Matt Vespa - Memos From A Clown Show: The Wendy Davis Campaign
Posted: 11/13/2014 3:40:00 PM EST

So, while we all know the Davis campaign was really, really bad, apparently it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Memos obtained by the Texas Tribune from a Democratic consultant firm that helped Davis win her State Senate seat portray a gubernatorial campaign that was utterly rudderless since January of 2014; executive campaign staff did not respond to phone calls, emails, and other forms of communication promptly–with the Davis campaign delivering the coup de grâce by firing the firm.

They warned that Davis was not shifting towards the center, and the notion of trying to animate a silent liberal donor base in Texas was a pie in the sky strategy. In the end, Wendy Davis, an “American icon,” received less than 40 percent of the vote (via WaPo):

Consultants for Democrat Wendy Davis warned her campaign months ago that the Fort Worth senator was headed for a humiliating defeat in the Texas governor’s race unless she adopted a more centrist message and put a stop to staggering internal dysfunction.

The warnings are contained in two internal communications obtained by the Texas Tribune and written at the beginning of the year by longtime Democratic operatives Peter Cari and Maura Dougherty.

“The campaign is in disarray and is in danger of being embarrassed,” Cari and Dougherty wrote in a lengthy memorandum Jan. 6. “The level of dysfunction was understandable in July and August, when we had no infrastructure in place — but it doesn’t seem to be getting better.”

Addressed to then-Campaign Manager Karin Johanson, the memo warned that the Davis campaign had “lurched to the left,” was failing to communicate a positive message and offered virtually nothing to the swing voters the [state] senator would need to win statewide.

The Prism consultants concluded that the campaign was either desperately broken or that the hierarchy had decided to portray Davis not as a Texas moderate but rather a “national Democrat, appealing to liberal donors in the mistaken belief that there is a hidden liberal base in Texas that will turn out to vote if they have a liberal candidate to support.”

Dougherty admitted that if it weren’t for Google Alerts, she would have no clue what was going on with the Davis campaign. Additionally, she noted that while Davis probably would have lost if she had run a competent campaign, “it’s possible to lose and still look good.”

Democrats have failed to move Texas towards the left, and Davis’ 20-point beating didn’t help.

Guy Benson - CBS News on Obamacare: "Higher Costs, Higher Penalties"
Posted: 11/13/2014 3:00:00 PM EST

As Bob Laszewski so aptly explained over the summer, there are reasons why the White House delayed the 2015 Obamacare enrollment period until after the midterm elections.  CBS News summarizes several of the unhappy developments consumers will encounter in the coming days and weeks:

With the Affordable Care Act to start enrollment for its second year on Nov. 15, some unpleasant surprises may be in store for some. That's because a number of low-priced Obamacare plans will raise their rates in 2015, making those options less affordable. On top of that, penalties for failing to secure a health-insurance plan will rise steeply next year, which could take a big bite out of some families' pocketbooks. "The penalty is meant to incentivize people to get coverage," said senior analyst Laura Adams of "This year, I think a lot of people are going to be in for a shock." In 2014, Obamacare's first year, individuals are facing a penalty of $95 per person, or 1 percent of their income, depending on which is higher. If an American failed to get coverage this year, that penalty will be taken out of their tax refund in early 2015, Adams noted. While that might be painful to some uninsured Americans who are counting on their tax refunds in early 2015, the penalty for going uninsured next year is even harsher. The financial penalty for skipping out on health coverage will more than triple to $325 per person in 2015, or 2 percent of income, depending on whichever is higher. Children will be fined at half the adult rate, or $162.50 for those under 18 years old.

major loophole to escape the "even harsher" mandate tax exists, but how many Americans are aware of it?  Between consistently negative public polling and dramatically scaled-back enrollment projections, it appears as though most people want nothing to do with this law.  Even some of its loudest supporters are even slamming the manner in which Obamacare was cobbled together and passed.  Howard Dean's been railing against clueless elites, while National Journal's Ron Fournier surveys the Gruber debacle and rightly concludes that the law was built upon a "foundation of lies:"

[Gruber] called you stupid. He admitted that the White House lied to you. Its officials lied to all of us—Republicans, Democrats, and independents; rich and poor; white and brown; men and women. Liberals should be the angriest. Not only were they personally deceived, but the administration's dishonest approach to health care reform has helped make Obamacare unpopular while undermining the public's faith in an activist government. A double blow to progressives. On top of that, Gruber has helped make the legal case for anti-Obamacare lawyers...Last year, The Post helped document how Obama and his advisers knowingly misled the public during his 2012 reelection campaign by repeatedly saying that, under Obamacare, people could keep their doctors and keep their health plans. To knowingly mislead is to lie. "It's hard to know what might have happened if the truth had won the day," writes Post columnist Kathleen Parker. "But we do know that truth squandered is trust lost." And so even I have to admit, as a supporter, that Obamacare was built and sold on a foundation of lies. No way around it, unless you're willing to accept a political system that colors its lies—the reds, the whites, and the blues.

Say, who's up for round four from Gruber?

In this fourth video, Gruber's language is not as stark as in three previous instances, but his suggestion that Obamacare proponents engaged in less-than-honest salesmanship remains. "Barack Obama's not a stupid man, okay?" Gruber said in his remarks at the College of the Holy Cross on March 11, 2010. "He knew when he was running for president that quite frankly the American public doesn't actually care that much about the uninsured....What the American public cares about is costs. And that's why even though the bill that they made is 90% health insurance coverage and 10% about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control. How it's going to lower the cost of health care, that's all they talk about. Why? Because that's what people want to hear about because a majority of American care about health care costs." You can watch the speech on the C-SPAN website here Gruber said the measures in the bill that attempt to lower costs constitute a "spaghetti approach" -- throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks. And while preferable to the status quo, Gruber said he could offer no guarantee that any of the measures would work.

Containing costs was a lie from the start.  But they repeated it ad nauseam because "that's what people want[ed] to hear."  And now prominent Democrats are frantically trying to pretend that they know nothing of this "Gruber" character:

Oh man -- can you say "busted"?
Christine Rousselle - Qatari Official: Gays Should Avoid the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar
Posted: 11/13/2014 2:50:00 PM EST

In December of 2010, FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup bid to Qatar, a small nation the size of Connecticut bordering Saudi Arabia. Qatar's bid beat out bids from the United States, Australia, South Korea, and Japan, and has been dogged by accusations of bribery, a worrisome death rate for foreign workers living in squalid conditions, as well as logistical questions regarding hosting a summer tournament in 120-degree heat in stadiums boasting technology that doesn't exist. Anyhow, severe corruption and worker exploitation aside, today Qatari officials raised eyebrows when they effectively said that gays would not be permitted to attend the event. Homosexual sex is illegal in Qatar.

From SB Nation:

Asked how gay people will be welcomed in 2022, Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali replied: "It's exactly like the alcohol question."

He said Qatar doesn't want to create "this impression, illusion that we don't care about our tradition and our ethical values ... We are studying all these issues. We can adapt, we can be creative to have people coming and enjoying the games without losing the essence of our culture and respecting the preference of the people coming here. I think there is a lot we can do."

The reference to the "alcohol question" was his reply on whether beer sales will be allowed at stadiums in the country where alcohol is severely restricted. "In the hotels and many areas we have alcohol but we have also our own system that people need to respect," he told AP. "As we bid for 2022, we will respect all the rules and regulations by FIFA. We can study this and minimize the impact on our people and tradition. I think we can be creative, finding solutions for all of this. But we respect all the rules and regulations."

Firstly, the fact that alcohol sales at the largest international sporting event are "a question" (additionally, Budweiser is a huge sponsor of the World Cup) should have been enough of a red flag for FIFA's voters during the bid-process. Secondly, a sports minister of a country in the 21st century just compared beer sales to not persecuting homosexuals who dare to enter his country. Unbelievable. FIFA President Sepp Blatter joked in 2010 that gay fans should simply avoid having sex at the 2022 World Cup, but it appears his joke was actually prophetic.

FIFA should be ashamed of themselves for awarding a World Cup bid to a country that even FIFA officials admit is clearly unprepared to host the event.

There is, of course, an easy solution to the myriad problems associated with Qatar: Host the event in the United States. The United States, the runners-up for the 2022 World Cup bid, hosted the 1994 World Cup—the most profitable and best-attended World Cup ever. To anyone not belonging to a corrupt and morally bankrupt sports governing organization, you'd think it'd be an easy choice: hey, let's award the event to a country that won't need to import slave labor to build the stadiums. But no, apparently bribes of petrodollars spoke louder than common sense and logic. Disgusting.

I'll let HBO's John Oliver sum up the rest of my feelings about FIFA (Warning, NSFW-language):

Townhall Magazine - Gunfighter School
Posted: 11/13/2014 2:15:00 PM EST

Gun owners can learn a lot about themselves from just one trip to this desert gunfighting academy. Editor Bob Owens reports for the November issue of Townhall Magazine. 

I thought I was a decent shot with a pistol.

That was before I spent a week at the world famous Gunsite Academy in the high desert outside Paulden, Arizona in mid- August. After five days and one night shooting I’ve drastically revised my opinion of my skills, and that’s a good thing.

Prior to getting an invitation to visit Gunsite from owner Owen “Buz” Mills, I’d viewed myself primarily as a rifleman, if I was any kind of a shooter at all.

I had my concealed carry permit, but didn’t shoot pistols very often. I could hit the target at three, five, and seven yards at my local indoor range as I made sure to follow the long list of range “don’ts.” I uncased my pistol on the firing line, didn’t dare use my holster, didn’t “rapid fire,” and never ever dared to contemplate the mortal sin of moving in any direction.

I had been conditioning myself to punch paper at a steady cadence from a statuesque position without endangering the delicate constitutions of firing range liability lawyers, but I was not learning how to survive a violent confrontation.

My handgun courses had been limited to safety-oriented personal defense classes offered by the NRA that one instructor admitted “were primarily geared to keep you from shooting yourself with your own gun.”

Gunsite, however, is a gunfighter’s school, and has been since it was founded under Col. Jeff Cooper in 1976. Cooper was relentless in his desire to get to what works—examining, paring down, and then melding together ideas used by police, military, and competition shooters. The result of his synthesis became referred to as the Modern Technique of the Pistol.

From the first day, our 250 Pistol class was structured on building a strong framework from basic techniques, and expanding on those core skills as we gained competence. We started shooting at close range on stationary targets, and over time added distance, time constraints, different firing positions, and movement, culminating in indoor and outdoor simulators that rattle your nerves and send your heart rate up.

Shooting a large paper target on a square range at seven yards? That’s easy.

Try walking through the mud, sand, and fist-sized rocks of the gully known as the Donga, where anorexic steel targets hide in ambush behind brush and in side canyons, and often refuse to go down with a single hit, while plump little “no shoot” targets simply beg you to take the easy—and wrong—shot.

The open-air range of the Donga caused my heart to pound, but the claustrophobia that set in within the indoor “Fun House” was excruciating. The air felt stuffy and the walls crushed in, like a starched shirt two sizes too small.

We had to stealthily and tactically clear hallways and rooms, never knowing what might await around the next door, or the next corner, and much to my dismay, outside the window.

Yes, I “died” three times at Gunsite.

In two runs on different indoor simulators I got tunnel vision. I cleared the rooms with deliberate intent, focusing so closely on every interior corner and angle that I simply failed to notice solitary bad guys standing outside the windows as I passed by.

My third “death” was simply mortifying. I successfully cleared a room, and then encountered a target almost right on top of me in the narrow hallway beyond. I pointed, instead of looking at the front sight, and yanked the trigger instead of pressing it. I missed twice at five feet.

As momentarily depressing as these temporary defeats were, they were teachable moments that I can build from going forward.

Yes, I thought I was a decent shot before going to Gunsite. Now I know that before I drove through that front gate, I simply didn’t have enough training to know all that I didn’t know.

I have a long way to go to become legitimately good with a pistol, but I’m much further along than I would have ever gotten on my own thanks to a week’s investment of my time. Better yet, I have the tools and training to begin extending my education in classes a bit closer to home before I head back to the desert again.

You see, 250 Pistol is just Gunsite’s introductory class, and I’m quite curious to see what the 350 Pistol class has to offer. • 

Matt Vespa - Dem Pollster: Obama Will 'Poison The Well' With Executive Move On Immigration
Posted: 11/13/2014 2:15:00 PM EST

As Katie reported earlier this morning, the Obama administration plans to issue executive amnesty for five million illegal aliens. Additionally, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) says such an action is a gross example of executive overreach that threatens “constitutional order:”

"Fundamentally the President has no authority to do this, it's against the law," Sessions said. "Congress can stop it and must stop it. It's really a threat to constitutional order."

Then again, we’re treading eerily close to points made in Guy’s August post about a blanket pardon issued by Obama to millions of illegal immigrants.

Regardless, any notion of bipartisanship or compromise would be nuked by this move.

Over at the Washington Free Beacon, they pulled this clip from a Wall Street Journal event this morning, where Democratic Pollster Peter Hart said this opening salvo for the 114th Congress will pretty much "poison the well"–and would set another very divisive tone for the upcoming 114th Congress.

Yet, did this guy really want to work with Republicans in the first place on this issue? 

You saw a glimpse of this at the White House luncheon last week, where he basically delivered a smack down to Vice President Joe Biden for having the temerity to ask for a timetable on a bill (via AP) [emphasis mine]:

House Speaker John Boehner's office said he told Obama he was ready to work with the president on a new authorization for military force against the IS group if the president worked to build bipartisan support. The White House announced soon after lunch ended that the U.S. was sending as many as 1,500 more troops to Iraq to serve as advisers, trainers and security personnel as part of the mission. Obama is also asking Congress for more than $5 billion to help fund the fight.

Friday's two-hour meeting was tense at times, according to a senior House Republican aide. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, about to lose his grip on the upper chamber, barely said a word, the aide said. The aide said at one point as House Speaker John Boehner was making an argument on immigration, Obama responded that his patience was running out and Vice President Joe Biden interrupted to ask how long Republicans needed. Obama angrily cut Biden off, the aide said.

So, the answer to that question is probably not.

Daniel Doherty - As Senate Race Looms, House to Vote on Keystone Pipeline Friday
Posted: 11/13/2014 1:45:00 PM EST

Remember when Mitt Romney was running for president and pledged (somewhat jokingly) to erect the Keystone XL Pipeline “[even] if I have to do it myself?” Well, almost three years later, he may soon get his wish.

A confluence of factors, such as the results of the midterm elections, changing leadership roles, and a closely-watched Senate contest in Louisiana, have all come together to put Keystone back on the map. Since the president took office, supporters of the project have argued, quite unsuccessfully, that building the pipeline would reduce our reliance on foreign oil and create jobs. Plus, they argue, it is wildly popular and eliciting bipartisan support. But for years, the administration hasn’t budged or indicated they’d support such a proposal. Their calculus, however, may be changing:

The House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Friday, a congressional aide said on Thursday as lawmakers prepared to debate the controversial project.

The legislation, which is expected to pass the Republican-led chamber, would approve the pipeline that would run from Canada south to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The Senate could take up the bill next week, possibly on Tuesday, setting up a potential showdown with the White House.

Unsurprisingly, Sen. Landrieu is also trying to introduce a bill of her own to get the pipeline approved. Impeccable timing, Senator:

It's not clear whether Republicans will support Landrieu's bid for a vote while Democrats still control the chamber. But she was lobbying for them to do so on the Senate floor Wednesday.

It doesn't matter that for six long years she sat on her hands and did absolutely nothing. Passing the bill now, of course, allows her to go back home and tell her constituents she’s not an Obama rubber stamp after all. She's getting stuff done!

Here's the video of her making the case for the legislation on the Senate floor on Wednesday:

Republicans are calling this ploy desperate, transparently political, and a “Hail Mary.” But even if her opponent's bill does make it all the way to the president’s desk, would he actually sign it into law? Don't hold your breath:

"The administration has taken a dim view of these kinds of legislative proposals in the past," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, speaking to reporters in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar. "It’s fair to say that our dim view of these kinds of proposals has not changed.

"Evaluating those earlier proposals, we have indicated that the president’s senior advisers at the White House have recommended that he veto legislation like that," Earnest added. "And that has continued to be our position."

Perhaps he shouldn't listen to his "senior advisers." As the Washington Post explains, if he hangs Sen. Landrieu—and all the other Keystone Pipeline supporters—out to dry, you-know-what could hit the fan:

Obama has only vetoed two pieces of legislation so far in his presidency. Such is the benefit of controlling one of [the] chambers of Congress (the Senate) for all six years.

Republicans hope having control of both chambers will mean, rather than the Senate effectively vetoing bills from the GOP-controlled House by not voting on them, they will be able to put the decision in Obama's hands, at which point public pressure on something like Keystone could be brought to bear. And it looks like Obama will quickly be forced into making one of his toughest veto decisions -- at least when it comes to the court of public opinion.

We'll continue to follow this story as it develops. Stay tuned.

Cortney O'Brien - Awkward: Landrieu is Fighting to Get Her Republican Opponent's Bill Passed
Posted: 11/13/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) faces a tough opponent in Louisiana’s runoff election next month. The long serving Democrat failed to get above 50 percent of the vote in last week’s midterm election, which forced the campaign to extend into December. Her GOP opponent Bill Cassidy is expected to cross the finish line with the votes former Tea Party candidate Rob Maness received. Some Democrats even seem to be accepting this reality. The DSCC, for instance, pulled ads for her campaign immediately after the election.

Landrieu, however, is not giving up easily. She is hoping to earn some support in Louisiana by urging Congress to vote on the Keystone XL pipeline – a bill that would greatly benefit her constituents. The only problem? That bill was sponsored by Cassidy – the very person running to unseat her.

Rachel Maddow explains. That’s right – Rachel Maddow:

“That’s a way to get him! Get his bill passed.”

Brilliant campaign move, huh?

Keystone or no Keystone, Landrieu doesn’t seem to have a prayer.

Kevin Glass - How Big Corporate Money Pushes Net Neutrality
Posted: 11/13/2014 12:30:00 PM EST

On one side: Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and the other companies you love to hate. On the other side: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and the other companies you don't quite trust.

This is net neutrality.

The debate is typically framed as big corporate interests against humble public-good advocates like... Google. The reality is that this is a clash of giant, self-interested corporations on both sides. Exhibit A is a piece on Gawker-owned Gizmodo about the money that big cable has thrown around:

Minutes after President Obama unveiled his plan for net neutrality yesterday, Republicans leaders like Ted Cruz came out swinging. You can chalk up the backlash to more than just partisan spite; Cruz has taken his share of campaign money from telecom giants. And he's far from the exception.

Democrats and Republicans alike received over $8 million from the four major telecom companies and their trade group in the 2014 election alone. For some context, the top five pharmaceutical groups spent only half as much in the same cycle.

If we're saying that money buys motivation and intentions, let's take a look at Barack Obama - the man with the big net neutrality plan right now - and the big corporations pushing net neutrality. Obama also took money from the big telcos like Comcast and AT&T - but took in a lot more from the big corporate internet giants. Via OpenSecrets' database of company and employee contributions, President Obama took over $800,000 from Google, over $800,000 from Microsoft, over $115,000 from Amazon, nearly $100,000 from Facebook, $80,000 from Yahoo!, $80,000 from Reddit's corporate parent - and these are just from the biggest groups involved. Take a look at the organizations involved with pro-neutrality organization The Internet Association - these are not small-time content producers.

We don't have to get into the degree to which money buys legislation - I typically tend to think money follows prior beliefs, not that it changes them - but it shouldn't be surprising or mysterious that the pro-regulation money is going to liberals while anti-regulation money goes to conservatives. These are the general ideological coalitions that our parties consist of.

On Gizmodo, they also note that there's only one senator on the Senate subcommittee tasked with internet regulation that hasn't taken telecom money - Maria Cantwell - and that it's "no coincidence" that Sen. Cantwell is a big net neutrality proponent.

Who is Sen. Cantwell's single largest corporate contributor? It's also "no coincidence" - it's pro-net neutrality corporation Microsoft.

Katie Pavlich - Sessions: Obama's Executive Action is a Threat to Constitutional Order
Posted: 11/13/2014 11:30:00 AM EST

Last night news and details about President Obama's planned executive amnesty, which could come as early as next week, hit the airwaves of Fox News. Shortly after documents detailing Obama's 10-point plan for executive action surfaced Republican Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who has been warning about what the White House might do on the issue of illegal immigration for years, made an appearance on The Kelly File to discuss new developments. During the interview, Sessions explained that President Obama not only lacks the authority to do what is outlined in a released plan, but it's against the law. 

"Fundamentally the President has no authority to do this, it's against the law," Sessions said. "Congress can stop it and must stop it. It's really a threat to constitutional order." 

Sessions also reminded viewers of warnings from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers that if President Obama follows through with this executive action in this manner, it will be impossible to enforce immigration laws on the books and will encourage more illegality in the future. Further, he warned of the extreme economic consequences this action will have on the middle class and working poor in America.

Sessions has suggested Congress cut off funding for things like identification cards and other items necessary for executive amnesty to be fulfilled.

"It would be a big, strong step and it would make this almost impossible to accomplish," he said. "It would reflect the will of the American people."

Earlier this year, liberal George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley warned about President Obama's executive overreach, saying we will reach a constitutional tipping point if Congress doesn't do something to restore the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of government.