Texas' abortion law won't be fully implemented after a federal judge ruled it as unconstitutional. Right now, the Lone Star State has 19 abortion clinics, which is down from a little over 40 a year ago. If this law had gone into effect, it would’ve left 6 to 7 clinics open, mostly in major urban areas. The judge considered that an “undue burden” on Texas women (via Associated Press/ABC News):
Tough new Texas abortion restrictions are on hold after a federal judge found Republican-led efforts to hold abortion clinics to hospital-level operating standards unconstitutional in a ruling that spares more than a dozen clinics from imminent closure.
The state vowed to quickly appeal Friday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin, who cited other rules GOP lawmakers have recently passed in his decision to throw out requirements that clinics meet hospital operating standards.
Those prior abortion restrictions include mandatory sonograms and a 24-hour waiting period after a woman first seeks out an abortion.
"These substantial obstacles have reached a tipping point," Yeakel wrote in a 21-page opinion.
Yeakel sided with clinics that sued over one of the most disputed measures of a sweeping anti-abortion bill signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2013. The ruling stops new clinic requirements that would have left seven abortion facilities in Texas come Monday, when the law was set to take effect.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who is the favorite to become governor next year, said he would seek an immediate appeal to try to preserve the new clinic rules.
Under the new restrictions, the only remaining abortion facilities in Texas would have been in major cities, and there would have been none in the entire western half of the nation's second-largest state. For women in El Paso, the closest abortion provider would be in New Mexico — an option the state wanted Yeakel to take into consideration, even though New Mexico's rules for abortion clinics are far less rigorous.
The first wave of regulation that went into effect last November, specifically banning abortions 20 weeks after pregnancy and requiring physicians to have admitting privileges no further than 30 miles from where the abortion is performed, according to the Austin Chronicle.
The story also reiterated how the second wave of regulations would’ve decimated the abortion industry in Texas:
The final part of HB 2 (to take effect Sept. 1) requires clinics to meet building code compliance that match the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, a costly regulation that is estimated to shut down 14 clinics, leaving the state with less than 10 abortion providers. To date, roughly 50% of Texas abortion clinics have shuttered their doors since HB 2.
Yesterday, Wendy Davis, Abbott’s Democratic opponent, criticized him for withdrawing from the televised statewide debate, citing format concerns. Both camps agreed to have a debate on September 30–and Abbott accepted an invitation from another network hours later. Also, the two campaigns are debating on September 19 in the Rio Grande Valley.
It’s safe to assume that a question about this development on HB 2 will be asked during the debate. Davis, who’s hasn’t made abortion a centerpiece of her gubernatorial run, will have to find some way to maneuver around her highly unpopular position on this issue. Then again, she could just say what she believes and show once again how radical she is on the subject.
This could be a good thing for Abbott. After all, 60 percent of American women support banning abortions after 20 weeks into a pregnancy:
A new Quinnipiac poll shows 60 percent of women prefer allowing unrestricted abortions for only the first 20 weeks of pregnancy rather than the Supreme Court-prescribed 24 weeks. Among men, 50 percent support the 20-week law — a 10-point gap.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed the gap at seven points, while two other polls (from NBC/Wall Street Journal and National Journal) showed it at six and four, respectively.
And those numbers may actually understate support among women for the new restrictions.
In the Post-ABC poll, rather than choosing between a 20-week ban and the current 24 weeks, 8 percent of women volunteered that abortion should never be legal, and 3 percent volunteered that the window should be smaller than 20 weeks. If you add them to the 60 percent of women who support the 20-week abortion ban, then 71 percent of women would seem to support the effort to increase abortion restrictions.
Oh, and how do Hispanics feel about abortion in Texas? Well, as Politico mentioned in July of last year, “the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 53 percent of Hispanic Catholics say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. That’s a lower percentage than white evangelical Protestants and Mormons, but it’s higher than all other religious voting groups, including white Catholics, white mainline Protestants, black Protestants, and Jews.”
So, who’s ready for this debate this September?
To paraphrase the economist Thomas Sowell, some ideas are so stupid only a government agency would adopt them.
Speaking of which, this latest scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) couldn’t have come at a worse time. In an attempt to instruct government workers about how to deal effectively with disgruntled veterans unsatisfied with their health care plans, a series of informational slides meant for instruction portrayed said veterans as... this guy. For obvious reasons, it didn’t go so well.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:
The beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs depicted dissatisfied veterans as Oscar the Grouch in a recent internal training guide, and some vets and VA staffers said Tuesday that they feel trashed. The cranky Sesame Street character who lives in a garbage can was used in reference to veterans who will attend town-hall events Wednesday in Philadelphia.
"There is no time or place to make light of the current crisis that the VA is in," said Joe Davis, a national spokesman for the VFW. “And especially to insult the VA's primary customer." The 18-page slide show on how to help veterans with their claims, presented to VA employees Friday and obtained by The Inquirer, also says veterans might be demanding and unrealistic and tells VA staffers to apologize for the "perception" of the agency.
Meanwhile, the VA’s statement on the controversy itself was somewhat mystifying:
"The training provided was not intended to equate veterans with this character," spokeswoman Marisa Prugsawan said. "It was intended to remind our employees to conduct themselves as courteously and professionally as possible when dealing with veterans and their concerns."
She said the guide appeared to be an old internal document from which employees at the Philadelphia office pulled information ahead of Friday's training. Prugsawan said she was unsure if the original slide show comparing veterans to Oscar had been created locally or by the national VA office and sent to regional centers.
And yet, the department saw fit to portray veterans as a cantankerous Sesame Street character. That doesn’t strike me as very “courteous.”
For what it’s worth, Concerned Veterans for America spokesman Pete Hegseth vented his frustration to my colleague Ed Morrissey earlier this week about the controversy. He provided some much-needed insight into this wholly preventable -- and ridiculous -- episode:
I reached out to Pete Hegseth of Concerned Veterans for America, who said that this exposes “the dirty little secret about how many VA officials feel about veterans.” They see veterans as the problem, not the clients. “If veterans were seen as customers, they wouldn’t be seen as Oscar the Grouch,” Pete said. “This feeds the fears about how veterans believe they are perceived at the VA.” He assured me that CV4A will not let this slide, either.
They shouldn’t -- and neither should we.
As Dan pointed out on Thursday, we have no strategy to fight ISIS. None. Zip. The leader of the free world literally told everyone that it’s a work in progress. This tepidness exuded from the Obama administration is one of the reasons why 54 percent of Americans think he isn’t tough enough on foreign policy and national security.
As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey wrote yesterday, Politico, the Washington Post, and ABC News, all pretty much said this explicit admission wouldn’t do us any favors [emphasis mine]:
The reason why this gaffe does so much damage is because it’s accurate. Josh Earnest may have tried arguing that “no strategy” really means “we totally have a strategy, but it’s obvious that the White House has nothing but tactical reactions on its collective mind. The President seems not to have heard Hagel’s assessment last week [he called ISIS an imminent threat], as his remarks yesterday contradicted them. It’s become beyond clear that ISIS will continue its genocidal activities until stopped, and yet the message from Obama yesterday was basically to tell people to be patient while he catches up on the news. On top of that, we have the leader of the free world almost literally telling the press that he’s got no plan to deal with the situation, which can’t help but boost the morale of ISIS and encourage others to join them.
Then, there’s the question about optics. Obama hit the golf course after he made a statement about American journalist James Foley getting beheaded by ISIS. Now, he took off on Marine One to fundraise for Democrats in Rhode Island and New York after his “no strategy” remarks.
David Gergen and Barbara Starr of CNN also were floored by the admission, with Gergen saying that while the president may deserve some credit for honesty; this is a “whoa” moment and “highly unorthodox.”
As for mixed messages, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest seems to think Obama has a comprehensive strategy for fighting ISIS. Is it 2016, yet?
As Fox News' Jana Winter reports:
“A review of ISIS social media messaging during the week ending August 26 shows that militants are expressing an increased interest in the notion that they could clandestinely infiltrate the southwest border of US, for terror attack,” warns the Texas Department of Public Safety "situational awareness" bulletin, obtained by FoxNews.com.
It notes no known credible homeland threats or specific homeland attack plot has been identified. That assertion was underscored by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who said Friday that DHS and the FBI are "unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland" from Islamic State.
The bulletin details numerous “calls for border infiltration” on social media, including one from a militant confirmed to be in Mosul, Iraq who explicitly beckons the “Islamic State to send a special force to America across the border with Mexico.”
This follows numerous posts on social media accounts of purported ISIS activity in the United States.
As Dan reported for Townhall, threats from ISIS on social media have proliferated recently:
The tweet above was presumably blasted out by an ideological adherent of ISIS living in the U.S.: the photo on the left is the Old Republic Building in the Windy City, the one on the right is clearly the White House. So this begs the question: Is this tweet merely propagandist fodder, meant to deal a psychological blow to the American public and thwart U.S. intelligence officials, or should Americans be genuinely concerned?
This new DPS report from Texas indicates that yes, we should be concerned. The insecure nature of the U.S. southern border should always concern terror analysts, and with the rise of a new transnational well-funded terrorist power, its security becomes even more important.
But it's not necessarily the reason you might think it is. Danny Vinik at The New Republic writes that "Congress needs to close this absurd tax loophole," and that "Burger King will have opted out of the U.S. corporate tax system."
What isn't said in that piece is that it's not merely Canada's tax rate that has attracted Burger King. Statutorily, Canada does indeed have a much lower rate. But after accounting for local laws and code complexity, Burger King and Tim Horton's have very similar rates and by some estimations Tim Horton's tax rate is higher than Burger King's:
Burger King’s overall effective tax rate was 27.5% in 2013, according to its annual report. Tim Horton is expected to book a tax rate of 29% this year.
The U.S. corporate tax system that Burger King wants to opt out of is its odd system of global taxation. That is, Burger King has to pay the U.S. corporate tax on earnings no matter where they are made. So they must pay the U.S. marginal rate on a Whopper sold in Bahamas, where the corporate tax rate is 0%. If they relocate their global HQ to Canada, they don't have to pay U.S. taxes on Whoppers sold in Bermuda.
The U.S. is quite unique in our system of global taxation. As Megan McArdle says:
he U.S., unlike most developed-world governments, insists on taxing the global income of its citizens and corporations that have U.S. headquarters. And because the U.S. has some of the highest tax rates in the world, especially on corporate income, this amounts to demanding that everyone who got their start here owes us taxes, forever, on anything they earn abroad.
Practically speaking, global taxation is hard to enforce and loaded with bad incentives, which is why our fellow members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have moved away from global taxation of corporate income, and abandoned global taxation of personal income. If anything, the U.S. has gone in the other direction -- by insisting, for instance, that foreign companies report various financial transactions with U.S. citizens to the Internal Revenue Service, and taxing foreign cost of living allowances, which makes it more expensive for companies to employ expats.
Progressives are constantly comparing the U.S. to other countries when it comes to laws and norms. We're the only country that owns guns, for example, and we're the only country with the death penalty. That's used as justification for moving towards what other countries do. Not so for corporate taxes. We're alone in global taxation, yet progressives see no good reason to move in a better direction for it.
This is not to say that other countries' tax regimes is a good reason to move away from a regime of global taxation. We should get rid of our global tax regime because it's a good idea regardless of what other countries do. In an area where the U.S. is an outlier for reasons progressives like though, they don't think the fact that the U.S. hasn't followed a global lead is meaningful.
In fairness, Debbie struggles to explain most things, so her stumbling isn't necessarily out of the ordinary here. Still, I figured I'd send you into the holiday weekend with a clip of America's most inept party chairperson lamely embracing America's most pathetic politician:
Allahpundit calls Crist -- a Republican, turned independent, turned Democrat, with all three party switches serving his immediate expedient political needs -- a "soulless careerist." That's being kind. The dude says and does literally whatever it takes to attain and cling to power. Politics at its self-interested, power-hungry worst. Democrats are angry that A Republican organization is using recycled robocalls voiced by...Charlie Crist against Charlie Crist, calling the use of this audio a "dirty trick:"
"Hi, this is Charlie Crist calling to set the record straight. I'm prolife. I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, I support traditional marriage, and I have never supported a new tax or big spending program. It's sad that in his fourth try for governor my opponent has resorted to distortions and untruths. … Floridians need a consistent, conservative governor that they can trust. I would appreciate your vote on election day. Thank you so much and God bless you, and God bless Florida. Paid for by Charlie Crist, Republican for Governor."
We all know Republicans have a woman problem, but let’s focus on the Democrats’ problem with men, specifically white men. Earlier this month, U.S. News and World Report reported that while women outnumber men and vote more than they do, “in a campaign cycle set to see a handful of margin-of-error races that determine U.S. Senate control, it’s an often overlooked and undervalued element of the election.” The story also says that this male voter deficit with Democrats is “more pronounced” than the Republicans problems with single women voters.
The article noted that in races dependent on turnout, men could be the deciding factor. In North Carolina, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who’s fighting for her political life, has a healthy 8-point lead amongst women, but her Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, is dominating with male voters by a 13-point margin.
But some Democrats are indifferent. Joel Benenson, Obama’s pollster, seems to think that liberal efforts to stop the bleeding amongst male voters is unnecessary since you don’t need them to win. “They won men in the presidential election and they lost,” he says. “They win white voters in the presidential election and they lost. There’s no absolute rule that you have to win this group or that group.”
That pretty much captures how male voters felt in the 1980s, as they felt the Democratic Party abandoned them. Thus, the Reagan Democrats were born. Yet, the bleeding began during the Johnson administration (via NYT) [emphasis mine]:
No Democratic presidential candidate has won a majority of white men since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all prevailed with support of the so-called rising electorate of women, especially single women, and minorities. But fewer of those voters typically participate in midterm elections, making the votes of white men more potent and the struggle of Democrats for 2014 clear.
“Realistically, winning votes from working-class white men has just been a very tough political challenge for Democrats,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster. With demographic trends favoring Democrats nationally and in many states, strategists say it makes sense to concentrate resources on mobilizing women, young people, Hispanics, blacks and other minority voters.
Democrats generally win the votes of fewer than four in 10 white men. But they win eight of 10 minority voters and a majority of women, who have been a majority of the national electorate since 1984, while white men have shrunk to a third, and are still shrinking.
As the Times noted, Democrats have been able to get some traction with single, gay, nonreligious, and college educated men, whereas the white working class bloc is the hardest to reach, which could spell doom for Democrats this year.
If you look at how the working-class votes over the past decade, you’ll see a trend that’s determined elections consistently in that time period. In a previous post, I mentioned a piece by the Atlantic’s Molly Ball showing how the differences in the the share of the vote Democrats win with Americans making under $50,000 a year has determined where the nation has tilted that year. Given today's political climate, even the AFL-CIO political director is saying that 2014 could be a powerful year for the GOP:
Republicans consistently win voters making $50,000 or more, approximately the U.S. median income. The margin doesn't vary too much: In 2012, Mitt Romney got 53 percent of this group's vote; in 2010, Republican House candidates got 55 percent. And Democrats consistently win voters making less than the median—but the margin varies widely. In fact, whether Democrats win these voters by a 10-point or a 20-point margin tells you who won every national election for the past decade.
In 2004, Democrats won the working-class vote by 11 points; George W. Bush was reelected. In 2006, Democrats won the working-class vote by 22 points and took the House and Senate. In 2008, Democrats won by 22 points again, and President Obama was elected. In 2010, the margin narrowed to 11 points, and Republicans took the House back. In 2012, Obama was reelected—on the strength of another 22-point margin among voters making under $50,000.
In a new Pew survey released Thursday, 45 percent of Republican voters said they were unusually excited to vote this year, compared to 37 percent of Democratic supporters. Gridlock in Washington prevents Congress from doing anything to help those struggling economically, while giving Republicans more to blame Obama and Democrats for. Similarly, chaos around the world obscures Democrats' economic message while dragging down the president's image.
The Pew report didn't include a breakdown based on the $50,000 threshold, so I asked Pew to crunch the numbers for me. The result: 51 percent of voters making less than $50,000 plan to vote for Democrats, while 40 percent plan to vote Republican. (The rest are undecided, and the GOP wins the more-than-$50,000 vote 49-44.) That's exactly the same 11-point margin that has meant Democratic doom in every election since 2004.
There are some silver linings. As Democratic pollster John Anzalone said, “In some ways, men dig in. You see it in the numbers where generically they’re just much more Republican and they dig in.” Women are more open to ideas and exchanges between members from both parties; that means we can be competitive with them if we message our brand correctly. We don’t have to win women, although they should be our mindset, but settling for being competitive is fine with me, as it’ll yield electoral dividends.
Case in point, John Kerry beat George W. Bush amongst women in 2004, but only by 3-points (51/48). Kerry and Bush virtually split down the middle with women who have children (49/50), but 43 dominated, as usual, with married women (55/44) over Kerry. The exit poll lists Kerry and Bush almost virtually tied with “other” women (50/49), I don’t know what other means, but the overall split is something Republicans need to replicate in 2016.
Bush also won a solid 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, but that’s a post for another time.
Democrats have a huge advantage with women voters, who potentially aren’t as reliably Democratic if someone doesn’t come up with something better. Women can become a shiftable voting bloc–we saw this with Bush in 2004–but Republicans need to market themselves without tripping over their shoelaces, which they often do.
With men, they’re not budging towards the Democrats and Republicans have a lock on their votes. Democrats don't seem to have a strategy for stopping the bleeding other than minimum wage hike proposals which polls well with everyone. Even left-leaning think tanks, like John Podesta's Center for American Progress, thinks that the white male deficit shouldn't be ignored even if their share of the vote is declining:
“You can’t just give Republicans a clear field to play for the votes of white working-class men without putting up some sort of a fight because that just allows them to run the table with these voters, thereby potentially offsetting your burgeoning advantage among minorities, single women, millennials,” said Ruy Teixeira, an analyst at the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
“I just think Democrats are having a hard time figuring out how to effectively pursue it,” he added.
Demography isn’t destiny. Both sides have talked about permanent majorities in government and got rude awakenings in 2006 and 2010 respectively. Demography isn’t destiny. So, fear not my conservative friends, there are many ways to maneuver through an electorate to win elections.
Unlike someone we know, it sounds like United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron has a strategy for defeating Islamic extremists. At a press conference today on the growing threat of ISIS, Cameron offered a passionate speech with plans to disrupt the terror group. Just a glimpse at his comments proves he knows exactly who we’re dealing with:
“The threat we face today comes from the poisonous narrative of Islamist extremism.”
“The terrorist threat was not created by the Iraq war ten years ago. It existed even before the horrific attacks on 9/11."
“This threat cannot be solved simply by dealing with the perceived grievances over Western foreign policy."
"We cannot appease this ideology. We have to confront it at home and abroad."
Thankfully, Cameron is more than a speech maker. In addition to announcing the UK was raising the terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe," Cameron said they will introduce new laws to fights terrorists and seize passports from terror suspects. He plans to offer more details on the UK's plans in a few days:
On Monday, I will speak in the House on the measures we're taking to defeat extremism, protect our way of life and keep all our people safe.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 29, 2014
The prime minister's comments were a clear contrast from our commander-in-chief’s response to the growing threat of ISIS militants at a Thursday press conference. President Obama acknowledged the threat of the extremist group, yet stated the US does not yet have a strategy to confront it. Numerous lawmakers and analysts criticized his comments as weak. Following Cameron’s speech, however, a number of pundits were clearly impressed:
Can we borrow David Cameron? He fights.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) August 29, 2014
Obama: It's "unrealistic" to defeat ISIS,and we don't have a strategy anyway. Cameron: It won't be quick, but we will defeat them. #Contrast— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) August 29, 2014
Barack Obama to speak at 3 pm to urge David Cameron to take it down a notch.— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) August 29, 2014
Wow. #DavidCameron2016— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) August 29, 2014
You know it's a good speech when people are talking more about the content of his speech than his tan suit. While Obama seems more interested in golfing, Cameron is taking serious steps to combat this very dangerous organization.
So this shirt was spotted in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this week.
It’s notable for three reasons:
Head meet desk.
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: