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Kevin Glass - Obama White House In Full Panic Mode Over Netanyahu Speech
Posted: 2/28/2015 9:55:00 AM EST
The Obama White House has spent weeks in panic over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's appearance before Congress this coming week. Yesterday the New York Times reported that White House officials are attempting to "rebut" Netanyahu's speech four days before it is actually going to happen.

Netayahu is expected to criticize any deal-making with the Iranian regime.

Just four days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of Congress, the Obama administration sought on Friday to refute the Israeli leader’s expected critique, arguing that he has failed to present a feasible alternative to American proposals for constraining Iran’s nuclear program.

In a briefing for reporters, senior administration officials contended that even an imperfect agreement that kept Iran’s nuclear efforts frozen for an extended period was preferable to a breakdown in talks that could allow the leadership in Tehran unfettered ability to produce enriched uranium and plutonium.

The Obama White House might see a deal with Iran over "inspections" and their nuclear arms program as a major milestone - even a 'legacy' issue - so they want Congress to be in line. But Netanyahu obviously has a lot of concerns over dealing with the Iranian regime.

Vivian Hughbanks  - Cruz: Leave the Internet to the People
Posted: 2/27/2015 9:08:00 PM EST

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) criticized the Federal Communications Commission's rules on net neutrality as an overreach of unchecked bureaucratic power on Thursday.

“Today, the FCC decided to take over the Internet,” Cruz said. “You should feel real excited because at Barack Obama's instructions, 5 unelected bureaucrats have now declared the Internet is a public utility.”

The FCC voted yesterday to adopt the “Open Internet Order,” designed to ensure equal treatment of legal content on the Internet. The rules were neither publicly released, nor openly debated before adopted by the Commission.

“Net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet,” Cruz said, sparking boos from the crowd. “The FCC's new rules for the Internet are 332 pages that you and I are not allowed to read – I think their strategy is that you have to pass it to find out what's in it.”

The new regulations are a violation of First Amendment rights, the 2016 hopeful explained at an event sponsored by Breitbart News at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“The Internet has been a haven for free speech,” he said. “Today with the Internet, you can start a blog right now that a million people read... Dan Rather was a master of the universe until some bloggers in pajamas said wait a second, what this guy's saying ain't true! Talk about power for the citizen.”

Cruz remarked that true freedom on the Internet isn't government intervention, but leaving citizens to use the web without regulations controlling content.

“What has made it work is we have kept politicians and government the heck away from it. Here's what we need to do with the Internet: don't tax it, don't regulate it, don't do nothin' – leave it to the people!”

Townhall.com Staff - Gov. Bobby Jindal on Common Core and a Presidential Run
Posted: 2/27/2015 8:14:00 PM EST

Townhall's Christine Rousselle spoke with Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal at CPAC 2015.


Matt Vespa - PPP: Public Split On Whether Williams Should Return To NBC
Posted: 2/27/2015 7:30:00 PM EST

The controversy surrounding Brian Williams and his non-“RPG hit my helicopter” story might not have impacted NBC’s favorability numbers with the public, but it has hurt Williams personally. In a D+6 poll by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP), 31 percent of viewers have a positive opinion of him, 39 percent have a negative one. Moreover, there’s a split between whether he should be allowed to return to the anchor’s desk, or if he should be shown the exit–immediately; 39 percent think he should be reinstated, while 36 percent say fire him.

The poll also noted two other things. If the interim anchor of Nightly News, Lester Holt, replaces Brian Williams, likability won’t be much of a factor since both Williams and Holt have the same favorability numbers. At the same time, Holt doesn’t have nearly as many haters as Williams:

Voters are evenly divided, with 40% saying they trust NBC News and 40% saying they don't. Those numbers are virtually identical to what we found on the 2014 iteration of this poll, when 39% said they trusted NBC and 39% said they didn't.

Even though the controversy hasn't affected perceptions of NBC much overall, it's definitely impacted feelings about Williams. 31% of voters have a positive opinion of him to 39% with a negative one. There's close division about whether he should be able to return- 39% say yes while 36% think he should be fired. There are big partisan divides in attitudes towards Williams. Among Democrats 52% think he should be allowed to come back to just 24% who believe he should be fired. But among Republicans only 32% support his return with 45% saying he should be let go.

If NBC does decide to replace Brian Williams with Lester Holt they won't see much of a drop off in popularity. Holt's favorability rating of 30% falls just below Williams' 31%, but he doesn't have near the quantity of voters who dislike him with only 15% giving him a negative rating to Williams' 39%.

The rest of the poll was grounded in partisan trust of media outlets. Shocker; more Republicans hate MSNBC than do Democrats who actually like the network. Democrats are also more likely to trust ABC, NBC, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, and NBC News. Less than 25 percent of Republicans can’t say the same, though they’re split 37/39 regarding trust and distrust of PBS.

Leah Barkoukis - Phil Robertson on Faith, the Founding Fathers, and STDs
Posted: 2/27/2015 7:00:00 PM EST

Believe it or not, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson actually managed to discuss each of these items, at length I might add, during a speech on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Robertson was there to accept the Andrew Breitbart Defender of Free Speech Award. 

"All of us ought to be able to speak freely so we don't have to be awarded," he began his speech before pulling out a large, weathered-looking family Bible bound together with duct tape. 

"I'm a God-loving, Bible-believing, gun-toting capitalist," he declared, before delving into other topics, such as the Founding Fathers, STDs, marriage, ISIS, and the moral decline of America. 

While Robertson's speech was unpredictable, long, and a bit strange at times, he did make many valuable points, particularly about religion's role in America today. 

Addressing criticisms he hears that he's "too religious," Robertson pulled several quotes from our Founding Fathers that showed how important religion was in not only their personal lives, but in guiding the decisions they made as politicians. 

"[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue," he read, quoting John Adams. 

"You lose your religion and you lose your morality and we're almost there," he said before going into a tangent about how 110 million Americans now have an STD. Diseases he referred to as "revenge of the hippies." 

The "safe" option, he argued, was "one man, one woman, married for life." 

Robertson concluded (because the event's organizers finally had to begin blasting 'exit' music) by talking about the importance of having God-fearing politicians in office. 

"If you don't have spiritual men making political decisions, you're going to lose this country," he said.  

Townhall.com Staff - "Presidential Madness": Salem All Stars Debate 2016 Candidates
Posted: 2/27/2015 6:30:00 PM EST

National, Harbor, MD -- On Friday afternoon, Salem Media Group hosted a five-person, break out session at CPAC with Townhall’s Political Editor Guy Benson titled “Presidential Madness: The Road to Sweet 16.” Ed Morrissey, Erick Erickson, Mary Katharine Ham, and Katie Pavlich, all of whom write for websites under the Townhall Media empire, weighed in and discussed the pros and cons of 16 different potential 2016 GOP hopefuls. Check out the bracket below:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

To be clear, none of the panelists endorsed candidates—as this was, as Benson put it, merely a “fun” exercise. There were, however, some interesting issues raised. Most intriguing to some attendees, perhaps, was the impending candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. Does his lack of political experience disqualify him for the nation’s highest office, Benson asked the panel, or can he navigate a path to the nomination despite having never served in government?

Mary Katharine Ham offered some cautious analysis.

“I don’t like to say disqualifying,” she intoned. “I think the problem Carson is going to have is one of a disciplined message.” She added that, while he is a tea party darling and capable messenger, his delivery can sometimes veer off track.

“He’s an electric speaker, people gravitate towards him, but that electricity can ultimately shock,” she added. “So he has to be careful.”

He also addressed what one might call the inevitable “senators vs. governors” dilemma. That is to say, how do relatively inexperienced federal legislators—like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), for example—convince grassroots activists they are more qualified to be president than seasoned and proven state chief executives?

“Everyone knows that governors are usually better presidential candidates than senators,” Townhall's Katie Pavlich said. “Because they often have to negotiate with people on the other side of the aisle. [They] have to come to terms with getting things done in their state.”

“So although we have these incredible candidates in the Senate who quite possibly might be running for president,” she added, “they are brand new.”

She pointed out that leaders like Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) have tangible and impressive accomplishments attached to their names, which might give them an advantage early in the nomination process.

Still, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey underscored an X factor that could alter the dynamics of the race.

“We are seeing in both parties a real impulse for populism, and significantly, anti-establishment populism,” he said. This is why primarygoers may take a hard look at candidates a la Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, he suggested, despite their relatively thin resumes. This is also a reason why Hillary Clinton may struggle in the general election, he said.

“She is the ultimate Washington insider,” Morrissey continued, a point RedState’s Erick Erickson quickly seconded. Erickson, however, went a step further, and actually predicted Hillary Clinton will lose the Democratic nomination in 2016.

“I do not think that Hillary Clinton will be able to run a machine, and figure out what the rest of the party hasn’t,” he said. That [base of support] is not the Democratic coalition; it is Barack Obama’s coalition. And good luck letting the Secretary of State run as the world goes to hell in a hand basket—and she has to own it.”

“I think Hillary’s absolutely running and will be the nominee and is probably the nominee at this moment in time,” Benson later added. “But she’s going to keep coming back to the raison d'etre of her campaign, which is ‘woman.’ It’s going to be a gender election.”

At the end of the discussion, the panelists were asked to weigh in on potential 2016 presidential tickets. The following are the match ups they found “most intriguing”:*

Ed: Scott Walker, Susana Martinez

Erick: Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez

Mary Katharine: Scott Walker, Susana Martinez

Katie: Scott Walker, Susana Martinez

Guy: Scott Walker, Marco Rubio or “something like” Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz

*These are not endorsements.

Conn Carroll - Boehner's Gambit Fails
Posted: 2/27/2015 5:40:00 PM EST

The House of Representatives rejected a three-week funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security Friday, creating the possibility for a limited shutdown of the agency starting at midnight Friday night.

Earlier in the day, the Senate passed a DHS funding that fully funds both of President Obama's executive immigration programs through the end of September.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had hoped to pass his three-week DHS funding bill, which would stop Obama's amnesty programs, thus giving time for a conference committee between the Senate and House bills.

More than 50 Republicans joined with Democrats to vote no against Boehner's short-term bill while just 12 Democrats voted with Republicans. The finally tally was 203-224.

The House is now currently in recess while Boehner's team figures out their next move. But the most likely outcome is a House vote on the Senate DHS bill which would most likely pass with unanimous Democratic support.

You can see which Republican senators voted with Democrats to fund Obama's amnesty here.

You can see which Republicans voted against a short-term DHS bill here.

Matt Vespa - It’s No Big Deal, But Top Hillary Advisers Knew Right Away That Benghazi Was A Terrorist Attack
Posted: 2/27/2015 3:00:00 PM EST

The Select Committee on Benghazi was established and recently extended last month. The five Democrats on the committee were irked that the vote on reauthorization in early January pretty much gave the body an unlimited amount of time and money to investigate the circumstances of the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, who were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 (via NYT):

The move to reauthorize the politically charged panel was included in a rules package for the new Congress that passed 234 to 172, mostly along party lines.

Five Democrats on the select committee lamented the reauthorization, which set no limit on the committee's budget or time frame, which means it could last well into the presidential election year. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a possible Democratic presidential candidate, could be called to testify about the attack, which occurred while she was secretary of state.

A report by the House Intelligence Committee found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack. Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the panel determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

The panel will probably be reviewing the latest FOIA request from Judicial Watch that revealed top Clinton advisers immediately that Benghazi was a terrorist attack: [bold text represents email exchanges]

On September 11, 2012, at 4:07 PM, Maria Sand (who was then a Special Assistant to Mrs. Clinton) forwarded an email from the State Department’s Operations Center entitled “U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi is Under Attack (SBU) [Sensitive But Unclassified]” to Cheryl Mills (then-Chief of Staff), Jacob Sullivan (then-Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy), Joseph McManus (then-Hillary Clinton’s Executive Assistant), and a list of other Special Assistants in the Secretary’s office:

The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM [Chief of Mission] personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.

On September 11, 2012, 4:38 PM, State Department Foreign Service Officer Lawrence Randolph forwarded Mills, Sullivan and McManus an email from Scott Bultrowicz, who was the former director of the Diplomatic Security Service (ousted following review of the attack), with the subject line, “Attack on Benghazi 09112012”:

DSCC received a phone call from [REDACTED] in Benghazi, Libya initially stating that 15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. There are no injuries at this time and it is unknown what the intent of the attackers is. At approximately 1600 DSCC received word from Benghazi that individuals had entered the compound. At 1614 RSO advised the Libyans had set fire to various buildings in the area, possibly the building that houses the Ambassador [REDACTED] is responding and taking fire.

Nearly seven hours later, at 12:04 am, on September 12, Randolph sends an email with the subject line “FW: Update 3: Benghazi Shelter Location Also Under Attack” to Mills, Sullivan, and McManus that has several updates about the Benghazi attack:

I just called Ops and they said the DS command center is reporting that the compound is under attack again. I am about to reach out to the DS Command Center.

This email also contains a chain of other, earlier email updates:

September 11, 2012 11:57 PM email: “(SBU) DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire. There are reports of injuries to COM staff.”

September 11, 2012 6:06 PM (Subject: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): “(SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli”

September 11, 2012, 4:54 PM: “Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site to locate COM personnel.”

The DOS emails reveal the first official confirmation of the death of Ambassador Stevens. On September 12, 2012, 3:22 AM, Senior Watch Officer Andrew Veprek forwarded an email to numerous State Department officials, which was later forwarded to Cheryl Mills and Joseph McManus, with the subject line “Death of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi”:

Embassy Tripoli confirms the death of Ambassador John C. (Chris) Stevens in Benghazi. His body has been recovered and is at the airport in Benghazi.

Two hours later, Joseph McManus forwards the news about Ambassador Stevens’ death to officials in the State Department Legislative Affairs office with instructions not to “forward to anyone at this point.”

Despite her three top staff members being informed that a terrorist group had claimed credit for the attack, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, issued an official statement, also produced to Judicial Watch, claiming the assault may have been in “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

Cheryl Mills asks that the State Department stop answering press inquiries at 12:11 am on September 12, despite the ongoing questions about “Chris’ whereabouts.” In an email to State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, Jacob Kennedy, and Phillipe Reines (then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications and Senior Communications Advisor), Mills writes:

Can we stop answering emails for the night Toria b/c now the first one [Hillary Clinton’s “inflammatory material posted on the Internet” statement] is hanging out there.

Earlier in the chain of emails, Nuland told Mills, Sullivan, and Patrick Kennedy (Under Secretary of State for Management) that she “ignored” a question about Ambassador Steven’s status and whereabouts from a CBS News Reporter.

In 2013, eyebrows were raised when it was discovered that the Obama administration scrubbed some information from the talking points, revising them twelve times. Susan Rice, then-Ambassador to the UN, delivered the final set when she did the Sunday morning talk shows, which omitted references to the al-Qaeda affiliated Ansar al-Sharia and CIA warnings about terrorist activity in the area in the months before the assault (via ABC News) [bold text indicates writings of then-State Dept. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland]:

ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.

White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.

That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.

“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”

Summaries of White House and State Department emails — some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard — show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.

State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:

The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”

In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”

The paragraph was entirely deleted.

Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA’s first drafts said the attack appeared to have been “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” but the CIA version went on to say, “That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” The draft went on to specifically name the al Qaeda-affiliated group named Ansar al-Sharia.

The latest foray of this administration tripping over itself badly was when they tried to explain how Obama’s remarks about parts of the horrific Paris shootings being "random," specifically the attack on the Kosher deli, last January wasn't a big deal.

Leah Barkoukis - Friday Filibuster: Preparing to Punt
Posted: 2/27/2015 2:13:00 PM EST

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

Closing Numbers:

19% of Texans would choose Gov. Scott Walker for the GOP presidential nominee—one percentage point shy of Sen. Ted Cruz.

21 – the number of Coptic Christians who were recognized by the church as martyrs after being beheaded by ISIS.

70% of Americans view Israel very favorably.

19% of likely U.S. voters think America and its allies are winning the War on Terror.

27% of British Muslims sympathize with the Charlie Hebdo shooters.

81% is PETA’s shelter kill rate in Virginia.

25% of the Iowa Republican Caucus would choose Gov. Scott Walker as their presidential candidate, leading the pack.

DHS & Immigration

Senate Republicans caved earlier this week in the DHS funding/executive amnesty fight, which paved the way for passage today in the upper chamber of a ‘clean’ DHS funding bill, 68-31, that would keep the department running through Sept. 30. The House, meanwhile, is closing in on approving a short-term spending bill that would avert a partial shutdown. The House had already passed a bill that fully funds DHS with the exception of Obama’s amnesty programs, but Senate Democrats filibustered the introduction of that legislation on multiple occasions, which prevented it from being debated or amended in the upper chamber. Meanwhile, another federal judge struck down one of Obama’s executive actions on immigration that helped end a wave of illegal immigration from Central American countries last summer.

Other Major Stories:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm AG nominee Loretta Lynch, so her full confirmation vote now heads to the entire Senate. Earlier this week, more than 50 House Republicans sent a letter to the Committee urging a vote to block her confirmation.

Meanwhile, if you like what Obamacare has done to health care, you’ll love what the Federal Communications Commission is about to do to the Internet. The Commission narrowly passed ‘net neutrality’ regulations on Thursday, which is supposed to guarantee "free and open access to the internet."

Finally, President Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline, just as he threatened he would.

Townhall Exclusives:

I had the chance to catch up with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel to hear about the state’s new Online Checkbook, which allows citizens, journalists, and lawmakers alike to browse through more than $408 billion in state spending over seven fiscal years.

Cortney spoke with actor Ted McGinley about his role in a new faith-based film “Do You Believe?”

Townhall managing editor Kevin Glass explains on video the downside of news that the deficit is expected to drop to the lowest point it’s been since Obama took office.

CPAC exclusive interviews:

Ambassador John Bolton

Rep. Mia Love

Carly Fiorina

Gov. Bobby Jindal

Check out our Townhall Media YouTube page for the latest out of CPAC this week and more.

Christine Rousselle - Gov. Bobby Jindal Talks Common Core, Obamacare, and ISIS in CPAC Speech
Posted: 2/27/2015 2:05:00 PM EST

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) stuck to three big themes during his speech yesterday at CPAC: Obamacare must be repealed, Common Core and the federal government have no business in the classroom, and radical Islam is a dangerous threat to America that needs to be handled by a competent leader.

Jindal emphasized that "we must repeal every single word of Obamacare," and hit on Republicans in Congress for "waving the white flag of surrender" on amnesty and Obamacare. Jindal made it clear that the 2014 elections were about "taking our country back," which, according to the governor, begins once Obamacare is repealed.

Jindal's focus then shifted to Common Core, and he noted that he's suing the federal government over the regulations. He said that he believes that parents and teachers at the local level do a far better job of dictating curriculum content than the federal government does. Additionally, Jindal was concerned as to what would happen if Common Core standards were applied to the U.S. History curriculum, saying that American exceptionalism would be replaced with victimization.

Jindal's third point was the threat of ISIS and other radical Islamic groups throughout the world, saying that Americans need to face the reality of "the evil that is radical Islamic terrorism." He criticized President Obama's failure to properly identify radical Islam as the motivating force behind ISIS, and said that he was "tired of hyphenated Americans"--meaning that he feels as though identifying as a united American population is more beneficial than dividing amongst ethnic backgrounds.

As for 2016, Jindal said that he expects to have a decision made about his potential run in the next couple of months, and that he has been praying over the matter with his wife.

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