Christine Rousselle - Young Americans More Concerned About Vaccines Than Their Elders
Posted: 1/30/2015 8:30:00 PM EST

A new YouGov poll shows that while most Americans are in favor of requiring children to be vaccinated, a growing number of millennials (people aged 18-29) think that parents should be permitted to decide whether or not to vaccinate compared to older Americans. Fifty-seven percent of Americans surveyed believed that children should be required to be vaccinated, but only 42 percent of millennials agree. On the contrary, 73 percent of Americans aged 65 or older think that vaccinations should be required, with only 21 percent agreeing that parents should be able to decide.

Millennials were also more likely to believe that vaccinations cause autism, even though several studies have shown they do not. Andrew Wakefield, the man behind the 1998 paper that initially suggested that the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine causes autism in children, has been stripped of his medical license and is no longer referred to as a "doctor."

Vaccines have come back into the news after an outbreak of measles traced back to Disneyland has sickened nearly a hundred people in 11 states and Mexico. Measles was once considered to be eradicated in the United States, but falling vaccination rates are eroding herd immunity. The majority of the people infected with measles in this outbreak were either unvaccinated or were too young to be vaccinated.

Frankly, it's not shocking to me that millennials, a.k.a. the generation fortunate enough to not need to actually worry about catching the measles (or polio or whatever 'rubella' is) due to extensive vaccination programs rendering the threat moot, values vaccines less than older Americans who saw their friends die from the aforementioned diseases. One of my great aunts died in 1921 at the age of 13 from diphtheria. That's less than 100 years ago and about 30 years before the diphtheria vaccine was licensed in the U.S. In the grand scheme of history, that's not too long ago. Here in 2015, I had to Google what "diphtheria" even was because thanks to the miracle of vaccines, diphtheria has essentially been eradicated in the developed world. That's incredible.

The Disneyland measles outbreak should serve as a wake-up call to my generation that we are not invincible and that protection through herd immunity isn't guaranteed unless people actually get vaccinated. My generation was lucky enough to never need to worry about the measles. Let's keep it that way.

Cortney O'Brien - Pro-life Tim Tebow Super Bowl Commercial Prompted Mother to Reject Abortion
Posted: 1/30/2015 5:40:00 PM EST

Super Bowl commercials make us smile, they make us laugh, they make us cry, and, sometimes, they save lives.

Susan Wood is a young woman who was pressured by her boyfriend to have an abortion in 2010. But, thanks to a trip to her friend’s Super Bowl party and one particular commercial, she decided to choose life. Today, she has a beautiful four-year-old daughter named Avita Grace.

In a four-minute video featured online, Wood explains how a Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad saved her unborn child the night of Feb. 7, 2010. In the ad, football player Tim Tebow’s mother, Pam, explains how she rejected pressures to have an abortion and gave birth to her talented son. Wood was moved by Mrs. Tebow’s story:

“That was the night that I saw Tim Tebow’s commercial. That’s really what brought me to Focus on the Family. I went home and I watched the commercial again on YouTube. I explored the site, I watched video after video, then I emailed Focus on the Family…Then I got an email back and literally within reading that email it was almost instantly that decision, the things that she said just clicked. And I knew that all along that was what I wanted to do, that I needed to have the strength to do it. There was nothing after that, I knew I'm keeping the baby. I'm having her. ”

Today, Susan says being a single mom to Avita Grace is challenging and exhausting, but that's okay because she "would do anything for her." What a beautiful testimony.

Chilling reports have revealed that 64 percent of abortions are coerced. Whether it’s verbal and physical threats or blackmail, women with unplanned pregnancies have a host of pressures to endure – even from their own boyfriends and family members. Susan Wood and Pam Tebow showed true courage in overcoming these obstacles and choosing life. Mrs. Tebow called her son a “miracle baby” – no doubt Ms. Wood would say the same about her daughter.

It’s encouraging to know that Super Bowl commercials can be more than just Doritos and beer. One particular new ad from Pampers suggests that there will be even more joyful pro-life messages in between the tackles and touchdowns this Sunday. In the meantime, read more about Susan’s story and enjoy the ad that saved her precious little girl:

Matt Vespa - Hall Pass: Dems Force Press To Have Bathroom Buddies At Philly Retreat
Posted: 1/30/2015 4:15:00 PM EST

All I can say is that I’m thankful I’m covering the Franklin Center’s school choice conference in Alexandria, Virginia, rather than the House Democratic Retreat in Philadelphia. The press has described “police state” conditions, where Capitol Police and Democratic staffers were unusually heavy handed with reporters responsible for covering Capitol Hill. Reporters in need of the restroom facilities were escorted, and barred from entering the hotel except for the scheduled events. But, bathroom buddies for the press? (Via Politico):

Reporters are being escorted to and from the restroom and lobby and are being barred from entering the hotel outside of scheduled events, even if they've been invited by a member of Congress.

During Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks at the retreat Friday, reporters were required to have a staff member, usually a junior member of the press team, escort them when going to the bathroom or to the lobby. The filing center for reporters was at a separate hotel from where the retreat was taking place, so access was limited to members of Congress specifically made available to the press.

“It was a police state. It was absurd how heavy handed the capitol police and Democratic staff were in trying to control everywhere the press went,” New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters said in an interview.

Peters said at one point he was also barred from entering the hotel where the retreat was taking place, despite the fact he had an invitation to eat breakfast with a member of Congress.

“I was an invited guest into this hotel, into the restaurant of the hotel. The staff from the Democratic caucus refused to let me into the hotel, and the Capitol Police told me to leave, even after the congressman went to them and said 'no, he is my invited guest,'" Peters said.

Peters said he was told by a staffer they were being escorted to prevent them from talking to members of Congress.

Amy Chozick, also of The New York Times,  noted that such events always had security, but the stringent limits placed on the press were instituted when Hillary’s possible 2016 bid became a point of interest. Still, as in her case, it’s incredibly awkward that a staffer waited outside the stall as she used the bathroom.

Katie Pavlich - New Legislation Introduced to Stop DHS "Catch and Release" Policy For Dangerous Criminal Aliens
Posted: 1/30/2015 3:30:00 PM EST

The Department of Homeland Security currently has a policy in place known as "catch and release," meaning violent illegal aliens are arrested, processed and put back onto American streets if their home countries won't take them back. 

According to Judicary Comimittee Chairman Chuck Grassley's office, the policy was "created by a 2001 Supreme Court decision (Zadvydas v. Davis), which prohibits immigrants who had been ordered removed from being detained for more than six months. The Court expanded this decision to apply to all illegal immigrants in Clark v. Martinez in 2005."

This catch and release policy is not only demoralizing to Immigration and Border Patrol Agents, but it's dangerous and deadly. There are countless examples of violent assault and murders committed by illegal aliens after being arrested and released by federal authorities. 

A man accused of shooting a convenience store employee in Mesa, Arizona last Thursday faced deportation proceedings for two years prior to his arrest, authorities announced Tuesday.

After being convicted for facilitating a second-degree burglary, 29-year-old Apolinar Altamirano was released on a $10,000 bond in January 2013, the Arizona Republic reports. Since then, Altamirano, who has claimed ties to the Mexican Mafia, has been the subject of two separate injunctions for harassment because of death threats, but has not been detained. 

Newly re-introduced legislation, the Keep Our Communities Safe Act, would put an end to at least one type of catch a release policy by extending the amount of time DHS can detain "non-removable" illegal aliens whose home countries won't accept them. The legislation is co-sponsored by senators Jim Inhofe, David Vitter, Jeff Sessions, Chuck Grassley and Ted Cruz. 

The Keep Our Communities Safe Act would allow the Department of Homeland Security to detain non-removable immigrants beyond six months if:

the alien will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future;

the alien would have been removed but for the alien’s refusal to make all reasonable efforts to comply and cooperate with the agency’s efforts to remove him;

the alien has a highly contagious disease;

release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences;

release would threaten national security; or

release would threaten the safety of the community and the alien either is an aggravated felon or has committed a crime of violence.

According to Grassley's office, more than 36,000 criminally convicted illegal aliens were released in 2013. Since their release, 1,000 of these criminal aliens have been convicted of crimes like assault with a deadly weapon, child-rape, rape, participating in street gangs, aggravated assault, robbery, DUI, terroristic threats and more.

"The Zadvydas decision ties the hands of the federal government, forcing law enforcement to release dangerous criminals onto our streets because their home country won’t allow them back. The Obama administration has relied upon this ruling to release thousands of criminally convicted aliens, yet they’ve done nothing to fix the problem. This legislation corrects a very real problem with serious public safety implications,” Grassley said in a statement.

Guy Benson - Polls: Is 'Ready for Hillary' Narrative a Mirage?
Posted: 1/30/2015 3:30:00 PM EST

We'll touch on some of the action on the GOP side of things in a moment, but first, a few notes on Democrats' presumptive nominee.  Earlier in the week we noted that Hillaryworld views their candidate as so inevitable, and believes the rest of the prospective field to be so weak, that they are openly toying with the idea of skipping primary debates and are already discussing vice presidential selections.  Matt writes this afternoon on Team Hillary's  internal deliberations over when to officially launch her campaign; some in her camp are convinced that time isn't of the essence and that she's "better off as a non-candidate" anyway.  Better off as a non-candidate.  I think what that nameless senior aide meant was that there is no reason for Hillary to rush into official candidate hood and prematurely take on all the baggage that status entails.  If there's no risk of being outflanked by primary opposition, why pull a Jeb and fire the opening gun sooner than later?  Jeb had reasons to do so -- and his aggression seems to have paid dividends.  Hillary, for the most part, doesn't.  Another advantage to waiting is that once she jumps in, it'll be the Hillary Clinton Show, 24/7.  Even if she waits until the summer to declare, she'll still run as the obvious nominee for a full year before the Democratic National Convention.  'Hillary fatigue' will become a media narrative at some point, so why needlessly subject voters to three more months of that product at the front end?  Finally, Hillary's advisers know that she tends to be more appealing as a concept (First! Woman! President!) than as an actual candidate.  Her skills as a campaigner are hugely overrated, in part because of her husband's preternatural political gifts.  To wit, the sky-high favorable ratings she amassed while carrying out the largely apolitical role as America's top diplomat have come crashing back to earth as she re-emerges as an explicitly political figure:

The Washington Post's recent polling data gave Mrs. Clinton wide leads over several potential Republican opponents, but Democratic firm PPP (which has a spotty reputation) has published some rather different findings:

The automated poll of nearly 900 registered voters, conducted last week by Public Policy Polling, found that 48 percent of respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Clinton, compared to 43 percent who viewed the former secretary of State favorably...While Clinton — the prospective favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination should she enter the race — holds leads over every major GOP candidate tested in the poll, she doesn’t break 50 percent against any, and some are well within striking distance. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker comes closest, with Clinton leading him by a margin of 45 percent to 42 percent (with 14 percent not sure who they’d vote for) – within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.

Walker fever. That survey, incidentally, was commissioned by supporters of Elizabeth Warren, the hardcore Massachusetts liberal who's ruled out a 2016 run. The Hillary folks had better hope she sticks to that decision, because she's the only major figure in the mix who could cause the Clinton machine any real headaches from the left. Meanwhile, David Axelrod is reportedly going around expressing bewilderment as to what the animating idea behind a Hillary campaign would be:

Axelrod was saying, "we have a group called 'Ready for Hillary' that we've all been talking about. But what does that mean? What are we ready for?"

I suspect the answer to that two-part question is pretty simple, actually: "We're ready for a woman president, and Hillary Clinton is a super famous female politician, so it's her turn." She'll toss out a few key initiatives, of course, but we're going to hear a lot about glass ceilings and the "historic nature" of her candidacy. Identity politics works pretty well for Democrats at the national level, so while this strategy may be groan-worthy and distasteful, I'm not convinced it'll be ineffective in the end. And Axelrod of all people should recognize that mindless slogans ("change we can believe in!") with a whiff of self-fulfilling prophesy ("we are the ones we've been waiting for") aren't necessarily a handicap. Over in Republican land, the major news of the day, obviously, is Mitt Romney's decision to bow out of the 2016 sweepstakes, which is the right call.  He's achieved the status of respected and admired elder statesman within the party, and he'd be opening himself up to humiliation by pursuing the presidency for a third time and failing.  His strong polling at the moment wasn't likely to last, and Jeb's been working hard behind the scenes to marginalize Romney through a show of brute political force.  The drama now shifts to watching Mitt's next moves, which may involve throwing his operation behind Chris Christie (the two are dining this evening). That could set off a heavy duty battle on the center-right between Jeb and Christie.  Oh, and just for good measure, CNN's Jake Tapper isn't fully persuaded that Romney has comprehensively pulled the plug on 2016:

If he's out, Tapper asks, why all the hedging and parsed language? In reality, the only way Mitt 3.0 happens now is if he somehow emerges from a brokered convention, the prospect of which is stronger than it's been in decades, Sean Trende argues in a much-discussed piece this week.  But even if there isn't a clear nominee-in-waiting by the time the GOP rolls into Cleveland, how would Romney end up as the standard-bearer, as opposed to the declared candidates left standing -- who'd have spent months and millions earning delegates and votes by that point?

Daniel Doherty - "Chris Kyle Day" Coming to Texas
Posted: 1/30/2015 3:30:00 PM EST

The late Chris Kyle has been unfairly slandered and vilified since the release of the blockbuster film American Sniper. The movie, among other things, profiles his life through four tours of duty in Iraq, stressing his unparalleled marksmanship as a sniper and his constant -- and at times painful -- struggles to overcome the horrors of war.

Now, however, as a way to honor his memory, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) is declaring a new state holiday bearing his name:

Learn more about Chris Kyle -- and the amazing film which tells his story -- here, here, and here.

Conn Carroll - White House To Put DHS At Center Of Budget Fight
Posted: 1/30/2015 2:45:00 PM EST

President Obama will officially unveil his 2016 budget at the Department of Homeland Security Monday, making the funding of the agency the centerpiece of his administrations immediate fiscal priorities.

"That will be an opportunity for the president to make the case once again that it is important for Republicans to not allow funding for the Department of Homeland Security to lapse at the end of February," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday.

Unlike the rest of the federal government which has been fully funded through the end of September, funding for DHS is set to expire at the end of February. Republicans chose a shorter funding term for the departments as part of an effort to push back against Obama's November executive action on immigration which could grant up to 4 million illegal immigrants temporary amnesty over the next two years.

A Congressional Budget Office letter released Thursday estimated that 1.5 million illegal immigrants will take advantage of Obama's amnesty program through 2017. That same document also estimated that illegal immigrants granted amnesty by Obama will pay just $5.2 billion in income taxes through 2025, while consuming more than $10.2 billion in tax credits. Factoring in other spending programs, CBO estimates that Obama's amnesty programs will cost taxpayers $8.8 billion on net through 2025.

The letter also notes that amnestied immigrants will pay $17 billion in Social Security payroll taxes through 2025, but they will receive far more in Social Security payments when they retire then what they paid into the system. The White House previously acknowledged in December that illegal immigrants amnestied by Obama would be eligible for Social Security benefits

Earnest did not say if Obama's budget would identify how the administration planned to pay for the increased spending caused by his amnesty programs.

Leah Barkoukis - The Friday Filibuster: Mitt's Out, Who's In?
Posted: 1/30/2015 2:38:00 PM EST

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

Closing Numbers

64% of Americans want Congress to fix Obamacare's subsidy eligibility flaw if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with conservative challengers this spring.

71% of registered Virginia voters support decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

4.6—the percentage decrease in violent crimes reported for January through June of 2014, compared to the same period in 2013, according to the FBI.

70 years ago Auschwitz was liberated.

$2 trillion – the amount Obamacare will cost taxpayers over the next decade.

$10.2 billion – the amount Obama’s executive amnesty will cost taxpayers in Earned Income and Additional Child tax credits over the next decade.

62-- the number of senators who voted to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline bill, enough to finally pass in the upper chamber.


Campaigns and Elections

Well, Mitt Romney has decided he will not run for president a third time, saying that he doesn’t want to make it “more difficult for someone else to emerge who many have a better chance of becoming … president.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on the other hand made a splash at the Iowa Freedom Summit this past weekend, and a pro-Walker PAC unveiled its debut ad. Team Hillary, meanwhile, can’t agree when to make her 2016 announcement. And since the potential opposition is so weak, she may end up skipping out on primary debates altogether. At the state level, Matt Bevin, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s primary challenger last year, decided to run for governor in Kentucky at the last minute.


House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul introduced a new “very tough, very strong” border security bill late last week. The National Border Patrol Council spokesman called it ineffective, however, which may have something to do with the fact that Border Patrol agents weren’t even consulted. Also a problem is that no one can really say how secure our borders really are. Although it’s safe to say they aren’t very secure, as the White House’s immigration policy left one dead in Arizona this week. Nevada and Tennessee, meanwhile, have joined Texas’ challenge to Obama’s executive amnesty, bringing the total number of states fighting it to 26. The White House said this week, though, that preserving Obama’s executive amnesty is the only ‘bright line’ for them in the upcoming DHS funding bill.

School Choice Week

National School Choice Week kicked off on Sunday, the time each year when the spotlight is on providing all children effective education options. At a rally in Washington, D.C., House Speaker John Boehner shared his story, explained why he’s for school choice, and encouraged the students at the rally to keep up the good fight. Townhall also caught up with Jim DeMint, Ben Carson, Newt Gingrich, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee to hear what their solutions are to Common Core.

Loretta Lynch Takes the Hot Seat 

Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, testified on Wednesday as part of her confirmation process for U.S. attorney general, replacing outgoing AG Eric Holder. Lynch dodged questions from lawmakers about the DOJ’s role in the IRS targeting scandal, arguing that since she hasn’t been briefed, she cannot comment. Also notable was that she believes illegal immigrants have the right to work in the U.S., and that Obama’s executive amnesty is, in fact, legal. During a separate follow-up confirmation hearing on Thursday, a number of heavy hitters were witnesses, including investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht, among others. Clarke testified about the broken relationship between the DOJ and local law enforcement and called on Lynch to repair the rift; Attkisson detailed the government intimidation she has experienced under the Obama administration and called on the new attorney general to reject such damaging policies and practices. Sen. Chuck Grassley wonders if her qualifications can transfer to correcting the many serious problems at the DOJ.

The White House

It wasn’t a great week for the Obama administration. They’re still pretty mad House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to speak. And piling on to some of the terrible figures you saw in the Closing Numbers section, a new study found that Obama’s unemployment policies have actually increased unemployment. A new CBO report also shows that thanks to spending increases in major health care programs (yes, Obamacare included), deficits are set to explode in 2017, just as Obama leaves office. And much to the president’s dismay, most of his SOTU proposals have a very slim chance of becoming law, which is great news for the rest of us. One of his proposals to raise taxes on the middle class was a totally hypocritical reversal anyway though. 

Global Terror

Terrorism seems to be gripping every corner of the world, and yet the White House continues to deny it. Rather than heed objections from top military and intelligence officials to release five high-ranking Taliban commanders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (who’s now being charged by the Army with desertion), the White House moved forward anyway. They were OK with that swap because according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz, the Taliban is not a terrorist group. Rather, they’re using the term ‘armed insurgency,’ even though that very terrorist group killed three Americans in Afghanistan the next day. While we’re on the topic of terrorist groups, let’s not forget about the Islamic State, which continues to hold an American aid worker hostage; and Boko Haram, which AFRICOM’s commander is waiting on U.S. officials to develop a counterinsurgency plan. As if Nigeria wasn’t dealing with enough already given the terror group’s increased attacks, experts are warning that the upcoming elections may trigger even more bloodshed in the nation. We’re all going to need the war on terror survival guide.

This week’s Townhall exclusives:

I had a chance to catch up with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which is doing amazing work to help our nation’s military and first responders. You may have heard about a group raising enough money to pay off the mortgages for the families of slain NYPD Officers Ramos and Liu; well, this is that group. Take a minute to get to know them—it’s worth it.

In a feature-length article, Cortney O'Brien and Sarah Seman make the case for why everyone should be a feminist. Don't cringe, you'll see what they mean.  

In this week’s edition of Capitol Source, Sarah interviews advocates on both sides of the marijuana debate as they discuss the pros and cons of legalization.

The NRA invited Townhall to their headquarters in Virginia this week. Check out photos of some members of the team trying out a number of different firearms.

And finally, if you need a Friday pick-me-up, check out Katie’s photos of all the wonderful service dogs that were at this year’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas last week.

Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer Feven Amenu