- Republicans hold a six-point lead on the Congressional ballot among likely voters, winning independents by nine points and holding a double-digit enthusiasm advantage. Those are all very significant numbers. The GOP holds substantial voter preference edges on the economy (+11), terrorism (+21) and foreign policy (+12), while pulling even with Democrats on immigration and largely erasing Democrats' wide, decades-long lead on healthcare.
- Obama's overall approval rating is sagging at 40 percent, underwater by double-digits. He's fallen to new lows in this poll on his handling of terrorism (41 percent approval) -- formerly a bright spot amidst otherwise ugly numbers -- and foreign policy (34 percent).
- Nearly six in ten Americans say Obama's posture toward ISIS is "not tough enough, with 31 percent saying he's handling things "about right." Some respondents said he's being "too tough" on ISIS: Two percent, which is within the poll's margin of error.
- "This poll finds no improvement in overall views of the health care law."
USA Today/Suffolk poll for Colorado Senate has Gardner (R) up one point over Udall (D), 43-42.— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 17, 2014
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ties former U. S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger, among women and trails among all likely voters 50 - 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Libertarian candidate Matthew Hess and Green Party candidate Harry Hempy each have 3 percent.
Obama job approval is almost identical to Bush's in Sept 2006. Bias is just as much what isn't reported as what is. pic.twitter.com/BfxRSfq2Ub— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 16, 2014
Speaking from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, President Obama delivered remarks defending his pledge to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS.” But he also spoke confidently about, and reaffirmed his support for, the people who need and deserve it most: U.S. service members and their families.
“I came here to say the same thing I’ve been saying to troops across this country and around the world,” he began. “And that is thank you.”
“I want to thank you for all your service, I want to thank you for your sacrifice,” he intoned. “As your commander in chief, I could not be prouder of each and every one of you.”
Quite rightly, he reminded his audience of military personnel that the “9/11 generation” has met every challenge handed down to them with both acceptance and professionalism.
And while terrorist groups like ISIL–and their al Qaeda affiliates–do not directly threaten America’s national security at this time, they could “if left unchecked,” he said.
Which is why, almost as if he was speaking directly to the terrorists himself, he delivered the most stirring and rousing line of his oration.
“Our reach is long, if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven–we will find you eventually,” he averred to wild applause.
“But this–I want to emphasize–is not and will not be America’s fight alone,” he continued. “This is why we’ve spent the last several weeks building [a coalition].”
“Forty countries so far have offered some assistance,” he added. “And meanwhile, nearly 30 nations have [pledged to help] with humanitarian relief.”
That is to say, after nearly 14 years of war, it’s time for other nations as well as Iraqi citizens to step up to the plate.
“The point is, we cannot do for the Iraqi people what they must do for themselves,” he said. “But this is an effort that calls on America’s unique abilities and responsibilities to lead. In a world that’s more crowded and connected, it is America that has the unique capabilities to mobilize against an organization like ISIL.”
He thus turned to the inescapable fact that the safety of the nation relies chiefly upon a small yet dedicated warrior class of men and women who sometimes do not get the recognition they have earned.
“To all the service members here and around the world, we ask a lot of you,” he said softly. “And any mission involves risk. And any mission separates you from your families. And sending our soldiers into harm’s way is the hardest decision I make–nothing else comes close.”
“I do it,” he added, “only because you are the best at what it is that you do."
“Only 1 percent of Americans may wear the uniform and shoulder the weight of special responsibilities that you do,” he continued. “But 100 percent of Americans need to support you and your family–100 percent.”
Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has introduced legislation to eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal law enforcement agency with 5000 employees. If passed, the legislation would dissolve the duties of ATF to the FBI and DEA. From the legislation:
To abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, transfer
its functions relating to the Federal firearms, explosives, and arson laws, violent crime, and domestic terrorism to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and transfer its functions relating to the Federal alcohol and tobacco smuggling laws to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and for other purposes.
According to Sensenbrenner there are two main goals for the legislation, "to eliminate and reduce duplicative functions and waste to the maximum extent possible, and to report to Congress with a detailed plan on how the transition will take place."
The legislation comes after years of corruption, Operation Fast and Furious and after a series of ATF stings in Sensenbrenner's home state of Wisconsin where agents took advantage of mentally disabled teenagers by giving them neck tattoos and teaching them how to commit crimes. ATF agents also lost track of a fully-automatic machine gun in Milwaukee after it was stolen from an unattended government vehicle.
After a long six year court battle with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Special Agent and whistleblower Jay Dobyns says he as been vindicated after Federal Judge Francis Allegra ruled in his favor late Tuesday. Dobyns, who infiltrated the dangerous and deadly Hells Angels gang as an undercover agent years ago, brought a lawsuit against the Bureau after supervisors ignored death threats to his family, which included plans to murder him either with a bullet or by injecting him with the AIDS virus, kidnapping and torturing his then 15-year-old daughter and kidnapping his wife in order to videotape a gang rape of her. Contracts were solicited between the Hells Angels, the Aryan Brotherhood and the MS-13 gang to carry out these threats, which were laid out in prison letters and confirmed through FBI and ATF interviews of confidential informants inside numerous detention centers. In 2008, his Tucson home was burned to the ground. When the fire was started, his wife and children were inside. Luckily, they escaped. Instead of investigating, ATF supervisors accused Dobyns of being the arsonist.
"I have been vindicated. First, I must thank God who provided me with strength and faith during these events. I thank those who have supported me; family, friends, peers and strangers but mostly my wife and kids – they have been the true victims here and been forced to suffer too needlessly," Dobyns wrote about the ruling on his website, where he released the news. "An agency I spilled my own blood for and enthusiastically accepted every dirty assignment on behalf of for twenty-seven years, knowingly and intentionally accused me of a crime I did not commit; being a person who would murder his own wife and children by fire."
In his opinion, Allegra said ATF exhibited "organizational weaknesses," in handling the threats against Dobyns and described ATF officials as demonstrating misfeasance in the case "rooted in the sorry failure of some ATF officials."
“The violations occurred because of the way officials like ASAC Gillett and RAC Higman functioned – and were allowed to function – after the arson, especially in terms of how Agent Dobyns was treated”; “In the courts view, the evidence showed that ASAC Gillett and Agent Higman knew that Agent Dobyns was not responsible for the fire, and still allowed him to be treated as a suspect as a form of payback. Moreover, ATF officials knew, or should have known, that individuals like ASAC Gillett and Agent Higman should not have been allowed to participate in the investigation – as it turned out their conduct was not only reprehensible, but predictably so. In donning blinders in this regard, ATF officials compounded potential harm that might have befallen the Dobyns family,” the opinion states.
In his writing about the ruling, Dobyns stressed that the abuses toward him occurred prior to Operation Fast and Furious and were carried out by many of the same players (ASAC Gillett being one of them) ultimately responsible for the bloody project that left Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry dead.
During Operation Black Biscuit, Dobyns operated as a special field agent under ATF Phoenix Field Office management. At the time of the threats, that management team included Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Phoenix Field Division William Newell, Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett and ATF Deputy Assistant Director William McMahon, who served as Newell’s direct supervisor at the time. All were intimately involved in Operation Fast and Furious. Newell and McMahon have both testified before the House Oversight Committee regarding their roles in the lethal gun trafficking operation that deliberately put over 2,000 high powered weapons into the hands of ruthless Mexican drug cartels and allowed those weapons to be lost south of the border.
Dobyns warned ATF about corrupt, power hungry supervisors for years and was ignored.
"Why is that important? Because in 2007 and 2008 I warned ATF of the dangers of these people well in advance of Fast and Furious providing them ample time to prevent what was coming. The asleep-at-the-wheel malfeasance of Michael Sullivan, Ronnie Carter, Billy Hoover and Ken Melson empowered them. Once the corruption was exposed they all questioned, 'How did this happen?'" Dobyns wrote. "It happened while I was being buried and tormented by ATF for speaking out and the ringleaders of Fast and Furious remained un-touched, un-investigated, un-disciplined at a time when they were just beginning to orchestrate the greatest law enforcement scandal of the modern era."
Dobyns will be rewarded damages from ATF. In the lawsuit ATF argued the Bureau is entitled to book royalties from Dobyns' New York Times Bestseller No Angel. That argument was denied.
"I thank the select few of my ATF peers who displayed the courage to publicly stand by me when doing so put their own careers and reputations at risk. Friends I thought I had vanished while friends I never knew I had arrived. There is nothing comparable to “pressure” in a time of need to find out who truly believes in you...Doing the right thing is not always easy but, it is always right," Dobyns wrote.
Editor's note: I've had the honor and pleasure of getting to know Jay Dobyns over the past few years. He is a good man who has been through hell. Jay has become a friend, has given me valuable insight into ATF and was gracious enough to write the intro to my book about Operation Fast and Furious. He has done this country a great service through his more than 25 years of law enforcement work and through his brave stance as a whistleblower. Although ATF hasn't changed and still refuses to prosecute corrupt supervisors, I am grateful to see the court system deliver justice. Thank you Jay for all that you have done and congratulations.RELATED: ATF Ignored Death Threats, Tried to Frame Whistleblower Agent to Cover Corruption
Stop me if you have heard this before: The official White House Twitter account tweeted their recognition of Constitution Day today...with a picture of President Obama in the National Archives building.
Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) took a different approach to celebrate the day, and tweeted the entire Constitution word for word from his official account, 140 characters at a time.
Happy Constitution Day, twitter! 227 years ago, our Constitution was signed by 38 of 41 delegates to the Constitutional Convention.— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) September 17, 2014
In honor of this occasion, for the next little while I’ll be tweeting the entire Constitution.— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) September 17, 2014
Happy Constitution Day!
Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal turned the tables on President Obama yesterday, accusing the White House of being "science deniers" when it comes to energy.
"We now face an administration that is composed of science deniers when it comes to energy and the environment," Jindal said at a lunch with reporters at The Heritage Foundation. "You are looking at an administration that is holding our economy hostage to their radical views. It really is an article of religious faith amongst this administration the way they approach these questions of policy."
Pressed after his presentation to identify what specific science the White House was denying, Jindal rattled off a lengthy list:
Look, the most obvious one is the Keystone Pipeline. For five years they said they were studying this and their own State Department says it will have no discernible environmental impact. It will create tens of thousands of construction jobs. It would boost both of our country's economies and energy self sufficiency. So the Keystone Pipeline is the first example.
The second example is when you look at the EPA's policies, again even if you accept the premise behind their attempts to regulate CO2 admissions from power plants, not even the EPA's regional office could explain to us how they came up with their numbers for the states or what the rationale was. They basically said, 'Go to DC, we don't know where the 40 percent came from.' And again in my state's own personal experience there is no rational connection ... It's not like we're a state where we have a lot of outdated facilities that can be easily upgraded. That is not the case in our state. There is not that low hanging fruit.
Third, when you look at their approach to the environment, simply shifting energy intensive industries overseas, at a time where China now emits more CO2 than America, the growth is coming from the developing world, they've added more new coal capacity in the last few years than our entire coal capacity, the idea that unilateral actions that hurt our economy are going to somehow benefit the environment makes no scientific sense.
Exporting those energy intensive industries, if that's what we succeed in doing, will actually make the environment worse. Those activities will now be performed in countries with weaker environmental regulations. Today we export about ten percent of our coal. And now this president has said, 'We are going to bankrupt anyone who wants to build a new coal facility' ... 'we're going to increase electricity prices,' so as a result instead of us using our coal we export it and so now China and India are going to burn it, does nothing to help the environment. All we are doing is giving them more affordable electricity to compete with our manufacturers.
So there are several other examples, when you look at the regulatory overreach this administration that has opposed efforts to do cost benefit analyses before they do environmental regulations. So you look under MACT [Maximum Achievable Control Technology] they will justify the most expensive intervention even without a proportionate benefit to emission reductions or environmental benefit, again ignoring the analysis and the facts.
So I think time and time again the left, they like to tell us they are the ones who are following science and we are the science deniers, but I think over all their approach to energy is telling. You look at the shifting ... and it's pretty startling how quickly they shifted their views on natural gas. Natural gas was the left's favorite energy, at least fossil energy, source for a long time until fracking happened.
When it was scarce and expensive they loved natural gas. When it was $13 they loved natural gas. As soon as it was affordable, all of a sudden they decided they didn't like it so much. I think that if they are honest, they want energy to be scarce and expensive because it allows the federal government to be more involved in our lives and it allows them to decide what kind of cars you drive, what kind of homes you live in, how we live our lives.
Look I think for much of the left the whole debate about CO2 is really a trojan horse. These are folks that never reality wanted a fee market. These are folks that are always looking for an excuse to impose more government regulation, more government oversight, this is just their latest vehicle to do it.
So in many ways they are hiding behind these claims to use that as a trojan horse to come in and do what they wanted to do anyway.
You can read Jindal's full 48-page report, "Organizing Around Abundance: Making America and Energy Superpower," here.
The politically incorrect and offensive word the vice president used this time was “Shylocks.” During a recent speech, he was trying to describe the dishonest and greedy bankers his son warned him about, while deployed in Iraq, who knowingly took advantage of American soldiers. It’s unclear whether he was reading from prepared remarks, or speaking off-the-cuff, but the characterization has at least one Jewish group wondering what in the world he was thinking (via Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox and Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey):
“Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day. The Vice President should have been more careful,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said.
Shylock, the villain in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” is a Jewish moneylender who mercilessly demands a “pound of flesh” from the merchant who defaults on a loan. Whether the 16th-century play is anti-Semitic or reflects the anti-Semitism of the time is a subject of frequent, bitter debate, but the term Shylock is offensive enough that Florida stripped it from state law back in 2009. (Not everyone has gotten that memo). …
Biden’s slip came in a speech to the Legal Services Corporation, which provides lawyers to Americans who could not afford them otherwise. In his remarks, the vice president described the experience of his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, who was deployed for one year in Iraq.
Incidentally, Buzz Feed released a video several weeks ago highlighting the commonly-used pejoratives still in circulation today. I found the video instructive, in part, because I didn’t even know some of those words and phrases were offensive. Is it possible, then, that Biden used the term “Shylocks” in his own speech to emphasize a point -- not understanding its hidden meaning and its implications?
For the life of me, I can’t imagine he would use the word willingly or knowingly in public, let alone in a speech, if he knew it would offend Jewish Americans. The Anti-Defamation League National Director, for his part, seemed to admit as much. He told Olivier that “[w]hen someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden, uses the term 'Shylocked’ to describe unscrupulous moneylenders dealing with service men and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society.”
In other words, Biden almost certainly didn't use the term maliciously. And that, in turn, is one of many reasons why I suspect he will soon be forgiven.
UPDATE: See below.
Breaking: Biden calls 'Shylock' comment a 'poor choice of words'— The Hill (@thehill) September 17, 2014
A new poll of likely voters conducted for Townhall by Gravis Marketing reveals that Louisiana's US Senate race is statistically deadlocked, with support for incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu mired in the low-to-mid 40's. In a three-way contest among the top contenders, Landrieu attracts 43 percent support, with Republicans Rep. Bill Cassidy and Col. Rob Manness combining for 44 percent:
Ernst's lead is due almost entirely from a strong showing among independents, who favor the former-hog farmer by a seven-point, 50 to 43 percent, margin.
"Sen. Ernst's television commercials and campaign have presented her as a born and bred Iowan, who never lost her farm girl values. She should pay her strategists and media folks quite well because up until now they have sold that message effectively," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll said. "The fact that more voters think she cares about their needs than does Braley is telling. That is a measurement that many Republicans, even winning GOPers, lose.
Earlier polls showed Braley with a slight lead, including one taken two weeks ago with Braley up by four points.
You can see Ernst's latest campaign ad, "About," below.
The first public House Select Committee on Benghazi starts at 10 a.m. et. You can watch live below.