Cortney O'Brien - Obsessed: 19 of Kay Hagan’s Last 21 Supporter Emails Have Mentioned the Koch Brothers
Posted: 8/11/2014 12:30:00 PM EST

Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) has a bit of an unhealthy obsession. By the looks of her supporter emails, it seems she can’t get two people out of her head: the Koch brothers. In fact, 19 of her campaign’s last 21 emails have mentioned those mean old, rich Kochs.

It started with this alarming message in July:

Dear Friend,

Most people pay attention to politics in a Presidential election year. But let me tell you, folks: This year’s midterm elections are just as important as any Presidential year. And I’m not just saying that because I’m one of the Senators up for re-election.

It's clear that the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, and the special interests want to get more of their allies elected to Congress. Special interest groups have already spent more than $17 million to defeat me. And to Karl Rove and the Kochs, I’m their top target.

The urgent email came a few months after Americans for Prosperity, a group co-founded by the Kochs, spent $8.2 million on TV, radio and digital ads against Hagan, slamming the senator for her cozy camaraderie with the president.

These ads are not without due cause. As the videos mention, Hagan votes with the president 96 percent of the time and has been a vocal supporter of his disastrous health care law, even as recent as this past May.

It’s not just in the cyber world Hagan has barked at the Koch ads. In an interview with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, she insisted North Carolinians aren’t buying the Kochs' claims:

“The people of North Carolina are not going to let the Koch brothers buy this seat. My state is being flooded with millions of dollars from this outside interest group.”

In more recent emails, Hagan lambasted the Kochs for giving her Republican opponent Thom Tillis the maximum amount allowed under federal law.

"The Kochs are trying hard to make this election about who they want to be our next Senator. But North Carolinians get to decide this race -- not the Kochs."

Hagan should be careful what she wishes for. The poll tracker on the Huffington Post shows an increasingly close contest, with Tillis gaining steadily on Hagan.

The Kochs know a thing or two about being targeted. Critics routinely lambast them for their wealth and power. The studio Brave New Films even made a movie about them, "Koch Brothers Exposed," to paint them as the “poster boys for the 1 percent” and accusing them of “fueling inequality in America.”

Should the Kochs be ashamed of their wealth? Of course not. Contrary to liberal beliefs, the Kochs did not get rich on the backs of the poor. The American Conservative offers a comprehensive history of how the brothers went from mending fences and being treated like “lowly cowhands” on their father’s ranches to eventually become the successful businessmen they are today.

You won’t get those details in a Kay Hagan email.

Instead of talking incessantly about the Koch brothers, why doesn’t Hagan focus on her policy achievements or plans for the future?

On second thought, maybe her initial tactic isn't such a bad idea after all.

Daniel Doherty - US Official: US Arming Kurdish Forces in Iraq
Posted: 8/11/2014 11:45:00 AM EST

Over the weekend, President Obama announced he had authorized additional and targeted air strikes in northern Iraq, and would continue providing humanitarian relief. Both efforts, he argued, were necessary to protect the region’s ethnic minority population from being massacred or succumbing to the elements.

And yet, in the long-term, perhaps the most effective strategy to stem the tide of bloodshed in northern Iraq (save from putting American boots on the ground) is to provide the Kurds with the arms and weapons necessary to turn the tide of the war. And that, in turn, is exactly what the US is reportedly now doing:

The United States is sending weapons to Kurdish forces in Iraq who have begun to roll back gains made by Sunni militants, a senior U.S. official confirmed to Fox News.

A senior State Department official told The Associated Press that the Kurds are "getting arms from various sources. They are being rearmed."

Providing weapons to Kurdish forces is a reversal of U.S. policy, which previously had only allowed for selling arms directly to the Iraqi government. In recent days, the U.S. military has been helping facilitate weapons deliveries from the Iraqis to the Kurds, providing logistical assistance and transportation to the north.

Sources say the weapons from the U.S. will not be provided directly from the Pentagon. Officials wouldn't say which agency is spearheading the effort, though the CIA historically has done similar arming operations.

The situation in Iraq, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly more complicated given the nation’s political instability. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, for his part, is unwilling to relinquish the reins of power, or so it seems, taking steps to bolster and solidify his position in what many are now describing as a political coup. As alarming as that prospect might sound, however, it may, in a sense, be welcome news in Washington:

But it isn't enough to merely "abandon Maliki." The U.S. must also stand firmly behind the country’s newly elected president to begin loosening ISIS' foothold in Iraq -- which, as it happens, is exactly what the State Department is already doing (via Ed Morrissey):

Masum's election on Thursday is another step towards forming a government which could see the embattled Maliki replaced as prime minister, even though his party won the largest bloc in April parliamentary elections.

"We stand absolutely squarely behind President Masum (who) has the responsibility for upholding the constitution of Iraq," Kerry said in Sydney, where he will attend annual US-Australia military talks.

"He is the elected president and at this moment Iraq clearly made a statement that they are looking for change."

Maliki, who has been under huge pressure to give up his bid for a third term in office, announced his plans to file a complaint to the federal court in a surprise address at 2100 GMT Sunday.

On Sunday, the Kurds pushed back ISIS militants a few dozen miles from the city of Irbil, and recaptured two towns in Northern Iraq. Thus, U.S. strategic and military efforts seem, at least for the moment, to be making an impact.

Conn Carroll - The New York Times's Amnesty Lies
Posted: 8/11/2014 11:00:00 AM EST

Some pundits, like Vox's Ezra Klein, believe that if Congress refuses to vote an any issue a president deems important, then the president is then empowered to make new law on that issue.

This is, of course, completely false. But The New York Times embraced that position Sunday with an editorial calling on President Obama to grant temporary amnesty to up to 5 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States today. Below is a paragraph-by-paragraph response to the Times's editorial:

We don’t know the details. Mr. Obama and the Department of Homeland Security have not yet supplied the who, what, when or even, officially, whether. But Mr. Obama has promised to respond to Congress’s refusal to act on immigration reform. And the most obvious thing is to lift the threat of deportation from immigrants who should be the lowest priority for removal: those with citizen children, jobs, clean records and strong community ties. Some reports put the size of that group at four million to five million.

First of all, as noted above, the fact that Congress has not acted on an issue does not provide any justification for a president to act on his own.

Secondly, The Democrats controlled Congress for the first two years of Obama's presidency, and all they managed to pass was a lame duck version of the DREAM Act through the House. The Democrats failed to deal with the same 5 million Obama wants to grant amnesty to now. Why didn't Democratic inaction in 2009-2010 justify unilateral inaction then?

Third, the June 2011 Morton Memo, written by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, already accomplished everything the NYT says is needed. That memo already directed all ICE personnel not to deport otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants. And it worked! Former-ICE acting director John Sandweg even told The Los Angeles Times, "If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero - it's just highly unlikely to happen."

But that still isn't good enough for the NYT. They think Obama should be allowed to do more.

In truth, Mr. Obama is well within his authority to madden the right. His power to conduct immigration policy is vast. Congress has given the president broad flexibility and discretion to enforce immigration law. It has also given him the resources to deport about 350,000 to 400,000 people a year, as Mr. Obama has done, relentlessly. It could have given him billions more to deport everyone, but it has not.

First, "deferred action," the power Obama cited to create his June 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and is expected to cite when he temporarily legalizes another 5 million this month, is not a Congressional grant of power. There is no deferred action statute. Obama is claiming this power as an inherent power of the president.

Second, not only is the amount of money Congress has appropriated for deportations irrelevant to the scope of Obama's powers, but the size of appropriations for deportations has not significantly changed since Obama became president. If the size of the appropriation hasn't changed, neither has the scope of Obama's executive power.

Third, Obama's "relentless" deportations are a complete myth. In reality, interior deportations are down 40 percent since Obama took office. Obama created the "relentless" deportation myth by cooking the books on what qualifies as a deportation.

The NYT continues:

For Mr. Obama to use the tools at hand to focus on high-priority targets — felons, violent criminals, public-safety and national-security threats — and to let many others alone would be a rational and entirely lawful exercise of discretion. It is the kind of thing prosecutors, police and other law-enforcement and regulatory agencies do every day. And with the authority to defer deportations of certain immigrants comes the authority, clearly spelled out in federal statute, to give them permission to work.

Again, the Morton Memos already set a policy of focussing on "high-priority targets." But the June 2012 DACA program, and the imminent DACA expansion, do far more than that. They allow illegal immigrants to affirmatively apply for temporary legal status and then apply for work permits, Social Security numbers, and drivers licenses. This is not how every day prosecutorial discretion practiced by "prosecutors, police, and other law enforcement" agencies works. Did you ever get a speeding ticket and get a warning instead? That is prosecutorial discretion. DACA goes far far beyond that.

The NYT continues:

Despite the shrill alarms, deferring deportation is not the dreaded “amnesty” that Republicans made a dirty word. It is temporary and revocable. It is not legalization; it is not a path to citizenship; and it permanently fixes nothing.

The NYT is correct that a grant of deferred action status "is not legalization; it is not a path to citizenship; and it permanently fixes nothing." But it absolutely is amnesty, although admittedly a temporary one. But that only makes the policy rationale behind the program even worse. It injects more uncertainty into our immigration system and signals to future illegal immigrants that if they get to the United States and mange to evade law enforcement long enough, they too will be granted legal status.

More from the NYT:

But there is clearly a value to a program, however limited, that tells the enshadowed population: Come out, give us your names; keep working and paying taxes, supporting your families and staying off the dole.

Here is where the NYT gives away the game. If the June 2011 Morton Memo is a valid, but unwise, use of prosecutorial discretion, Obama's June 2012 creation of the DACA "program" is a clear abuse of that power. Before DACA, illegal immigrants could not "come out, give us your names; keep working and paying taxes." After DACA, and Obama's imminent DACA expansion, many millions of them will be able to do exactly that. If that is not a change in "legal status" then the phrase has no meaning.

Back to the NYT:

And the national interest goes well beyond such practical benefits. Consider the cost, in lawlessness and squandered resources, of indiscriminate immigration enforcement. The wastefulness of chasing millions who pose no threat but keep the economy afloat. The crime and exploitation that flourish wherever the undocumented remain hidden and vulnerable. The rampant wage-and-hour violations that off-the-books workers endure in silence. The civil-rights abuses when cops commit racial profiling, when racist sheriffs stage “crime suppression” patrols to sweep up those with brown skin. The cost to all workers when unscrupulous employers push pay and working conditions to rock-bottom levels. The ripe conditions for crime in communities where vulnerable immigrants fear and avoid the police.

Again, the June 2011 Morton Memo already prioritized the Obama administration's immigration enforcement priorities. Any "indiscriminate enforcement" or "wastefulness of chasing millions who pose no threat" was already addressed by that memo.

But DACA did more than that and at a very clear cost to the nation's other existing priorities. The NYT's own news division reported that the administrative burdens of administering DACA (it takes resources to administer an amnesty program) made it harder for legal immigrants to their green cards.

In other words, instead of ensuring that limited resources were saved so that the DHS could better enforce other immigration laws, Obama's DACA program shifted resources away from those programs thus degrading DHS's immigration law enforcement capabilities.

Finally, the NYT concludes:

Mr. Obama’s critics in Congress belong to a branch of government that has chosen to do nothing constructive about immigration — not even to resolve this summer’s crisis of migrant children at the border, which they looked at and punted on, before going on vacation. This is, after all, an election year. They have abandoned a difficult job to the care of Mr. Obama. They are in no position to complain when he does it.

This is just plain false. The Republican-controlled House did pass legislation addressing the child migrant crisis. It was the Democrat-controlled Senate that failed to pass a bill before they went on vacation.

Is the House Republican border bill the legislation Obama wanted? No. But just because Obama fails to get Congress to pass the exact legislation he wants, when he wants it, does not empower him to create brand new government programs on his own.

Greg Hengler - Cupp on Media's Failure to Report Hamas' Charter To Extinguish Israel
Posted: 8/11/2014 10:51:00 AM EST

S.E. Cupp: “Any time it is omitted that Hamas also wants the annihilation of the Jews and the destruction of Israel, that is an omission that has serious consequences." She adds that this, "creates a false sense of moral equivalency.”

Katie Pavlich - President Who Pulled U.S. Troops Out of Iraq Says Idea He Pulled Troops Out of Iraq is "Bogus"
Posted: 8/11/2014 9:00:00 AM EST

In 2008 then Senator Obama campaigned on the promise of ending the war in Iraq and bringing combat troops home. In 2012, Obama touted that promise as complete (one of the only campaign promises he actually kept) and critics warned leaving Iraq without a residual U.S. force would result in a power vacuum and vulnerable state. Now as the country falls apart and the radical Islamic State army continues its march unchallenged in Iraq, Obama is claiming he wasn't the one who made the decision to pull U.S. combat troops out of the country and that claims to the contrary are "bogus and wrong."

Q Mr. President, do you have any second thoughts about pulling all ground troops out of Iraq? And does it give you pause as the U.S. -- is it doing the same thing in Afghanistan?

THE PRESIDENT: What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision. Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government. In order for us to maintain troops in Iraq, we needed the invitation of the Iraqi government and we needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution if, for example, they were protecting themselves and ended up getting in a firefight with Iraqis, that they wouldn’t be hauled before an Iraqi judicial system.

And the Iraqi government, based on its political considerations, in part because Iraqis were tired of a U.S. occupation, declined to provide us those assurances. And on that basis, we left. We had offered to leave additional troops. So when you hear people say, do you regret, Mr. President, not leaving more troops, that presupposes that I would have overridden this sovereign government that we had turned the keys back over to and said, you know what, you’re democratic, you’re sovereign, except if I decide that it’s good for you to keep 10,000 or 15,000 or 25,000 Marines in your country, you don’t have a choice -- which would have kind of run contrary to the entire argument we were making about turning over the country back to Iraqis, an argument not just made by me, but made by the previous administration.

So let’s just be clear: The reason that we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because the Iraqis were -- a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there, and politically they could not pass the kind of laws that would be required to protect our troops in Iraq.

Having said all that, if in fact the Iraqi government behaved the way it did over the last five, six years, where it failed to pass legislation that would reincorporate Sunnis and give them a sense of ownership; if it had targeted certain Sunni leaders and jailed them; if it had alienated some of the Sunni tribes that we had brought back in during the so-called Awakening that helped us turn the tide in 2006 -- if they had done all those things and we had had troops there, the country wouldn’t be holding together either. The only difference would be we’d have a bunch of troops on the ground that would be vulnerable. And however many troops we had, we would have to now be reinforcing, I’d have to be protecting them, and we’d have a much bigger job. And probably, we would end up having to go up again in terms of the number of grounds troops to make sure that those forces were not vulnerable.

So that entire analysis is bogus and is wrong. But it gets frequently peddled around here by folks who oftentimes are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made.

Right, pulling all U.S. troops from Iraq had nothing to do with Obama's political aspirations and promises. Pretty incredible. On the issue of Obama claiming the Iraqi's and Maliki "not wanting U.S. troops there," and "wouldn't agree to a status of forces agreement," Obama hardly tried to get an agreement done in the first place. Obama took the easy way out on the agreement in order to fulfill a campaign promise and to satisfy his base.

Here's a flashback from 2010, when Obama took credit for the troop pull-out in Iraq.

But, the idea that Obama had anything to do with the troop pullout is totally bogus right?
And another from 2011:

You get the point.

President Obama wants to be responsible for what makes him look good in a short term moment and conveniently shoves off the bad and real decision making on everything and everyone else.

Katie Pavlich - Will ISIS Attack the United States?
Posted: 8/11/2014 8:20:00 AM EST

As the extremely radical terror group the Islamic State, better known as ISIS, continues its march on Iraq and mass slaughter of Christians, many are asking the question: Will ISIS strike inside the United States?

According to experts, and ISIS itself, it's a possibility and steps must be taken immediately to prevent it. More from CNN:

Within hours of U.S. military jets and drones conducting a strike on ISIS artillery that had been used against Kurdish forces defending Irbil, ISIS supporters called for retaliatory attacks against the United States.

"It is a clear message that the war is against Islam and the mujahideen. The mujahideen must strive and seek to execute proactive operations in their own home, America, to discipline America and its criminal soldiers," Abu al-Ayna al-Khorasani, an administrator of Shumukh al-Islam, the top-tier forum for ISIS propaganda, wrote on his account Friday, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence group.

Other ISIS supporters railed against the United States using the Twitter handle #AmessagefromISIStoUS, posting images of the wreckage of the twin towers. "Don't forget 11 Sept .. Maybe US citizens want more like that," one extremist tweeted. In June after ISIS captured Mosul, its supporters had warned against strikes in a Twitter campaign #CalamityWillBefallUS.

One major concern is homegrown U.S. fighters currently overseas in Syria of Iraq coming back home on U.S. passports to carry out attacks. Just two weeks ago we saw American Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha of Florida carry out a suicide attack in Syria after first returning home to the U.S. for a visit. Before executing his suicide mission overseas, he directly threatened the U.S. and said, "We are coming for you."

A new video released by Al Qaeda-linked fighters in Syria allegedly shows 22-year-old Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha ripping up his American passport and chewing parts of it before setting it on fire.

In May, Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha became the first known American to carry out a suicide bomb attack in Syria's civil war when he detonated a truckload of explosives in an effort to kill Syrian troops.

And before he blew himself up, Abu-Salha had returned to the United States for months following training with Syrian Islamic militants.

Meanwhile, pro-ISIS allies are taunting President Obama directly and apparently hung this flag outside of the White House late last week.

Last week, an ISIS leader proclaimed to VICE News the terror group will raise the "flag of Allah" above the White House and called the United States cowards for sending drones instead of soldiers to fight them.

"I say to America that the Islamic Caliphate has been established. And we will not stop. Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House," said in a video report by VICE.

ISIS has quickly and forcefully proven they are not the "JV team" the White House recently classified them to be.

Currently, there are no updated terror alters from Homeland Security's National Terrorism Advisory System.

Conn Carroll - The Limits of Soft Power
Posted: 8/11/2014 8:04:00 AM EST

Editor's note: This column originally appeared in the August issue of Townhall Magazine.

When then-state Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) first called President Bush’s Iraq War a “dumb war” in 2002, Republicans still enjoyed a sizable lead over Democrats on the question of which party Americans trusted more on foreign policy—a lead that Republicans had enjoyed for generations.

But by 2005, Obama’s prediction that “even a successful war against Iraq” would “require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences,” had been proven largely, if not entirely, true.

Whether removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision or not, there is no question that the Bush administration undersold Americans on the cost of the Iraq War while also overselling what could be accomplished there.

This mismatch between Bush’s foreign policy promises and results led Americans to begin trusting Democrats more than Republicans on foreign policy. And it was a big factor in the GOP’s huge electoral defeats in 2006 and 2008.

By the time Obama was sworn in in 2009, Democrats enjoyed a 10-point lead in trust on foreign policy, and Obama did not hesitate in implementing his foreign policy vision.

First on Obama’s agenda was a whirlwind apology tour where he took it upon himself to travel the globe genuflecting to everyone from France to Turkey, to the entire North and South American continents about everything including colonialism, Guantanamo Bay, and even the treatment of Native Americans.

Obama then pursued an ambitious agenda of international treaties including the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Each of these agreements sold out American sovereignty without gaining any additional security for Americans in return.

Since then, Obama has famously celebrated his decision to remove all combat troops from Iraq, sent conflicting messages of support and condemnation to Egypt and its governments, conducted a drive-by war in Libya, threatened and then backed down from bombing Syria, and then looked on helplessly as Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, annexing the Crimea peninsula and possibly more.

At every step along the way, Obama has been betrayed by his fervent faith in the effectiveness of soft power.

In Libya, he thought drones and jets would be enough to topple a tyrannical regime and secure the peace. But the Obama administration severely underestimated the need for troops on the ground to protect American diplomatic assets. As a direct result of Obama’s (and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s) miscalculation, four Americans were murdered in Benghazi, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. The country has since become a “scumbag Woodstock” according to military analysts.

In Ukraine, Clinton’s botched “reset button” diplomacy has gone nowhere. When Putin sent his special forces into Ukraine (see page 44, “A Land on the Edge”) after the winter Olympics, Obama confidently predicted his “severe” sanctions would cripple the Russian economy and force Putin to back down. But the Russians literally laughed at Obama’s response and sent more forces to the region, confident that Obama would not counter with any real force.

And finally in Iraq, Obama proudly took credit for pulling all combat troops out of the country in 2011, promising that he was “confident” the country could “build a future worthy of their history as a cradle of civilization.” But now that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has taken over almost half the country, is massacring Iraqis, and is threatening to taken over Baghdad, suddenly Obama is blaming the Iraqi government for his troop withdrawal and is sending U.S. troops back to Baghdad.

As a result of all these disasters, Obama has completely fumbled away the Democratic Party’s advantage on foreign policy. It is now Republicans that, again, enjoy a 10-point margin in trust on the issue.

But what will Republicans do with that new advantage? Townhall’s Kevin Glass explores that question in his piece “Rand Paul vs Marco Rubio” on page 38.

Whatever path Republican primary voters do choose, the lesson from both the Bush and Obama foreign policy records is clear: try to be more humble about what your foreign policy agenda can accomplish. •

Townhall Magazine - A Crisis of Confidence
Posted: 8/10/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

Editor's Note: In the August issue of Townhall Magazine, where this column originally appeared, HotAir's Noah Rothman explains why Americans have lost faith in Obama and are set to punish his party this fall.

By the summer of 2006, Americans no longer believed that President Bush, and the Republican Party he led, could competently manage the nation’s affairs.

Six months before that year’s midterm elections, a contest that would see Republican politicians swept from the offices they occupied in numbers great enough to swing control of both chambers of Congress, a Washington Post/ABC News poll previewed the scale of the anti-GOP wave to come.

Nearly 7 in 10 said the country was on the wrong track. On every major issue, Americans had more confidence in Democrats than Republicans. Nearly a third of voters said their vote in November would be a message of opposition to the president.

The cycles of history appear to be accelerating. Today, surrounded by crises, Democrats are consumed with apprehension. They sense that the fortunes which propelled their party into power in the final years of the Bush administration have abandoned them. They are not imagining things.

On June 18, the Federal Reserve sharply reduced its forecast for American economic growth. Shocked by the first contraction of the American economy since early 2011, the Fed warned that even a sharp reversal of the trends would not compensate for the losses incurred in the winter of 2014. American anxiety is now giving way to despondency as hope that the boom years may one day return, dies.

This news comes on the heels of the scandalous revelation that the nation’s Veterans Affairs hospitals were engaged in a systematic masking of the ineptitude which may have led to the deaths of Americans who served. The outcry over this shameful discovery forced the president to jettison a cabinet secretary.

Obama understands that a loss of confidence in the VA will only further erode faith in his signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act. The president’s party has been forced to defend the law in only negative terms. Maybe it’s not perfect, they say, but you will come to terms with it. Obamacare, like so much in the Obama-era, is the new, suboptimal normal.

Abroad, the president’s haste to extricate the United States from Asian battlefields and to bury the legacy of the War on Terror overcame his sense of pragmatism. In early June, the White House convinced itself that the swap of five Taliban commanders for the captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was a brilliant stroke. The last American war prisoner would be freed and America would be relieved of custody of some of the most legally problematic Guantanamo Bay inmates. NBC’s Chuck Todd reported that the White House expected “euphoria” over the deal and were shocked when the opposite was the case.

“The chain of events, coming after days of contending with a searing scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs and coupled with some Democratic unrest over new proposed rules on some power plant emissions, has some Democrats questioning the effectiveness of the administration’s team and its ability to help them get on the offensive with a midterm election just months away,” The New York Times reported.

Contained within this cornucopia of nightmares for Democrats was the sum of all their fears: the return of violence to Iraq necessitating the return of American troops to that theater. Escalating violence in Iraq has forced America’s political analysts to reevaluate Obama’s approach to withdrawal in 2011, to reexamine the circumstances which Obama insists prevented the signing of a Status of Forces Agreement, to wonder whether the president was right to take the path of least resistance when the Syrian civil war might have been contained, and to ask whether Obama’s commitment to political expediency trumped America’s national interests.

By mid-June, the polls portended a catastrophe for Democrats mirroring the scale of the disaster Republicans experienced eight years prior. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 54 percent agreed that Obama “cannot lead and get the job done.” Thirty-four percent of voters told pollsters they would cast a vote in November to “send a signal of opposition to Obama.” And an NPR poll of 12 battleground states revealed that voters have more faith in Republicans to competently manage every major issue, including health care, foreign policy, and the economy.

The palpable anxiety among Democrats has frayed nerves and triggered circular firing squads. Sensing their time in the sun is fast expiring, MSNBC host Chris Matthews exemplified that angst when he scolded Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and her party for failing to meet a decade of unrealistic expectations. In what quickly evolved into a screaming match, the visibly agitated pair groped for a figure to blame for the squandering of the Democrats’ historic mandate. They didn’t find one.

In 2006, The Washington Post warned Democrats that their likely electoral gains would be fueled not by faith in their party, but by dissatisfaction with Republicans. In 2014, that same dynamic seems set to characterize yet another dramatic reversal of political fortune. •

Leah Barkoukis - Fired Texas Principal Speaks Out: ‘It Would Be Best to Speak English in Classrooms’
Posted: 8/10/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

On November 12, 2013, Amy Lacey, the principal of Texas’ Hempstead Middle School, was placed on administrative leave and subsequently fired when she made a simple request to students: speak English.

Now that the gag order has expired, Lacey is speaking out about what happened that day, dispelling rumors that she banned Spanish from the school’s campus.

“I informed students it would be best to speak English in the classrooms to the extent possible, in order to help prepare them for [state] tests,” she wrote in a letter to the Houston Chronicle explaining her side of the story. “It is important to note that I did not ban the use of Spanish anywhere in the school or at any time, even though teachers had reported to me that they had experienced instances in which students had been asked to stop talking during instruction, and they responded that it was their right to speak Spanish — ignoring the fact that they shouldn’t have been speaking [in any language] during class without permission. The perception of the teachers was that students were being disrespectful and disrupting learning, and they believed they could get away with it by claiming racism.”

By telling students to speak English, Lacey was not being racist, she was merely pointing out that the academic language in Texas is, by law, English.

“Even so, I did not suggest that there would be any adverse consequences for any student speaking Spanish at any time. I merely encouraged students to speak English in classrooms by advising them that it would be to their advantage to do so especially with regard to state testing,” she continued. “English language immersion is an accepted best-practice teaching strategy, and Hempstead ISD board policy provides for its practice.”

She ended the letter thanking those who supported her “even when true facts were never given to the media” because she and others were not allowed to publicly defend her position.

“I think the public needs to know that in public education there are only one or two district personnel designated to talk to media,” she wrote in closing, “so any teachers that would have liked to speak on my behalf were not allowed without risking their job status.”

Sarah Jean Seman - Lone Star America: How Texas  Can Save Our Country
Posted: 8/10/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

Dallas radio personality Mark Davis shares the secrets of Texas’ success story in his new book “Lone Star America: How Texas Can Save Our Country.”

Townhall: Why did you write “Lone Star America?”

Davis: There have been a lot of books written about Texas, some by people who like us, some by people who don’t like us. This strikes me as a period of intense attention to my state, as some of the solutions that we have undertaken here in Texas seem particularly appropriate to solving a lot of the problems in America.

We have a huge spending problem in America; we try to handle that in a sane way here in Texas. We have a lot of issues from gun rights to religious freedom, and they’re all playing out in Texas under an umbrella of conservative governance that is working very well and is proving very popular. We are the state that is singled out as having been most successful, not just surviving, but thriving under the onslaught of the Obama era.

So it just goes to follow that there would be some solutions and strategies in the Texas examples that could be very valuable to other states and to the nation as a whole.

Townhall: You write that “for a growing child, a small business, or a megabank, failure can be instructive.” How do you think Texas has embraced that mindset and how has it been instructive for the state?

Davis: Times have not always been great here. We have had an oil boom and we’ve had an oil bust. We have had a real estate boom and we’ve had a real estate crash. We were not immune to the recession of 2008-2009, and then thereafter.

In example after example, Texas individuals and Texas businesses did not run around begging for some government solution to spare them the down-size of the marketplace. The best businesses and the strongest citizens, here in Texas and elsewhere, are the people who sit down and say: ‘OK, this is what’s happened. Maybe it’s my fault, maybe it’s not. Let me learn from it, get stronger, get smart.’ That is something that is bred through our history, bred through our culture, and bred through the way that we do business today.

Townhall: Can you give a few examples of how other states could benefit from adopting the solutions and policies that Texas has implemented?

Davis: It breaks my heart to look at magnificent states like New York and California, with so many natural resources, so many human resources, so many great people with so many great talents, and to see high taxes, over regulation, and a ponderous legal system cripple opportunities for individual growth and business success.

A state like California, with its amazing landscape, amazing culture, amazing people—the people of California deserve better. And the horrendous government that they’ve received for the last couple of generations, there is a reason why U-hauls and moving vans are loading up from California and moving to Texas. There’s a reason why Gov. Rick Perry can go up to California and pick businesses like plums to come here to Texas, because they know that they will be taxed less, they will be regulated reasonably, that we have a tort reform that works, we have an incredibly attractive cost of living, and so we’ve just been a magnet to these other states.

I would love for Californians, and New Yorkers, and people in these struggling big cities like Chicago and Detroit, to be able to have some of the success that we have had, so that they can brag like we do. They say it’s not bragging if it’s true, well, in Texas it’s true and I’d love for it to be true everywhere.

Townhall: What do you think are the first steps, or initial actions, toward allowing Texas to save the country?

Davis: The first thing that Americans need to do is look at Texas with a clear eye and see what we’ve done. And see that under the ill effects of expansionists, collectivist government with an Obama administration and a Democratic Senate, that we have had conservative governors and conservative legislatures that have given us solutions that are more along the lines of the way the Founding Fathers saw the country operating.

With a strong but a limited government with more emphasis on individual liberty, individual talents, and getting the government out of the way of the citizens so that the citizens can excel to the extent that their gifts can take them. If every state were to do this, and if the country were to elect national leaders with that kind of mindset, it’s stunning to think of the way in which America could not only dig itself out of its current hole, but return to the kind of prominence, and return to the kind of prosperity that we say we all want.

That involves electing leaders who will create that kind of government around the individual. It involves electing leaders who are willing to do what is antithetical to what a lot of government leaders want to do, and that is to be in people’s lives more, to provide all the solutions, to say “I’m the guy who solved this problem.”

Every state, and in the country in general, needs leaders who know that the best way to solve problems is to allow individuals and businesses to solve them for themselves with a minimum of government interference. That has been the soundtrack of the Texas success story, and for any state willing to take courage to undertake it I could guarantee that it will improve them over where they are now.

Townhall: What was your favorite part about writing this book?

Davis: I obviously enjoyed delving into some Texas history, I enjoyed providing some statistics to back up the points that I make, but anybody can do that, and anybody should do that in any book that they write about the state.

The things that I enjoyed the most are things that nobody else could do. Stories that are straight from my life. In talking about some of the Army National Guard guys that I’ve been able to associate with who have been deployed to the War on Terror. The opportunity to be in close contact with people like Rick Perry and Ted Cruz. To tell people what it’s like to hang out with people like Ted Nugent.

The opportunity to take the portions of my life, that I have lived, that I have done, and apply them to some of these principles that are found in the chapters. That’s what I think makes it different than anybody else’s book that anybody else could ever write, and that’s what I hope helps it stand out.