Matt Vespa - Rep. Ann Kuster's Constituents Are Waiting For Their Town Hall Meeting
Posted: 9/18/2014 3:30:00 PM EST

In New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District, the campaign has swung negative. Democratic incumbent Rep. Anne Kuster has come out swinging by trying to tie her Republican opponent, New Hampshire House Representative Marilinda Garcia, as a Tea Party extremist.

Kuster spokesperson Rosie Hilmer said, “From wanting to completely abolish the Department of Education, to opposing the Violence Against Women Act and a woman’s right to choose, to voting to privatize Social Security, her [Garcia’s] policies would be devastating for hardworking Granite State families across the board. Students, women, seniors, and their families deserve to know the truth this election season about how Garcia’s extreme Tea Party positions would affect them.”

Yet, Kenny Cunningham, communications director for Garcia’s congressional campaign, issued the following statement about Kuster’s ad:

“It is extremely disappointing that Ann Kuster is already relying on negative attack ads in her race for re-election. Ann Kuster clearly has no record to run on from her time in Congress, and she is trying to distract from her unwavering support for President Obama and Obamacare.

Obamacare has drastically burdened our hardworking retirees with its severe cuts to the Medicare advantage system and has reduced choices for patients, as the majority of New Hampshire health care providers are now out of network. No state has been harder hit by the Obama-Kuster agenda, so it is no surprise that Kuster is using negative, dishonest ads to distract from her record and paint Marilinda Garcia as someone she is not.”

Elected in 2012, Kuster has yet to hold a town hall meeting with her constituents. She did attend one outside her district in Manchester back in November of 2013, but it was a disaster; she had a painfully awkward response to a question that asked her opinion on the creation of a select committee to investigate the Benghazi terror attacks.

Nonetheless, some of her constituents are getting restless. In a letter to the editor featured in the Laconia Daily Sun, Ryan Smith asked Rep. Kuster why she is “unwilling to participate in this tradition” of hosting a town hall. In another letter to the editor for the Eagle-Tribune, Noel Lyons-Baker wrote, “If Annie Kuster doesn't have time to meet with me in the span of four years [alluding to her 2010 run as well],[sic] she certainly doesn't deserve to represent me in Washington.”

So, while Kuster may rail against Garcia and the Tea Party, she should probably focus on organizing some town halls. Then again, it’s kind of hard for Democrats to defend the president’s policies right now. So, don’t expect Kuster planning any such meetings in the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, State Rep. Garcia's ad really isn't all that negative.  It talks about the string of scandals that has eroded the public trust in government and how we need a "new generation of conservative leaders to challenge the status quo."  Garcia says she's done that in New Hampshire and will carry that tradition to Washington D.C. 

Katie Pavlich - Lt. Col. Oliver North: Someone Needs to Tell The Truth, Obama's ISIS Strategy is Mission Impossible
Posted: 9/18/2014 2:30:00 PM EST

Fox News military analyst Lt. Col. Oliver North made an appearance on The Kelly File last night to assess President Obama's latest strategy against ISIS. His message is a discouraging one, saying what President Obama is asking the military do is mission impossible and that it's time someone step up and be honest about it. 

"In my military mind what you have is Operation Enduring Confusion. You have a President who cannot make up his mind about what he wants," North said. "Megyn, I've spent my whole life hanging around the U.S. military. I've been on plenty of times with you from Iraq and other places. I've spent my life with these young guys. I'm waiting for the general or admiral who will stand up on his hind feet and say this is mission impossible. Given the constraints that you've [Obama] given we cannot accomplish the objective you have set. It is impossible to do."

"Somebody has to tell the truth," he continued. "Some general or admiral at the Pentagon or somewhere else in Central Command has got to stand up and say, 'The mission we've been given we can do but we can't with the constraints you've places upon us.'"

This isn't the first time Obama has been at odds with U.S. Generals and based on history, those who speak out against him have a high chance of being fired.

Guy Benson - Rocky Mountain Momentum: GOP's Gardner Surges Ahead in Colorado Senate Race
Posted: 9/18/2014 1:17:00 PM EST

Democrats and left-wing groups have spent the last six months tearing down Colorado Republicans' Senate nominee, Rep. Cory Gardner, dropping millions of dollars on negative advertising. The idea has been to exploit their hefty financial advantage to define Gardner as a terrifying right-wing gargoyle in voters' minds before he had the resources and platforms chance to introduce himself on his own terms. Two new public polls indicate that their costly efforts haven't gotten the job done. Yesterday we told you about a new Suffolk/USA Today survey showing Gardner pulling into a very slim lead over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall (43/42). We also highlighted a Quinnipiac poll that put Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez ten points ahead of incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper. Quinnipiac hadn't released its Senate numbers yesterday, but I speculated that they'd almost certainly show Gardner in the lead:

Lo and behold, those results have now dropped:

Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall trails U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, his Republican challenger, 48 - 40 percent among likely voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Independent candidate Steve Shogan gets 8 percent. With Shogan out of the race, Rep. Gardner leads 52 - 42 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds. This survey of likely voters can not be compared with earlier surveys of registered voters. In the three-way matchup, Gardner leads Udall among men 53 - 34 percent, with 9 percent for Shogan. Women go 46 percent for Udall, 43 percent for Gardner and 7 percent for Shogan. Independent voters go 42 percent for Gardner, 40 percent for Udall and 15 percent for Shogan. Republicans back Gardner over Udall 88 - 5 percent with 5 percent for Shogan. Democrats back Udall over Gardner 90 - 3 percent, with 2 percent for Shogan.

A separate question asks Shogan voters, who are far more likely to say that they may change their vote before election day, whom they'd pick as their second choice in the race. That result: 52-42 for Gardner. Other polling has shown Gardner trailing among independents (a rarity for a Republican this cycle), and losing women pretty badly. This survey suggests he's closing those gaps. He's now (+10) on personal favorability -- extraordinary, given the relentless character assassination ads -- while Udall is (-8) on the same measure. Sure enough, Udall's individual character ratings are ugly: He's underwater on "honest and trustworthy" and "cares about people like you," while Gardner is soaring on both fronts. Of those respondents who say their vote will reflect their feelings on President Obama, they break against the president by nearly a three-to-one margin. Polls have consistently shown Obama's overall approval rating upside-down in the Rocky Mountain State for months, with Obamacare acting as another major drag.  The Udall campaign has rushed out internal polling to reassure nervous supporters:

National Journal's Josh Kraushaar notes that even Udall's own figures show him several points shy of 50.  He also points out that the Q-poll's sample was pretty heavily Republican, which explains the big leads for Gardner and Beauprez.  Both margins look like outliers, at least for now.  But there's a common denominatior between Q's data and the less-outlierish USA Today poll: Udall is polling in the low 40's -- a big time danger zone for an incumbent.  I'm skeptical that Gardner is actually up by eight in this race, but the red flags for Udall and the GOP's momentum look to be real. Stuck in a dead heat or trailing, Udall is taking the unprecedented step of avoiding televised debates in Colorado, perhaps because his first un-televised meeting with Gardner didn't go well for him. At all.  Instead, he's going to continue bombarding the airwaves with attack ads as his primary means of interacting with voters.  Denver's local CBS affiliate fact-checked one demagogic spot he's running against Gardner, declaring it misleading and "politics at its worst:"

It's a bit weird seeing excellent, fair, down-the-middle reporting, isn't it?  I'll leave you with this link to a Hot Air piece I wrote last week about Planned Parenthood's surreal attack on Cory Gardner over his proposal to...expand women's access to birth control.  The ends always justify the means, even if you have to tie yourself into embarrassing pretzels to get there.
Conn Carroll - Townhall Magazine's October Issue Preview: Obamacare's Illegal Insurance Company Bailout
Posted: 9/18/2014 12:15:00 PM EST

Townhall Magazine's October issue is hitting subscriber mailboxes now! If you want to get the latest original content from Townhall's conservative talent weeks before it goes online, subscribe here now!

Below is an excerpt from October's story, "Obamacare's Illegal Insurance Company Bailout."

Americans hate insurance companies. They also hate bailouts. And they especially hate it when insurance companies get bailouts.

But that is exactly what is going to hap- pen next summer unless Republicans in Congress stand up and fight against President Obama’s illegal health insur- ance company bailout.

A Sweetheart Deal
Our story begins just days after Obama’s landslide victory over Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008. Sensing an opportunity to increase profits at taxpayer expense, Karen Ignagni, the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans (the trade association that represents the health insurance industry in Washington), quickly signaled that she was ready to do business with the new occupant of the White House.

“No one should fall through the cracks of our health care system,” Ignagni’s November 11, 2008 statement read. “Universal coverage is within reach and can be achieved by building on the current system.” 

That last phrase, “and can be achieved by building on the current system” was the health insurance industry’s top priority in the beginning of the Obama administration. And they spent furiously to make sure Obama would protect them. Despite the worst recession since World War II, businesses spent more than $1 billion lobbying on health reform in 2009, a sharp increase from 2008.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield led the league in lobbyist spending, shelling out $15.13 million in 2009, up more than 25 percent from 2008. AHIP shelled out another $8.85 million, while United Health Group added $4.86 million, and Aetna Inc. spent $2.84 million.

These millions turned out to be very wise investments. Health industry lobbyists secured dozens of meetings in the White House throughout 2009 and 2010. They not only met with Obama’s top advisers, but also Obama himself.

These meetings had a very clear impact on the policy that Obama would eventually produce. During a June 24, 2009 ABC News town hall meeting on health care, Obama assured the CEO of Aetna: “Aetna is a well-managed company and I am confident that your shareholders are going to do well.”

And Aetna has done more than “well” under Obamacare. Its stock price has more than doubled, and almost tripled, since Obama publicly promised the company it would “do well” under Obamacare.

And when you look at the basic outline of Obamacare, you can see exactly why. The program forces every American to buy the health insurance industry’s products and also subsidizes those purchases to the tune of more than $1 trillion over just the next decade alone. No wonder health insurance industry stocks are booming.

An Ongoing Relationship
But the relationship between the health insurance industry and the Obama administration did not end on March 23, 2010, the day Obamacare was signed into law. If anything, it was just beginning.

Obamacare’s 2,700-plus pages of legislative text contains literally hundreds of directions for the executive branch to create new regulations. So far the Obama administration has produced more than...

You can read the rest of "Obamacare's Illegal Insurance Company Bailout" in Townhall Magazine's October issue.  

Katie Pavlich - Homeland Secretary Shows Little Concern Over Open Border Terror Threat
Posted: 9/18/2014 12:05:00 PM EST

Former Obama campaign bundler and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified in front of the House Homeland Security yesterday and was peppered with questions from lawmakers about the terrorism threat presented by a lack of border enforcement and security. As usual, Johnson gave unconcerned, non-detailed answers. 

First off, what you didn't see in the clip above was Johnson's attempt yesterday to shill for illegal immigration reform  as Americans raise more concerns about a lack of border security. During an answer to another lawmaker about how to prevent terrorists from going undetected inside the United States, Johnson made the absurd argument that a "legal process" for citizenship would prevent terror infiltration and encourage terrorists to come forward and turn themselves in. That suggestion is not only unhelpful but politically motivated garbage. Second, if Johnson got out of his cushy D.C. office once in awhile to actually talk to Border Patrol agents on the ground, he would know that radical Islamists crossing the southern border into the United States from Mexico is nothing new. Unfortunately, a lack of enforcement from Homeland Security to stop those crossings isn't new either. What is new in this scenario is a threat from ISIS and intelligence agencies have picked up chatter in the past few weeks showing the terror army is looking at the southern border as a possible way to gain access to the United States. Homeland Security officials have also confirmed this possibility in testimony to Congress. 

Meanwhile, little has been done at the State Department to revoke passports of Americans knowingly fighting with ISIS in Syria or Iraq. 

H/T Ed Morrissey Staff - WATCH LIVE: The ISIS Threat: Weighing the Obama Administration’s Response
Posted: 9/18/2014 11:30:00 AM EST

Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the administration's ISIS (ISIL) strategy. 

Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) on the hearing: “The President said his Administration had no strategy against ISIS two weeks ago, despite it long being on the march. The Administration is sending mixed messages now. ISIS is a serious threat to U.S. national security. The Committee needs to hear a comprehensive strategy from Secretary Kerry on how the Administration is going to confront this brutal and sophisticated terrorist group.”

Daniel Doherty - Report: 15 Arrested in Thwarted, ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Plot in Australia
Posted: 9/18/2014 11:15:00 AM EST

Australian authorities have dismantled a plot which they believe was a coordinated, ISIS-inspired attempt to randomly behead civilians in Brisbane and Sydney. Put briefly, fifteen people were apprehended and a sword was discovered at one of several properties some 800 policemen and women raided early Thursday morning. The Associated Press reports:

Police on Thursday said they thwarted a plot to carry out beheadings in Australia by supporters of the radical Islamic State group. They detained 15 people and raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney, though nine of those brought in were freed before the day was over. The raids involving 800 federal and state police officers — the largest in the country's history — came in response to intelligence that an Islamic State group leader in the Middle East was calling on Australian supporters to kill, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

Abbott was asked about reports that the detainees were planning to behead a random person in Sydney. "That's the intelligence we received," he told reporters. "The exhortations — quite direct exhortations — were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country."

The Guardian has more details about who this alleged, mastermind terrorist might be:

Two men were charged and nine people released. Under Australia’s counter-terrorism laws, those detained could be held for two weeks without charge.

One man, Omarjan Azari, 22, appeared in Sydney central court on Thursday afternoon to face charges of preparing to commit a terrorist act.

It is alleged he conspired to commit the act with another man, Mohammad Baryalei, a former Sydney bouncer and actor of Afghan origin, reportedly an Islamic State leader.

If anything, this almost-successful massacre in Australia is a serious and much-needed reminder that ISIS’s poisonous ideology is spreading worldwide and not just confined to the Middle East. Australian authorities, meanwhile, now believe that if they didn’t intervene when they did -- thus carrying out the largest and most sophisticated anti-terrorist manhunt since the country was founded -- the plot could very well have succeeded:

Nine of those detained were later released, New South Wales police said. They did not say why, or whether they will face charges later. The raids came just days after the country raised its terrorism threat to the second-highest level in response to the domestic threat posed by supporters of the Islamic State group. At the time, Abbott stressed that there was no information suggesting a terror attack was imminent.

Later Thursday, Attorney General George Brandis confirmed that a person born in Afghanistan who had spent time in Australia and is now working with the Islamic State group in the Middle East ordered supporters in Australia to behead people and videotape the killings. "If the ... police had not acted today, there is a likelihood that this would have happened," Brandis told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

For what it's worth, we actually have aerial footage of a police raid as it went down this morning, courtesy of The Washington Post:

Authorities have been tracking terrorist activities in Australia for months now, culminating in Thursday's pre-dawn operation. At the same time, the government also believes "at least 60 Australians" (but probably more) have betrayed their country by joining the terrorist organization ISIS overseas.

Guy Benson - Taxpayer-Funded Abortion: Yet Another Broken Obamacare Promise
Posted: 9/18/2014 10:07:00 AM EST

Earlier in the week Katie wrote up the Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that definitively illustrates the predictable demise of a flimsy 2010 Obamacare "compromise" designed to "guarantee" that tax dollars fund elective abortions under the law.  The issue is worth revisiting because it represents another egregious breach of trust.  In case you missed Katie's post, here are the basics:

There are widespread instances of Obamacare insurance plans violating the rigid rules surrounding whether customers can use federal health care subsidies on insurance policies that cover abortion procedures, according to a Government Accountability Office investigation.  The report, commissioned by House Republican leadership and obtained by POLITICO on Monday night, found that 15 insurers in a sample of 18 are selling Obamacare plans that do not segregate funds to cover abortion (except in cases of rape, incest or the mother’s life) from their Obamacare subsidies. The Affordable Care Act requires that insurers collect separate payments from customers for abortion coverage so that taxpayer money in the form of subsidies do not cover abortions. Adoption of the complex payment scheme — which essentially requires customers to send two separate payments to their insurers — was pivotal to getting the health law through Congress. Anti-abortion Democrats brokered the arrangement shortly before the law passed, threatening to vote against it without the restrictive language.

Good luck getting the Obama administration to enforce this element of the law, which the president's close allies have been grumbling about from the moment it was proposed. The White House is delaying, waiving, and ignoring parts of the law that they actively support, so the likelihood that they'll insist upon scrupulous adherence to provisions they were basically dragged into conceding seems...remote.  You may recall that this language was written into the law, and buttressed by a presidential executive order, because recalcitrant pro-life Democrats were concerned that a vote for Obamacare would be tantamount to violating the longstanding Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayer dollars from flowing to subsidize elective abortions.  Nancy Pelosi needed a handful of votes to secure a slim majority to pass the unpopular legislation, so assurances were given, supposedly backed by the force of law. Those requirements, in the large majority of cases, have been ignored, according to GAO.  The accommodation was a fleeting political necessity, nothing more.  Former Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI), who led the small pro-life Democratic caucus at the time, has since lambasted the administration for breaking its word on conscience protections (via the coercive birth control mandate).  This marks another overt betrayal.  Let's not forget how Obama positioned this issue with faith leaders during his O-Care sales pitch:

"I know there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate. There are some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false've heard that this is all going to mean, uh, government funding of abortion.  Not true. These are all fabrications."

"Fabrications."  Ironically, a prominent pro-life organization just won a years-long legal battle over a lawsuit filed against them for "falsely" claiming that a vote for Obamacare was a vote for taxpayer-funded abortion.  The Susan B. Anthony List prevailed on other grounds before this GAO study vindicated the truth of their message, but this confirmation must be satisfying nonetheless.  But not too satisfying because, well, taxpayer dollars funding elective abortions.  (Incidentally, lest there were any doubt, left-leaning fact-checker Politifact rated statements parroting Obama's obsolete line on this matter as "true."  We won't hold our breath for an updated ruling). We are once again reminded that virtually every major promise on which Obamacare was built has since been undermined or exposed by reality, verifying many conservative critiques that were once attacked and dismissed as "misinformation" and "fabrications."  Obama and his party promised substantially lower premiums for everybody, that people could keep their preferred doctors and health plans "no matter what," and that health spending would decrease as a result of the law.  False, all the way around; some were deliberate lies.  A refresher on the big three:

We were also told that Obamacare wouldn't add to deficits.  Not so, especially as the gimmicks fall apart. (CBO now says this promise is too hard to track due to the law's constant on-the-fly changes).  Seniors were also promised that the law wouldn't negatively impact them, and that it would only add to Medicare's solvency. When Republicans argued otherwise, David Axelrod called it "a lie."  His revisionism wasn't true then, and it's even less true today:

MVP Health Care, an insurer based in Schenectady, New York, is dropping some of its plans tied to Medicare and raising rates for other related coverage under the health care program for elderly peopleDenise Gonick, president and CEO of MVP Health Care, delivered the announcement during a news conference this morning. She also said the Schenectady-based insurer with about 700,000 members in New York is projecting it will run at a deficit in 2015 because of the issue. Gonick said the decision was prompted in part by reduced reimbursement payments tied to Medicare, the federal program generally covering people age 65 and above...At the same time, the cost of medical care continues to spiral upward," Gonick said. "There is a large gap between what we can cover and the actual cost of care. The news comes after Gonick criticized state regulators, saying they had set health insurance rates for 2015 that are insufficient to cover rising medical cost. State regulators set average increases for 2015 at about 6 percent. Insurers had proposed twice that amount, about 13 percent. MVP has been facing declines in revenue during the past two years, which Gonick has attributed to industrywide challenges tied to implementing the federal Affordable Care Act.

Also on the menu across the country amid the "summer of setbacks:" Cancelled plansdouble-digit premium increases, and major insurers pulling out of exchanges.  Another GAO investigation into Obamacare revealed a large majority of decoy "consumers" were able to sign up for coverage and obtain taxpayer subsidies online and over the phone.  The federal government even confirmed the citizenship of several of these fake people, raising questions about fraud and eligibility issues.  The Obama administration recently confirmed that was hacked in July.  I'll leave you with this, which is a follow-up to this story: Staff - "Jesus On Trial" Hits #1 On Amazon
Posted: 9/18/2014 9:35:00 AM EST
Recently, prolific author and Townhall columnist David Limbaugh's book Jesus On Trial hit #1 on the Amazon best-sellers list. It's a remarkable achievement, especially for an unapologetic Christian nonetheless applying legal scrutiny to the Gospels in order to hold the life of Jesus Christ to determine if the words of the Bible are the truth.

Limbaugh discussed his book on Sean Hannity's show recently:

Congratulations to David, who is one of the sharpest conservatives around. Oh, and did you know that you can get Jesus On Trial free with a subscription to Townhall Magazine?

Katie Pavlich - Is DWS Getting Fired?
Posted: 9/18/2014 8:55:00 AM EST

DNC Spokeswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has been under fire for weeks now after comparing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to a domestic abuser. As a reminder:

"Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality...What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back. It is not going to happen on our watch."

Now, it looks like Democrats have had enough of DWS' hyperbolic, dramatic and unhelpful approach to taking on Republicans. Oh, and she's in hot water with the White House too. POLITICO has the exclusive: 

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.

The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.

She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.

Don't be surprised if DWS loses her job for making Democrats and President Obama look bad while people like former IRS official Lois Lerner enjoy their cushy taxpayer funded pensions.