tipsheet
Townhall.com Staff - "Jesus On Trial" Hits #1 On Amazon
Posted: 9/18/2014 9:35:00 AM EST
Recently, prolific author and Townhall columnist David Limbaugh's book Jesus On Trial hit #1 on the Amazon best-sellers list. It's a remarkable achievement, especially for an unapologetic Christian nonetheless applying legal scrutiny to the Gospels in order to hold the life of Jesus Christ to determine if the words of the Bible are the truth.

Limbaugh discussed his book on Sean Hannity's show recently:

Congratulations to David, who is one of the sharpest conservatives around. Oh, and did you know that you can get Jesus On Trial free with a subscription to Townhall Magazine?

Katie Pavlich - Is DWS Getting Fired?
Posted: 9/18/2014 8:55:00 AM EST

DNC Spokeswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has been under fire for weeks now after comparing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to a domestic abuser. As a reminder:

"Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality...What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back. It is not going to happen on our watch."

Now, it looks like Democrats have had enough of DWS' hyperbolic, dramatic and unhelpful approach to taking on Republicans. Oh, and she's in hot water with the White House too. POLITICO has the exclusive: 

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.

The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.

She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.

Don't be surprised if DWS loses her job for making Democrats and President Obama look bad while people like former IRS official Lois Lerner enjoy their cushy taxpayer funded pensions.
Katie Pavlich - It All Makes Sense: Obama Put Biden in Charge of "Day-to-Day" Iraq Management
Posted: 9/18/2014 8:30:00 AM EST

If you're wondering how Iraq fell apart, the Wall Street Journal has some new insight. According to a new report, President Obama put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of "day-to-day" management of Iraq. 

Mr. Obama had made exiting the prolonged Iraq and Afghan wars a cornerstone of his presidency.

Through tight control over airstrikes in Syria and limits on U.S. action in Iraq, Mr. Obama is closely managing the new war in the Middle East in a way he hasn't done with previous conflicts, such as the troop surge in Afghanistan announced in 2009 or the last years of the Iraq war before the 2011 U.S. pullout.

In Iraq, Mr. Obama had delegated day-to-day management to Vice President Joe Biden.

Explains a lot. Of course the downfall of Iraq isn't all Biden's fault, the majority of the responsibility lies on President Obama's decision to put politics above the advice of generals and pull troops early. 

As a reminder, when Biden was tapped way back in 2008 to serve as Obama's VP much of the reason given for choosing him was based on his "extensive" foreign policy experience. In his memoir, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote, "I think he [Biden] has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." That extensive experience and whether it would serve in a useful, positive way was debatable years ago and it's certainly debatable now.

Amanda Muñoz - Many Questions Remain After Kerry Senate Hearing
Posted: 9/17/2014 9:05:00 PM EST

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was grilled in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee this afternoon.

Yesterday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey remarked that the United States may eventually need to send soldiers in as ground troops for the ISIS (ISIL) campaign.

In Wednesday afternoon’s hearing, Kerry took multiple opportunities to unequivocally state that would not be case. He repeated that U.S. soldiers would not have a combat role and that the troops deployed would serve only in support missions and training capacities.

However, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) pressed Kerry, asking if the president and the administration would change their position should they find out that inserting U.S. ground forces would be the only viable way to defeat ISIS.

Kerry responded that he wouldn’t “entertain a hypothetical,” saying, “If we're failing and failing miserably, who knows what decision they're going to make.” He insisted that there were numerous other possibilities that would take place before reversing the decision to involve American soldiers.

The Secretary also made the case for the president’s authority to act alone in executing airstrikes outside of Congress’ official approval, citing the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). He argued that the administration was acting under the pervue of the law, because the language provided for executive authority to combat “Al Qaeda and associated forces” (with ISIS being a direct offshoot of the group). Kerry welcomed the committee’s call for the passage of a new AUMF and said he encouraged cooperation with Congress moving forward.

Others senators used their time to express concern over exactly who was being classified as a “vetted moderate” Syrian, whether the Free Syrian Army would actually fight ISIS as opposed to Assad (who many claim is and even bigger enemy than ISIS to the opposition), and whether or not providing arms would unintentionally empower the terrorist group or the Assad regime.

While many members of the committee expressed their desire to engage in some sort of combative action against ISIS (with the exception of Senator Rand Paul), almost all were uncomfortable with the level of detail they currently have from the administration on the duration of the operations and the extent to which the coalition of other countries have committee to the fight.

Without providing detail in an “unclassified” setting, Secretary Kerry reiterated his confidence in the coalition he has been working to build over the past week, saying the “world will begin to see what all of these countries are prepared to do.”

“If we do this right, this effort could become a future counterterrorism model.”

Confusion still runs rampant as the early stages of this war progress. Both Secretaries Kerry and Hagel will be back on the Hill tomorrow to address the House’s concerns and questions and continue to sell the president’s anti-ISIS agenda.

“ISIL must be defeated. Period. End of Story,” Kerry said. “And collectively we are all going to be measured by how we carry out this mission.”

Daniel Doherty - Is ISIS Trying to Assassinate Pope Francis?
Posted: 9/17/2014 8:30:00 PM EST

Iraq’s envoy to the Vatican, Habeeb Al Sadr, believes there are “credible" and alarming "reports" that ISIS is hell-bent on assassinating Pope Francis. The Holy See must therefore take extraordinary measures to ensure his safety and security when he travels to Albania in a few days, he argues. The Vatican, however, has categorically dismissed such threats—and will not cancel or alter Pope Francis’ travel schedule.

The Telegraph reports:

Habeeb Al Sadr said there were also indications of a more specific threat against Pope Francis, who recently spoke out in favour of the US and its allies halting the advance of Isil in Syria and Iraq. "What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible," the ambassador told La Nazione, an Italian daily, on Tuesday.

"I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of Isil who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians. "Isil could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe.

The ambassador said the Pope had made himself a target by speaking out against the human rights abuses committed against Christians in Syria and Iraq, as well as by his approval of attempts by the US to try to roll back Isil.

Certainly, the pontiff’s strong pronouncements against ISIS is one reason why the terror group would want to assassinate him. But that’s not the only reason. As St. Peter’s successor, his assassination would deliver a crippling blow to the Roman Catholic Church (and, by extension, all of Christendom). In other words, ISIS’ brand of nihilism is so grotesque that assassinating a world leader—a world leader who emphasizes compassion, peace, tolerance, and ecumenism—would be a symbolic “victory” for them. This gives one some insight into the scope—and seriousness—of the threat the West now faces from ISIS.

Needless to say, the Vatican must exercise extreme caution and vigilance this weekend. But of course, the Vatican doesn't need me to tell them that.

Amanda Muñoz - House Keeps Government Open, Arms Syrian Rebels
Posted: 9/17/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

The continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11th passed easily in the House of Representatives this evening with a vote of 319-108 and is now headed to the Senate. Per Fox News' Chad Pergram, 53 Republicans and 55 Democrats voted down the measure, which also authorizes the president to train and arm “vetted,” moderate Syrian opposition for the purpose of providing ground troops in the war against ISIS.

While many members, both in the House and Senate, have taken this week to voice their opinions and concerns on the current course of U.S. involvement in a tumultuous Middle East, it seemed likely that the House would find the numbers to support the president’s request that Congress weigh in on immediate action.

Even Speaker Boehner cast his vote on Wednesday - a rare, but meaningful and symbolic, act for Speakers of the House. Boehner said this in a statement released shortly after passage:

"By authorizing the Department of Defense to help train and equip the Syrian opposition, this measure represents an important, initial step forward in taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL represents a direct threat to the safety and security of the United States, and House Republicans are firmly committed to doing everything we can to help keep America safe.

"This year, the House worked methodically to pass seven annual appropriations bills. Senate Democrats didn’t even bother – they passed zero. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of inaction we’ve also seen from them on more than 40 House-passed jobs bills. This bill preserves previous spending reductions and keep the government running at current levels past the end of this month. And importantly, it ensures the ban on internet access taxes does not expire on November 1. I urge the Senate to act on it quickly."

Beginning Tuesday, representatives spent six hours debating the “Train & Equip” amendment, which was introduced earlier this week by Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA).

Fellow Californian and newly-elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke briefly on the House Floor this afternoon in support of the provision, saying in part:

“Voting against this request would send a terrible message that America is unwilling to stand with those who are already fighting a common enemy, and confirm the views of many in the region that America is but a paper tiger…Congress must maintain a central role. We must conduct oversight to ensure this program is managed effectively. Under the Leadership of Chairman McKeon, we have taken the President’s original request and have added substantial oversight provisions to ensure this program is properly and carefully managed. Congress must also push the President to craft a comprehensive strategy that recognizes the inescapable reality that ISIL is but a symptom of a broader terrorist threat.

"…A president who has made ending the war on terrorism the central focus of his foreign policy must now change. He must now make winning the war a priority.”

In addition, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) applauded the passage, saying, “We face a great and growing threat from ISIL. Never has a terrorist organization controlled so much territory, cash, or weapons. This measure gives the Syrian opposition what they desperately need – training and equipment – as they continue to risk their lives to combat ISIL terrorists as well as the Assad regime. With greater U.S. training and supplies, they’ll be bolstered. And as an ultimate boost, this force would be supported by U.S. and coalition airpower, without a combat role for U.S. ground forces. This training and equipment would put strong backing into a fighting force – which will be needed to confront and defeat ISIL. If we do not act, the threat will continue to grow.”

Members of the House will continue to investigate the administration’s plan of action for the remainder of the week. Tomorrow, Secretary Kerry and Defense Secretary Hagel will testify separately in front of the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees.

Conn Carroll - New Poll Shows Voters Prefer Payroll Tax Cut to Minimum Wage Hike
Posted: 9/17/2014 6:00:00 PM EST

As Guy Benson reported earlier today, a new poll of likely voters conducted for Townhall by Gravis Marketing found that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) was statistically tied with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) at 45 percent in the race for Lousiana's U.S. Senate seat.

That result is right in line with both the RealClearPolicits poll average of the race (Cassidy +1.3) and the HuffPost Pollster model (Cassidy +.5).

In addition to the top line result, however, Gravis also included a question, at the request of Townhall, that may provide Republicans a better way to answer Democratic questions about raising the minimum wage on the campaign trail. 

Gravis asked, "Given the choice, would you rather see Congress: 1) raise the minimum wage, 2) cut the payroll tax for all working Americans, or 3) increase tax credits for some low-income Americans." 

The results found a strong preference for cutting the payroll tax. "The majority of those polled; 50% believe that cutting the payroll tax for all working Americans would be a good start, 39% indicated that raising the minimum wage would be their choice, while only 9% believe increased entitlement spending by increasing tax credits for some low-income Americans would be smart. 2% were unsure," Gravis reported.

It is not hard to see why Americans would prefer a payroll tax cut to a minimum wage hike. A payroll tax cut, paid for by eliminating loopholes for the wealthy, would both increase take home pay for all working Americans and create new jobs by lowering the cost of employment

Raising the minimum wage, however, would benefit only 4.3 percent of American workers, and, according to both the Congressional Budget Office and President Obama's choice to un the Federal Reserve, would kill hundreds of thousands of jobs.  

Katie Pavlich - Despite Recommendations, Diplomatic Security Levels Still Not Improved Post-Benghazi
Posted: 9/17/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

More than two years after the Benghazi terror attack, recommendations made by the Accountability Review Board about how to boost security and protect Americans working around the world at diplomatic posts have been ignored by the State Department. Members of the Benghazi Select Committee, led by Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, raised serious concerns on Capitol Hill Wednesday during testimony given by officials involved in either implementing or recommending new security measures. 

Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Greg Starr testified that although "tremendous progress on the 29 Benghazi ARB recommendations" have been made, the position of Under Secretary for Diplomatic Security has not been created despite being the number one recommendation from the ARB to prevent future security lapses. The same recommendation was made after the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya more than a decade ago. 

Former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection and member of the Independent Panel of Best Practice Todd Keil testified that security recommendations haven't been implemented and reconfirmed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens repeatedly asked for more security leading up to the 9/11 attacks and was denied multiple times.

"Our Panel was committed to identifying best practices from throughout the U.S. government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and international partners which can which can finally establish an effective risk management process in the Department of State, improve the security of U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad and enhance the safety of Department of State and foreign affairs agencies’ personnel not only in high-risk areas, but globally. We identified 40 recommendations to achieve this goal. We continue to stand behind our report in the strongest possible terms, and believe that each of the 40 recommendations and the supporting narratives, which were derived from well - known and established best practices , provide a clear road map for security management enhancements throughout the Department of State," Kiel said. "In meeting earlier this year with Deputy Secretary Higginbottom and Assistant Secretary Starr, we were encouraged by their candor and support for our recommendations and their stated intent
to adhere to the recommendations in our report. In light of the long history of such reports and recommendations to the Department of State, and with a continuing sense of responsibility, we voiced our concerns in a recent letter to Deputy Secretary Higginbottom, both for those recommendations not implemented and those that apparently rely on pre-Benghazi processes and procedures to demonstrate or achieve implementation."

"Clear the smoke and remove the mirrors," Kiel continued. "Now is the time for the Department of State to finally institutionalize some real, meaningful and progressive change. Words and cursory actions by the Department of State ring hollow absent transparency, and verifiable and sustainable actions to fully put into practice the letter and the intent of our recommendations, which will facilitate diplomacy and safeguard the selfless Americans who carry out our national security priorities around the world."

Leading up to the Benghazi attack, the State Department relied on Libyian militias for consul security. According to State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf, relying on local militias or security personnel is standard practice that continues today.

Sarah Jean Seman - Poll: Republican Beauprez Boasts 10-Point Lead Over CO Democratic Gov. Hickenlooper
Posted: 9/17/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

Republican frontrunner Bob Beauprez is gaining unexpected ground in Colorado’s gubernatorial race, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. The former U.S. Rep. holds a double-digit lead over Democratic incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper.


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Additionally Beauprez slid into the lead among one key demographic: women. According to Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll:


"Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is behind the challenger on the key qualities voters want in a leader: honesty, caring and leadership. 

"Pundits were predicting that Gov. Hickenlooper faced a close race for reelection. Instead, he's got a mad dash to make up a double-digit deficit. The Democrat does not get the traditional strong support from women to offset Bob Beauprez's army of support from men."

Hickenlooper has raised almost four times the amount of his opponent, according to a recent Associated Press article. While the governor has accumulated around $4.2 million, Beauprez stands at $1 million. 

"We are not going to let this or any other poll distract us from getting the job done and giving Colorado the leadership it deserves," Beauprez said in a press release Wednesday, "We are going to run like we're behind."

Leah Barkoukis - Intelligence Officials Admit It's Hard to Track Americans in Syria
Posted: 9/17/2014 4:16:00 PM EST

“At present, we have no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the homeland of the United States,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in statement for the House Committee on Homeland Security hearing today. “But that is not, by any means, the end of the story.”

It certainly isn’t. As ISIS continues to strengthen in numbers and resources, the threat posed by them both overseas and at home only worsens.

Foremost among the concerns raised by lawmakers today during the hearing on ‘Worldwide Threats to the Homeland’ was the issue of foreign fighters returning to the U.S. 

National Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen said that there are more than 100 Americans that have traveled to Syria, some of whom may have joined the ranks of ISIS, but he acknowledged it’s difficult to determine where foreign fighters go and what they do once they reach the country.

Johnson and Olsen said they’ve been focused on the issue of foreign fighters for months. They assured the committee that there are systems in place to track those who attempt to travel to Syria, but neither downplayed the difficulty of knowing which Americans have gone to the country to join a terrorist organization.

Johnson said that based on the systems in place the agency has “a reasonable degree of confidence" but "not a high degree of confidence” that they know who has attempted to travel to Syria.

Responding to questions about reports that ISIS is trying to enter through the Southern border, Johnson said there’s no specific intelligence or evidence to suggest at present that the group is attempting to infiltrate the U.S. through the Southern border, although we must remain vigilant.