Leah Barkoukis - Former Maryland Gov Takes Shots at Hillary Over Gay Marriage, Immigration
Posted: 4/19/2015 8:49:00 AM EST

Hillary Clinton may be her party’s frontrunner right now but that doesn’t mean Democrats and Independents are happy about it. In fact, according to a recent Bloomberg poll, 72 percent of Democrats and Independents want to see a serious challenger jump in the ring on the left. Could it be former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who on Thursday took shots at the former secretary of state for flip-flopping on immigration reform and gay marriage? 

O'Malley was asked about his potential rival's stances on those issues at an event hosted byThe Guardian newspaper at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

“I’m glad Secretary Clinton’s come around to the right positions on these issues,” O’Malley said, according to a report in The Guardian. “I believe that we are best as a party when we lead with our principles and not according to the polls.

“Leadership is about making the right decision, and the best decision before sometimes it becomes entirely popular," he added.

During her 2008 White House run, Clinton was reluctant to take a firm stand on the issue of giving a driver's license to illegal immigrants.

But earlier Thursday, a Clinton campaign official told The Washington Post she "supports state policies to provide drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants."

She also did not endorse same-sex marriage during that earlier run. But in 2013, she announced her support for gay marriage in a video message for the Human Rights Campaign. On Wednesday, Clinton also urged the Supreme Court to recognize a right to same-sex marriage nationwide.

And this isn’t the first time he’s made such remarks. Last month, referencing Clinton and Jeb Bush, O’Malley said the "presidency is not some crown to be passed between two families.”

But is he the serious challenger Dems are looking for? Not at this point, at least. O'Malley consistently ranks poorly (if he ranks at all) in the polls and it doesn't look like we're going to see a drastic reversal anytime soon. 

Regardless, O’Malley said he will make a decision as to whether or not he’ll run for president by late May. Stay tuned.

Matt Vespa - Huckabee To Make 2016 Decision On May 5
Posted: 4/18/2015 6:15:00 PM EST

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will announce his 2016 intentions on May 5 in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, which is also where former President Bill Clinton grew up. Are we trolling, Mr. Huckabee? I think so (via Reuters):

Huckabee said in an interview on Fox News that he will announce his plans in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas.

Huckabee, who left office in 2007, first ran for president in 2008. He hosted a Fox News television show but quit early this year to weigh another run at the Republican nomination.

Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, is known as an unabashed culture warrior on issues such as abortion rights and gay marriage. But he could struggle to win support beyond his social conservative base this year.

He would join a crowded field if he does decide to run. U.S. Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have all announced their candidacies, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also are expected to jump in.

A super PAC has already been established to support his candidacy–and the former governor will probably tout his ability to defeat the Clinton machine since he’s done so many times before (via WaPo):

Speaking with reporters in Washington earlier in the day, Huckabee insisted he had not made a decision yet about running, although he said that "things are progressing along" in his preparations. He sounded like an all-but-declared candidate, saying a super PAC has been formed to support his likely candidacy and touting his supporter network in Iowa, home to the nation's first presidential caucuses, which Huckabee won in 2008.

Huckabee highlighted what he called a unique ability to beat "the Clinton political machine," pointing to his electoral success as Arkansas governor, a job he held between 1996 and 2007.

“There’s only one person I know in the Republican field that has consistently run against the Clinton political machine, the Clinton political money," Huckabee said. "Most all of my races, both Bill and Hillary Clinton came back to Arkansas to campaign for my opponents. So I know the process quite well -- and the good news for me is that I’ve defeated that political machine.”

Yet, if Huckabee does jump in, the reports of a feud are probably overstated according to Suzi Parker of The Daily Beast. Nevertheless, if Bill Clinton hadn’t run for president in 1992, its possible Huckabee would have never been elected governor:

Huckabee became lieutenant governor in a special election in 1993 after Clinton became president. In 1996, Huckabee ascended to the governor’s office when then-Governor Jim Guy Tucker resigned after his conviction in the Whitewater scandal.

Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., said that the 1993 special election set the stage for a long-standing connection between Huckabee and the Clintons.

“In that campaign, beginning a theme that he would use throughout his Arkansas career, Huckabee said his campaign was about ‘unplugging the [state Democratic party] machine’ at a moment of exceptional unpopularity for Clinton nationally,” Barth said. “While there really was no ‘Dem party machine,’ the theme resonated with voters and helped Huckabee eke out a very close win.”

Newspaper articles highlight the long-standing feud between Huckabee and the Clinton machine. A 1993 Wall Street Journal editorial entitled “Bill’s Backyard,” said: “Mr. Huckabee ran against a Democratic machine that pulled out all the stops against him.”

Janine Parry, a political science professor at the University of Arkansas, said that while there is a long history between Huckabee and the Clintons, the feud has been blown out of proportion.

Before Huckabee’s 1993 Lt. Governor’s race, the Clintons' track record back home was somewhat unstoppable. After winning a rematch with then-Gov. Frank White in 1982 with 54 percent of the vote, Bill won his 1984 re-election bid with over 62.5 percent of the vote–and won again in 1986 with almost 64 percent. That year, the governor’s term was extended to four years. Bill Clinton would win re-election in the 1990 race with 57 percent of the vote.

So, yes, Huckabee has been able to beat the Clintons by proxy and became governor in 1996, but that point might be neutralized by a rather solid 2016 GOP field.  Additionally, as Parry noted, “Governor Huckabee has tremendous political talent: he’s good one-on-one and working a room. But he hasn’t yet parlayed those talents to the world stage. Hillary has, and for far longer, meaning she probably perceives Huckabee as only a slightly more interesting competitor than any of the apparently dozens of others.”

Christine Rousselle - Medical Marijuana Comes to Georgia
Posted: 4/18/2015 2:57:00 PM EST

On Thursday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a law that legalizes the possession of a low-potency form of cannabis oil for medicinal uses. Patients suffering from cancer, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizure disorders and sickle cell disease will now be allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil with a doctor's permission. The law goes into effect immediately.

The bill was dubbed "Haleigh's Hope Act," after a five-year-old Georgian named Haleigh Cox, who suffers from a seizure disorder that used to cause hundreds of seizures a day that did not respond to conventional drugs. Haleigh's parents were told last year that marijuana may be effective in treating her illness, but that it was not able to be prescribed in Georgia. When Haleigh's parents were informed she may only have months to live, they packed up and moved to Colorado as a last-ditch effort to save their daughter's life. Since the move and subsequent regiment of cannabis oil treatments, she has far fewer seizures and has begun talking once again.

House Bill 1, which took effect immediately, makes it legal for people who suffer from cancer, sickle cell disease and other illnesses to possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil if a physician signs off. The state estimates hundreds of thousands of residents could be eligible for the drug, and at least 17 Georgia families have had to temporarily move to places like Colorado where the cannabis oil is legal.

The oil cannot contain more than five percent THC, the compound that causes the "high" associated with smoking marijuana. The average THC content of marijuana is 13 percent.

Despite the law, significant hurdles remain for patients who want to be treated with cannabis oil. It is currently illegal on a federal level to possess the oil, and it is illegal to grow or purchase marijuana in Georgia.

Georgia must now set up a permitting system for physicians and patients in order to distribute and prescribe cannabis oil.

Cortney O'Brien - Legislators Reintroduce FIREARM Act to Expose ‘Race, Ethnicity’ Requirements for Gun Purchases
Posted: 4/18/2015 12:00:00 PM EST

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) currently requires potential gun owners to provide their race and ethnicity when purchasing a firearm. If gun retailers fail to enforce this law, the federal government can put them out of business.

Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Ted Poe (R-TX), two legislators who recognize and appreciate Americans’ right to bear arms, have reintroduced the Freedom From Intrusive Regulatory Enforcement of Arbitrary Registration Mandates Act in response to the ATF’s superfluous regulations.

“This requirement by the ATF is another example how this administration continually makes it harder for law-abiding citizens to possess firearms,” said Congressman Ted Poe. “Forcing citizens who are lawfully purchasing guns to disclose race and ethnicity with the threat of federal prosecution if they fail to disclose is completely unnecessary. Bottom line, if a law-abiding citizen is lawfully purchasing firearms, race and ethnicity are irrelevant. It is time to stop punishing those who are following the law.”

Black expounded on Poe’s statement, adding that it’s not just a gun owning issue, but a privacy concern.

“The government has no legitimate reason to collect this information in the first place. That is why my bill would ban the ATF from requiring Americans to list their race or ethnicity in order to purchase a firearm.”

Both the NRA and Gun Owners of America are applauding Black’s and Poe’s efforts. Here is an excerpt from a grateful letter GOA sent Rep. Black.

“It should be of interest to both conservatives and liberals that this law enforcement agency is snooping into the racial and ethnic identity of gun owners without just cause. Your legislation will protect gun buyers’ privacy, prevent the federal government from needlessly putting gun retailers out of business, and ultimately strengthen Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

So, how did the race and ethnicity requirement get passed in the first place? The answer is: quietly.

With little fanfare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2012 amended its Form 4473 — the transactional record the government requires gun purchasers and sellers to fill out when buying a firearm — to identify buyers as either Hispanic, Latino or not. Then a buyer must check his or her race: Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander or white.

The Obama administration is not always so subtle in its disregard for the Second Amendment. In February, for instance, the ATF sought to ban the sale of AR-15 ammunition. Right now, members of Congress, like Diane Black and Ted Poe, are exposing the White House's gun control agenda loud and clear–and that is good news for gun owners.

Daniel Doherty - Panic Time: Rubio Edges Bush in New Florida Poll
Posted: 4/18/2015 9:00:00 AM EST

There are worse weeks to have when announcing a presidential bid.

A new poll conducted in the Sunshine State finds that Marco Rubio has a slight (if statistically insignificant) lead over perhaps his biggest rival in the hunt for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination: Jeb Bush.

Politico reports:

Sen. Marco Rubio’s splashy presidential-campaign announcement and his subsequent media blitz has likely helped him catch up with friend and former mentor Jeb Bush in their home state of Florida, according to a new poll of 400 registered Republican voters.

Rubio garnered 31 percent support from Republicans and essentially tied Bush’s 30 percent, according to a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey conducted Tuesday through Thursday and shared exclusively with POLITICO. The other likely and announced presidential candidates polled in the single digits and 17 percent were undecided.

Rubio’s slight edge is statistically insignificant, in part, because it falls easily within the margin of error. But the poll is instructive nonetheless.

One of the greatest and most pressing concerns for Rubio before taking the plunge, I assume, was whether or not he could secure enough donors and supporters to lock up his home state—a state that he just so happens to share with establishment juggernaut Jeb Bush. If he can't win Florida, so the argument goes, he might as well sit this one out. So, of course, the skeptics urged Rubio stay in the Senate, defer to his mentor, and keep quiet presumably because Bush is unbeatable in Florida, and thus launching a presidential campaign undercutting him would inevitably go down in flames.

Ultimately, however, Rubio refused to back down.

“I've heard some suggest that I should step aside and wait my turn,” Rubio said earlier this week when announcing his presidential bid. “But I cannot. Because I believe our very identity as an exceptional nation is at stake, and I can make a difference as president.”

He has a compelling message that moves people to open their wallets—and their minds, too. Thus, as this poll seems to demonstrate, perhaps Rubio didn’t make a mistake after all giving up his Senate seat.

Perhaps—and this might be news to Team Bush and everyone else watching—the state of Florida is very much up for grabs.

Matt Vespa - Oh My: Some People Support A $50 Minimum Wage
Posted: 4/17/2015 6:30:00 PM EST

Dan Joseph is on a mission. Who supports a $50/hour minimum wage? What better place to put forward such a bold initiative than in the free speech zone on the sanctified grounds of George Mason University in Virginia.

Now, while Joseph was able to find a few supporters, some students on campus knew that raising the minimum wage will lead to job losses and increased pricing for some goods. One man called the law racist and he’s not the only one. The late economist Milton Freidman described minimum wage laws as the most anti-African-American law on the books, as he explained in his 1966 op-ed for Newsweek:

Does a merchant increase his sales by raising prices? Does higher pay of domestic servants induce more housewives to hire help? The situation is no different for other employers. The higher wage rate decreed by Congress for low-paid workers will raise the cost of the goods that these workers produce—and must discourage sales. It will also induce employers to replace such workers with other workers—either to do the same work or to produce machinery to do the same work or to produce machinery to do the work.

Some workers who already receive wages well above the legal minimum will benefit—because they will face less competition from the unskilled. That is why many unions are strong supporters of higher minimum-wage rates. Some employers and employees in places where wages are already high will benefit because they will face less competition from businessmen who might otherwise invest capital in areas that have large pools of unskilled labor. That is why Northern manufactures and unions, particularly in New England, are the principal sources of political pressure for higher legal minimum-wage rates.

The groups that will be hurt the most are the low-paid and the unskilled.

Women, teen-agers, Negroes and particularly Negro teen-agers, will be especially hard hit. I am convinced that the minimum-wage law is the most anti-Negro law on our statute books—in its effect not its intent. It is a tragic but undoubted legacy of the past—and one we must try to correct—that on the average Negroes have lower skills than whites. Similarly, teen-agers are less skilled than older workers. Both Negroes and teen-agers are only made worse off by discouraging employers from hiring them. On the-job training—the main route whereby the unskilled have become skilled—is thus denied them.

The shockingly high rate of unemployment among teen-age Negro boys is largely a result of the present Federal minimum-wage rate. And unemployment will be boosted still higher by the rise just enacted. Before 1956, unemployment among Negro boys aged 14 to 19 was around 8 to 11 per cent, about the same as among white boys. Within two years after the legal minimum was raised from 75 cents to $1 an hour in 1956, unemployment among Negro boys shot up to 24 per cent and among white boys to 14 per cent.

Nevertheless, Joseph was able to receive more signatures than any other video in which he tried to get folks to support insanely liberal policy initiatives.

Greg Hengler - Rubio Running
Posted: 4/17/2015 5:23:00 PM EST

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Dennis Prager on Hillary Announcement. Michael Medved on Hillary announcing. Hugh Hewitt with Carly Fiorina on Hillary running. Bill Bennett with Steve Hayes on Rubio running. Hugh Hewitt with presidential candidate, Marco Rubio. Bill Bennett and Pete Wehner on social issues. Prager on Iran. Hewitt with John Bolton on Iran as it relates to Obama and Hillary. Prager on the Pope's climate change agenda.

Daniel Doherty - Feel Good Video Of The Day: Stranger Saves Man In Metro
Posted: 4/17/2015 5:00:00 PM EST

Let’s take a few moments to appreciate this wonderful act of courage and kindness. Weasel Zippers caught the video:

Have a nice weekend, everyone.

Leah Barkoukis - Friday Filibuster: The Battle for the White House Is On
Posted: 4/17/2015 3:51:00 PM EST

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

Closing Numbers

83% of Americans say Hillary being a woman "doesn't matter much" in getting their vote for president

20% of Millennials describe themselves as Libertarian

13.6% of likely voters in South Carolina would choose Gov. Scott Walker over all other GOP candidates for president.

70,000—the number of pages in the federal tax code

2- the number of years it’s been since the Boston Marathon Bombings

19—the number of senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted unanimously to approve legislation requiring President Obama to send a nuclear deal with Iran to Congress for review

6—the number of months Cuba hasn’t been involved in sponsoring terrorism, thus making it OK by Obama to take the country off the list

70,000—the amount of money MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry owes the IRS

300,000—the number of jobs the EPA could put on the chopping block

57% of Americans say Hillary Clinton will be the 45th president

72% of Democrats and Independents want to see a serious challenger on the left side of the aisle against Hillary

40% of congressional Democrats have already endorsed Hillary Clinton 

On the Left

Hillary Clinton officially jumped in the race on Sunday and it’s been an endless display of campaign fodder ever since, from the Scooby van, which she had in 2000 for her Senate race, to reporters desperately chasing said van,  to her already lying about her grandparents being immigrants, and tipping off the press about her "spontaneous" Chipotle visit. But as Guy points out in his analysis of her entrance into the race, she’s a vulnerable frontrunner. DNC members can’t name a single one of her accomplishments, the Clinton Foundation will continue receiving donations from foreign governments, and she still doesn't even have her positions on significant issues up yet and Not that it will matter, but former Rhode Island governor/former Senator/former Republican/former Independent Lincoln Chafee may also be running for the Democratic nomination.

On the Right

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio officially jumped in the race this week, and already took some shots at Hillary’s campaign launch; Ted Cruz joined in, saying Hillary Clinton is really no different than President Obama. Potential GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina noted that the presidency isn’t about gender, it’s about track records—we’ll see how that plays out in the coming months, however. Ben Carson will make a presidential announcement on May 4, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposed significant changes to major entitlement programs, perhaps a political Hail Mary? Unsurprisingly, Democrats are not pleased with the GOP crop of presidential candidates; Sen. Harry Reid thinks they’re all “losers” and DWS appears concerned that Rand Paul will “let women die.” 

The Bookshelf 

Ann Coulter has released the cover and title of her new book this week, which attacks "the immigration issue head-on." Editor of the Conservative Book Club sat down with Salem radio host Hugh Hewitt to talk about his new book "The Ten Commandments: Still The Best Moral Code." And Cortney O'Brien caught up with Christy Beam, author of the new book, "Miracles From Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing,” to talk about her daughter's miraculous healing after falling 30 feet inside a hollow tree. 


Guy Benson - Reality Check: Yes, Hillary Will Be the Democratic Nominee
Posted: 4/17/2015 3:35:00 PM EST

Bloomberg's Mark Halperin says Hillary Clinton is "terrified of the Left," which may be partially true. She lost to an upstart Barack Obama who ran to her left in 2008, and the Democratic Party has taken a distinct lurch in that direction ever since. The Clintons are masters of triangulation and appealing to the center, but angering and alienating the lefty base is the only way Hillary could possibly imperil her clear path to the nomination:

This 'base' fear helps explain Hillary's decision to channel Elizabeth Warren in Iowa (coughcoughloud cough), and her brand new position on gay marriage.  Pandering and posturing aside, though, this is a woman who will be her party's nominee, barring an unforeseen political earthquake.  When I said that Hillary's announcement marked the "simultaneous commencement and conclusion" of the Democratic race, that wasn't just snark. She dwarfs the expected (or even potential) field in name recognition, she's unleashing a breathtaking fundraising juggernaut, and her polling lead over other potential candidates (including Joe Biden and Warren, neither of whom are likely to run) is nearly 50 percentage points.  Five-zero.  Team Hillary is so confident that they've reportedly discussed not participating in any primary debates, have begun considering running mates, and park in handicapped spaces with impunity.  Noah Rothman notes that even those Democrats who've dared to challenge Hillary are pulling punches and going nowhere.  I discussed the Hillary coronation on Fox News this afternoon:

Bonus content -- Here's my segment from yesterday, responding to Harry Reid's latest smear job:

Regardless of what happens in the 2016 elections, Harry Reid will no longer sit in the United States Senate when the dust settles.  Since it's almost the weekend, I'll raise a glass to that.