County Director of Judicial Administration Paul Fox released a statement Sunday denying that Judge Carolyn Whittington had agreed to release the information if Wilson is not indicted.

Whatever the grand jury decision, authorities say they want to avoid repetition of the chaos that followed the Aug. 9 shooting, when some protests turned into violent, ugly clashes with police.

Yet, Gov. Nixon wasn’t entirely sure who was in charge of responding when it comes to protestors.

CNN reported last week that while the grand jury was deliberating, Officer Darren Wilson was considering resigning from the police force, but he could change his mind if the grand jury brings charges against him.

The grand jury is made up of nine men and five women; nine are white, three are black.

Nine of the 12 jurors must agree whether to indict Officer Wilson or not.

We will keep you updated.

UPDATE: Jurors from the grand jury have been released.

Reminder: Green Cards For Millions of Illegal Immigrants Means Longer Wait Times For Legal Immigrants

By now you know that last week President Obama announced the legalization and prioritization of five million illegal immigrants who will eventually receive Green Cards and work permits thanks to his executive action. During his announcement of this plan at the White House, Obama essentially argued his move was necessary to make the "broken immigration system" more fair and to keep families together, but as usual, his rhetoric doesn't add up to the reality. 

When illegal immigrants are prioritized by the federal government and given a spot at the front of the line, millions of individuals going through the proper legal channels to become American citizens or to obtain visas are pushed even farther back in the process and given longer waiting periods. In most situations, this means legal immigrants spending longer periods of time away from their families. 

My colleague Conn Carroll reminded us of the numbers and harsh reality of executive action has on legal immigrants last week:

At current staffing levels, USCIS issues about 1 million green cards per year. And when Obama enacted his first executive amnesty, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012, wait times for legal immigrants to get their visas tripled from under five months to over 15 months. 

Only about 1 million illegal immigrants were eligible to apply for DACA amnesty and only about 600,000 were given amnesty. Obama's next amnesty, however, will reportedly allow up to 5 million illegal immigrants to apply and no one knows how many will take him up on the offer.

But assuming the turnout for Obama's next amnesty is bigger than DACA, we can safely assume that legal immigration delays will get much much worse.

The New York Times published an extensive piece in February detailing the consequences of prioritizing illegal immigrants before individuals engaged in the legal process.

Many thousands of Americans seeking green cards for foreign spouses or other immediate relatives have been separated from them for a year or more because of swelling bureaucratic delays at a federal immigration agency in recent months.

The long waits came when the agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, shifted attention and resources to a program President Obama started in 2012 to give deportation deferrals to young undocumented immigrants, according to administration officials and official data.

The trouble that American citizens have faced gaining permanent resident visas for their families raises questions about the agency’s priorities and its readiness to handle what could become a far bigger task.

With his recently announced amnesty plan, President Obama has given USCIS the "far bigger task" previously warned about and has made the system more unfair, not less. It's unfortunate President Obama's focus isn't on prioritizing the people who want to do things legally or on reforming the legal immigration system before rewarding millions of individuals for breaking the law by putting them at the front of the line.

Meanwhile, people who waited for years to get through the legal process want their money back:

Obama: Future Presidents Can 'Absolutely Not' Replicate My Power Grab on Other Issues

In which ABC News' George Stephanopoulos presents President Obama with Allahpundit's 'shoe-on-the-other-foot' scenario regarding Obama's reimagined conception of prosecutorial discretion (video via NRO):

GS: So you don't think it would be legitimate for a future president to make that argument?

BO: With respect to taxes?

GS: Yeah.

BO: Absolutely not.

Not included in that mini-transcript is Obama's largely unresponsive word soup of a soliloquy, which veered incoherently from one talking point to the next, but never addressed the actual question at hand.  It took a follow-up from Stephanopoulos to pry an answer out of the president, which came in the unpersuasive form of flat assertion:  Yes, I can do this on immigration; no, a Republican couldn't do this on something like taxes.  Does anyone doubt that Obama would happily switch his stance on this question from "absolutely not" to "absolutely!" if the political incentives were different?  He spent the last few years citing the law and the Constitution to rule out the executive amnesty he's now ordered.  He spent his time in the Senate and running for president inveighing against President Bush's expansionist vision of executive authority, only to surpass Bush's alleged transgressions many times over once elected.  This is someone who does whatever the political moment demands, remorselessly shunting aside pesky details.  Allahpundit notes how some lefties are casting about for reasons that applying the Obama Precedent to tax enforcement, for instance, would be totally different and unacceptable.  He links to Sean Trende's smart piece that makes quick work of their premise:

[A Vox writer's] first scenario involves President Rick Perry declaring that there would be a 17 percent flat tax and instructing the Justice Department to defer all prosecutions. He cites former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger’s response: “no president can relieve any one American of a statutory obligation to pay taxes. The next president can come collecting– and interest and penalties will be accruing until he or she does.” First, Obama’s action suffers from the same shortcoming. In theory, nothing legal stops a future Republican president from using the list of individuals signed up for work permits as a sort of “illegal immigrant database” to help focus deportations. In fact, the statute of limitations for most audits is three years, with a practical limit of less than that.

Also, just as practical limitations would probably prevent a future GOP president from deporting these individuals, so too would a future Democratic president find it difficult to collect on millions of three-year-old tax bills. But more importantly, when President Perry walks out the door, he can issue a pardon for everyone who avoided taxes during his presidency. Prokop just sort of breezes past this possibility, asserting that it would provoke a massive public outrage. But what would an outgoing President Perry care? He would do so after the next presidential election. Moreover, millions of Americans would have enjoyed substantially lower tax rates for either four or eight years. The incoming president would have a hard time reverting to a 28 percent middle-class tax rate...

Yup.  The Obama Precedent means that presidents can use Congressional inaction as a fig leaf to effectively rewrite laws (even "temporarily") via "enforcement discretion," or whatever.  That standard could apply to a whole host of issues.  The "absolutely not" answer rings especially hollow coming from the eponymous author of the Obama Precedent.  Click through for AP's point that if anything, Obama's 'Congressional gridlock' rationale is significantly more applicable to tax policy than immigration.  I'll leave you with an excerpt from Ross Douthat's sharp and succinct piece on Obama's transformation into an imperial president:

So how did we get from there to here? How did the man who was supposed to tame the imperial presidency become, in certain ways, more imperial than his predecessor? The scope of Obama’s moves can be debated, but that basic imperial reality is clear. Even as he has maintained much of the Bush-era national security architecture, this president has been more willing to launch military operations without congressional approval; more willing to trade in assassination and deal death even to American citizens; and more aggressive in his war on leakers, whistle-blowers and journalists. At the same time, he has been much more aggressive than Bush in his use of executive power to pursue major domestic policy goals — on education, climate change, health care and now most sweepingly on immigration...Confronted with [limiting] realities, Clinton pivoted and Bush basically gave up. But Obama can’t accept either option, because both seem like betrayals of his promise, his destiny, his image of himself. And so he has chosen to betray himself in a different way, by becoming the very thing that he once campaigned against: an elected Caesar, a Cheney for liberalism, a president unbound.

Read the whole thing -- it's more analytical than polemical, despite its pointed conclusion.

Obama: Hagel 'No Ordinary' SecDef

Somewhat surprisingly, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel tendered his resignation on Monday. He was reportedly forced out. Nevertheless, shortly after the news broke, the president spoke movingly at the White House about his years of public service and many accomplishments.

“Chuck Hagel has been no ordinary Secretary of Defense,” he said. “As the first combat veteran to serve in that position, he understands [its challenges] like no other.”

He “established a special bond” with the troops, he added, reminding the nation that their “safety -- their lives -- have always been at the center of Chuck’s service.”

“I am grateful Chuck has agreed to stay on until I [find his successor],” he continued. “For now let me just say this: Chuck Hagel has devoted himself to our national security and our men and women for more than six decades.”

He also thanked Hagel for accepting the job in the first place.

“We come from different parties,” he emphasized. “But, in accepting this position, you sent a special message: We are all Americans first.”

At which point Hagel himself stepped up to the microphone and said a few words.

“I want to thank the entire leadership team at the Pentagon,” he said. “It’s been the greatest privilege of my life [to] serve with the men and women of the Defense Department and support their families.”

“We’ve launched important reforms,” he added, “reforms that will repair this institution.”

He also invoked his warm relationship with the president and vice president and thanked them for their “leadership and friendship.”

Overall, the mood wasn't exactly cheerful but it wasn't bitter or uncomfortable, either. Both men warmly embraced after the ceremony ended.

Hagel's resignation will take full effect after his successor is chosen and confirmed by the United States Senate.

Exclusive: LA Sen Candidate Bill Cassidy Says Landrieu, Dems Are ‘Clearly Dispirited’

New Orleans, LA -- Saturday kicked off the first round of early voting in Louisiana's runoff election between Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and her GOP opponent Dr. Bill Cassidy. At an enthusiastic (packed house) rally in Kenner, LA, Saturday afternoon, the likes of Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) lent their support to the Republican. Before he took the stage, Cassidy spoke with Townhall about what his first initiative as senator would be, his refusal to become complacent even with his current double digit lead, and the president and his party's failed agenda.

There’s exactly two weeks to go. What’s going to be your main focus to drive voters to the polls?

“We have a great ground game and everybody understands we’re going up against the Obama ground game and so if you will, we’re taking on the best. On the other hand, we have issues that support us and they do not. We have enthusiasm supporting us, they do not. And we have an organization that we’ve been working on for a year, which has been augmented by folks just volunteering, coming down to help, that we think will match and exceed theirs. Not taking it for granted, we got two more weeks, we’re going to push it hard.”

Speaking of the other campaign, the DSCC has pulled ads for Mary Landrieu, she’s not getting much help down here. Are you surprised by the lack of support she’s getting from her own party?

“I can’t comment on that party. I just cannot. I can’t guess what’s in their mind. They have a failed agenda. They knew Barack Obama’s agenda was on the ballot – this state has rejected that agenda. Senator Landrieu, as much as she tries to hide from it, supports that agenda 97 percent of the time, so I can’t really comment on what they’re doing, except to observe that, if I were trying to support a failed agenda, I’d be dispirited too. They clearly are dispirited.”

It’s been 18 years – do you think that’s more than enough time to get all your goals accomplished? Do you think she’s overstayed her welcome?

“You know, there’s a new paradigm. She would like to pretend that she was going to bring earmarks home, even though earmarks are no longer allowed. We’ve got big problems in this country that take someone willing to dig, dig, dig, know issues at the granular level, work with others in order to advance solutions. Her record in doing that sort of work over the last 18 years is pretty thin. And so, we work hard to taking that approach to the office and we think we’ll be successful.”

What will you miss most about campaigning and what’s going to be your first initiative as senator?

“In terms of campaigning, people of Louisiana are fantastic. They really are. In campaigning, you have an excuse to walk up to someone who’s about to take a bite, and say, ‘Excuse can I introduce myself?,' and they understand it, they expect it, and they even appreciate it. Now that’s the good thing – that you get to meet people all across the state and this is a great state. Really good people. People who just care passionately for our country. That’s been a real thrill.”

Louisianans will go to the polls on December 6 to determine whether or not Landrieu gets to keep her job, or if Republicans will gain a 54th Senate seat in Congress.

How Obama's Executive Amnesty Abuses 'Enforcement Discretion'

Conn analyzed the official White House talking points on President Obama's executive action on immigration late last week, and found them wanting.  Setting aside the subject of immigration (although if Obama's DACA order fueled the unaccompanied minor crisis, how can its impact will this massive new de facto 'amnesty-with-papers' have in terms of incentivizing illegal immigration?), the core of opponents' opposition to the plan deals with the separation of powers and executive excess.  The president's defenders argue that (a) Congress has failed to act for too long, (b) that many other presidents have taken some form of unilateral action on immigration in the past, and (c) that the executive branch exercising enforcement discretion is hardly a new phenomenon and is, in fact, that federal branch's appropriate role.  The first point is an illegitimate non sequitur. Frustration with Congress' inaction doesn't give any president license to effectively legislate via executive decree.  The second point has been rebutted in several trenchant columns, focusing primarily on the scope and context of previous actions.  And former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy is out with a sharp piece explaining why this executive amnesty is a fundamental perversion of the executive branch's legitimate enforcement authority:

Prosecutorial discretion is a simple and, until recently, an uncontroversial matter of resource allocation. It merely holds that violations of law are abundant but law-enforcement resources are finite; therefore, we must target the resources at the most serious crimes, which of necessity means many infractions will go unaddressed...Prosecutorial discretion means you are not required to prosecute every crime — which, since doing so would be impossible, is just a nod to reality. It does not mean that those crimes the executive chooses not to enforce are now no longer crimes. Prosecutorial discretion has never meant that the passive act of non-enforcement has the legal effect of repealing criminal laws enacted by Congress. And it has never even been suggested, because to do so would be absurd, that under the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion, the executive decision not to prosecute certain crimes means the people who commit those crimes should be rewarded for committing them. That, of course, would only encourage others to commit them on a more massive scale. Yet that is President Obama’s theory. He is claiming not only the power to determine what immigration laws get enforced and which illegal immigrants get prosecuted — power he unquestionably has. He also claims the power to declare (a) that criminal acts are somehow lawful — that illegal aliens now have a right to be here — just because Obama has chosen not to prosecute them; and (b) that those who engage in this unprosecuted activity will be rewarded with benefits (lawful presence, relief from deportation, work permits, etc.), as if their illegal acts were valuable community service. That is an utter perversion of prosecutorial discretion and a blatant usurpation of congressional power.

Obama's problems on this front are undoubtedly compounded by his own myriad assertions that he could not legally do exactly what he's now done.  We once again offer this video compilation as a strong illustration of this point.  Even former Obama spokesman Jay Carney is conceding that perhaps the president wishes he could take some of his previous words back, noting that Obama is invoking an executive specific power he'd "literally" ruled out as illegal in the recent past:

The Saturday Night Live sketch Sarah posted last evening not only highlighted the Constitutional concerns over the president's decision, it also made reference to the explicitly political element of all of this:

Child: Wait a second, don't you have to go through Congress at some point?

Executive Order: Aw, that's adorable! You still think that's how government works? (Laughs).

Bill: Don't listen to him, son. Look at the Midterm elections, people clearly don't want this…

Obama: (Throws bill down steps)

The president -- who now decries immigration politics -- delayed this decision until after the elections in an attempt to save vulnerable Democrats, most of whom were wiped out anyway. Now that the people have clearly spoken, Obama is stretching his legal authority to advance his rejected agenda anyway.

BREAKING: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Reportedly Stepping Down

Per the New York Times, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will be resigning from his post today, but will be staying in office until his replacement is confirmed.

While one administration official insists he was not "fired," per se, another says that President Obama asked him to step down from his post.

From the New York Times:

The president, who is expected to announce Mr. Hagel’s resignation in a Rose Garden appearance on Monday, made the decision to ask his defense secretary — the sole Republican on his national security team — to step down last Friday after a series of meetings over the past two weeks, senior administration officials said.

The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.

Hagel served as Secretary of Defense for less than two years.

Some names being thrown around as a potential replacement for Hagel include Michèle Flournoy, the former under secretary of defense, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and Ashton B. Carter, former deputy secretary of defense.

A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. to elaborate further on Hagel's resignation.

Washington Post Fact Check Shows Obama's Amnesty Built On Lies

Defending his executive action giving work permits to some 4 million illegal immigrants, President Obama told ABC News's George Stephanopoulos Friday, "If you look, every president – Democrat and Republican – over decades has done the same thing as I mentioned in my remarks today. George H. W. Bush, about 40% of the undocumented persons, at the time, were provided a similar kind of relief as a consequence of executive action."

Problem is, as The Washington Post reports today, that claim is just plain false. 

Obama reached his "40%" figure by using a New York Times article claiming that 1.5 million of the then-3.5 million illegal immigrants were eligible for Bush's 1990 "Family Fairness" program. That program granted deferred action status to the children and spouses of illegal immigrants that were given amnesty through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.

But Kessler dug up the Post's original reporting on the action which found that, at the time, the Bush administration estimated the number of illegal immigrants eligible for the program at 100,000. He also found that just 46,821 illegal immigrants ended up applying for benefits. 

Kessler concludes:

The 1.5 million figure is too fishy to be cited by either the White House or the media. ...  it certainly was not a widely reported estimate in 1990. The number was buried in a single news article — and just because it was in the New York Times does not mean it was true.
To recap, the White House seized on an apparently inaccurate news report, which cited an estimate much higher than any other news organization. Meanwhile, officials ignored other contemporaneous reporting using much lower figures — as well as the actual outcome of the policy. That’s worthy of Four Pinocchios.

This "Four Pinocchio" falsehood is not just some off the cuff justification. It is at the very foundation of Obama's legal justification for his executive amnesty. The 1.5 million number is specifically cited by the White House Office of Legal Counsel memo defending the executive action. 

Without Bush's 1.5 million, all of the other executive actions on immigration show that the "prosecutorial discretion" power has only been used for narrow relief provided to specific subsets of illegal immigrants in response to political or environmental disasters in their home countries.

Obama used to believe that it was beyond his power to use his "prosecutorial discretion" power to functionally rewrite the nation's immigration laws. 

"Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you,"  Obama told the National Council of La Raza in 2011, "But that's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."

Obama was right in 2011. He is wrong now.

Surprise: Border Crossings Surge With Obama's Legalization Announcement

Last week President Obama announced his plan to legalize at least five million people living illegally in the United States during a primetime address to the nation from the White House. He detailed the plan again last Friday at a Las Vegas high school. 

Just before his announcement, law enforcement officers working in and people living along the Texas border with Mexico were already seeing a surge in illegal immigration as a result. From Local ABC 5 news in the Rio Grande Valley

The flow of illegal immigrants appears to be on the rise again in Brooks County.

Rugged trails on ranches are littered with empty bottles, the remnants of the journey made by those who entered illegally and those who are making their way north. People in the area said foot traffic is once again on the rise.

Dr. Michael Vickers said he is seeing more of these water bottles left behind on Brooks County ranches.

Vickers said, "We had two groups, Sunday a week ago. Seven of them gave up to me. They were Hondurans and Salvadorans."

Vickers said President Obama's talk of executive action on immigration could be looked at as an open invitation to people south of the border to make their way north.

"Every time he opens his mouth about immigration and what he's gonna do, there's a huge negative impact on us that live out here along the border, especially in the rural areas where all the smuggling trails are," said Vickers.

The phenomenon of border crossings increasing when either the President or lawmakers in Washington D.C. start talking about some kind of amnesty plan is nothing new. Back in early 2013, border crossings doubled as Senators began debate on the Gang 8 illegal immigration overhaul.

As the immigration reform Gang of Eight inside the Beltway prepares to announce a deal later this week, claiming border security will come before a path to citizenship for millions of illegals, Border Patrol agents have seen illegal border crossings double and warn the cutting of agent work hours will only result in less border security, not more.

"We've seen the number of illegal aliens double, maybe even triple since amnesty talk started happening," an agent told Townhall, who asked to remain unnamed due to fears of retaliation within Customs and Border Protection [CBP], something he said is common. "A lot of these people, although not the majority, are criminals or aggravated felons. This is a direct danger to our communities."

The Rio Grande Valley in Texas and Nogales, Arizona is where we saw the huge surge in unaccompanied minors over the summer that overwhelmed law enforcement and pulled resources away from patrolling the border into overcrowded warehouse processing facilities. Last week as President Obama announced his legalization plan, Immigration and Customs Enforcement readied thousands of beds for a potential incoming surge of illegal immigrants unaccompanied minors.

On the same day President Obama announced his executive immigration overhaul we learned that the administration was gearing up for yet another surge of illegal immigrants coming this spring—more than 100,000 to be exact. And to do so, they’re getting a family detention center ready with 2,400 beds.

“We must be prepared for traditional, seasonal increases in illegal migration. The Dilley facility will provide invaluable surge capacity should apprehensions of adults with children once again surge this spring,” said Acting ICE Director Thomas S. Winkowski, reports The Washington Examiner.

Obama Administration Releases More Gitmo Detainees

When the Obama administration released one of Guantanamo Bay’s longest serving detainees earlier this month—the first since May when five captives were released in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl—we knew it was a clear sign more would soon be coming, much to Republicans’ dismay. Clearly, Guantanamo Bay has become the “new front in [Obama's] hard line against the incoming Republican Congress,” the Washington Examiner notes.

The Pentagon announced Thursday that four al Qaeda fighters from Yemen, including a senior figure who facilitated travel to Afghanistan for Arab extremists, and a Tunisian extremist would be transferred to Slovakia and Georgia.

The transfers leave 143 detainees at Guantanamo, which Obama has vowed to close. Republican lawmakers, who have been pressing the administration to stop releasing detainees amid reports that some former prisoners had joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, were furious. […]

According to the latest report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 107 of 620 detainees released from Guantanamo, or 17.3 percent, had been confirmed as returning to terrorism as of July 15, and another 77, or 12.4 percent, were suspected of having done so.

One of those, Abdul Raheem Muslim Dost, has emerged as a leader of the Islamic State in Pakistan, according to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

And on Saturday, the administration released yet another detainee: Muhammad al-Zahrani, who was returned to Saudi Arabia on the condition that he takes part in a militant rehabilitation program.

“If just one U.S. soldier loses their life over these transfers, we will have failed in our duty to the American people,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon. "What the Obama administration is doing is dangerous and, frankly, reckless. They have chosen many times to put politics above national security. It’s time they stop playing with fire and start doing what’s right. Until we can assure the terrorists stay off the battlefield, they must stay behind bars."

There are now 142 prisoners left. 

Lifetime to Premiere New Reality Show Documenting Women Considering Religious Life

Lifetime's new reality series "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns" is set to premiere this Tuesday, Nov. 25 and will follow five women discerning religious life and entering a Catholic convent. The network was given permission to film at three convents: The Carmelites for the Aged and Infirm in Germantown, New York; The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in Chicago, Illinois; and The Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker in Walton, Kentucky.

From Lifetime:

The all-new groundbreaking Lifetime® series "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns" (#TheSisterhood) follows five young women who are considering the life-changing decision of taking religious vows to become Catholic nuns. For the first time ever, cameras were granted access to three convents* where the women live and work together alongside nuns during the discernment phase, the process wherein they decide if they want to formally continue on their holy path.

In observance of the sacred vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, they leave behind everything they have come to love—boyfriends, family members and all their worldly possessions—to see if they have what it takes to become servants of the church and brides of Christ. See them test their devotion when The Sisterhood premieres Tuesday, November 25, at 10PM ET/PT.

All three convents visited by the Lifetime cameras are members of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), an association of more "traditional" religious institutes in the United States that was founded by the Vatican in 1992. In contrast to the Leadership Council of Women Religious, another association of religious institutes, CMSWR members are headed up by major superiors and wear the traditional habit. While only 20 percent of religious institutes for women belong to the CMSWR, their members have a far younger median age compared to the LCWR (60 as opposed to 74) and nearly half of CMSWR institutes have at least five novices (girls in training to become a full-fledged sister) compared to only 9 percent of LCWR institutes.

While I'm not entirely sure how this show is going to work (the women appear to be some form of aspirant rather than formal postulants), I'm rather intrigued by its premise. The girls in the preview all appear to be normal, everyday girls, and it's interesting that entering a convent is portrayed as a tough, but completely rational decision. While MTV's "True Life" did an episode in 2006 that featured a girl who aspired to enter a convent, the premise behind the episode was that she "didn't fit in" with her peers and her religious vocation was highly unusual. This show seems to be going in the opposite direction. Granted, there's always the risk that things will be played-up for cameras (hey, drama sells), but the sisters portrayed at the convent appear to be serious in guiding these women to finding their true vocations and helping them to grow spiritually.

I also find it interesting that Lifetime chose to film (or that the girls were drawn to) more traditional convents rather than the modern, "progressive" LCWR communities. LCWR has gotten a fair amount of press in recent months, and filming at one of their institutes would certainly fit the media's trope of progressive activist sisters much nicer than say, a community of veiled Carmelites.

Regardless of what happens to the women at the end of the show, I'm glad to see that a television network is positively promoting the option of entering religious life. While I'll admit it's unlikely that "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns" will result in a flood of vocation applications, it's entirely possible that the show may force some people to open their eyes to something they had previously never considered for themselves.

Six episodes have been ordered for this season.

Watch: SNL Skit Mocks Obama's Lawlessness

President Barack Obama’s recent decision to bypass Congress and offer temporary legal status to approximately five million illegal aliens has sparked controversy across the nation. Even NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” couldn’t resist turning the incident into a satire.

The cast put a poignant twist on the famous “I’m Just Bill” cartoon created by “Schoolhouse Rock.” In the original version, a bill talks to the camera as it sits on Capitol Hill waiting to go through the long legislative process needed to become a law.

“It's not easy to become a law, is it?” a student asks. The bill responds with a resounding “No!”

But apparently, those were the old days. Just watch: 

Scott Walker 2016?

Scott Walker appears to be unbeatable. He’s won in a purplish state three times (2010, 2012, and 2014), humiliating labor unions, accruing the support of conservatives, and increasing the odds of a presidential run in 2016.

Also, as Republican political consultant Mike Murphy once said, if you’re going to run for president, make sure your wife is going to vote for you; Walker has seemingly clinched that constituency, along with the rest of his family.

According to Politico, an announcement will be made sometime in the summer of 2015. Walker needs to expand his campaign staff beyond his usual crew of loyalists and everyone knows that, which is why his office is being flooded with consultant resumes. His team is also trying to avoid mistakes from past 2012 candidacies; Perry got in too late and Pawlenty tossed his hat into the ring too early.

Right now, he’s working on pushing through his legislative agenda to strengthen his conservative bona fides:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, pivoting from his bigger-than-expected reelection win this month, is taking active steps toward a presidential campaign that would launch next summer and contrast his record of conservative achievements in a swing state with paralysis in Washington.

In interviews this week, Walker and his top political advisers provided the fullest account yet of his plans for the likely rollout of a national campaign. The 47-year-old Republican intends to use an upcoming legislative session in Wisconsin to push an ambitious agenda that could, in combination with his triumphs over Big Labor, bolster his standing with Republican primary voters: repealing unpopular Common Core standards, requiring drug tests for welfare beneficiaries and cutting property taxes.

Walker cut income and property taxes in the first term, but he wants to go further, pushing a flatter income tax system. On education, he’s planning to push an expansion of school choice and to replace the Common Core program with state standards.

His plan to require welfare beneficiaries to undergo drug testing, he said, is about showing employers that people on public assistance are capable of holding jobs.

“We want to help able-bodied adults transition from government dependence into the workplace,” Walker said, whose efforts will be aided by a state Legislature controlled by Republicans.

For the next few months, political travel will be relatively limited, aides say, as Walker focuses on his legislative agenda. He appears eager to paint a contrast with not only a gridlocked Washington but also New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who faces a hostile Democratic Legislature and has fewer legislative accomplishments to point to.

But Walker lacks the charisma that other likely candidates, such as Christie or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), possess on the stump. He did not graduate from college, though some blue-collar voters might see this as a positive, and lacks foreign policy experience.

While there’s enough time for Walker to formulate his vision of American foreign policy, the humble, blue-collar appeal will be a stark contrast to that of Romney.

Romney won the over $50k demographic 53/45 over Obama, but when you expand the category to anyone making less than $100k; Obama easily trounced Romney 54/44. This is mostly likely due to Obama winning the vast share of the working class vote in and around urban areas where in some states, like Pennsylvania, that’s where elections are decided–and the majority of people live.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, working class whites will be key to Democrats remaining competitive in elections–and they’re breaking for Republicans.

So, will the “rise of the rust belt Republican” help the GOP’s prospects in 2016? For Walker, he thinks so, but the Midwest road to the White House he speaks of isn’t an easy one–and he knows it:

“Strong leadership, combined with Midwestern nice, there’s just a certain appeal to that,” Walker said.

“You look at the Electoral College map and what’s required to win. A good chunk of that runs through the Midwest,” Walker said. “There’s Florida, Virginia, out West — Colorado, Nevada – maybe New Hampshire depending on the year – but really most of the rest of the map is Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa. It’s all kind of right there. At least in recent political history, that’s kind of where it happens.”

Since 1988, Michigan and Pennsylvania haven’t gone Republican in presidential contests; Iowa has flipped only once (2004); Nevada only twice in 1992 and 1996; and Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, and Florida are solid swing states.

It seems any GOP candidate has some work to do in states that will likely decide who will succeed Obama.

Hillary Probably Won’t Expand The 2016 Map

Earlier this week, Noah Rothman wrote over at Hot Air that Team Hillary thinks they can net 386 electoral votes if she decided to run in 2016. The folks that could become Clinton’s campaign staff think it’s possible since Clinton can reach the voters Democrats have struggle with in past election cycles: working class whites.

Their targets: Arizona, Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Georgia

White working class appeal and demographics trending toward the Democrats are the reasons why Hillary’s potential campaign team is eyeing these states. Yet, before conservatives start hyperventilating, Harry Enten over at FiveThirtyEight said flipping these states is highly unlikely. For starters, voter registration is comfortably Republican–and these voters flocking toward the GOP aren’t just anti-Obama; they’re anti-Democrat:

If anything, the first three states have become less sympathetic to Democrats in recent years. And there’s no evidence that Clinton is the exception. Georgia and Arizona have become more diverse, but they’ve yet to become more Democratic.  [...]

In all five states, the Republican lead in party identification is at least 5 percentage points greater in the past two years than it was nationwide. It’s not just that voters in these states dislike Obama. They dislike Democrats.

In the first “bucket” Clinton targets — Arkansas, Indiana and Missouri — voters were about as Democratic-leaning as the nation in 2009. Since then, however, voters there have shifted away from the Democratic brand. The Republican lead in party identification among Arkansans, Hoosiers and Missourians is now about 10 percentage points greater than it is nationwide.

Republicans hold more than 60 percent of the seats in both houses of the state legislatures in these states. And the GOP majorities in all three states increased after the 2014 elections. So, it’s not like Clinton can localize these races. These states are solidly Republican from the top down.

Arizona and Georgia have long been listed by Democrats as potential pickup opportunities because of each state’s growing racial diversity. And it’s possible they’ll become presidential battlegrounds. But there isn’t any sign that will happen in the next two years.

So, what about her ability to connect with working class whites?

With the exception of Georgia, 2008 exit polls from those states during the Democratic primaries (I couldn’t find exit polls for Arizona and Arkansas), showed that Clinton won working class voters.


  • Under $50k 52/47 (Clinton)
  • Over $50k 53/47 (Clinton)
  • Under $100k 52/47 (Clinton)
  • High School graduates 52/48 Clinton
  • Some college 58/41 Clinton


  • Under $50k 64/34 Obama
  • Over $50k 67/32 Obama
  • Under $100k 65/34 Obama
  • High school graduates 60/37 Obama
  • Some college 68/32 Obama


  • Under $50k 49/42 Clinton
  • Over $50k 52/40 Obama
  • Under $100k 47/44 Clinton
  • High School graduates 53/36 Clinton
  • Some college 48/45 Clinton

With Georgia, Clinton fared poorly with these voters, but it could shift in the opposite way since Obama isn’t on the ticket.

Then again, 2008 was supposed to be Hillary’s year; it ended up being about then-Sen. Obama’s Hope and Change. She’s a bad campaigner, her book tour was marred by torpid sales, and she’s a highly polarizing figure. It seems the more she’s in the spotlight, the more unpopular she becomes.

Even Obama admitted that after he’s gone, voters are going to be looking for “that new car smell;” Hillary isn’t any of that.

It’s politics; anything can happen. But as Enten noted, even if she manages to win all five states, she probably already clinched the 270 electoral votes to win making this a rather “superfluous” exercise.  Team Hillary is just posturing.

The 2016 map will look different. Voter attitudes toward the Democrats will probably not be as appealing after eight years of Obama, Barack himself will be gone, and the field is potentially open to anyone, Democratic or Republican.

At the same time, Ohio and Florida will be front-and-center as always.

Video: 'Daily Show' Roasts Sen. Landrieu Over Keystone Gambit

Not even the crew over at The Daily Show could overlook Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) obviously desperate and sad attempt to save her own Senate seat.

During a hilarious segment three nights ago, host Jon Stewart skewered the soon-to-be “ex-Senator” for putting all her metaphorical eggs into the Keystone basket—and failing spectacularly.

He equated her chances of winning the December 6 run-off to that of a skier outrunning an avalanche. Down by double digits, he suggested, her Senate career is over.

He also delicately reminded Democrats that they were whipped in the midterm elections, among other reasons, for not “[standing] for anything.” Why, then, did some Senate Democrats stop fighting a bill to save a Senate seat that was all but lost, and of little consequence?

“Oh, I got an idea," he teased. “What if we stood for less?”

In fairness, he mocked both opponents and supporters of the Keystone bill, mostly for reaching wildly different conclusions about how many permanent jobs it would create. For example, if one listened to the Senate floor discussions, estimates varied between 35 (that’s not a typo) and millions. With this kind of conflicting misinformation thrown around by members of Congress, is it any wonder the entire spectacle devolved into a farce?

Most significantly, however, he derided Sen. Landrieu for her desperation and off-the-mark “Hail Mary” pass.

“It’s just like my dad always said,” Stewart said at the end of the clip. “You’re just not good enough.”

Rubio: 'No One's Going to Be a More Forceful Voice on Repealing and Replacing Obamacare' than Bill Cassidy

New Orleans, LA -- "Does Mary Landrieu represent Louisiana values?" Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) asked on multiple occasions. Each time, he was greeted with a resounding, "No!" The governor was joined by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at a Republican unity rally for Dr. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in Kenner, LA. Cassidy is challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for a seat in the United States Senate.

"The eyes of the country are on Louisiana," Jindal said.

Early voting began Saturday in Louisiana as the state prepares for the December 6 runoff election to decide who will take the last Senate seat in the 2014 midterms. At a campaign event right outside of New Orleans, a few hundred supporters showed up for Cassidy to cheer him on to victory in the last stretch.

Col. Rob Maness, the former GOP candidate for Senate who dropped out after the Nov. 4 election, took the stage first, ensuring the crowd he was now fully behind Cassidy. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) offered remarks as well, taking a few jabs at Landrieu for failing to convince her Democratic colleagues to get on board and pass the Keystone XL pipeline bill.

Then, Gov. Jindal arrived. Perhaps noticing the sea of orange NRA hats, Jindal attacked Landrieu's gun rights record and President Obama's insulting 'guns and religion' hot mic comment from 2008.

"As a lifelong member of the NRA, I'm proud that we've got plenty of both guns and religion! I guess I wasn't smart enough to know I was supposed to be insulted by that," Jindal said. "Mary Landrieu has voted against our Second Amendment rights, she has voted to confirm a radical, anti-gun justice of the Supreme Court, she has a 'D' rating from the NRA. Does Mary Landrieu represent our values?"

To emphasize this point, Jindal reminded the crowd about that time their senator called them a bunch of bigots.

"She has the gall to suggest we must be 'racist' to disagree with this president's policies."

The governor then shifted his attention to Cassidy, confident that the latter would soon be working more closely with him.

"He's a great doctor, a great legislator, a great congressman and he's going to be a great United States Senator."

Jindal then started a trend of the night by stressing the importance of early voting. The governor warned attendees not to become complacent even though polls show Cassidy with a double digit lead.

"You don't win an election with two weeks left to go. We win this election when the last vote is counted...Let's make this a landslide so that come December 6, we can say, 'former Senator Mary Landrieu!'"

Bill Cassidy was greeted with a rock star welcome to the party being held in his honor. He didn't let the fanfare distract him though and quickly got to business. He spent a good chunk of his remarks contrasting his own agenda with that of Landrieu's. Like Jindal, he too mentioned Landrieu's infamous 'D' rating from the NRA, touting his own impressive 'A' rating. What's more, while the Democrat has a zero percent record from the Right to Life, Cassidy said he has a 100 percent rating. I explained just how misleading Landrieu has been on pro-life issues in an earlier piece. Finally, while Landrieu voted for Obamacare and would do so again, 'tomorrow,' Cassidy voted to repeal and replace the job killing bill over 50 times.

Perhaps the best part of his speech is when he stopped to recognize a very special person:

"I want to pause and give thanks to the person who every week has done something for our campaign, who without this person, we would not be in the position we are, who my gosh has worked overtime to make this possible. So will you join me in thanking the person who's made our victory secure: President Barack Obama."

When the roar of laughter died down, Cassidy echoed Jindal's sentiments about early voting. Convincing even two people a day to go to the polls, he said, would be an immense help for their campaign, so they can focus more completely on voters who have yet to make up their mind.

Cassidy himself introduced the final speaker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was given the most time onstage. As a son of poor immigrants, Rubio offered an energetic, moving speech insisting that the Louisiana Senate race wasn't just about politics, it was about preserving the American Dream.

"This isn't just a choice between Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy," he said. "It's a choice between whether this generation is willing to do what it needs to do to share that dream."

"The American Dream has never been about being rich. The American Dream was about achieving happiness and leaving your family better off than yourself."

Rubio said it's 'insulting' to hear Democrats like Harry Reid say they're fighting for the middle class, especially when they've pushed through such harmful legislation.

That's where Bill Cassidy comes in, he said.

"I know of no one who's going to be a more forceful voice on repealing and replacing Obamacare, than your next Senator Bill Cassidy. He understands health care because he's a health care practitioner, because he knows patients, because he's dealt with patients. He understands that they way to bring affordable health coverage to people is not to put the government in charge, it's to put you in charge of health care."

He listed what needs to be done to get the country back on the right track: tax reform, regulatory reform, repealing Obamacare, getting our debt under control.

"On issue after issue of what it will take to make America globally competitive again, she's on the wrong side and Bill Cassidy is on the right side."

Yes, turnout is critical, Rubio said, to prevent ending up in a textbooks as 'an election people thought we had won and ended up not winning.' He also told the audience to 'not let your guard down about what the other side is doing to hold on to power.' Landrieu managed to win the last two runoff elections by successfully turning out her base.

We'll see if Landrieu can somehow pull it off again, or if Cassidy's landslide lead will hold strong.

I'll leave you with Rubio's classy description of Cassidy, which should be every Congress member's raison d'etre.

"He's someone who wants to be in office not to be someone, but to do something."

Long Wars Aren't Working

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the November issue of Townhall Magazine. 

There is no doubt Americans are war weary, and according to a recent Military Times survey, our soldiers are too. But as the public debate about whether ground troops will be necessary to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS” rages on in Washington D.C., at the Pentagon and on television screens across the country, one question isn’t being discussed or answered: Why do our modern wars take so long?

The current worn-out American attitude toward the Middle East and the world as a whole comes from 13 years in Afghanistan and Iraq. Things feel drawn out, and military families who haven’t made the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one dying for their country have made serious sacrifices of missing far too many birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones due to multiple deployments. Time is a precious thing that nobody can get back.

When it comes to the complicated situation in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry has said the United States’ approach and potential attack on President Bashar al-Assad’s assets would be “unbelievably small” in a war with more than 191,00 dead since 2011.

“Now, I believe that the aftermath of the Iraq experience and Afghanistan leave a lot of people saying, ‘We don’t want to see our young people coming back in a body bag,’ and so forth. But that’s not what we’re talking about. And what we have to do is make clear to people that this is—we’re not talking about war. We’re not going to war. We will not have people at risk in that way,” Kerry said during a joint press conference with the British foreign secretary back in 2013.

“We will be able to hold Bashar Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war,” Kerry continued.

“That is exactly what we’re talking about doing—unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

President Obama later walked back Kerry’s comments, saying any action in Syria wouldn’t be “pinpricks.” Too bad that wasn’t true.

Obama’s latest strategy against ISIS, the terror army that has now erased the border between Syria and Iraq to form an Islamic caliphate, is by all accounts a drawn out half-attempt to do something.

“America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid,” Obama said on the eve of 9/11 in an address to the nation. “I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

If Obama isn’t interested in going back to the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, then why the “steady” plan to take out ISIS? The White House and the Pentagon have also said in press reports this mission could “take years.” America is about to spend a whole lot of time and resources training “moderate” forces incapable of getting the job done. Many military leaders and experts say the mission is destined to fail.

“I don’t think the president’s plan has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding,” retired head of the Marine Corps General James Conway said at the Maverick PAC Conference in Washing- ton, D.C., recently.

The bottom line is this: Our soldiers have to be able to fight wars to win, not simply to damage the enemy. Doing otherwise only results in bigger problems and longer combat time on the ground. Training and depending on local fighters on the ground to get the job done for us isn’t a viable option either. Further, telling the enemy what we are not going to do only makes wars last longer as terrorists are able to reassess strategy, move into civilian population centers, and therefore drag out wars they’re willing to fight until the end of eternity in the name of Allah. The rules of engagement, which I’ve extensively detailed in the Dispatch before, make it impossible for our troops to get the job done by eliminating our enemies quickly and without regret or reassessment in life or death moments. They must be rewritten.

America is tired because our wars have been long, but the reasons for the past 13 years of drawn out, extensive conflict are a result of useless and oftentimes dangerous policies, which are heavily influenced by the international community and political correctness rather than by military leaders who have been pushed aside by the president.

When we use our military to fight our enemies, it should be used quickly and to win. Our men and women in uniform deserve nothing less. •

Pro-lifers No Longer Fooled by Mary Landrieu

New Orleans, LA -- I'm here reporting on the extended Senate race in Louisiana, which just happens to be the most pro-life state in the nation. For years, incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, who faces a tough, expected-to-win GOP opponent in Bill Cassidy, had fooled voters into thinking she was a moderate on the issue of abortion - until now.

Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) organization, told Townhall how Landrieu is misleading voters on her abortion record ahead of next month's runoff election.

“Mary Landrieu and throughout all her time through 1996 as a Louisiana senator, has masked ways that she has voted in DC when she speaks to people, especially on the life issues," Clapper said. "Right now, if she ever talks about the issue of abortion, she focuses on votes she made in 1998, a long time ago. She also talks about her support for adoption and she omits a decade of her voting record in support of abortion and the abortion industry."

Reality, however, paints a quite starker picture.

“If you look at her record, it’s gotten worse since 2008," Clapper explains. "There were times before 2008 that she voted with the pro-life side, on occasion. But since 2008, it’s been clear that she stands with President Obama and his abortion agenda.”

In fact, Landrieu has a zero percent pro-life voting record, according to Louisiana Right to Life's records.

“It’s based on the fact that there are 16 votes the National Right to Life has scored since 2008 and she’s 0 for 16 on all of them."

That's why Clapper and his pro-life colleagues are determined to ensure that Louisiana voters know where their candidates stand on life.

"Anything that is done in the state to reach voters and tell them the truth about her voting record, is critical because we find even now, there’s so many people in the state that are confused about her voting record on the issue of abortion. So, whether it’s been door-to-door efforts, whether it’s been through the mail, or radio, all of those things have been important to open people’s eyes to how she stands.”

The pro-life group has distributed about 220,000 grassroots pieces of candidate comparison material to people across the state, both in a lot of different churches and a lot of different groups, according to Clapper.

A couple other entities are involved in the pro-life battle in the Bayou, including the Women Speak Out PAC, a partner of the Susan B. Anthony List. That group, says Clapper, has knocked on about 150,000 doors since May, telling people about Landrieu’s support of taxpayer-funded abortion and her 100 percent pro-abortion voting record since reelection. 

Finally, the National Right to Life Victory Fund has performed much needed research and exposed voters to Landrieu's abortion agenda. Specifically, they’ve been focused on doing billboards, mail and radio ads. One place in particular in which the group is focusing its efforts, is Vermilion Parish, which is south of Lafayette. Abbeville is the name of the city there and has a very high Catholic population, Clapper explained. He laid out how their strategy there has gradually, yet successfully, developed.

"Abbeville is a place that has voted with Mary Landrieu in past elections, oftentimes because of the connection of the oil and gas industry, but it did not go for Mary Landrieu on November 4. We have talked to people on the ground who say that they believe part of the movement has been the disgust with Senator Landrieu’s support of abortion. We have billboards there and radio ads running in that area, we had our mobile trailer that’s gone through that area often. So, we really think that the issue of abortion in the pro-life community has played a strong role in this election.

"Mary Landrieu’s extreme pro-abortion record is far, far away from the values of the people of Louisiana.”

He’s not kidding. Louisiana has been voted the most pro-life state in the nation for the past five years by Americans United for Life.

If anything, Landrieu's extreme pro-abortion record obliterates those lofty claims that she’s a "moderate."

“She continually claims that she’s in the middle and even the Wednesday before November 4, she had an ad in the Lafayette advertiser, which was defending her position on abortion and it was all somewhat factual in the way that she presented it," explained Clapper. "What was not factual about it was the tons of information that she left out about her voting record. So, she’s tried to go to those areas that would be pro-life and say, ‘Hey, I’m not really that bad on this issue.’ In the past, they might have bought it, they’re not really buying it this time.” 

This time, Clapper and his fellow pro-life warriors foresee Landrieu's 18-year reign and shadowy pro-abortion legacy coming to an end. This is assuming that those who voted for former GOP candidate Col. Rob Maness, who dropped out of the running after Nov. 4, will be voting for Cassidy. But this isn't guaranteed.

“It’s going to all come down to the turnout on December 6. By and large, those voters who voted for Col. Maness are pro-life and so we believe they need to be reminded where the candidates stand on abortion and make sure they realize how important it is for the pro-life cause that they get out and vote on December 6.”

Stay tuned for more coverage from here in the Bayou State as I attend a rally tonight in Kenner headlined by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

HRC at Gala: Immigration Order Affects the 'People Who Served Us Tonight'

“I think the president took an historic step and I support it,” Hillary Clinton said about President Obama’s executive immigration overhaul during an appearance at the New York Historical Society on Friday. But the Democratic presidential front-runner didn’t stop there.

"This is about people's lives," she said, “people, I would venture to guess, who served us tonight.”

@aseitzwald Wonder how this would be reported if a conservative made the same comment? Spoiler Alert: The tone would be a wee bit different

— Andy Waldron (@AndyWIII) November 22, 2014

Just a bit.

@TheRickWilson @aseitzwald racist, condescending, bigoted and ignorant. That's Liberalism.

— Joel Schafer (@joelschafer) November 22, 2014

This comment, of course, came after President Obama already classified illegal immigrants in his speech as fruit pickers, maids, and landscapers.

"Smoke and Mirrors": How Jon Gruber Proved Republicans Right About the CBO

Once upon a time, it was gauche to accuse one's ideological opposition of exploiting the rules by which the Congressional Budget Office plays the scoring game. It's worth revisiting this idea in the wake of MIT academic Jonathan Gruber's admission of guilt to this charge.

Way back in 2011, there were conservatives writing about how the CBO's score of the Affordable Care Act rested on "budget gimmicks," "smoke and mirrors," and "a dismal track record."

Vox's Ezra Klein, then at the Washington Post, declared that there was a "Republican war on the CBO," and said that it was "an effort to discredit the last truly neutral, truly respected scorekeeper in Washington." It's true that the CBO is immensely respected: a bad CBO score can kill a major piece of legislation, and a good CBO score will help convince fence-sitters that legislation has limited downside. And it's not that the CBO isn't valuable. Republicans never hated the player; they just hated the game.

The CBO has rules that they have to abide by and judgment calls they have to make. It's not math that Republicans took issue with. It's the subjectivity that definitionally has to be involved. The CBO, for example, scores all legislation in a ten-year budget window from date of enactment. Not the date that a policy comes into effect, mind you; the date that it's passed. This is a useful rule, because it's often nearly useless to extrapolate government policy out past ten years. But what it means is that if a governing party wants to frontload budget savings and backload the costs, it'll get a much more favorable score than if the costs and savings were scored over ten years of enactment. It's undeniable that this happened with ACA, as the costs of full implementation have only just come into effect (and they're still not 100% in effect; the Cadillac tax won't take hold for another few years) even though the legislation was signed in 2010.

Obamacare Architect/Non-Architect/Friend/Adjacent Policy Guy Jonathan Gruber admitted as much. President Obama needed to include an individual mandate in his health law or the whole thing would fall apart. The problem was that the CBO had, in the past, scored private sector mandates as on-budget. These were thought to have killed the Clinton health reform plan in 1994. Obama-era Democrats - most likely with Gruber's help - massaged their plan in order to fit CBO's judgment of what kind of a private sector mandate wouldn't count as a tax. And this is indeed a judgment call. The Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate's constitutionality rests on the government's taxing power after the CBo ruled that the mandate didn't count as a tax. That's a difficult needle to thread, but the Democrats, with Jonathan Gruber's assistance, managed to make it happen.

So instead of a piece of legislation whose spending is near $2 trillion over ten years, ACA's delayed phase-in gives us an official CBO spending estimate of $800 billion. Instead of a bill where we see mandate-tax increases on all Americans, we discuss the bill as something with minimal tax hikes like the Cadillac tax and the tanning salon tax.

Republican allegations that the CBO score was achieved through budget gimmicks and smoke and mirrors were correct all along. There was no "war" on the CBO here. It was a war on the Obamacare architects who gamed the process, using the CBO's own rules against them, and presented to the public a legislation that used every loophole possible to hide its true costs and taxes.

This isn't to say that there have been no Republicans who have gone beyond merely criticizing the way that policymakers have exploited the CBO's self-imposed rules. Newt Gingrich called to "abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies," which is overboard and unhelpful. For all of the faults of the CBO - and there are many - it's a necessary institution in Washington and imperative for getting ballpark scores. But for all the reasons outlined, and for Jonathan Gruber's comments, a CBO score should not be a conversation-ender. CBO projections have been wrong, and legislators have turned its scores into such a powerful weapon that policymakers like Gruber are consistently attempting to game the system to produce favorable numbers.

There are other scorekeepers in the game whose legislative analysis is useful as well. The Joint Committee on Taxation scores legislation, as do think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Committee on Budget and Policy Priorities. All of these methods have their own upsides and downsides - CBO's upsides included. What's dangerous is worshiping at the alter of the CBO and refusing to lend credence to other scorekeepers. The problem is precisely that the CBO is viewed as the "last truly neutral, truly respected scorekeeper." That's what Republican complaints about the CBO's ACA score were getting at - and that's what needs to change.

Hey, Look Whose 'Missing' Emails Were Recovered

Earlier this month, Judicial Watch discovered that the IRS never even bothered looking for Lois Lerner’s “missing” emails, which they claimed were lost as a result of a computer crash in 2011. 

Not to worry, it seems that as many as 30,000 emails have now been recovered by the IRS inspector general.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.

“They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told theWashington Examiner.

The IRS, in a statement provided to the Examiner, said the agency and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is fully cooperating with the investigation.

"As Commissioner Koskinen has stated, the IRS welcomes TIGTA’s independent review and expert forensic analysis." The IRS statement said. "Commissioner Koskinen has said for some time he would be pleased if additional Lois Lerner emails from this time frame could be found." […]

In all, investigators from the inspector general’s office combed through 744 disaster recovery tapes. They are not finished looking.

There are 250 million emails ion the tapes that will be reviewed. Officials said it is likely they will find missing emails from other IRS officials who worked under Lerner and who said they suffered computer crashes.

House and Senate committees are seeking the emails to investigate the role the former head of tax exempt organizations played in the targeting of tea party and conservative groups leading up to the 2012 election, and whether she was working with Obama administration officials to single them out. 

“Though it is unclear whether TIGTA has found all of the missing Lois Lerner e-mails, there may be significant information in this discovery,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told the Examiner. “The Oversight Committee will be looking for information about her mindset and who she was communicating with outside the IRS during a critical period of time when the IRS was targeting conservative groups.”

Issa also expressed frustration over the IRS’ cooperativeness with Congress throughout the investigation.

“The agency first failed to disclose the loss to Congress and then tried to declare Lerner’s e-mails gone and lost forever. Once again it appears the IRS hasn’t been straight with Congress and the American people,” he continued.

#ThanksMichelleObama Trends on Facebook as Students Express Displeasure with School Lunch

Some high school students are not pleased with their new USDA-approved school lunches, and have taken to using the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama to express their displeasure. The guidelines include strict calorie limits, as well as requiring whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Students are claiming that the lunches are too small, and they are being left hungry.

The hashtag was one of the top trends on both Facebook and Twitter throughout the afternoon.

Those lunches look quite sad, and for some students, that's the only thing they'll eat all day. When I was in high school, lunches didn't look like that--and the vast majority of them were certainly edible. It's also not a good policy to assume that all children have the same nutritional needs. A football or a hockey player will certainly need more calories than what is permitted under these guidelines.

Child obesity is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed. If school lunches are this gross, however, children are simply going to turn to empty calories and snacks to stave off hunger. This is completely counter-productive.

Schools know their student population better than some government agency does. School lunches should be up to local control, not subjected to arbitrary guidelines.