Uh Oh: Mary Landrieu Doesn't Own a Home in Louisiana


This is…not what embattled "Louisiana" Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu wanted to read in the Washington Post -- which, as it turns out, is her hometown paper:


In Washington, Sen. Mary Landrieu lives in a stately, $2.5 million brick manse she and her husband built on Capitol Hill. Here in Louisiana, however, the Democrat does not have a home of her own. She is registered to vote at a large bungalow in New Orleans that her parents have lived in for many decades, according to a Washington Post review of Landrieu’s federal financial disclosures and local property and voting records. On a statement of candidacy Landrieu filed with the Federal Election Commission in January, she listed her Capitol Hill home as her address. But when qualifying for the ballot in Louisiana last week, she listed the family’s raised-basement home here on South Prieur Street. The New Orleans house, which Landrieu claims as her primary residence, is a new flash point in one of the most closely contested Senate races in the country. Republicans are considering taking legal action to question Landrieu’s residency in the state, arguing that since winning her seat in 1996 she has become a creature of Washington. For Landrieu, there are hazardous parallels to other recent cases in which residency questions have dogged incumbents. Former senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) lost reelection in 2012 after reports that he stayed in hotels when he returned to Indiana, while Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) is drawing flack this year for not having a home of his own in Kansas and listing a donor’s house as his voting address.


Lugar was dumped by primary voters last cycle (before the GOP frittered away the seat he vacated), and Roberts is only leading by high single digits in the ruby red state of Kansas.  Landrieu is one of the most endangered Senate Democrats in the country, representing a state -- from afar -- that Barack Obama lost by 17 points in 2012.  Landrieu has gone 'full Beltway.'  She lives in her multimillion-dollar DC mansion (remember this tax-related flap?), not in the state she ostensibly serves.  The Senator claims that she lives at her parents' house when she's in town, but neighbors, including some of her supporters, aren't so sure:


“I don’t think she lives there,” said Fontaine Wells, 65, pointing at the Landrieu home. “She might come visit, but come on now — she lives in D.C. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her.” … Michael Fitzgerald, 61, has lived around the corner from the Landrieus for three decades. He said he sees Moon and Verna Landrieu regularly, as well as Mitch Landrieu, Mary’s younger brother and the city’s current mayor, who lives in a home he owns nearby.  “On Election Day, [Mary] is seen at our polling place accompanying her parents.” He added, “I have not seen her lately... She’s been in the Senate for — I’ve lost count — 16 years? 18 years?

Landrieu votes with Barack Obama 97 percent of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly.  The president and his signature legislative item, Obamacare, are hugely unpopular in Louisiana.  Landrieu cast the deciding vote for that law, attacking critics for "lying" about its now-evident effects.  At the time, she pledged to take '100 percent' responsibility for Obamacare's outcomes.  Like these ones.  Whether or not the incumbent Senator faces any serious eligibility issues remains to be seen, but the optics are bad.  The "out of touch" attacks will only intensify, especially in light of the recent revelation that Landrieu inappropriately used taxpayer dollars to fund private jet trips for campaign events.  To that end, I'll leave you with this clever bit of in-person trolling from a Republican group last week:


Benham Brothers Challenge Sen. Kay Hagan at Pro-life Rally

HGTV may have fired the Benham brothers for their religious beliefs, but that’s not stopping them from voicing and standing up for their pro-life ideals. At a "Summer of Life" rally organized in North Carolina on Wednesday, David and Jason Benham spoke outside of Senator Kay Hagan's (D) office to challenge her pro-abortion agenda. In particular, they criticized the senator for opposing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks - the point when unborn babies can feel pain.

In addition to taking Hagan to task for her anti-life behavior, the Christian brothers also shared how their pro-abortion critics often sound irrational, one even calling them "anti-woman":

“I was sitting there thinking and I looked at my wife and said, ‘Anti-women? Well, the last I checked, I really love women. I love my daughters, I love my wife, and I’m willing to stand up and lay my life down for those women that are in a very difficult situation and think that abortion is their only choice.”

The twin brothers were set to host a new show called "Flip it Forward" on HGTV, but in May were let go after the network discovered they were pro-life. As we have witnessed so far, the incident has only made them more outspoken in their fight for life. 

The Benhams may have lost their jobs, but they've gained an important presence in the pro-life movement. Watch more of their passionate speech here:

Have Republicans Already Caved on Obama's Executive Amnesty?

President Obama, The Week's Marc Ambinder reports, is considering announcing a temporary executive amnesty for up to 8 million illegal immigrants sometime around mid-September. The timing, Ambinder reports, is in part designed to provoke Republicans into initiating another government shutdown, which could help Democrats at the polls this November. Ambinder writes:

The Democratic scenario has Republicans underestimating the price of such a move. Indeed, Democratic focus groups consistently show that the most unpopular thing the GOP can do, the one thing that will make people who are too disgusted to vote, vote, or who are capable of changing their vote to change their vote to the other side, is to shut down the government again. It is that unpopular.
...
So: Go big on immigration. Wait for the GOP counter-reaction. Quietly pray for the government to get shut down. Use it like a cattle prod to wake voters up just before the midterms.

That's the last, best hope for Democrats.

But Republicans seem to be on to Obama's game. And they are making it perfectly clear that there will be no government shutdown before the elections. Roll Call reports:

House Republicans won’t repeat that mistake this September, Ryan predicted: “We will pass a clean [continuing resolution], and if for some reason the Democrats don’t take that, then they will clearly have shut the government down … it will be patently obvious … that they are playing politics with this, and trying to trigger a shutdown so they can blame us, but we’re really blameless in this particular situation.”

Ryan’s confidence that his conference will cooperate in passing a stop-gap spending bill free of controversial policy riders — "until Dec. 11 is what we’re thinking,” said Ryan — contradicts Democrats’ cries over the past few days that the GOP is spoiling for another shutdown that could cost them the election in November.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) aide Alex Conant outlined a similar timeline for The Washington Examiner's Byron York:

Rubio's office says there's nothing to it. "We're not going to shut down the government," spokesman Alex Conant told me. "Ultimately, Republicans will need to win control of the Senate to reverse an executive action. We would be interested in having a vote on it in the context of the budget debate, but we are not going to shut down the government."

So does this mean Republicans will just roll over if Obama grants executive amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants? Not at all. Look at the bolded portions of the Ryan and Conant quotes. Both suggest that Republicans are planing to attach specific language forbidding Obama from spending money administering his new amnesty program, just not before the November election. 

And this is the smart strategy to pursue. Republicans have a very good chance of taking control of the Senate this November. And it is much easier to force policy concessions from the White House when you control both the House and Senate as opposed to just the House.

Democrats seem to be realizing that Republicans will not make the same mistake two years in a row, and it is now looking like Obama will wait till after the election before moving on amnesty.

Adult Illegal Immigrants Registering as Minors to Attend Public School

Earlier this month we reported that schools across the nation were bracing for the influx of up to 50,000 unaccompanied minors entering the public education system. Teachers and administrators alike expressed concern over not knowing the educational background of students, operational issues that could arise and increase costs, and new students not speaking English.

Now that school has started, however, there’s also another significant problem. CNS News reports:

The mayor of Lynn, Mass. says that some of the illegal aliens from Guatemala who are enrolled in her city’s public schools are adults with graying hair and “more wrinkles than I have.”

“They are not all children,” Judith Flanagan Kennedy told reporters at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

“One of the things that we did notice when we were processing some of these students coming in was that they were adults,” she said.

Kennedy said that the majority of those from Guatemala who are enrolling in theLynn Public Schoolsclaim to be between 14 and 17 years of age.

“But there were people with graying temples, hair around the temples,” said Kennedy, adding that although she did not see these individuals in person, she saw photographs of them in registration paperwork. “There were people with more wrinkles than I have around their eyes.”

Because of a DOJ directive, however, the school is not allowed to question or verify the ages of students enrolling.

Fort Hood Shooter Wants to Join ISIS From Prison

Former Army psychologist Nidal Hasan, the perpetrator of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting that killed 13 and injured dozens, has written a letter from prison to ISIS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi requesting citizenship in the Islamic state.

"I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State," Hasan wrote in the letter, according to Fox News.

"It would be an honor for any believers to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don't compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers."

Hasan currently resides in the military's death row in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was sentenced to death for the shooting in August 2013. Despite Hasan's stated motivations for the attack, his history of jihadist sympathies, and the fact that he shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) before opening fire, the U.S. has refused to call the shooting an act of terrorism, and instead refers to the event as an act of "workplace violence."

It's clear that Hasan's jihadist sympathies for ISIS have reached a new level. Perhaps now the U.S. will reclassify the Fort Hood attack as what it truly was: an act of terrorism against American soldiers.

The Left-Wing Credo: Poverty Causes Crime. Unemployment Produces Terrorists.

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Bill Bennett and military historian Max Boot discuss what should be the U.S. plan of action towards Islamic State. Dennis Prager spoke with national security expert Steven Emerson, who explained the details surrounding the Obama-termed "JV" team called Islamic State. Michael Medved on the failure to call Islamic terror "evil". Prager on the massive number of Brits who have joined the fight with the Islamic State. Medved on the Obamacare realization: It will pay for "gender reassignment" surgery. Hugh Hewitt asks Mitt Romney about 2016 and what he would do differently if he were to run--also, what advice he had for the candidate. Prager on Denmark regulating...cinnamon.


Democrats Attack Rand Paul For "Retreat" On Foreign Policy

Yesterday the Democratic National Committee attacked GOP Sen. Rand Paul for holding a "blame America" stance and for a "retreat from the world."

Their statement:

It’s disappointing that Rand Paul, as a Senator and a potential presidential candidate, blames America for all the problems in the world, while offering reckless ideas that would only alienate us from the global community.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Paul. Last week he criticized American policy to the president of another country on foreign soil. This week he’s blaming the Obama Administration for another nation’s civil war. That type of “blame America” rhetoric may win Paul accolades at a conference of isolationists but it does nothing to improve our standing in the world.

This is exactly to be expected from the Democratic playbook. In fact, I took a look at what Democrats are planning to do with some of the prominent Republicans when it comes to foreign policy in a recent issue of Townhall Magazine.

What Democrats are going to try to do is portray Republicans, no matter what, with scare words like "isolationist" or "interventionist" or "neocon" or "hawk." From my piece:

It’s unclear if isolationism has been used in a non-pejorative way in the modern political era at all. With the ascendance of the United States to global superpower in the 20th century, very few politicians have advocated America’s removal from international affairs. More likely, advocates of aggressive American involvement tar any skeptics with the isolationist label.

“Democrats would love for the Republican candidate to be the ‘fringe’ candidate. The ‘dangerous’ candidate,” says James Carafano, vice president of national security and foreign policy at the Heritage Foundation. “It could be ‘dangerous-isolationist’ or ‘dangerous neocon.’ Democrats just want to say they’re the prudent alternative.”

Sen. Rand Paul certainly has heterodox views when it comes to foreign policy, and brings a much different vision than Republicans traditionally have. To counter Sen. Paul, the Democrats are resorting to attacks they used to decry as unfair. This is simple politics, but it's still important to counter them.

White House: Ukraine Not Invaded; Russian Incursion Just Violates Its ‘Territorial Integrity’

Yesterday, Dan wrote about the president’s late afternoon press conference on the situation in Iraq and Ukraine. Basically, the leader of the free world said we don’t have a strategy to defeat ISIS and prevaricated in calling the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an “invasion.” We’re back to this again:

“We are, if there was any doubt, convinced that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine,” he [ President Obama] said. “Russia has deliberately and repeatedly [threatened] the territorial integrity" of that country.

“Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War,” he continued. “This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more consequences for Russia.”

He refused to call Russia’s most recent incursion into Ukraine an invasion, defended his right to unilaterally order airstrikes into Iraq -- and Syria -- if necessary, and claimed the White House doesn’t have "a strategy” yet to effectively combat ISIL.

Buzzfeed noted that other foreign leaders are refusing to describe the recent string of events in Ukraine as an invasion, despite hard evidence that this could be one [emphasis mine]:

Russian combat troops are currently inside southeastern Ukraine. NATO released satellite imagery showing this on Thursday. “The satellite images released today provide additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine’s sovereign territory,” NATO Brigadier General Nico Tak said.

Despite this, no one seems to want to call what is going on in Ukraine an invasion.

Asked by Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC on Thursday why the United States has favored terms like “incursion” and “aggression” instead of “invasion” to characterize the situation in Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “I think this is a discussion about terminology” and that it doesn’t change the kind of support the U.S. is giving Ukraine and the discussions U.S. officials are conducting.”

Other Western leaders are mirroring the U.S. rhetoric, including U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who said on Thursday that “I’m extremely concerned by mounting evidence that Russian troops have made large-scale incursions into South Eastern Ukraine, completely disregarding the sovereignty of a neighbor” and warned Russia of “further consequences.”

Yet, the evidence that this is indeed an invasion is mounting.

But, it's not an invasion.

New Al Qaeda Magazine Hints an Attack on US Is Imminent

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s media branch is out with a new English language magazine, Palestine-Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience Al-Malahem. The new publication, a spin-off of Inspire, is calling on fellow Muslims to wage acts of terror in the United States and Britain.

Fox News reports:

A new English-language Al Qaeda magazine features a how-to article on making car bombs and suggests terror targets in the United States, including casinos in Las Vegas, oil tankers and military colleges, and implies that an attack is imminent. […]

“The timeline concludes with the date 201?’ and blank spaces and question marks for the photo and information of the next attack -- implying that it is coming soon,” said MEMRI Executive Director Steve Stalinsky.

There is a suggested list of targets for lone-wolf, or individually executed, terror attacks, including New York's Times Square, casinos and night clubs in Las Vegas, oil tankers and trains, the Georgia Military College, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and General Atomics defense contractor in San Diego.

“This recipe gives you the ability to make a car bomb even in countries with tight security and surveillance,” one article reads, before providing a “shopping list” of supplies needed to make such a bomb, including cooking gas, oxygen gas, a barometer, decoration lamps and matches.

There is also a list of targets in Britain including a military academy and the Marks and Spencers chain of department stores. The magazine calls for the stores to be hit on Friday during prayers so that Muslims won’t be affected. […]

In a nine-page spread entitled, “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom,” the magazine details a do-it-yourself, illustrated guide on assembling a pressure-cooker bomb similar to the ones used in the Boston Marathon bombings.

“My Muslim brother, before you start reading the instructions, remember that this type of operation if prepared well and an appropriate target is chosen and Allah decrees success for you, history will never forget it. It will be recorded as a crushing defeat on the enemies of Islam,” the article says.

So what are the chances of an attack on the homeland? U.S. intelligence officials are currently investigating the increased likelihood, Fox reports, but ISIS has already issued several threats against America, including taunting tweets that show they’re already here.

An attack on the U.S. and other Western countries “will come probably sooner rather than later,” retired Gen. Michael Hayden said on CNN Sunday morning.

Obama: We Have No Strategy to Fight ISIS; Ukraine Wasn’t Invaded

Speaking from the White House Briefing room on Thursday, President Obama touched on a whole host of foreign challenges facing the nation.

Most significantly, perhaps, he noted that Secretary of State John Kerry will soon be heading to the Middle East to “build a coalition” to help meet the growing threat of ISIL.

“I am confident that we can and we will,” he intoned.

He also noted that he had asked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel -- and his joint chiefs of staff -- to furnish him with “a range of options” to finally deal with these violent and bloodthirsty terrorists.

“Clearly ISIL had come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively,” he said.

He also mentioned that he had been in communication with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the unrest in eastern Ukraine.

“We are, if there was any doubt, convinced that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine,” he said. “Russia has deliberately and repeatedly [threatened] the territorial integrity" of that country.

“Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War,” he continued. “This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more consequences for Russia.”

Turning to Syria, he proclaimed that “Assad’s lost [all] legitimacy” -- and that the US will strive, with our allies, to give the moderate Sunni population a political choice other than ISIL or the regime.

Other highlights: He refused to call Russia’s most recent incursion into Ukraine an invasion, defended his right to unilaterally order airstrikes into Iraq -- and Syria -- if necessary, and claimed the White House doesn’t have "a strategy” yet to effectively combat ISIL.

President Obama will meet with his national security team later today.

Part of Utah's Anti-Polygamy Law Struck Down

In Utah, it is no longer illegal for someone to cohabitate with someone with whom they are not married, following a decision in the lawsuit Brown v. Buhman. The case was filed by Kody Brown, who is the patriarch of the polygamous Brown family featured on the TLC show "Sister Wives." While this technically means living a polygamous lifestyle is now effectively decriminalized in Utah, a person is still prohibited from having multiple marriage licenses.

Federal Judge Clark Waddoups in December struck the section of Utah’s bigamy statute that can be applied when someone "cohabits with another person" to whom they are not legally married. Utah law made such a union a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Waddoups said the ban violated the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

Waddoups let stand the portion of the statute that prevents someone from having more than one active marriage license.

In the final portion of his ruling Wednesday, Waddoups found the Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman violated the Browns’ constitutional rights when he oversaw a 2010 investigation into whether the Brown family was committing bigamy. At the time the Browns lived in Lehi. They have since moved to Nevada. Buhman eventually decided not to file criminal charges, but Waddoups said the investigation stifled the Browns’ rights to free speech, religion and equal protection.

While there certainly are legitimate concerns regarding the safety of children in polygamist marriages, particularly those who live in isolated compounds, laws against child abuse already exist. If other crimes are happening (child abuse, neglect, etc.) in these unions, then the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The U.S. has generally leaned toward a "benevolent neutrality" on freedom of religion-based court cases—that is, the government would seek to avoid imposing restrictions on a church that would result in its closure. This decision seems to be in line with that train of thought, as well as with previous Supreme Court rulings concerning privacy rights.

While I personally find the concept of plural marriage to be undesirable, I agree with the judge's ruling that the law prohibiting cohabitation likely overstepped the boundaries of religious freedom. I also find it fair that the portion of the law prohibiting someone from being legally married to more than one person was allowed to stand.

Both sides are planning appeals of the decision.

Journalism Association Demands Apology for...Anti-ISIS Comments


Fox News host Andrea Tantaros is drawing fire for these comments, made on Outnumbered:


[This has been happening] "for hundreds and hundreds of years. If you study the history of Islam…this isn't a surprise. You can't solve it with a dialogue. You can't solve it with a summit. You solve it with a bullet to the head. It's the only thing these people understand."


Two important stipulations: (1) Terrible violence has been inflicted in the name of religion -- and certainly not just Islam -- throughout human history. In the 20th century alone, an explicitly atheist ideology murdered tens of millions, too. (2) An overwhelming majority of the planet's Muslims today are peaceful non-extremists.  I doubt Tantaros would dispute either of those points.  Her remarks were in the context of a conversation about ISIS, the ultra-radical, stupefyingly brutal Islamist supremacist death cult.  She was reacting to the decapitation of an American journalist.  Her point about the history of Islam, including her discussion of the Barbary pirates, was that radicalized Muslims have been slaughtering and visiting violence and oppression upon 'infidels' for centuries.  Her invocation of "these people," as I understood her, was clearly a reference to violent extremists, not all Muslims.  But that's not what the Asian American Journalists Association heard, and they're insisting upon a mea culpa:


What we at the Asian American Journalists Association don’t understand is how the barbaric act of a terrorist group could be used to condemn and to smear an entire faith. Yet that’s precisely what Fox News host Andrea Tantaros did when she suggested in an 'Outnumbered' segment that aired Aug. 20 that all Muslims are like ISIS, the group purportedly behind the execution of Foley. “They’ve been doing this for hundreds and hundreds of years if you study the history of Islam,” she said. More alarmingly, Tantaros goes so far as to advocate violence. 'You can’t solve it with a dialogue. You can’t solve it with a summit,' she said. 'You solve it with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand.' AAJA calls for Tantaros and Fox News to apologize for the irresponsible, inflammatory statements. We also call on Fox News to discourage its journalists from making blanket comments that serve to perpetuate hate and Islamophobia.

Perhaps the AAJA should work on its listening skills and review the importance of context when evaluating and repudiating comments.  They've decided that Tantaros' "history of Islam" sentence fragment is the key to understanding her true intent, rather than the subject matter of the entire segment.  Furthermore, it's not "Islamophobia" to draw attention to the terrifying realities of radical Islam.  One could even argue it's more Islamophobic to hear stark denunciations of Islamist violence as an attack on the broader religion.  It's also simply a fact that the large preponderance of faith-hijacking terrorism today is the province of Islam -- from ISIS to Al Qaeda to Boko Haram to Hamas.  It's not bigotry for Westerners to recognize that empirical reality, nor is it beyond the pale to comment on the fact that more Muslims in the West have marched against Israel's military campaign responding to aggression from Hamas terrorists than have taken to the streets to protest ISIS' savagery -- which is being conducted in the name of their religion.  (Which is not to say that no Muslims have done so; some have).  Indeed, pro-ISIS rallies have been held in European cities, and an anti-ISIS march in the Netherlands was disrupted by rock-throwing Muslims.  One need not impute radicalism to most Muslim people to accurately point out that Islam has, and has had for some time, a violence problem that has the tacit or active support of a frighteningly sizable minority of Muslims worldwide.  I'll leave you with these comments from Bill Maher, who got in trouble for making this exact point in a tweet:

Redskins Fans: Screw Political Correctness, We Love Our Team

Earlier this week, MRCTV’s Dan Joseph wanted to know what Redskins fans think about the name. Should it be changed? In the parking lot of the FedEx Field, Joseph found one person, who wore a Redskins shirt featuring a Native American giving the middle finger, thought the name should be changed; she blamed the Europeans. Another woman said the name should be changed, but she doesn’t want the organization to do it.

Another die-hard fan said that a Native American designed the logo, while another man said his family is almost full-blooded Native American and they’re not offended by the name at all.

Overall, most fans don’t want the name changed, they love their team, and won’t adhere to a small segment of the population that tries to make everything in America awful by spreading political correctness. 

Cameron to Scotland: Independence Would Be Your Economic Ruin

As the people of Scotland prepare to vote on their independence Sept. 18, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that the divide would result in a devastating blow to Scotland's economic viability. 

During a speech Thursday to the Confederation of British Industry's (UK's premier business lobbying organization) Cameron urged them to recognize the symbiotic relationship between Scotland and the United Kingdom:

"This is one of the oldest and most successful single markets in the world. Scotland does twice as much trade with the rest of the UK than with the rest of the world put together – trade that helps to support one million Scottish jobs.

For some industries, the proportion of trade with the rest of the UK is even higher – 90% of Scottish financial services' customers are in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Then there's the world-famous gaming industry, cutting-edge subsea technology and life-saving biomedicine – all selling far more outside Scotland than inside.

This success doesn't happen by accident. It happens because of the skill of people in Scotland and the opportunities that come from being part of something bigger, a large domestic market, underpinned by a common currency, common taxes, common rules and regulations, with no borders, no transaction costs, no restrictions on the flow of goods, investment or people. Ours really is an economy of opportunity."

When the Scottish National Party came into power in 2011, it pushed an agenda which included recognizing Scotland as a sovereign nation, according to Daniel Gallagher, Economic Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington D.C. As the Scottish National Party gained a voice in Parliament it pushed through a referendum which would allow the people of Scotland to vote on their country's independence. 

"The debate has largely been around Scotland's economic future and what position and independent Scotland would have in the world," Gallagher said during a speech at the British Embassy July 17. 

"The government has out a series of fourteen analysis papers which cover aspects such as international security, cultural ties, currency arrangements, government spending, and the fiscal position Scotland would find itself in." 

Britain's final assessment of the situation: 

"Scotland is better off as part of the UK, now and in the future."

While Britain may analyze, inform and plead as much as it likes, only the Scots hold the ultimate power to alter the future of their country. 

UN: ISIS Prefers Maiming, Killing on Fridays

So far, when the media even bothers to cover the rise of ISIS, they’ve generally chosen to focus on the atrocities in northern Iraq, where the Yazidi population and other minority sects have been explicitly hunted. But across the border, in Syria, the bloodletting has been going on for years -- and the carnage there is equally as bad, if not worse.

And yet to their credit, UN investigators have done yeomen’s work exposing ISIS’s atrocities in Syria, especially during the first half of this past year. Their 45-page expose is gruesome yet a must-read.

Ironically, too, the commissioners discovered that the holiest day of the week, Friday, is when ISIS radicals prefer torturing, maiming, and executing their victims. How sick is that?

Public executions, amputations, lashings and mock crucifixion are a regular fixture in jihadist-controlled areas of Syria, a UN probe charged Wednesday, also accusing Damascus of repeatedly using chemical weapons against civilians. "Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays" -- the Muslim holy day -- in parts of Syria under control of the Islamic State (IS), the independent Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Syria said.

In a 45-page report covering the period from January 20 to July 15, the commission also detailed a wide range of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Syrian government and other armed opposition groups. And it accused Damascus of dropping chlorine bombs on civilian areas in April -- the first time the UN has directly blamed the government for the chemical attacks.

The four-member commission detailed a litany of horrors committed by IS, including beheading boys as young as 15 and amputations and lashings in public squares as residents, including children, are forced to watch.

This blood spectacle is appalling. And yet human rights violations are not merely unique to ISIS. The Syrian government, under President Bashar al-Assad, has committed all sorts of atrocities, the commissioners found:

Government forces, which were blamed for the lion's share of abuses and deaths in the early years after the conflict broke out in 2011, had carried out more massacres and committed murder, torture and rape against civilians, the report said. Since January, the government's "indiscriminate firing of missiles and barrel bombs into civilian areas" had killed hundreds of men women and children every week, it said. At the same time, the already staggering number of deaths in Syrian prisons also appeared to be on the rise and many more civilians had disappeared without a trace, said the report.

The administration���s objective in Syria is arming and supporting the “moderate” wing of the opposition. But with so much death and destruction going on, it’s difficult to credibly decipher between friend and foe.

It’s true too that ISIS and Assad’s government forces are killing each other; but if the US intervenes, and alters the balance of power, insulating Assad even more is hardly an ideal outcome.

Stagnation: CBO Revises 2014 GDP Growth Projection Down to 1.5 Percent


When the economy shrinks substantially over the course of an economic quarter, tepid recoveries tend to look, well, tepid. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has slashed its predictions for US economic growth in 2014:

The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday forecast that the U.S. economy will grow by just 1.5 percent in 2014, undermined by a poor performance during the first three months of the year. The new assessment was considerably more pessimistic than the Obama administration's, which predicted last month that the economy would expand by 2.6 percent this year even though it contracted by an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the first quarter...Even with the [Q2] rebound, economists have lowered their outlook for the entire year, given the weak start. Economists at JPMorgan Chase are forecasting that the economy will grow by 1.9 percent this year, when measured from the fourth quarter, down from 3.1 percent in 2013.

US Gross Domestic Product grew at a sluggish 1.9 percent rate in FY 2013.  The new 2014 forecasts reflect the ongoing reality of America's historically weak economic recovery under President Obama.  Policies matter.  The CBO also updated its projections on annual deficits and the national debt.  The latter measure has ballooned by $7 trillion and counting since Obama took office, far eclipsing the debt accrual of all other presidents.  The bookkeepers determined that this year's deficit will exceed half-a-trillion, an improvement over Obama's abysmal baseline, but that trouble lies ahead.  Reason's Peter Suderman summarizes the latest findings:


The Congressional Budget Office released another report on the nation’s debt and deficit picture today, and the short version goes something like this: We’ve made some short-term progress in reducing annual deficits, but the long-term debt picture is still quite bleak. It’s the calm before the storm more than a sign that all is well...even as annual deficits have declined, total federal debt levels have remained high. And they are expected to rise to unprecedented levels in the years to come. By the end of this fiscal year, the CBO says, federal debt held by the public will equal 74 percent of GDP, double its 2007 level...The higher the debt levels, the bigger the problems for the nation, especially when debt levels are this high. As the CBO notes (and has said repeatedly in previous reports), higher debt means higher federal spending on interest to maintain the debt, lower economic growth rates, less flexibility for policymakers in all matters, and an increased risk of a fiscal crisis. Basically, debt costs money to carry, and robs the nation of other options: the more a nation owes, and the more it spends on debt, the fewer choices it has to do other things, which creates a kind of precarious state in which really big problems—like a fiscal crisis—are more likely, and harder to deal with when they do occur. It’s a fiscal feedback loop, and it’s threatening to drag us down.

The biggest driver of our long-term debt is unfunded liabilities, or unpaid-for federal promises, with Medicare being the most significant.  Obamacare fans have tried to tout the new law as having slowed Medicare spending increases, but economists have attributed that slowdown to the lackluster economy.  The program remains totally unsustainable, even in the medium-term.  In addition, some of the on-paper reductions stem from scheduled cuts to the program that its own actuaries have cautioned are politically implausible.  Nervous Democrats, who voted to cut Medicare to pay for Obamacare, have confirmed this suspicion by running away from the very cuts they championed (and double-counted) on behalf of the unpopular new law.

"We Need to Get Ungovernable": Emotions Run High at Ferguson Townhall in DC

The controversy surrounding teenager Michael Brown's death came to Washington, DC, on Wednesday when the local restaurant Busboys and Poets held a town hall entitled, "Ferguson and Beyond – The Way Forward: A Town Hall Meeting on Police Killings of Black Men" at its K street location. The event was a part of the ACTOR (A Continuing Talk on Race) series. Based on the restaurant's Twitter feed, however, the event seemed to be less about an "honest conversation on race," and more about demonizing police.

Throughout the night, participants tweeted the hashtag #policebrutality (pretty objective, huh?) Among the event panelists were figures such as social activist Dick Gregory, Dr. Ron Daniels, Hillary Shelton of the NAACP and actor Danny Glover, who participated via Skype.

Here were just a few of their racially tinged comments:

While the tensions in Ferguson, Missouri have finally appeared to simmer, racial conversations like these have continued to escalate.

The autopsy report on Brown’s death, which showed he was shot six times, is certainly a cause for concern and should be questioned. Did police really need six bullets to restrain Brown? But, recent revelations that Brown had repeatedly assaulted Officer Darren Wilson before shots were fired suggest that the confrontation was more complicated than some may think. And, the incident does not justify the rioting and looting that occurred as a result. 

Perhaps a more objective town hall would have included a discussion of Dr. Ben Carson’s piece, “A Problem Bigger Than Ferguson,” in which he implores people to consider facts rather than emotions:

Perhaps it would be useful to examine the tragedy with the facts on the table rather than through the lenses of hypersensitized emotions stimulated by those attempting to exploit the situation.

Carson also had a thoughtful debate with Rev. Jesse Jackson on Ferguson on the most recent edition of “Fox News Sunday.”

Next time, I hope these town hall organizers will consider inviting someone with a different point of view - one that isn't accompanied with a biased hashtag.

How Will Obama Pay For His Executive Amnesty Program?

President Obama, The Washington Post reports, is currently deliberating whether or not he should grant temporary executive amnesty to as many as 8 million illegal immigrants. And according to Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) he must do so in the next 30 days if he "is going to determine his legacy with the immigrant community."

Gutierrez never explains why Obama must act on executive amnesty with in the next 30 days, and the Post never explains either. Neither does the Post explain exactly where Obama plans to get the money to pay for his new executive amnesty program.

Obama and his media allies will try and claim that Obama's new amnesty program will save the federal government law enforcement resources by allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to focus their resources on new arrivals and violent criminals.

But the 2011 Morton Memo already accomplished that. ICE is already ignoring the vast majority of illegal immigrants who already live in the United States. Former-ICE acting director John Sandweg even told The Los Angeles Times, "If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero - it's just highly unlikely to happen."

So if Obama has already set immigratlaw enforcement priorities so that most illegal immigrants face no threat from deportation, then why he did he create the DACA program and why he is looking to grant temporary amnesty to another 8 million illegal immigrants?

Work permits. Amnesty advocates don't just want an end to deportations. They want all illegal immigrants to be given work permits too. 

But granting work permits takes time, effort, and money. As The Washington Examiner's Byron York notes, the Department of Homeland Security grants about 1 million green cards every year. So when Obama offered work permits to up 2 million illegal immigrants through DACA, it was completely unsurprising that the normal immigration process ground to a halt. The New York Times reports:

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. …
Until recently, an American could obtain a green card for a spouse, child or parent — probably the easiest document in the immigration system — in five months or less. But over the past year, waits for approvals of those resident visas stretched to 15 months, and more than 500,000 applications became stuck in the pipeline, playing havoc with international moves and children’s schools and keeping families apart.

Since Obama's new executive amnesty program also completely bypasses Congress, just as DACA did, DHS will be given no extra resources to administer Obama's new executive amnesty program. 

So where will Obama get the money to give out work permits to 8 million new illegal immigrants?

The White House should be forced to answer this question. Millions of legal immigrants are waiting on an answer.

Republicans Still Struggling With Women Voters

Republicans know they have problems with women voters, especially single urban women. They vowed to turn it around after Mitt’s clobbering amongst this demographic in 2012. What’s changed? Not much; and women are virtually unreceptive to the Republican Party or its policies. Is this the end? Nope. As George Will has said about Barry Goldwater, public opinion is shiftable sand; therefore, there are no permanent victories in a democracy (in our case, a republic). Then again, this new study does kind of sting (via Politico):

Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO. It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved.

The report — “Republicans and Women Voters: Huge Challenges, Real Opportunities” — was the product of eight focus groups across the country and a poll of 800 registered female voters this summer. The large-scale project was a major undertaking for the GOP groups.

“The gender gap is hardly a new phenomenon, but nevertheless it’s important for conservatives to identify what policies best engage women, and our project found multiple opportunities,” said Dan Conston, a spokesman for the American Action Network. “It’s no surprise that conservatives have more work to do with women.”

Paul Lindsey, the spokesman for Rove-backed Crossroads GPS, said, “There are a number of House policymakers and staff who have been willing to focus on issues important to women, and we think it’s important that they are aware of the policy solutions that are available to help address these concerns.

The solutions offered include neutralizing Democratic attacks that the GOP doesn’t support “fairness” for women; “deal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues”; and “pursue policy innovations that inspire women voters to give the GOP a ‘fresh look.’”

Politico added that Republicans fail to reach women from different economic backgrounds, namely the rising demographic of female breadwinners. Currently, 40 percent of women are becoming the main source of income for America households. The story also noted that while the GOP holds a meager 3-point advantage on fiscal matters, they have high negatives on matters such as healthcare, tolerance of lifestyles, and looking out for their interests. Democrats enjoy a 39 percent advantage on the issues of making health care more affordable and tolerating other lifestyles. When asked who is looking out for their interest, Democrats hold a 40 percent advantage.

The piece also noted that women who say jobs, the economy, education, and health care as their top four issues vote overwhelmingly Democratic. But also said that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the No.4 House Republican, is the point of the lance is bucking this trend.

Nevertheless, when the GOP talks about how Democrats expanding government, increase dependency, and curbing job opportunities as a result, “that message tested better than explaining that the GOP supports a number of policies that could help fairness for women.”

A more populist message could drive that narrative home. Women–and pretty much all voters–want authenticity in their candidates. Under these tough economic times, stories about enduring and triumphing over economic hardship resonate immensely. That’s now Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota was able to beat former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in 2010.

The study and the polls included raise a few questions. Generally, to get authentic results, you’ll need 1,000 respondents for a national poll, 600 for a statewide poll, and 350 for a congressional poll; the poll was only 800 registered female voters–and it’s likely voters that will give you a more accurate projection in an election.

While not a conservative, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie dominated in almost every demographic during his 2013 re-election bid. In a blue state, he won women voters even with a woman running on the Democratic ticket, State Sen. Barbara Buono. Republicans can do this; they can win, or at least be competitive, if they hone their messaging correctly.

In Virginia, while Ken Cuccinelli lost, all he had to do was win the same group of voters that Romney did in 2012.  Stuart Rothenberg at Roll Call said [emphasis mine]:

The Republican nominee for governor [Cuccinelli] won a plurality of male voters (48 percent), but well below the 51 percent that Romney won in the state last year. Cuccinelli would have gained an additional 48,000 votes if he had matched Romney’s percentage, much of which would have come from McAuliffe, thereby completely erasing the Democrat’s 55,100 victory margin. (See Virginia’s total vote here.)

Add in white women (Romney won 59 percent of them in the state in 2012, while Cuccinelli won only 54 percent this year) or wealthy voters (Romney won 51 percent of voters earning at least $100,000 a year in Virginia in 2012, while Cuccinelli drew just 43 percent of them and lost the category to McAuliffe) and the Republican would have had a comfortable victory last week.

And if you don’t want to focus on gender, the marital status numbers tell the same story. Romney won 55 percent of married voters in Virginia last year, while Cuccinelli won only 50 percent of them this year. That’s about 75,400 fewer married voters than a Romney-like Republican gubernatorial nominee should have drawn.

Though you hear a lot about the changing face of the electorate, both nationally and in Virginia, that’s not why Cuccinelli lost last week.

The Virginia election in 2013 was one where the Republican nominee would have won merely by attracting the votes of the same people who voted for Mitt Romney. The party’s candidate for governor did not need to improve his showing among young voters, African-Americans, Hispanics or unmarried women. He just needed to get white guys and their wives.

Yet, the GOP shouldn’t bank on this to just focus on married voters. The study said that the Republicans continue to do well with married women, but unmarried women, who really lean towards the Democrats, are outpacing their share of the vote.  And, in Virginia, they overwhelming voted for McAuliffe.

Nevertheless, to put things into perspective, Cuccinelli lost by 57,535 votes. More married voters could’ve been the difference, but his campaign wasn’t exceptional in the slightest. Some folks blame pseudo-Libertarian Rob Sarvis for spoiling the election when in fact; he took away more votes from McAuliffe if you look at the results county-by-county.

In all, Republicans know they have trouble with women, they’ve seen success in winning this demographic in past elections, they certainly have the ideas, and they have the politicians who can sell them without pulling a Todd Akin. Let’s get to it.

Grassroots Filmmaker Kicks Off ‘Fighting for America Tour,’ Fields Questions About Possible 2016 Presidential Run

Fresh off the release of his latest film “We Ride to DC,” grassroots filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch kicked off his Fighting for America Tour this month, which will bring him to more than 20 cities across the United States.

Addressing tea party, Republican, and veterans groups, Lynch met more than 1,000 Americans throughout Florida last week, and spoke about a wide range of topics affecting the country. His focus, however, was on immigration—the subject of his first two documentaries, “They Come to America” and “They Come to America II.”

The former businessman has two goals in mind for the three-month tour: educate Americans about what’s really going on at the Southwest border and get them fired up.

“First of all, just when you look at immigration, immigration is the number one issue facing America … and yet, even the well-informed tea partier or the well-informed GOP member, they still don’t know all the facts,” he said in an interview with Townhall, pointing to the administration’s inflated deportation numbers and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s backing of work visas for illegal immigrants.

When they hear the truth, he said, “they’re baffled.”

After discussing the immigration crisis at the Jupiter, Florida event, Lynch analyzed which possible Republican presidential candidate could really fix the problem. The Palm Beach Tea Party reports:

… Mr. Lynch gave his view of the current crop of candidates. Marco Rubio “will not be re-elected to the Senate”, let alone the Presidency. Chris Christie “is not an effective leader” if he didn’t know about the bridge lane closures, Ted Cruz “will be completely destroyed by the mainstream media who despise him”, Rand Paul has been pandering and opposes voter ID laws, and Ben Carson “does not want the job”, as well as being in favor of full legalization. On the mention of Jeb Bush, his comment was drowned out by the laughter in the room, most of whom oppose our former governor’s views on common core and immigration reform.

While Lynch’s goals for the tour may have only been about educating people and encouraging them to take a stand against the direction this country is heading, many attendees in Florida had another objective: Find out if he will run for president in 2016.

The native New Yorker was first asked this question on Facebook last year. Since his latest film “We Ride to DC” was released, however, it has become a question he fields from his loyal followers daily, he explained.

When Townhall asked YN1 Lauren Price USN (Ret.) whether anyone at the Tampa Bay event she cohosted questioned Lynch about about running, her response was, “everyone did.”

Lynch, for his part, said he’s considering it.

“If people would rally behind me like Ben Carson I would do it because I want the job. I know I could get in there and get things done,” he said. “The reason why Ben Carson, I believe, is asked is because people want somebody who’s outside, they do not want a D.C. insider.”

Aside from being an acclaimed filmmaker and award-winning entrepreneur, it's Lynch’s ability to connect with people of all stars and stripes that has helped garner interest in him as a possible candidate. 

“He truly can affect every single person that he talks to,” said Price, who is the cofounder of VeteranWarriors, a veterans advocacy organization. “Dennis does really relate to every single person he speaks to regardless of their walk of life, or income, or gender, race, religion … and that’s what we need in a leader in this nation.”

If he plans to run, Lynch said he's counting on what happened in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, when David Brat, a college economics professor, ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the primary election.

“If I decide to do this, I am 100 percent banking on what happened in that Cantor primary. I am banking on the fact that David can beat Goliath with the real, true message, and without having to have the money bank.”

“I very much want him to run,” Price said. “I’m hoping that it comes down to it, after he’s finished with his tour, that he decides to go ahead with it and surround himself with really strong people that can help make that happen.”

North Korea: Isn't America Just so Terribly Racist?

Apparently, the Kim regime is back on their moral high horse again, absolutely appalled about what’s going down in Ferguson, Missouri. The horrifying violence and rioting we’ve seen, North Korea’s state mouthpiece recently claimed, is an obvious sign that the United States is a backwards and racist nation:

North Korea has joined the ranks of America's foes who have seized on riots in Missouri, saying the nation is the "graveyard of human rights" and should mind its own business rather than criticise others. The police shooting of an unarmed black teenager and subsequent crackdown on protesters in the Midwestern town of Ferguson has also given China, Iran and Russia ammunition to sound off about America's flaws.

North Korea, which is regularly condemned by Washington and others over allegations of gross human rights abuses, said the US had no right to pass judgement on others. "The US is indeed a country wantonly violating human rights where people are subject to discrimination and humiliation due to their race, and are in constant fear that they may get shot at any moment," a spokesman from North Korea's foreign ministry was quoted as saying by state-run news agency KCNA.

Coming from North Korea, of all places, such unwanted and unveiled criticisms are as expected as they are rich. The United Nations, for example, recently proclaimed last February that this mecca of tolerance and freedom is so evil that it “does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.” Furthermore, the UN went on to say, for all of its empty denunciations of racism in America, North Korea is a pretty racist society itself:

The report noted that the DPRK consists of a rigidly stratified society with entrenched patterns of discrimination. Discrimination is rooted in the songbun system, which classifies people on the basis of State-assigned social class and birth, and also includes consideration of political opinions and religion, and determines where they live, work, study and even whom they may marry. Violations of the freedom of movement and residence are also heavily driven by discrimination based on songbun. Those considered politically loyal to the leadership can live and work in favourable locations, such as Pyongyang. Others are relegated to a lower status. For example, the distribution of food has prioritised those deemed useful to the survival of the current political system at the expense of others who are “expendable.”

In other words, North Korea is structured to feed the strong, do away with the “expendable,” and reward only those who are loyal to the state. And they think America is a terrible place?

We may not be a perfect nation, but it’s far from the dystopian nightmare that is, and has always been, the "Democratic" People's Republic of Korea.

Russia To Ukraine: We're Back!

Yesterday, Russia entered the Ukraine (via NYT):

Determined to preserve the pro-Russian revolt in eastern Ukraine, Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday, sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory.

The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week, further blunting the momentum Ukrainian forces have made in weakening the insurgents in their redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk farther north. Evidence of a possible turn was seen in the panicky retreat of Ukrainian soldiers on Tuesday from a force they said had come over the Russian border.

Russia, which has denied it is helping the insurgents, did not acknowledge the military movements. But the Russians have signaled that they would not countenance a defeat of an insurgency in the heavily Russian eastern part of Ukraine, which would amount to a significant domestic political setback for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in his increasingly fractious relationship with the United States and its European allies.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said these developments were “of deep concern to us.”

While we all wait for the next hashtag from the Obama administration that will do nothing to ameliorate the situation, we should all appreciate Ricochet’s Jon Gabriel tweet, who suggested that maybe the Russians are doing this to get it out of their system.

Awful: Nine Year-Old Arizona Girl Accidentally Kills Range Instructor

I’m sure you’ve heard of the tragic story coming out of Arizona of a nine year-old girl who accidentally killed her range instructor, Charles Vacca, while firing an Uzi submachine gun. The girl couldn’t control the firearms’ recoil and hit Vacca with a bullet to the head. Vacca was not known to have had any accidents as a rangemaster, but there seems to have been a severe lapse in judgment, which had fatal consequences (via NBC News):

Sam Scarmardo, the manager for the Last Stop's shooting range, told NBC News that "the established practice at most shooting ranges is 8 years old and up with parental supervision."

He said Vacca was a "great guy, with a great sense of humor" and called him "very conscientious and very professional."

Scarmardo said that the range has never had a similar incident in over a decade of being open — "not even a scratch."

"I just ask everybody to pray for Charlie, and pray for the client, she’s going to have a hard time," said Scarmardo.

Ronald Scott, a Phoenix-based firearms safety expert, said most instructors usually have their hands on guns when children are firing high-powered weapons. "You can't give a 9-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it," Scott told the Associated Press.

From the video, you hear Vacca instructing this girl on how to fire the Uzi. After firing her first shot, he says, “alright, full auto” right before a stray bullet kills him. [Warning: Content may be disturbing]

I’m an avid shooter. I love going to the range. Seeing kids who are around this girl’s age learning how to shoot isn’t aberrant or outside the mainstream. I’ve seen many fathers take their sons, daughters, and–at times–their wives to the range to learn how to shoot and learn basic safety. But, here’s the difference. They aren’t using automatic weapons. They’re using semi-automatic rifles or handgun with .22LR ammunition. It’s a brand of ammunition for firearms that's well suited for first-time shooters. It has relatively low recoil, if any, making it the optimal choice for those who just want to get a feeling for the weapon system at their first outing. Starting out with an Uzi probably isn't the best choice for a first-time shooter let alone a child. 

National Review’s Charles Cooke, another shooter, also commented this tragic incident. Besides reiterating that young shooters should use .22-caliber ammunition, he said [emphasis mine]:

As a general rule, smaller people — especially children — are restricted to smaller weapons that are commensurate with their size. At my range, kids who are being taught to shoot are not only limited to .22LR ammunition but also to long guns that they can get their shoulder behind. That way, if the gun pushes back, it hits something solid. This may cause bruising, sure. But it’s unlikely to be dropped or to fly upwards — or, heaven forbid, to kill somebody. When American children used to go to school with a rifle slung over their back, it was almost certainly a low-powered .22. There weren’t many Tommy Guns in American classrooms.

An Uzi, on the other hand, seems to be the worst of both worlds – especially when it is chambered in a larger caliber. Because their recoil tends to push the weapon upwards, handguns are inherently more difficult for young people to control. This is especially so when they keep firing upon a single trigger pull. Frankly, it is difficult to imagine a gun less suited to a small girl.
...
[I]t does suggest gross negligence on the behalf of the range, the instructor, and the parents. I’m all for teaching children about firearms at a young age. But there is a good way to do this and a bad way to do this. We shouldn’t be giving nine-year-old girls automatic weapons.

I couldn't agree more.

This isn’t a case about lax gun laws, or the need for more gun control; but I’m sure the anti-gun crowd will find some way to exploit this incident to further their agenda. Right now, our thoughts and prayers should be with Mr. Vacca, this girl, and their families. 

Poll: Meanwhile, Romney's Crushing it in Iowa

Maybe I spoke too soon.

Hypothetically, according to a new USA Today/Suffolk poll, if Romney defies the odds and runs again for president in 2016, the Hawkeye State may be his for the taking. After all, more than a third of respondents said they’d ditch the candidates they’re currently backing, and choose him instead:

According to the new poll, if Romney was added to the list of potential 2016 GOP White House contenders, 35% of Iowa Republicans say he'd be their first choice in the Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses and is considering another bid in 2016, is a distant second, at 9%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who narrowly won the 2012 caucuses, are each at 6%. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are each at 5%, with the remaining potential candidates tested were all in the lower single digits.

Remember, Romney initially thought he won the Iowa caucuses in 2012; it was only later determined that, in fact, he didn’t. The poll, though, suggests that if he ignores the wishes of his wife and family and does run, he could potentially win. That's a seductive and intriguing proposition, but is it enough to sway him to take the plunge?

Incidentally, he appeared on the Hugh Hewitt Show earlier this week, and, as Allahpundit noted, left the door kind of open to running again -- but not really:

In all seriousness, I’m utterly convinced he’s not running, as nice as that might sound, and as fun as that might be. But if he does, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong.*

*It’s not going to happen.

IRS: By the Way, We Destroyed Lois Lerner's BlackBerry After Targeting Questions Started


If you missed my piece yesterday on Lerner's reportedly not missing emails, click through and spend five minutes catching up on the evolving timeline.  The "official" story keeps shifting, so it's important to track the changes. This week's previous development was that a Justice Department attorney informed a watchdog group that all government emails are, in fact, archived, but that retrieving the messages "destroyed" by Lerner's hard drive crash/scratch would be more trouble than it's worth.  Now we have another drip of damning information, courtesy of Fox News:


Lois Lerner’s Blackberry was intentionally destroyed after Congress had begun its probe into IRS targeting of conservative groups, a senior IRS lawyer acknowledged in a sworn declaration. Thomas Kane, Deputy Assistant Chief Counsel for the IRS, wrote in the declaration, part of a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the IRS, that the Blackberry was "removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012." That date - June 2012 - is significant because by that time, ex-IRS official Lerner had already been summoned before congressional staffers who interviewed her about reports of the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. "We had already talked to her. Our personal staff and Oversight Committee staff had sat down with Ms. Lerner and confronted her about information we were getting from conservative groups in the state of Ohio and around the country," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Fox News.

Remember, Republicans in Congress started asking pointed questions about abusive targeting practices all the way back in 2011, at which point Lerner's hard drive allegedly malfunctioned -- a "fact" that did not become public until this summer, and was not reported at the time to the National Archives, in violation of federal law.  Also recall that then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman -- the guy who visited the White House on numerous occasions -- testified in early 2012 that no targeting was taking place.  The agency finally copped to their malfeasance in the spring of 2013 in an attempt to preempt a forthcoming Inspector General report.  With questions and controversy swirling, the IRS deliberately destroyed Lois Lerner's government smart phone.  Lerner has emerged as the point person in the DC-based targeting scheme.  She initially lied, claiming she'd had no involvement in the practice.  Today's Fox News story follows up on the revelation that Lerner's emails may still be stored somewhere:


An administration official told Fox News Monday night that Judicial Watch misinterpreted the Friday phone call. "There was no new back-up system described last week to Judicial Watch," he said. "Government lawyers who spoke to Judicial Watch simply referred to the same email retention policy that Commissioner (John) Koskinen had described in his Congressional testimony." But Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents other conservative groups suing the IRS, cited a whistleblower who bolsters Judicial Watch's interpretation. "I received information from a former Department of Homeland Security official who had security clearances. He just retired in April," Mitchell said. "He contacted me and he contacted Judicial Watch and some members of Congress and said there is backup material."

There's a big difference between "back-up systems exist, but they're too hard to access" and "back-up systems exist, but these emails are totally gone."  The bit from Cleta Mitchell is intriguing, too, as it appears to confirm Judicial Watch's interpretation of what the DOJ lawyer told them last week.  There is no reason to believe the administration is telling the truth, given their ever-changing tales.  This imbroglio is littered with "smidgens" of corruption, and the administration continues to stonewall investigators following the destruction of evidence.  Will we ever get answers?