Matt Vespa - NYT: More Good News For McConnell
Posted: 9/8/2014 4:30:00 PM EST

Sen. Mitch McConnell is fighting for his political survival, but his re-election chances just got better. Over the weekend, Dan noted that the Senate Minority Leader has expanded his lead amongst likely voters over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by 8-points, according to the latest Marist poll; Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas is up 5-points over Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, so it’s good news all around.

This chart courtesy of NYT

Additionally, even the New York Times is pretty much saying that McConnell will be re-elected, giving him a 93 percent probability that such an outcome will happen on Election Night. While McConnell has low approval ratings, he has the fundamentals and history in his favor; a candidate with a lead this late in the game is bound to win. Lastly, there’s the precipitous decline in Democratic support within Kentucky’s coal country (via NYT):

It should be no surprise that Mr. McConnell has opened up an advantage. A McConnell defeat would have been all but unprecedented: No incumbent senator who represents the party opposed to the White House has ever lost re-election in a state that leans as strongly against the incumbent president’s party as Kentucky does.

The inexorable decline of Democratic standing in coal country has been driven by the collapse of the national Democratic Party in this region, where environmental regulations on coal-fired power plants are deeply unpopular, as are Democratic positions on cultural issues. Like in West Virginia, Kentucky coal country first swung to the Republicans in 2000, and the G.O.P. presidential nominee made additional gains in every successive election. Mr. Obama suffered cataclysmic losses between 2008 and 2012 because of the so-called War on Coal.

The Grimes campaign probably hoped to hold up reasonably well in coal country — perhaps losing it by only five or so points, like Mr. McConnell’s Democratic challenger in 2008 — while winning unprecedented margins in Louisville’s Jefferson County and the Bluegrass Region, which stretches east from Louisville through Lexington to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Just because something hasn’t happened before doesn’t mean it never can. But Ms. Grimes was trying to pave a new road to victory without the help of any fundamental population changes like the ones that helped Democrats break through in Nevada or Virginia, without the help of any issues or messages that might reshape partisanship, as coal did in coal country, and in a time when the incumbent Democratic president was deeply unpopular.

The polls make it clear that this path remains closed.

Guy posted more good news about Republican chances of retaking the Senate on Hot Air earlier today. The GOP is leading in eight senate races heading into the last weeks of the 2014 cycle. Even the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin said, “It does look increasingly likely that the GOP is going to find six," but noted that it’s not over yet for Democrats.

Over at Roll Call, Stu Rothenberg predicted that Republicans would gain seven seats this year:

While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats.

Right now, for example, the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Senate ratings suggest Republican gains in the mid-single digits. My newsletter has the most likely outcome of the midterms at Republican gains of 5 to 8 seats, with the GOP slightly more likely than not to net the six seats it needs to win Senate control.

The combination of an unpopular president and a midterm election (indeed, a second midterm) can produce disastrous results for the president’s party. President Barack Obama’s numbers could rally, of course, and that would change my expectations in the blink of an eye. But as long as his approval sits in the 40-percent range (the August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll), the signs are ominous for Democrats.

In 1986 — like 2006, a second midterm election — all six of the closest Senate contests were won by Democrats, including three (Colorado, California and North Dakota) where the Democrats drew less than 50 percent of the vote.

Democratic incumbents Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Kay Hagan of North Carolina all would be headed for re-election in a “good” Democratic year, such as President George W. Bush’s second midterm, when voters were unhappy with a Republican president and Democrats constituted the alternative.

But if history is any guide, at least two of them, and quite possibly all four, will lose this year — even with all the huffing and puffing from journalists over how brilliant their campaigns have been and how weak the GOP challengers are.

Guy Benson - Ravens Dump Ray Rice After Release of Graphic Domestic Violence Video
Posted: 9/8/2014 3:46:00 PM EST

The NFL's paltry two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice sparked widespread outrage earlier this past spring, and for good reason. Rice was caught on surveillance video dragging his unconscious then-fiancee (now wife) out of a casino elevator after he'd knocked her out during a domestic dispute. Fans, sports writers and women's rights advocates were appalled that the league would slap Rice on the wrist for a violent crime, while sidelining other players with much longer suspensions for actions such as violating league drug policies. Rice was slated to return for the Ravens' third game of the 2014 season, but that all changed overnight when TMZ released footage of the actual beating itself, which took place inside the elevator.  And as you watch this, keep in mind that the woman involved apologized in May for "her role" in her own brutal battering, which was ridiculously characterized as a 'mutual' event (content warning):

He hits her once, she comes back at him, then he puts her down with a vicious roundhouse punch -- knocking her out cold.  He stands motionless as she lies blacked out on the floor of the elevator, finally reacting when the doors open and he's forced to drag her limp body into the hallway.  Previously, the public had only seen the dragging portion of the video clip, shot from a distant camera.  The elevator footage is shocking and disgusting, and it proves that there was no accidental element to the result of the confrontation.  With a fresh round of blistering criticism swirling around their franchise and one of its star players, the Ravens have terminated Rice's contract.  One might argue that this application of justice is "better late than never," but consider the cravenness of the Ravens' decision making timing: They were willing to countenance a two game suspension until the second video leaked.  The act of brutality was never in doubt.  They knew that he'd punched her out.  The only thing that changed was the leak of the clip, which only illustrates the established facts of the case in stark relief.  If the new images had never surfaced, it's a safe bet that Ray Rice would be getting ready to suit up in a few weeks.

Facing a maelstrom of criticism over the episode -- prior to this latest shoe dropping -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rolled out a harsher policy governing the consequences for players involved in domestic abuse incidents several weeks ago. Under the new framework, an initial incident would result in a six-game suspension, followed by a "lifetime ban" for any further infraction. I put that term in air quotes because both elements of the new rule allow for "mitigating" factors, and players are permitted to apply for re-instatement into the league after they've allegedly been banned for life. Loopholes galore. The NFL's new regulations on this front will be put to the test sooner than later, as two active players have been involved in alleged episodes of domestic violence since it was implemented.  Parting thought: NFL officials claim they had not seen the elevator film when they handed down Rice's original, lax penalty.  Do you believe them?  Me neither.

UPDATE - More face-saving posturing:

Question for the commish: Is the presence of a camera the only meaningful difference between a two-game and an indefinite suspension for punching out a woman?  By the way, Debbie, this is what actual domestic violence looks like.

Daniel Doherty - Arab League: We Condemn ISIS
Posted: 9/8/2014 2:40:00 PM EST

President Obama will unveil on Wednesday his strategy to combat and ultimately destroy ISIS. You'll recall that the White House has known for “at least a year” about this mounting threat, and yet the president memorably revealed by accident last week that he had “no strategy” to contain them. The speech will perhaps begin alleviating fears and changing public perceptions that the president is way over his head.

The ISIS threat is not merely a provincial problem. Many Arab countries, for example, are slowly realizing how their highly organized and well-trained army threatens global security. To that end, the Arab League officially and finally condemned the terrorist organization, vowing to “challenge” their supremacy in the region after agreeing to “urgent measures” -- namely, a joint resolution -- to do just that:

The Arab League agreed Monday to take urgent measures to combat extremists like the Islamic State group as one of its suicide bombers killed 16 people at a meeting of Sunni tribal fighters and security troops in Iraq. The resolution, issued after late-night meetings of Arab foreign ministers a day earlier, doesn't explicitly back American military action against the group. U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking an international coalition to challenge the Islamic State group and is expected to outline his plan Wednesday to the American people.

But the resolution, issued as a separate statement from a comprehensive one dealing with Arab affairs, reflected a new sense of urgency among the 22-member states to challenge the militant group that has seized large swaths of territories in Iraq and Syria. The resolution calls for immediate measures to combat the group on the political, defense, security and legal levels. It didn't elaborate.

Surely the resolution is more a perfunctory statement than an explicit, detailed plan to combat ISIS. Still, it is a significant step in building an "international coalition" (as the president repeatedly says is one of his administration's stated goals), to stabilize the Middle East. What, if any, measures the Arab League will endorse or propose to aid the US remains to be seen, but their willingness to come to the table underscores how destructive and powerful ISIS has already become.

S. E. Cupp - The Right Response on Birth Control
Posted: 9/8/2014 2:02:00 PM EST

More and more Republicans are embracing over-the-counter birth control and it’s driving Democrats crazy. S.E. Cupp reports for Townhall Magazine. 

Get ready. If other conservatives join Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner in his push to make birth control available without a prescription, watch as Democrats systematically lose their collective minds.

So far, Gardner is joined by a few other candidates, namely Ed Gillespie in Virginia and Mike McFadden in Minnesota, in promoting an idea Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal first raised in 2012.

But even with just this handful of Republicans who have the audacity to reach out to women voters with sound public policy that they actually support (how dare they!), Democrats do not know what to do with themselves.

As a general rule, any effort that Democrats find politically confusing is probably a winner for Republicans. But soon the confusion will abate, and the Left will come up with some kind of attack plan to make sure Republicans are still seen as pariahs by women.

In doing so, they will likely ensure women do not get over-the-counter birth control. But improving women’s lives has never really been the objective, otherwise Obamacare wouldn’t have raised premiums for young women by 44 percent, the Violence Against Women Act would actually help curb violence against women, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would, in any measurable way, improve women’s pay.

Because Democrats must oppose something most women want in order to attack Republicans on this issue, I am not going to stop them. But I will help you prepare for some of the mistruths you are about to encounter as they attempt this impressive sleight of hand.

Fallacy No. 1: Republicans are suddenly embracing birth control.

Not long ago on “Morning Joe,” Mika Brzezinski, arbiter of all things lady-related, seemed positively dumbfounded that Republicans had flipped their position on birth control. “This is a huge change for Republicans!” she exclaimed, until a reporter politely corrected her. By a vast majority, Republicans do not oppose birth control. In fact, a 2012 Gallup poll showed that 87 percent of Republicans find birth control to be morally acceptable. To put that number in perspective, 73 percent of Republicans find the death penalty morally acceptable. So there is greater debate and less consensus within the GOP over the death penalty—a conservative pillar—than there is over birth control.

What Republicans have taken issue with in the past is who pays for it, and making it OTC is a step toward taking employers and taxpayers out of the equation.

Fallacy No. 2: Conservative positions on personhood and abortion are inconsistent with increasing access to birth control.

Basic science refutes this one for us. The pill prevents an egg from being fertilized. An embryo is never created. Which is why so many Republicans do not oppose birth control. Personhood initiatives and pro-life legislation protect fertilized eggs from abortion. Democrats lump all this together and think you’re too stupid to know the difference, but the distinctions are actually pretty basic.

Fallacy No. 3: Republicans are just pandering to women.

It will be hard, but try not to laugh at a liberal who makes this charge. And then point out that the entire Democratic agenda is one giant pander to women, who are worse off economically, an actual measure of freedom, because of President Obama’s Democratic policies. On nearly every metric, from the cost of education to job access to median income, women’s lives have gotten harder, not easier. But tell me more about the War on Women…

Fallacy No. 4: Republicans have no credibility on women’s issues.

While it’s inarguable that some Republicans have made painful mistakes over the past few elections resulting in a trust deficit with women voters, Democrats have created their own trust deficit with almost all voters. A majority thinks the country is headed in the wrong direction, and a plurality say the Obama administration is less competent than George W. Bush’s. The Republican push to increase access to birth control isn’t just a “women’s issue.” It’s about making life work better. Democrats have a proven track record of failure on this, and voters are ready for a change.

To turn this around on Republicans, Democrats will have to get pretty creative, so admittedly, I probably can’t even anticipate all the wild maneuvers they’ll try.

But it sure will be fun to watch.

S.E. Cupp is author of “Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity.” She has a weekly column in the New York Daily News and is a co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire.”

Katie Pavlich - Attorney Representing Conservative Groups Not Surprised by More "Lost" IRS Emails
Posted: 9/8/2014 1:30:00 PM EST

Surprise! The IRS claims it has lost emails belonging to even more employees embroiled in the scandal surrounding the targeting of conservatives. Guy covered the details of the newest revelations earlier today and the AP reported about the lost emails over the weekend.

The IRS says it has lost emails from five more workers who are part of congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax exempt status. The tax agency said in June that it could not locate an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The revelation set off a new round of investigations and congressional hearings. On Friday, the IRS said it has also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status. The agency blamed computer crashes for the lost emails. In a statement, the IRS said it found no evidence that anyone deliberately destroyed evidence.

Attorney Cleta Mitchell, who is representing many tea party and conservative groups targeted by the IRS, isn't impressed and not surprised about the latest round of "lost" emails.

"I have gotten to the point where this is like one of those infomercials where they say 'wait, wait, there's more!' I mean just when you think you've heard it all, you find out more things about the IRS and frankly I think what Congressman Camp said is absolutely right that there is no way we are getting anywhere close to the truth about what happened and the DOJ has become, in my opinion has become complicit in trying to cover-up what's been going on. I think we have to have a special prosecutor if we are ever going to get to the bottom of it," Mitchell said in an interview with Fox News. 

The IRS maintains that employees didn't destroy emails deliberately and continues to blame the loss of emails on a computer crash. 

Watch Mitchell's entire interview below.

Matt Vespa - Again, Gun Control Won't Help Liberals In Their War On Women Nonsense
Posted: 9/8/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

Are liberals trying to turn gun control into a “War on Women” issue again? Amanda Marcotte is surely trying to rekindle that misguided crusade. After Newtown, the feminist and Cosmopolitan senior political writer tried to paint the NRA as the “domestic abusers lobby” last March. Recently, Moms Demand Action released an ad featuring a woman being killed in a domestic dispute, which was an exercise in a lack of self-awareness. As Katie pointed out, the ad made the case for expanding Second Amendment rights than curtailing them. And, the LA Times, which reported on the rise on concealed carry permits in Orange Country, had to make the extraneous claim that 95 percent of permits went to men.

Of course, men participate more in firearm-related activities and have higher rates of gun ownership. Is that really news? On the other hand, women are becoming a “rising voice” in gun ownership, which could throw a wet blanket on the left’s plan to mobilize women voters for gun control.

Women are the fastest growing demographic of gun owners; the rates of ownership jumped from 13 percent to 23 percent between 2005-2013. In terms of concealed carry permits, participation in shooting sports, and gun sales, women are becoming a driving force in these areas–and the gun industry knows it.

Young women have boosted Colorado’s gun ownership rates. Colorado women were a key group, along with blue collar workers and Hispanics, that successfully booted two anti-gun legislators in the recall elections in September of 2013.

In Utah, women have led a surge in the roll for concealed carry permits:

According to statistics from the Utah Department of Public Safety, the number of permits issued to women by the state of Utah has steadily increased over the last few years, and last year the numbers shot up.

In 2011, the state issued about 14,000 permits; in 2012 about 15,000 were issued; and in 2013, 34,597 permits were issued to women.

Women are learning how to defend themselves by exercising their Second Amendment rights–and that’s a good thing.

For more on liberals and gun control, check out Sarah's interview with Frank Miniter:

Katie Pavlich - Obama's Delay of Executive Action on Illegal Immigration Upsets His Open Borders Buddies
Posted: 9/8/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

Over the weekend, news broke President Obama won't be issuing any executive orders surrounding illegal immigration before the midterm elections. Or as Ed Morrissey wrote Sunday, Obama is delaying any action until voters can no longer immediately punish Democrats.

First, lets take a look at where this came from. When photos inside Border Patrol processing facilities surfaced this summer showing hundreds of unaccompanied children piled up on top of each other and sleeping in cages on floors with just a space blanket, Americans blamed Obama's executive action's for the crisis. Remember this IBD/TIPP poll from July.

The poll found that 59% of those closely following the immigration crisis agree that "current administration policies and lack of focus on securing the border" are behind the human tide of illegal crossings. Six in 10 say that the children should be ordered to leave the country.
Obama has delayed his executive action because voters believe executive action on illegal immigration leads to crisis. Further, Obama has delayed action altogether, putting aside the option to work with Congress on reform, because that would require border security first. The administration has repeatedly argued the border is secure, but the latest unaccompanied child crisis and Obama's refusal to work with Congress on the issue of bolstering border security proves otherwise.

As POLITICO reported Speaker John Boehner saying over the weekend, this smacks of politics. 

"The decision to simply delay this deeply-controversial and possibly unconstitutional unilateral action until after the election - instead of abandoning the idea altogether - smacks of raw politics,” Boehner said.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley echoed Boehner's sentiments. 

"Here he goes again. President Obama's decision to delay administrative amnesty is simply a political move. Whether it's now or later, though, it's the wrong move. It goes against the Constitution and the rule of law. Even the President has said that he doesn't have the authority to unilaterally legalize people like he has already done. He should work with Congress on legislation that makes a difference and can pass both the House and the Senate," Grassley said in a statement. "This President is willing to do about anything to get his way. So, he'll probably go ahead and do it after the election is held, and someday the courts likely will say that he acted unconstitutionally."

Regardless, Obama's open border buddies aren't pleased with his decision and many disappointed Democrats are still saying he should go at reform (whatever that means) alone through executive action.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the highest-ranking Latino lawmaker in Congress and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the president shouldn't wait.

“I’m deeply disappointed that the president hasn't acted where House Republicans have failed to act," Menendez said on "Fox News Sunday."

Rep. Luis Gutierrrez (D-Ill.) said on ABC's "This Week" that politics were clearly behind the decision.

"It's clear that playing it safe is what is going on at the White House and among Democratic circles, and playing it safe means walking away from our values and our principles," Gutierrrez said. "They looked at polling in four or five states where there aren't large Latino constituencies without thinking about the impact that that policy might have in Illinois, in California, in Colorado. And so they walked away."

Meanwhile, the conservative leaning LIBRE Initiative is accusing President Obama of being focused on politics, not Latino concerns as he portrays in speeches and at fundraisers. 

"Listening to President Obama make his case for executive action one was led to believe that he was driven by a deep-seated conviction that he was acting on behalf of those seeking to come out of the shadows - and to place the dignity of the individual above all. He said he wanted to do what was best for the nation's economy, to alleviate market forces and honor the integrity of borders. Instead, he is driven strictly by political outcomes. His latest indecision also further undermines the trust of the American people - which has been reflected in his falling approval rating - and erodes any hope of a permanent, bipartisan immigration solution during this administration," Executive Director of the LIBRE Initiative said in a statement. "Reform advocates understand that the best outcome has always been to work with Congress to enact permanent changes in law, rather than issue risky unilateral orders that could be overturned by the courts or by a future president - and that also come with serious unintended consequences. We stand ready to work with the president if he is willing to make a good faith effort. In the meantime, it's disappointing - but not surprising - that the president is again putting political considerations first. That's what he has done all along - ever since he broke his promise to propose legislation in his first year in office. Six years later, that's still what he's doing."

The bottom line is this: President Obama will eventually use executive action on illegal immigration "reform," but he'll wait until it is politically convenient to do so. Right now is not that time for two reasons. The first is Obama's executive action would damage vulnerable Democrats ahead of the midterms and the second, Americans want the border secured before internal reform and have been shown through the unaccompanied child crisis that we are far from that goal.

Daniel Doherty - Poll: Walker Ahead, School Choice Wildly Popular in WI
Posted: 9/8/2014 11:40:00 AM EST

Although Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) won his state’s gubernatorial contest in 2010, and made history by surviving a recall election two years later, Wisconsin is, in many ways, a blue state. And thus the union-busting, conservative governor now finds himself in the political fight of his life.

If he wins his re-re-election bid, however, most political observers agree: He’s on solid and fertile grounds to form an exploratory committee to run for president.

But he'll need to win at least one more election to prove he's a viable contender in 2016. So how, exactly, are his electoral prospects faring? NMB Research conducted a survey in the state’s swing districts on behalf of the American Federation for Children (more on that below). The pollsters found, among other things, that the incumbent governor is ahead, if only by a hair:

The survey of these districts also found that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has a one point lead over his Democratic challenger, Madison School Board member Mary Burke (47 percent to 46 percent, respectively).

And yet one issue that will almost certainly galvanize Badger State voters is education. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, Walker has pledged to expand the state’s government-subsidized private school voucher program; his opponent, Mary Burke, wants it abolished. So perhaps Walker should feel good about where he stands on this particular issue: after all, the NMB Research poll found that education reform initiatives in the state are wildly popular:

More than six-in-ten respondents (63 percent) favor empowering parents with the right to allow the tax dollars associated with the education of their children to follow their children to the public or private school of the parents’ choice. Importantly, 62 percent of independent voters favor educational choice, while only are 30 percent are opposed.

When asked if respondents favor various educational reform proposals, the responses were equally as impressive. “Expanding Wisconsin’s statewide school choice program so that it would allow any working class Wisconsin parent to use taxpayer dollars to send their child to the public, private or religious school of their choice. The law currently only allows the poorest parents to be in the program.” (60 percent total favor, 33 percent strongly favor, only 32 percent opposed).

Public opinion is thus clearly on the governor’s side, which is one of many reasons why, I suspect, Walker is strongly in favor of reforming the state's public education system through these kinds of initiatives.

Guy Benson - Surprise: IRS 'Loses' Emails of Five More Employees Connected to Targeting Investigation
Posted: 9/8/2014 11:05:00 AM EST

This admission dropped late Friday in a classic news dump -- the purpose of which is to bury a damaging story over the course of a weekend.  There was zero chance we'd allow this update to the IRS scandal to slip our minds, however. The preposterous and insulting cover-up continues apace, reports the Associated Press:

The IRS says it has lost emails from five more workers who are part of congressional investigations into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax exempt status. The tax agency said in June that it could not locate an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The revelation set off a new round of investigations and congressional hearings. On Friday, the IRS said it has also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status. The agency blamed computer crashes for the lost emails. In a statement, the IRS said it found no evidence that anyone deliberately destroyed evidence.

More wildly improbable "crashes," which we're blithely assured were not deliberate in nature.  This time, the coincidental malfunctions afflicted a number of agents from the infamous Cincinnati office, which was initially and falsely scapegoated by DC higher-ups as the source of a narrow, local scandal.  (Astonishingly, the president has continued to cling to this thoroughly debunked talking point, blaming "bone-headed" decisions by "local" employees" as recently as this year).  Darrell Issa is right to say that merely trying to keep up with the IRS' ever-changing explanations and excuses is a Herculean task unto itself.  Here's my stab at a Cliffs Notes version of the acrobatics performed over the last four months alone:

June 2014 - Just over one year after the IRS scandal detonates in Washington, the embattled agency announces that a large cache of emails from to Lois Lerner, the senior DC-based manager at the center of the targeting controversy, had been mysteriously lost.  They attribute this mass deletion to a "hard drive crash."  The lost communications happen to span from 2009, when the abuse began, to 2011 -- and the 'accidental' crash occurred just ten days after the first Congressional inquiry into allegations of improper targeting was launched.  A National Archives official testifies that the IRS violated federal law in failing to report the deleted data as soon as the crash occurred.  After the controversy went public, Lerner inquired whether the IRS' internal instant messaging system was archived anywhere.  She'd previously admonished coworkers to be "cautious" about what they said in emails.

July 2014 - The agency reveals that emails from at least a dozen additional employees facing targeting-related scrutiny had also been inadvertently and permanently misplaced, again due to "crashes."  At the very least, this signals serial disregard for data retention protocols implemented to comply with federal laws.

July 2014 - It emerges that Lerner's hard drive was only "scratched," and that IRS information technology experts at the time recommended seeking outside assistance to cull what they believed to beer computer's retrievable contents.  This advice was ignored, for reasons that remain unclear, and Lerner's hard drive was destroyed.  Separately, agency commissioner John Koskinen testifies that the IRS moved heaven and earth to restore the lost data, but is forced to admit under questioning that they hadn't even checked the six-month 'back up tape' to which he freely admitted they had access at the time.  A flustered Koskinen's only excuse for this failure was that the process would have been "costly and difficult."

August 2014 - An attorney at the Justice Department informs watchdog organization Judicial Watch that Lerner's emails were, in fact, backed up somewhere, but that the recovery process has been deemed "too hard."  This echoes Koskinen's explanation above and reflects a previous nugget of testimony from March, in which the commissioner asserted that all agency emails were "stored in servers."  He later back-pedaled from that claim, just as the Justice Department said that Judicial Watch had misinterpreted its attorney's comment.

August 2014 - The IRS confirms that a Blackberry belonging to Lois Lerner was wiped clean and recycled in June 2012, after investigations into targeting accusations were underway.

September 2014 - Emails from five more relevant IRS employees are declared lost, also due to flabbergastingly ill-timed "computer crashes." This development comes directly on the heels of non-lost targeting emails revealing a previously-indisclosed "secret research project," under the auspices of which IRS officials inappropriately collected donor lists from various conservative groups.

What we're witnessing is a powerful and feared arm of the federal government systematically punishing its ideological opponents over two election cycles, crudely destroying the evidence of its actions after the fact, and having a good laugh as it serves up risible and contradictory public excuses, even as virtually no one believes them.  The IRS lied about the targeting as it occurred, lied about how the abuse was finally disclosed, lied about who was responsible for it, and lied about their efforts to secure and retrieve missing evidence.  The White House changed its story nearly half a dozen times about how and when it was informed of the practice, and the administration transitioned abruptly from pro forma expressions of outrage to a messaging strategy of smirking mockery and dismissal.  Democrats ridiculed angry conservatives as conspiracy theorists fixated on a "phony scandal," muddying the waters by claiming that liberal groups were similarly targeted.  (They were not).  The president glibly shrugged that there's nothing to see here, declaring that not even "a smidgen of corruption" had infected the IRS.  The active perpetrators of the wrongful targeting campaign and its political beneficiaries seem supremely confident that their ongoing stonewall will hold.  They appear smugly convinced that serious consequences will be evaded -- thanks, at least in part, to a mainstream media whose short attention span is compounded by the realty that they're simply not especially concerned with demanding accountability over an egregious abuse-of-power scandal that endangers their preferred political party.

Cortney O'Brien - WATCH: Gov Cuomo Absolutely Ignores His Primary Opponent
Posted: 9/8/2014 10:30:00 AM EST

First, he refused to debate her. Now, he apparently refuses to acknowledge her existence. 

At New York City's Labor Day parade this weekend, Cuomo and his running mate Kathy Hochul, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, completely ignored Cuomo's Democratic Primary opponent, Fordham University Professor Zephyr Teachout. When Teachout approached Cuomo and Hochul and tried to get their attention, they looked right past her. captured the painfully awkward moment:

Maybe they just need glasses?

Teachout decided to challenge Gov. Cuomo for this year's Democratic primary because she, like many New York liberals, was frustrated by Cuomo's acting more like a Republican on a number of policy issues. Namely, his decision to push tax cuts for businesses.

Progressive New York organizations took notice. Teachout has racked up endorsements from groups like the Public Employees Federation, the Sierra Club and the National Organization for Women, who are disenchanted with Cuomo. 

On Thursday, Teachout and Cuomo's GOP opponent Rob Astorino participated in a debate on the Brian Lehrer radio show, sans the governor. They used the hour to boost their credentials and pitch their ideas, but also to criticize Cuomo's absence.

Cuomo is in some hot water for disbanding the Moreland Commission, an ethics commission that was investigating corruption in the Empire State.The governor seemed to disband the commission after it got too close to his own campaign donors. That decision even lost him the endorsement of the New York Times. Both Teachout and Astorino agreed that the scandal proves the Cuomo administration is corrupt.

The New York Democratic Primary against Teachout is Tuesday night. Let's see him try to ignore her then.