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Townhall.com Staff - Capitol Source: Guy Benson On His New Book 'End of Discussion'
Posted: 3/2/2015 9:00:00 AM EST

Townhall's Guy Benson shares stories and facts from his forthcoming book: End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun!), which was coauthored by Hot Air's Mary Katharine Ham.

"Frankly, we wrote End of Discussion primarily for Conservatives. But we really went out of our way to try to write it, first of all, in a way that is fun and at times funny to read," Benson explains. 

"But we also wanted to be as fair to the other side as possible, to be intellectually honest. So people can give this book to their Moderate or Liberal friends and say: 'Hey if you really believe yourself to be open-minded and tolerant, this is an issue that affects all of us.'" 

Be sure to pre-order your copy (and maybe a few for your friends) here.  



Katie Pavlich - Netanyahu Arrives in U.S. Ahead of Controversial Address to Joint Session of Congress
Posted: 3/2/2015 7:55:00 AM EST

As negotiations over a deal with Iran continue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in the United States ahead of his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. 

A senior Israeli official told reporters on Netanyahu's flight that Congress could be "the last brake" for stopping a nuclear deal with Iran.

Saying it was Israel's impression that members of Congress "do not necessarily know the details of the deal coming together, which we do not see as a good deal," the official said Netanyahu in his speech would give a detailed explanation of his objections to an Iran deal.

House Speaker John Boehner extended the speaking invitation to Netanyahu earlier this year without consulting the White House, prompting boycotts of his speech by the Congressional Black Caucus and a number of liberal Democrats. Last week former ambassador to the United Nations and current White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice claimed publicly that Netanyahu's speech, which is expected to be focused on the threat of a nuclear Iran, will be "destructive to the fabric" of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. 

During his visit, Netanyahu will not be hosted by President Obama at the White House and has turned down an invitation to meet with Senate Democrats. Vice President Joe Biden will not attend the speech and Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Geneva for meetings. 

Meanwhile, Speaker Boehner continues to stand by his decision to invite Netanyahu and said yesterday on CBS' Face the Nation that tickets to the speech are in high demand. 

“The demand for seats in the House, the demand for tickets – I’ve never seen anything like it. Everybody wants to be there. What I do wonder, is why the White House feels threatened because the Congress wants to support Israel, and wants to hear what a trusted ally has to say? And it’s been frankly remarkable to me the extent to which, over the last five or six weeks, the White House has attacked the Prime Minister, attacked me, for wanting to hear from one of our closes allies," Boehner said. "The threat coming from Iran and the Iranians having a nuclear weapon is a threat to the region, it’s a threat to the United States, and it’s a threat to the rest of the world. This is a serious issue and we’re not going to resolve this issue by sticking our heads in the sand. The prime minister can talk about this threat, I believe, better than anyone. And the United States Congress wants to hear from him, and so do the American people.”

Christine Rousselle - Saturday Night Live Skit Mocks ISIS
Posted: 3/1/2015 8:00:00 PM EST

Saturday Night Live sparked a bit of controversy last night when the show released a sketch that portrayed a daughter being dropped off at the airport by her father to join ISIS.

The skit was modeled after a Toyota commercial that showed a girl growing up from her father's point of view, culminating with him dropping her off at the airport to join the military. On the SNL version, the daughter is instead greeted by a truck full of ISIS militants armed with machine guns.

Personally, I thought the SNL sketch was funny, and this "outrage" (while relatively minor) is kind of ridiculous. To borrow a line from comedian Margaret Cho, "you imprison, starve and brainwash my people, you get made fun of by me." ISIS wants to destroy the west. ISIS has beheaded journalists. They've beheaded Christians on a beach. Polio is making a resurgence in areas under ISIS control. Yet despite these atrocities, Americans are still attempting to join up with them. These people are worthy of being mocked. They are scum. We should not be worried about offending a group of people who would have zero issue with killing the entire cast of Saturday Night Live.

Expressing outrage over a skit like this is elevating ISIS to an untouchable level. That's what they want. This shouldn't happen.

Matt Vespa - Jeb Bush: I’m A 'Practicing Reform-Minded Conservative' Named ‘Veto Corleone’
Posted: 3/1/2015 6:30:00 PM EST

Friday, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush decided to venture into less than friendly territory by having a Q&A session with Fox News’ Sean Hannity that lasted almost 30 minutes. Bush was originally supposed to give a speech, but that was scrapped at the last minute.

Hannity asked the potential 2016 candidate about his quotes criticizing conservative Republicans for being too focused on what they’re against, which Bush feels has made the party look “anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, and anti-worker” to the rest of the electorate.

Bush said he feels that Republicans have fought in a principled way against the overreach of the Obama administration (Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and the Stimulus), but there needs to come a time when the party should be for things, like a strong national defense. He also mentioned being for an agenda that focuses on growth; offering alternatives to the failed tax, regulatory, and education polices of this administration.

So, what about immigration and Common Core, the two issues that seems to be hurting Gov. Bush with the Republican base? Well, here’s what he had to say:

SEAN HANNITY: You [Jeb Bush] said, “Yeah, they broke the law, it’s not a felony, it’s an act of love.” You also said that you support a path to citizenship. And when you were governor, two other things, when you were governor, you supported drivers licenses for illegal immigrants and you supported in-state tuition prices for those children of illegal immigrants that weren’t citizens. I want to give you an opportunity to address that

JEB BUSH: So, on immigration, I wrote a book about this -- instead of people pining about what I believe, that might want to read the book. It’s called ‘Immigration Wars.’ You can get it on Amazon for probably $1.99; it’s probably deeply discounted. And in that book, I talk about first and foremost the need to enforce the borders. A great country needs to enforce borders for national security purposes, public health purposes, and the rule of law. First and foremost we have to do that. Secondly, we need to narrow family petitioning so that it’s the same as every other country, spouse and minor children. Not this broad definition of spouse, minor children, adult siblings and adult parents, that crowds out what we need, which are economic-driven immigrants. Those who come here to work, to invest in their dreams in this country, to create opportunities for all of us, and that’s what we need to get to.

And so -- the plan also includes a path to legal status. I have not seen anybody, and I know there’s disagreement here–some of these people are angry about this–and, look, I kind of feel your pain. I was in Miami this morning; it was 70 degrees. So, the simple fact is there is no plan to deport 11 million people. We should give them a path to legal status, where they work, where they don’t receive government benefits, where they don’t break the law, where they learn English, and where they make a contribution to our society. That’s what we need to be focused on.

On Common Core:

HANNITY: The second big issue that always comes up when you read about Governor Jeb Bush is the issue of Common Core. It was interesting. I didn’t know until I was researching you that you were the first governor to institute vouchers in the country, was eventually overruled by the Supreme Court of Florida. But, you were the first governor to allow a voucher system. I think a lot of conservatives believe in vouchers. I want you to address the Common Core issue.

BUSH: I’ll do it in the context of comprehensive reform because high standards, by themselves, aren’t meaningful, they’re helpful, they’re better than lower standards, but by themselves, if there is no accountability around this, if there is no consequence for mediocrity and failure or excellence, then the system won’t move forward. In Florida, we took a comprehensive approach.

Yes, we did have the first statewide voucher program, and we have more school choice in Florida, both public and private than in any state in the country, and we have the largest virtual school. We have the largest corporate tax scholarship program. We have 30,000 students, that if their parents…if their child has a learning disability, they can take the dollars, the state and local dollars, and send them to any private school of their choice. We have all of that–and that’s improved public schools. We eliminated social promotion in third grade, which was a pretty difficult thing to do. We did all this, and we raised standards. And my belief is that our standards have to be high enough, where a student going through our system is college or career ready, and that’s not what’s happening right now.

HANNITY: Is Common Core a federal takeover?

BUSH: No.

HANNITY: It’s not?

BUSH: And it shouldn’t be. Here’s where I think conservatives–and myself–all of us are deeply concerned with this president and this Department of Education, there’s a risk that they will intrude and they have, as it relates to Race to the Top. What we should say quite clearly in the authorization of the K-12 law– that is just…I think it may have actually been on the floor in the House of Representatives today, is to say, the federal government has no role in the creation of standards, either directly or indirectly. The federal government has no role in the creation of curriculum and content. The federal government should have no access to student I.D. or student information. The role of the federal government, if there’s any, is to provide incentives for more school choice. Take the Title 1 money, and the IDEA money. And if states want to innovate with their own programs–give them the money to let them create their own programs. That is a better approach.

Hannity then discussed Gov. Bush’s record, which he took tremendous pride in that fact that he issues $19 billion in tax cuts and vetoed $2 billion in spending in his eight years as governor of Florida. This earned him the nickname “Veto Corelone” in the state legislature. Bush also said he made Florida business-friendly–and they noticed. The Sunshine State grew at 3.9 percent, whereas the national average hovered around 2.6 percent.

The governor also mentioned that under his watch 1.3 million net new jobs were created in his eight years. On education, Bush noted that Florida has been an example of rising student achievement–and that kids in poverty are the leaders in education, outperforming their peers in various areas.

Bush referenced his executive order that eliminated affirmative action, “but through hard work, we ended up having a system where more African-American and Hispanic kids attending our university system than prior to the system that was discriminatory,” he said.

On fiscal matters, Gov. Bush took pride in the fact that he left the governor’s mansion with a huge surplus for his successor. He told the crowd, “I left the state with $9.5 billion of reserves–no drunken sailors were around.”

“We left my successor $9 billion+ of cash for a rainy day,” he added.

Hannity then asked his top five primary action items if he were to be elected president. Bush said he would 1. Roll back Obama’s executive actions 2. Institute a regulatory reform agenda 3. Do something about taxes 4. Have policies that focus of rebuilding America’s economic growth at high rates and sustaining them and 5. Have a robust national security, telling the world we will be their partners to maintain peace and security.

Before they exited the stage, Hannity and Bush did some word association for fun.  Hannity described himself as a Reagan constitutional conservative.  Bush said he's a practicing reform-minded conservative. When Barack Obama’s name came up, the first two words that came to mind for the former governor was “failed president.”

From the looks of it, one might think Jeb Bush did well at CPAC. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post wrote that Bush did “very, very well” at the conference. The reported attendee walk out on Jeb fizzled fast–and the ballroom was packed. This was probably due to the fact that Jeb supporters were bused in from K Street.

Many will probably agree more with National Review’s Jim Geraghty’s (who was honored as Conservative Journalist of the Year at CPAC) assessment of the Bush Q&A, which is that as long as he didn’t trip up on the issues that are plaguing him thus far–Common Core and immigration–he would be fine.

Bush ended up in fifth place in the CPAC straw poll.

Townhall.com Staff - VIDEO: What is the Left's Biggest Misconception About Conservatives?
Posted: 3/1/2015 3:03:00 PM EST

During CPAC, we asked attendees what they believed the left misunderstands the most about the conservative movement. Townhall's Ky Sisson reports: 

Cortney O'Brien - Kerry: It Was 'Odd' Boehner Invited Netanyahu to Address Congress
Posted: 3/1/2015 3:00:00 PM EST

Secretary of State John Kerry is awfully frustrated with House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress this Tuesday.

Here’s what Kerry had to say about Boehner’s daring invitation Sunday morning on ABC’s "This Week:

“It was odd, if not unique, that we learned of it from the speaker of the House and that an administration was not included in this process," he said. "But the administration is not seeking to politicize this.”

While insisting the White House has no political desires in regards to the foreign leaders' appearance (Kerry said they don't want it to become a "poltical football"), some have suggested that Netanyahu may have political motivations, seeing as his visit is taking place just two weeks before Israeli elections.

Kerry isn’t the only member of the Obama administration to express frustration with Netanyahu’s visit. Speaking with PBS’s Charlie Rose, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Netanyahu’s speech will be “destructive” to the America-Israel relationship.

As for Netanyahu, he clearly seems to have other motives – and deadlines – in mind. Speaking to the Conference of Presidents last week, the prime minister passionately explained that he is going to Washington now because of the important nuclear arms deal with Iran that is approaching at the end of March.

“Israel has been offered the opportunity to make its case on this crucial issue before the world’s most important Parliament. A speech before Congress allows Israel to present its position to the elected representatives to the American people and to a worldwide audience.”

America, he continued, has the ability to place needed pressure on Iran. Netanyahu then asked an important question:

“How could any responsible Israeli Prime Minister refuse to speak to Congress on a matter so important to Israel’s survival?”

Yet, the Obama administration continues to suggest Netanyahu’s visit is an unwelcome one and some Democrats have even threatened to boycott the speech.

Perhaps sensing backlash for the Obama White House's irritated reaction to Netanyahu's upcoming surprise speech, Kerry tried to defend the administration’s relationship with Israel. He did this by pointing out that America has intervened on behalf of Israel a couple of hundred times in just the past two years. 

Well, numbers tell one story, but President Obama and his administration’s exasperated attitude toward Netanyahu and Israel suggests our nations are not so close after all. Can you remember any other administration daring to say this about our long term friend in the Middle East?

After all this, President Obama, the Secretary of State and other senior officials in the White House continue to claim they are Israel’s friend.

Well, if that’s true, then they have an “odd” way of showing it.

Matt Vespa - Beast Is Slain, Publication Admits Walker Was ‘Unfairly Attacked On College Rape’ In Hit Piece
Posted: 3/1/2015 12:05:00 PM EST

Yesterday, Daily Beast, acting off of the piece in Jezebel, reported that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had removed a provision in his proposed budget that required universities to report rapes on their campuses. I bet you can guess what the reaction from some (I know I’m being generous with some) on the left. Well, it turns out the University of Wisconsin asked the governor to remove the provision since it was redundant since the Clery Act and Title IX cover reporting and responding of rapes on college campuses.

It took the Beast and Jezebel hours to get their act together andoffer retractions. Beast retitled their discredited story saying Walker was “unfairly attacked.” Jezebel did not change the headline, but their reporter, Natasha Vargas-Cooper, eventually apologized on Twitter for screwing up.

The Beast’s retraction and correction:

A Daily Beast college columnist at the University of Wisconsin based this article off a Jezebel posting which was incorrectly reported. Jezebel updated their post on Saturday with the following after USA Today published a story debunking Jezebel's account and clarifying Gov. Scott Walker's position. "UPDATE: After Jezebel ran this item yesterday, a spokesman for the University of Wisconsin came forward—over two weeks after the budget was released—to clarify: the University requested that Gov. Walker delete the requirements because efforts were redundant with their compliance of the Cleary Act. Scott Walker's camp assures that he's committed to protecting victims.”

The Daily Beast is committed to covering the news fairly and accurately, and we should have checked this story more thoroughly. We deeply regret the error and apologize to Gov. Walker and our readers. This story should be considered retracted.

Jezebel:

[Editor's Note: After Jezebel ran this item yesterday, a spokesman for the University of Wisconsin came forward—over two weeks after the budget was released—to clarify: the University requested that Gov. Walker delete the requirements because efforts were redundant with their compliance of the Clery Act. Scott Walker's camp assures that he's committed to protecting victims. We reported this piece without full context, and while this piece conveys factual information, omission of that context for that information presents an unfair and misleading picture. We regret the error and apologize.]

Vargas-Cooper got a little huffy on Twitter regarding her debunked piece. On Twitter, she at first refused to apologize since it was in the budget, instead saying that we should blame Walker for bad optics. She eventually relented later that day.

Oh, and the $300 million cut to the public university system, which is amongst his other reforms that Walker proposes, still equals a meager 2.5 percent of their operating budget. Brian Weidy, the Daily Beast reporter who wrote about this, has gone silent on Twitter since the story was published on February 27. Oh, and let’s not forget the New York Times foul-up, blaming teacher layoffs on Walker … before he was governor.

Leah Barkoukis - Was Gang Member Who Allegedly Committed Quadruple Homicide a DREAMer?
Posted: 3/1/2015 12:00:00 PM EST

Sen. Chuck Grassley is demanding answers from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson about the immigration status of Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez, the suspected gang member who allegedly murdered four people, including a former “America’s Next Top Model,” in Charlotte, North Carolina earlier this week.

“Mr. Rangel-Hernandez allegedly applied for and received deferred action under the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” he wrote in a letter to Johnson on Friday. Grassley then requested files on Rangel-Hernandez from DHS and its sub agencies be sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Illegal immigrants have killed tens of thousands of Americans—deaths that were entirely preventable had our nation’s leaders enforced immigration laws already on the books. If Congress loses the battle to defund President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, this trend will sadly continue in the years ahead.

As Ann Coulter argued in her column this week, Americans are much more likely to be killed, raped, or maimed by illegal immigrants than they are by ISIS. Yet, we continue to have a laser-like focus on international threats that, so far, have killed only a few Americans. While those deaths are tragic, and the threat from ISIS should by no means be ignored, “ISIS is not at our doorstep,” Coulter pointed out. On the other hand, “illegal immigrants are not only at our doorstep, but millions of them are already through the door, murdering far more Americans than ISIS ever will.”

Couldn't we please focus on Americans for a bit? Can't a Republican Congress do anything to stop the surge of foreign criminals, viruses and parasites crossing our border? Will politicians ever stop gassing on about what's happening 7,000 miles away and worry about us?

But politicians and the media only want to give us war, while aiding the enemy in the war we're already in, here at home.

Kevin Glass - The 24/7 Media Matters Machine Against Bill O'Reilly
Posted: 3/1/2015 9:05:00 AM EST

Last week, Mother Jones journalist David Corn alleged that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly had been exaggerating his time as a foreign correspondent in Argentina during the Falklands War. Despite vociferous denials from O'Reilly and his bosses at Fox News, the left-wing smear machine jumped into action.

Media Matters for America, the Soros-funded "watchdog" organization that has an unhealthy obsession with Fox News, assigned just about every journalist on staff to try to dig up dirt on the Fox host. All 45 researchers working "around the clock" have been able to uncover... well, not much.

But their failure has not deterred the intrepid researchers at Media Matters. An employee over there tells Politico that their crusade to bring down O'Reilly is just one part of "a long term game."

David Brock, the founder of Media Matters, has been obsessed with taking down Fox for a long time. While the organization has had an anti-Fox agenda ever since its inception, in 2010 Brock explicitly dedicated the organization to a "War On Fox."

Brock has a lot of experience exploiting his younger staff members in pursuit of hopeless causes. Media Matters has waged a war on its staff in an effort to prevent their unionization, and David Brock's pro-Hillary Clinton PAC American Bridge has engaged in similar crusades. Paul Begala, Brock's associate and member of team Clinton, jokes of Brock that "he finds all of these nerd virgins and locks them away in a vault where they never see sunlight."

One can imagine the scene at Media Matters right now.

Matt Vespa - Rep. Rodgers Hits Obama for Robbing Americans Of Economic Opportunities At CPAC
Posted: 2/28/2015 8:17:00 PM EST

National Harbor, MD -- A small, but passionate wing of attendees stayed for the fourth day of the Conservative Political Action Conference, where the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference noted how she’s inspired to see all the young conservatives who came to the Washington D.C.-area for CPAC.

She assured the audience that the conservative movement is alive, strong, diverse, and most importantly growing. Given the Republican gains in the 2014 elections, it’s a valid point. She took pride in the fact that the Republican Party has a record majority in the House of Representatives.

The main focus of her speech was grounded in rebuilding the American dream, a point that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker–a potential 2016 presidential candidate–has been making across the country.

Rep. Rodgers said she couldn’t have fathomed being the 200th woman to serve in the House of Representatives, being that she grew up in a small town in eastern Washington, picking fruit on her family farm.

Right now, she said her desire to keep the American dream alive is what makes her proud to be a conservative. She said we must have a “bottom-up” style of conservatism that looks to the future not the past; that trusts the people, not the government with ensuring their financial security and economic stability.

She noted how job creation gives you opportunity, dignity, and a sense of purpose. It gives you something to be proud about.

“We’re defined by our potential,” she said.

She also mentioned that God not only gave all of us life, but liberty as well. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that government won’t try and infringe on those rights. This segued into Rep. Rodgers noting how the top-down, one-size fits all solution approach by liberals doesn’t work–and that the best solution for economic torpor comes from the people.

Rodgers said it’s our diversity that strengthens America. We all come from different backgrounds and life stories, but liberals always believe the answer is more government, and their solutions fall short.

“They’ve confused government with compassion,” she said.

One area of policy she cited in her address was the ABLE Act, a revision of the tax code to allow people with disabilities to establish a tax-free savings account (via the National Down Syndrome Society):

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013 (S. 313/H.R.647) was introduced in the 113th Congress by a bipartisan, bicameral set of Congressional Champions including Sens. Robert Casey, Jr., (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), and Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX).

The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill aims to ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation. The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the supplemental security income program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources.

An ABLE account could fund a variety of essential expenses for individuals, including medical and dental care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation. The ABLE Act provides individuals with disabilities the same types of flexible savings tools that all other Americans have through college savings accounts, health savings accounts, and individual retirement accounts. The legislation also contains Medicaid fraud protection against abuse and a Medicaid pay-back provision when the beneficiary passes away. It will eliminate barriers to work and saving by preventing dollars saved through ABLE accounts from counting against an individual’s eligibility for any federal benefits program.

This issue strikes at home since Rep. Rodgers has a son, Cole, who was born with Down syndrome.

Nevertheless, as she concluded her speech, the congresswoman wasn’t shy about hitting Barack Obama’s economic record, alleging that his policies have robbed millions of Americans from tremendous opportunities–like the Keystone XL Pipeline.

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