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Ky Sisson - Doughy Dispute: Atheist Group Threatens Lawsuit Over Church Discount
Posted: 8/22/2014 10:19:00 AM EST

For the owner of Bailey's Pizza in the small town of Searcy, Arkansas, keeping the Scripture and the sausage separate is something he believes he should not have to do. 

As a new business that opened less than two months ago, owner Steven Rose started to offer a discount for those who bring in their church bulletin. When the Freedom From Religion Foundation got word of this small, 10% discount, they sent a letter demanding he stop honoring the reduction saying it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Rose, a Christian who is actively involved in his local church, told KTHV that a wall inside the store reads, "God is the center of our lives, so our scripture wall is the center of Bailey's Pizza."

Rose told Fox News:

“I’m just selling pizzas, I love my Lord and you see it expressed all over my building – but I’m just selling pizzas. To me, if making a pepperoni pizza furthers the Kingdom – well I’m excited about that."

When a North Carolina restaurant started offering a discount for those who pray before their meal, the FFRF did the same thing and got their way.

“We are no longer issuing the 15% praying in public discount,” read a sign posted at the Mary’s Gourmet Diner. “It is illegal and we are being threatened by lawsuit. We apologize to our community for any offense this discount has incurred.”

Rose told TheBlaze.com that he does not plan on getting rid of the price cut for church-goers. Conservative legal firms have volunteered to represent Bailey's Pizza in the event the FFRF takes legal action over a discount that is a mere ten cents on the dollar. 

Daniel Doherty - Uh Oh: Shaheen Only Up 2 Points in NH Now?
Posted: 8/22/2014 9:30:00 AM EST

There is, as Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende has argued, a distinct correlation between the president's job approval rating and how his caucus performs down-ballot every election cycle. And President Obama’s sinking numbers seem to be immensely benefiting none other than New Hampshire U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown -- a GOP hopeful many pollsters believed had little chance of winning just a few weeks ago.

In July, according to a WMUR Granite State poll, incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) was crushing her presumptive GOP opponent by a dozen percentage points -- 50 percent to 38 percent, respectively. Now, however, the same in-state survey shows the race is very much in play:

Last month, Brown trailed Shaheen in the WMUR Granite State Poll by 12 points. The new poll shows Shaheen leading brown by 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent.

"I feel very good because when I'm going out and about into people's businesses, holding town halls -- town halls are an important thing -- and conveying my thoughts about being an independent voice for New Hampshire, it's resonating," Brown said.

"This will go down as one of the most important days of this New Hampshire U.S. Senate contest," said James Pindell of WMUR Political Scoop. "For much of the year, this race appeared to be slipping away from Scott Brown, but now he's back and within the margin of error."

Some pollsters argue Brown’s newfound popularity is inversely proportional to the president's sliding approval ratings, which currently sit at 38 percent in New Hampshire. The candidate himself, however, disagrees. Instead, he thinks it has more do with how hard he’s working, and his willingness to hold town halls all over the state:

Either way, Mitt Romney's endorsement last month only bolstered his cause. After all, the former Massachusetts governor is fairly popular in New Hampshire and won the first-in-the-nation Republican presidential primary in 2012. And although Brown isn’t the GOP nominee yet, he is showing signs of improvement.

Still, we probably shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves:

There is still plenty of room for movement, as the poll shows that 60 percent of voters have not definitively settled on a candidate.

Lots of undecideds out there, in other words. So keep that in mind

For what it’s worth, Republicans need to net-gain six Senate seats to wrestle majority-control of the upper chamber from Democrats.

Leah Barkoukis - Hagel: ISIS Is 'Beyond Anything That We've Seen'
Posted: 8/22/2014 8:40:00 AM EST

President Obama may be in denial over the serious threat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) poses to the U.S., but senior military officials are not.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel described IS as an “imminent threat to every interest that we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.”

He was also asked directly about the threat posed to the United States and if it's comparable to 9/11. 

The Islamic State is “as sophisticated and well-funded as any group we have seen,” he replied. "They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of ... military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we've seen."

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Islamic State has an “apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision” and “will eventually have to be defeated.”

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials were worried about the possibility that European or U.S. nationals, radicalized after fighting in Iraq or Syria, would return to their home countries.

Dempsey suggested Islamic State would remain a danger until it could no longer count on safe havens in areas of Syria under militant control. [...]

"To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a non-existent border."

It was only in January that President Obama described the group as “jayvee.”

Daniel Doherty - This ISIS Terrorist Will Never Harm Anyone Again
Posted: 8/22/2014 8:00:00 AM EST

I wrote a post about the Islamic State’s now-deceased press officer two weeks ago; he was a central figure in part 1 of Vice News’ multi-part documentary profiling the terrorist army organization and their warped ideology. You’ll recall he gracelessly insulted our men and women in uniform and vowed to "raise the flag of Allah” inside the White House.

Thankfully, that'll never happen. Why? Because he's already met his maker (via Noah Rothman):

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) put it rather well this week when describing the rabidity of death-loving fanatics like the late Abu Mosa: “ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their view of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.”

I don’t disagree. Therefore, the more Abu Mosas we send to an early grave, the better.

Katie Pavlich - With Full Hearts National Religious Broadcasters Conclude Solidarity Trip to Israel
Posted: 8/22/2014 8:00:00 AM EST

Members of the National Religious Broadcasters have landed back in the United States after concluding a four-day Christians in solidarity trip to Israel this week.


“Our purpose was two fold. One, to show the people of Israel we support them in a time of crisis because Hamas is attacking them and this isn’t a time for neutrality. Hamas is a terrorist organization, we saw that, that they were using terror and the Israelis are trying to protect innocent civilians. It was good for us to see that and just show solidarity with those who were under attack,” NRB President Dr. Jerry Johnson said at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv before boarding his flight back to the United States early Friday morning. “And then also with the tourism industry just to say you know, 'We think other Americans should come, other Americans should get flights and hotels, go to the restaurants. It’s a time to support the economy and the life, the nation of Israel.'" 


Johnson brought 10 Christian broadcasters on behalf of the NRB to Israel who have a combined listening audience of 60 million people per day through religious radio and television programs. He put the trip together specifically because Israel is under attack from Hamas and to combat rising anti-Semitism not just in the United States, but also around the world. Participants included President of AnGeL Ministries and daughter of Billy Graham Anne Graham Lotz, President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins, President & CEO of the Total Living Network Jerry Rose, Evangelical Action Director at The Institute on Religion & Democracy Chelsen Vicari, Co-Founder of Precept Ministries Kay Arthur and others.


“We want to send a message back to Christians, to churches, to Americans, this is the time for you to take a stand with Israel and to get involved,” Johnson said.

NRB board member and President of Son Broadcasting Annette Garcia, who visits Israel often, also stressed how now is an important time to visit the Jewish country.


“I think that this trip was just a magnificent way to be able to show our solidarity and I think like Israel always does, Israel unites Christians together on their behalf and that’s what I feel like we did,” Garcia said. “As our guide said, as he was leaving [after dropping off the group at the airport] he told us he had to come back in because he missed us. His heart, the way he expressed it, is the way I feel when I leave Israel. This is our family and these are the people that we support and that we love and my heart is full when I get on that plane and I feel like I’m actually leaving home instead of going home.”

Editor's note: I was in Israel this week on a trip sponsored by the National Religious Broadcasters and hosted by Israel's Ministry of Tourism.



Matt Vespa - Is The Next Front Of The 'Clinton Wars' Being Waged In Virginia?
Posted: 8/21/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

Are we seriously going back to this drivel? Although, it’s not a national campaign, John Foust, the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s 10th congressional district, recently slammed his Republican opponent, Delegate Barbara Comstock, for not holding a “real job.” Yeah, this lunacy is back (via Ashburn Rising) [emphasis mine]:

While earlier this week in Ashburn, Comstock left much of the harsh rhetoric to her supporters, Foust took the reins of criticism in his own hands during a stop at his new campaign office in Leesburg.

On creating jobs, Foust said, “In her mind that means giving tax benefits to special interests and the super wealthy. I don’t think she’s even had a real job.

Back in 2012, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen ignited a firestorm when she said that Ann Romney hadn’t worked a day in her life. Pretty much everyone distanced themselves from her comments and called them inappropriate, including President Obama; Rosin later apologized on CNN.

Yet, while being a stay-at-home mom is hard work, Comstock has conquered on both fronts. She’s the mother of three children and was an aide to retiring Rep. Frank Wolf. She later became chief counsel for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

And, that is why her candidacy possibly reignited the “Clinton Wars.” Foust’s supporters are probably ignorant of the fact that Comstock was the point of the lance, alongside the late Barbara Olson, in digging up information about the alleged shady dealings within the Clinton administration. As a result, the Clinton White House named them the “Barbarellas” (via Politico):

Comstock’s history with the Clintons dates back to 1993. At the time, she was working as an aide to GOP Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia when some of his constituents lost their jobs in the White House travel office. Wolf tasked Comstock with finding out why the firings happened and whether the Clintons were trying to make room in the office for their personal allies.

Republicans won the House majority in 1994, and Comstock became the chief counsel on the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

Comstock’s legal training prepared her to burrow through mounds of government documents, spotting patterns in discrete facts that eluded others. She deposed countless high-level White House officials and allies, including John Podesta and George Stephanopoulos. When Democratic fundraiser Johnny Chung appeared before the committee in 1999, Comstock did the grilling.

The other trait Comstock’s admirers and critics consistently point to: a work ethic bordering on compulsive.

“Late night calls from Barbara Comstock were not unusual,” David Brock, the onetime conservative opposition researcher and Comstock confidant, wrote in his 2002 book, “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative.” “She often telephoned with the latest tidbit she had dug up in the thousands and thousands of pages of administration records she pored through frantically, as if she were looking for a winning lottery ticket she had somehow mislaid.”

The late Barbara Olson, Comstock’s co-investigator on the committee, wrote in her own book that the two took extraordinary measures to prevent Clinton backers from sabotaging their work.

“We changed our locks; not even the cleaning crews had access to our tiny room,” Olson wrote in “Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton,” published in 1999. “I generally arrived at 6:30 a.m. and tried to leave for home before 8:00 p.m. My colleague Barbara Comstock continued the vigil and wouldn’t leave until 4:00 a.m.”

Foust is quoted in the piece saying he was unaware of the dynamics of the “Clinton Wars” since he was busy getting his law firm off the ground and raising his family.  Nevertheless, the Clinton crew is fearful of Comstock returning to Congress and getting back on the “warpath,” especially with the Benghazi investigation still ongoing.

In the meantime, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright is hosting fundraisers for Foust and Jamie Gorelick, who served as Clinton’s deputy attorney general, gave him a $1,000 donation. She responded to many of Comstock’s subpoenas, according to Politico.

It looks like the Clinton people are out for a little revenge.

Cortney O'Brien - AFP Launches Ad in Alaska Attacking Begich's "Absenteeism"
Posted: 8/21/2014 5:17:00 PM EST

"No excuses. Do what it takes to get the job done." That's the Alaskan way of life, according to Steve Perrins, owner of Rainy Pass Lodge, the oldest hunting lodge in the state. One person who doesn't seem to share this mentality, however, is Senator Mark Begich (D-AK). In a new Americans for Prosperity ad, Perrins questions Begich's absenteeism in the nation's capital:

"I think our state is a little ticked off that our senator, Mark Begich, is not showing up for his job."

Alaskans are being kind on the senator. Last year, Begich missed more votes than 80 percent of all senators.

AFP President Tim Phillips commented on the senator's disappearing act:

"When it comes to critical issues facing Alaskans, Mark Begich seems to have more important things to do than fight for them in the United States Senate. Missed votes means the voices of Alaskans are marginalized and unheard. With one of the worst voting records in the Senate, Begich has failed to represent Alaskans on important issues like government spending, energy regulations and agricultural policy. Unfortunately, Mark Begich just hasn't been showing up for work."

How long, really, does it take to give a 'yea' or 'nay'? Representing his constituents in Congress certainly doesn't appear to be too high on Begich's agenda.

Perrins asked the important question:

"How can we count on Mark Begich to fight for Alaskans when he won't show up to work in Washington, DC?"

Most people who don't show up to work lose their jobs. Alaskans, therefore, have more than a right to fire Begich. 

Watch the entirety of the effective ad  here:

Daniel Doherty - Paul Ryan: Of Course Republicans Won’t Force Another Government Shutdown...
Posted: 8/21/2014 3:45:00 PM EST

...before the 2014 midterm elections, that is. After that all bets are off, it seems, and there are no guarantees.

Inspiring.

And yet public opinion shows pretty convincingly that Republicans were on the losing end politically of last year’s partial-government shutdown. For two weeks, government offices, major tourist attractions, and even the open-air World War II Memorial in D.C. were temporarily closed. And while Republicans did their best to expose the White House’s calculated and incredibly petulant efforts to exploit the crisis, most Americans pinned the blame squarely on congressional Republicans. No surprises there. You might even recall that's exactly what happened the last time congressional lawmakers found themselves negotiating during a government shutdown.

Nonetheless, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently told Roll Call that House Republicans have supposedly learned from their past missteps. To that end, he said, they are committed to passing a spending resolution funding the government at least through December:

On a possible government shutdown: In his book, Ryan calls the 2013 shutdown a “suicide mission” for the House GOP, and on Wednesday he told CQ Roll Call he agreed that Republicans were easy to blame for the events that transpired.

But House Republicans won’t repeat that mistake this September, Ryan predicted: “We will pass a clean [continuing resolution], and if for some reason the Democrats don’t take that, then they will clearly have shut the government down … it will be patently obvious … that they are playing politics with this, and trying to trigger a shutdown so they can blame us, but we’re really blameless in this particular situation.”

Ryan’s confidence that his conference will cooperate in passing a stop-gap spending bill free of controversial policy riders — ”until Dec. 11 is what we’re thinking,” said Ryan — contradicts Democrats’ cries over the past few days that the GOP is spoiling for another shutdown that could cost them the election in November.

The last thing the GOP needs, I think, is to be blamed for another government shutdown just before Election Day 2014.

What, if anything, could damage or diminish their electoral prospects more?

Greg Hengler - CNN's Lemon Battles Rapper Over Ferguson--Let's "World Run By White Supremacy" Comment Slide
Posted: 8/21/2014 3:06:00 PM EST

Another example of the "how would this be handled if a Tea Partier were the jerk" question [Please read Mary Katharine Ham's excellent post from yesterday on this]. It sure wouldn't be patience, toleration, extended coverage in order to reconcile matters, and a long-extended bro handshake. G'me a break! Note how the "white supremacy" line is not even noticed by Don Lemon.

Ky Sisson - McCain Calls for More ISIS Airstrikes
Posted: 8/21/2014 3:00:00 PM EST

Senator John McCain (R- Ariz.) expressed his anger with President Obama's reaction to the beheading of American journalist James Foley and called for a dramatic increase of airstrikes to the region. He believes that this tragic incident should be a "turning point" for the president's strategy in defeating the Islamic terror group. 

McCain said to Reuters:

"First of all, you've got to dramatically increase the airstrikes. And those airstrikes have to be devoted to Syria as well...We have to defeat them, not stop them."

McCain's aggressive and passionate denouncement of the ISIS group in light of Foley's murder has been much more than what American's have seen from President Obama. The president eulogized Foley yesterday in a statement, but didn't speak of how America plans to fight what McCain calls "the most vicious terrorist organization that we've ever encountered."

To The Arizona Republic, McCain said:

"This president has ignored the threat for a long period of time, and now we're paying the price."

McCain reports that ISIS is now the world's largest terror organization and has a large inventory of stolen Iraqi military equipment:

"The more he (Obama) delays and the more he acts incrementally, the more ISIS adjusts and the more difficult they will become," McCain said. "And one of the decisions that he has to make is to attack ISIS in Syria because they are moving the captured equipment there and they are fighting there and their enclaves are there. They have erased the border between Iraq and Syria. They are now an enclave larger than Indiana."