Katie Pavlich - Pew Poll: Americans Support Gun Rights More Than Gun Control
Posted: 12/11/2014 9:00:00 AM EST

According to new polling from Pew Research, Americans for the first time in decades support gun rights more than they support gun control. Further, the majority of Americans believe gun ownership makes an individual safer.

For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control. Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.

Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shootings, which occurred two years ago this Sunday.

December 2012, and again a month later. Since January 2013, support for gun rights has increased seven percentage points – from 45% to 52% — while the share prioritizing gun control has fallen five points (from 51% to 46%).

Nearly six-in-ten Americans (57%) say gun ownership does more to protect people from becoming victims of crime, while 38% say it does more to endanger personal safety.

One of the most important numbers from the survey shows that five percent more women support protecting rights over gun control than they did just two years ago. Women are also the fasted growing demographic of gun owners in America. 

These numbers, although they can change, are a huge victory for the Second Amendment moving forward. We've seen the results of this survey in action over the past few years through the implementation of concealed carry in all 50 states and even in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association just had its most successful election in a decade and won 91 percent of all races they entered during the 2014 midterms.

This new Pew Research comes just as Democrats mull the idea of revisiting the gun control debate on Capitol Hill in the new Congress.

Katie Pavlich - New Record: Poll Shows 58 Percent Want Obamacare Repealed
Posted: 12/11/2014 8:40:00 AM EST

According to a brand new Fox News poll, a record 58 percent of Americans want to see Obamacare repealed. Further, Americans believe deception was used by Obama administration officials to pass the law in 2010. 

The poll includes a hypothetical vote question that asks people to choose between only two options: keeping ObamaCare in place and repealing it. A 58-percent majority would vote to repeal the law, while 38 percent would keep it. That’s up from 53 percent a year ago -- and a record high number backing repeal (and a record low number in favor of leaving it in place).

Similarly, 60 percent wish President Obama had spent more time on the economy during his first years in office instead of reforming health care versus 37 percent who don’t feel that way. Those sentiments are unchanged since the question was first asked in July 2012.

The poll comes just after Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, who infamously called American voters "stupid," testified on Capitol Hill about the lack of transparency and deceptive, "tortured" language used in the legislation to hide taxes and redistribution of wealth. During his testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee Tuesday, Gruber was told by Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch that a number of Democratic union members have been calling on him to vote for repeal of the healthcare legislation.

The new poll finds 56 percent of voters are at least somewhat bothered by Gruber’s comments.

By a narrow 49-43 percent margin, voters think Gruber’s comments prove the administration intentionally lied about the law. That includes 26 percent of Democrats. Twice as many independents (54 percent) and nearly three times as many Republicans (72 percent) believe Gruber’s comments prove the White House lied.

These numbers also come just as the second open enrollment period for Obamacare comes to an end with less than satisfactory participation. Incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to work on repealing the most unpopular parts of the legislation, including the medical device tax and the individual mandate.

Daniel Doherty - Cruz: "Our Friends No Longer Trust Us and Our Enemies No Longer Fear Us"
Posted: 12/10/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

On Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke at the 9th Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture at the Heritage Foundation.

Among other things, he discussed the Anglo-American “special relationship,” ways both countries can work together to combat Islamic terrorism, and the numerous foreign policy blunders committed by the current administration.

“We’re gathered here today to talk about one of the greatest resources that America’s traditionally enjoyed, which is the power of friendships across the globe,” he began.

“One of the sad legacies we’ve seen over the last six years is the fraying of friendships and alliances across the world,” he continued. “Today, the consequences of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy is that our friends no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us. That is profoundly dangerous for America and is profoundly dangerous for the world.”

However, he also noted that alliances, not unlike relationships, can change over time. For example, he addressed the strange fact of history that Great Britain was America’s “first major enemy.”

“The ties of language and culture and values that stretch across the Atlantic proved far stronger than the unpleasantness that took place between 1775 and 1850,” he said. “Perhaps our strongest bond is a shared commitment to the democratic principles that have survived since antiquity.”

He continued:

“Our friendship is so profound today that the very notion that we were once sworn enemies seems so strange as to be laughable,” he declared. “Indeed, we have weathered some of the darkest hours together: fighting in the 20th century through the trenches of two world wars as well as side-by-side winning the Cold War.”

And yet, he added, the world is not necessarily safer or more stable, despite these strategic and geopolitical victories.

“Most recently, our countries have found ourselves fighting alongside again, this time [on the front-lines] of the war against radical Islamic terrorism,” he said. “In a stark demonstration of how strongly we’re allied, when ISIS began its vicious rampage of staged beheadings this summer, the first victim was an American -- James Foley -- and the second was Steven Sotloff, a dual Israeli-American citizen.”

“And the third,” he added, “was British.” He later informed the audience his name was "David Haines."

“For them, all representatives of free and tolerant societies are equally abhorrent,” he continued, “a fact that makes today a critical opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to our shared interests and values as we continue partnering with the UK in the fight against this vicious enemy.”

Changing subjects, he also spoke at length about the president’s misguided approach to handling two inflexible enemies: Russia and Iran. For instance, he was particularly incensed that the president was caught red handed in 2012 telling a Russian “henchman” he would have “greater flexibly” to make concessions to his boss after he won a second term.

“Can you imagine President Reagan -- can you imagine Lady Thatcher -- uttering such words?” he asked the audience incredulously.

Furthermore, he addressed the looming and game-changing historical failure on the horizon if and when Iran obtains nuclear weapons.

Naturally, though, he had a solution to prevent such a dangerous outcome: Get tough.

“We should declare the nuclear negotiations a failure,” he said emphatically. “With Iran, we need more stick and a whole lot less carrot.”

Teddy Roosevelt references aside, he ended his speech positively, suggesting ways to build stronger -- and more lasting -- global alliances.

“My advice is: Pick your allies wisely. Support and reassure them. And then insist that they fulfill their promises and commit their resources,” he concluded. “Then as now, we should heed the words of Lady Thatcher. We should embrace peace through strength. We should stand by our friends. And we should defend the values of the United States of America.”

Matt Vespa - Botched Rape Claims Won't Get You Fired At Rolling Stone, But Bad Music Reviews Could?
Posted: 12/10/2014 6:15:00 PM EST

As Rolling Stone continues to be pummeled for its shoddy reporting of an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, one question lingers: will anyone lose their job over this fiasco? Will the editors on this story be fired? Will Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of the piece, be shown the door? Apparently, none of this is happening.

Yet, Sean Woods, the editor for Erdely’s piece, tendered his resignation to Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner, who did not accept. Instead, he’s assembling a “re-reporting” mission to go to UVA and find the truth; it’s similar to the one the New York Times created after it was revealed that writer Jayson Blair fabricated or plagiarized his stories in the early 2000s. Yet, as the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple noted, all of this should’ve been done before the Rolling Stone published the article in the first place (via New York Observer):

The Observer has exclusively learned that in the wake of Rolling Stone‘s blockbuster story about campus rape at the University of Virginia and the subsequent fire that that story’s reporting has come under, the magazine’s deputy managing editor offered to resign.

According to a source inside Rolling Stone, who insisted on anonymity to preserve an ongoing relationship with the magazine, Sean Woods presented a letter of resignation to founder and publisher Jann S. Wenner. Mr Wenner, said to be furious at the unraveling of what had originally looked like a massive scoop, declined to accept the resignation.

Asked if either Mr. Woods, who edited the story, or Will Dana, the managing editor of Rolling Stone, had offered to resign Mr. Wenner told the Observer that this account was “not true.” He declined to go into further detail. A second source confirmed that Mr. Woods had offered to resign.

According to the first source, “Sean handles all the non-music features, including anything like Matt Taibbi. This happened in part because Will is stretched way too thin. You have to understand, he’s not only the editor of Rolling Stone, but of Men’s Journal, too.”

Mr. Dana’s title lists him as Editorial Director of Men’s Journal, but according to the source, he’s as hands on there as he is at Rolling Stone.

According to the source, Rolling Stone is right now planning to assemble a “re-reporting project” akin to the one the New York Times put together in the wake of the Jayson Blair fabulism scandal that will head to UVa both to sort through the errors of the story and to tell readers what actually happened

So, it seems that botching a story can’t get you fired at Rolling Stone, but writing a negative review about Hootie and the Blowfish’s sophomore album, Faithweather Johnson, can is a very interesting observation-- sad, but interesting.

H/T Twitchy

Christine Rousselle - Congress Blocks DC Marijuana Legalization
Posted: 12/10/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

On Election Day, residents of the District of Columbia voted overwhelmingly to approve Initiative 71, which legalized marijuana for recreational use and allowed for personal cultivation of the plant. The initiative also called for D.C.'s city council to create an ordinance to regulate the sale and purchase of marijuana.

Now, this is no more. The new spending deal reached yesterday by the House of Representatives effectively blocks marijuana legalization in DC by including a rider prohibiting funding of the implementation of Initiative 71.

Tuesday night, Senate Democrats and House Republicans reached a deal to fund the federal government through Sept. 30 of next year. That means no government shutdown. But the deal’s fine print also includes a provision that bars implementation of Initiative 71, the marijuana legalization measure D.C. voters approved by a 2-to-1 margin on Nov. 4.

Specifically, a press summary of the spending bill posted online by the House Appropriations Committee says it “prohibits both federal and local funds from being used to implement a referendum legalizing recreational marijuana use in the District.”

It is unclear what effect this may have on D.C.'s decriminalization statute.

The effort to block D.C. legalization was led by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), who is reportedly receiving some phone calls from angry D.C. residents: [strong language]

The upset D.C. residents have a point. They voted overwhelmingly to permit recreational marijuana, like the residents of Alaska, Washington, and Colorado. They should have the right to do this. These actions are fairly undemocratic.

Marijuana legalization advocates have planned protests:

Late Tuesday, Eidinger said marijuana advocates were organizing a protest that would begin Wednesday evening at the Justice Department and march to Capitol Hill with the potential for several advocates to seek arrest.

“I’m ready for some civil disobedience. If you’re going to overturn an election, you might as well say something before it’s done.”

Additionally, Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser has switched gears, saying that she supports legal marijuana in her city:

Regardless of what your thoughts are on drug legalization, or the War on Drugs, it is incredibly unsettling that the vote of a population can be tossed out entirely. The people of D.C. have rights, too.

Conn Carroll - The Truth Behind Obama's $1 Billion Early Education Plan
Posted: 12/10/2014 4:30:00 PM EST

President Obama announced a $750 million plan for early education at the White House today, justifying the spending by citing the success of a single half-century old program.

"Today, my Council of Economic Advisers is putting out a report showing that for every dollar we invest now, we can save more than eight dollars later on, by boosting graduation rates, increasing earnings, reducing violent crime," Obama said in the South Court Auditorium.

The CEA report Obama mentioned does indeed cite research showing that, "for every dollar spent on the Perry Preschool program, the benefits totaled $7 to $10, with a baseline estimate of $8.60."

But the Perry Preschool Project was a single study that tracked just 128 children in just Ypsilanti, Michigan more than 50 years ago! The track record for other preschool programs is far more mixed and the most scientific studies of the federal government's own Head Start program show the spending is largely wasted.

The Department of Health and Human Services even conducted its own study of more than 5,000 children from across the country. That study found that the federal Head Start program had little to no statistically measurable effects on any measure of cognitive ability, including reading, language, and math ability. On a few measures, the study even found that access to Head Start had harmful effects on children.

"The Obama administration’s government preschool proposal, which will cost $75 billion over the next 10 years if implemented, is far more likely to produce results akin to the failed federal Head Start program than any high quality preschool program," The Heritage Foundation's Lindsey Burke told Townhall. "Taxpayers have spent $180 billion on Head Start since it was enacted in 1965, and HHS reported in its scientifically rigorous evaluation of the program that Head Start had little to no impact on children’s cognitive abilities, their health, their social-emotional well-being, or their parents’ parenting practices."

For some reason, Obama's CEA report does not mention any of the negative findings from HHS' Head Start Impact report. 
Daniel Doherty - WaPo Writer: "Santorum is Running Again"
Posted: 12/10/2014 4:00:00 PM EST

The potential presidential cast of Republican characters in 2016 is rumored to be pretty decent. Now add Rick Santorum to the mix.

The Washington Post has the exclusive interview:

Reflecting on how a presidential campaign could be different this time around, Santorum said: “We’re just obviously in a better place right now. Our message will be a lot more focused this time than it was last time.”

Santorum is running again. The question is whether, as the race heads to new terrain, he’ll still be able to keep the pace.

Unlikely in the extreme.

Of course, his supporters would accuse me of perpetuating unfounded conventional wisdom. But it’s exceedingly difficult to see how his credentials stack up against the likes of re-election winning Republican governors from blue states, or current movers-and-shakers in the U.S. Senate. (By the way, Rick Santorum lost his last re-election bid by a landslide).

In fairness, however, Santorum did win nearly a dozen primary contests in 2012, wrote an informative and celebrated new book focusing on blue collar workers in preparation for the inevitable, and has the kind of experience running a national campaign many of his will-be opponents do not. He also has something else:

Whether Santorum can raise the money he needs is another question. Foster Friess, the benefactor who ponied up $2.1 million to a pro-Santorum super PAC in 2012, says he would support him again. The former senator is sounding out other deep-pocketed donors, whom he declined to identify.

Plus, he has an incredible work ethic and a strong rapport with social conservatives. For all these reasons, Santorum fervently believes that his chances of winning the nomination are solid.

But in the end, I suspect most voters are going to go with a candidate who is more charismatic, more relevant, and frankly more electable than he is. They won’t want to return to the failed primary candidates of the last election cycle. Will they?

Leah Barkoukis - UN Climate Change Conference Breaks Carbon Footprint Record
Posted: 12/10/2014 3:40:00 PM EST

U.N. climate meetings have always been a prime example of green hypocrisy at its finest. For example, its participants believe air travel is one of the "most serious environmental sins" yet they continue traveling to the international meetings by air. However, that sort of hypocrisy has been taken to a whole new level with their climate talks in Lima, Peru, December 1-12. 

Factoring in new construction, air and ground travel, utilities, and security, the conference’s carbon footprint will be one and a half times greater than the norm.

The Associated Press has the details:

At more than 50,000 metric tons of carfb/phbon dioxide, the negotiations' burden on global warming will be about 1 1/2 times the norm, said Jorge Alvarez, project coordinator for the U.N. Development Program.

The venue is one big reason. It had to be built.

Eleven football fields of temporary structures arose for the 13-day negotiations from what three months ago was an empty field behind Peru's army's headquarters. Concrete was laid, plumbing installed, components flown in from as far as France and Brazil.

Standing in the midday sun here can get downright uncomfortable, but the Lima sun is not reliable. That's one reason solar panels were not used.

For electricity, the talks are relying exclusively on diesel generators.

Organizers had planned to draw power from Peru's grid, which is about 52 percent fed by non-polluting hydroelectric power. "We worked to upgrade transformers and generators but for some reason it didn't work," said Alvarez.

Peru's hydroelectric power could be in danger by mid-century, anyway. Much of that water comes from glaciers that are melting at an accelerated pace. Peru is hardly on a green trajectory. Though it emits in a year the greenhouse gases that China spews in three days it has doubled its carbon output in the past decade.

Nor is there a guarantee that the 580 square miles (1,500 square kilometers) of forest — the size of Houston, Texas — offsetting the talks' carbon pollution won't someday be gone. It must lie unperturbed for a half century in order to neutralize carbon emitted at the conference.

If the participants of the U.N.’s climate meetings cared so much for the environment and their impact on it, why not hold the meeting in a location that already has the infrastructure in place to support an event of this magnitude, or—gasp—virtually?

Guy Benson - Sebelius: All Obamacare Really Needs is a 'Rebranding'
Posted: 12/10/2014 2:56:00 PM EST

Yeah, that's the ticket:

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday suggested a simple fix to the “bad brand” of Obamacare — change the name. “I think we may need to call it something in the future different, but it is working,” Sebelius said at POLITICO’s “Lessons from Leaders” event. Sebelius, who resigned in April following the botched roll out of President Barack Obama’s signature health law, said that current issues involving the Affordable Care Act have to do with its commonly used name. “Obamacare, no question, has a very bad brand that has been driven intentionally by a lot of misinformation and a lot of paid advertising,” Sebelius said. But she insisted the law is working. “Not only are people getting coverage, [but also] the largest drop in uninsured rates in this country, the lowest healthcare cost growth in this country ever recorded,” Sebelius said.

Sigh.  It is quite the galling spectacle to witness people who endlessly and intentionally peddled "a lot of misinformation" in passing and promoting Obamacare whine about others' supposed dishonesty.  This is a woman who testified under oath that "has never crashed," while news outlets cut to a live, split screen image of…the crashed website.  As for her claim that the law is working, we've dealt with that fantasy pretty comprehensively.  Yes, some people are getting coverage who didn't have it before.  Millions were also stripped of their existing coverage because of the law, in violation of a core promise.  Furthermore, many 'beneficiaries' are now faced with the unpleasant choice of changing their new plans again, or paying more out of pocket, in 2015.  And a very large chunk of the uninsured population is taking a pass on the law, mostly due to unaffordability.  The drop in the rate of uninsured Americans is actually (at best) unimpressive, as the administration has negatively revised both its previous enrollment figures and future projections.  Also, expanding the ranks of the insured isn't exactly a great success story, considering that the law requires people to get insured or face a penalty tax.  As for the "lowest cost growth" story, two points: (a) We were promised lower costs, with the national cost curve bent downward, which is not happening; and (b) even the government's own actuaries primarily attribute the slower rate of increase to the weak economy, not Obamacare.  But by all means, keep moaning about "misinformation," Kath.  Meanwhile, CNBC reports:

Santa Claus is going to be bringing lots of presents in a couple of weeks, but lower health-insurance costs for most Americans won't be one of them. People with insurance through an employer—that is, most people with health coverage—are paying "more in premiums and deductibles than ever before" as those costs outpace the growth of wages, a new report finds...despite a recent slowdown in costs that coincided with the adoption of the Obamcare health-care reform law in 2010, the price of job-based coverage is still rising faster than incomes, according to the report.

Wait just a second.  Wasn't Obamacare supposed to stop, and actively reverse, this trend?  Wasn't the law going to save the average family $2,500 per year in health care costs, with "everybody's" rates dropping?  The same people who advanced those claims are angry that average people aren't willing to label this law a success.  On another Obamacare front, both the Associated Press and New York Times have stories on the law's "access shock" problem, especially among Medicaid recipients.  Proponents of the law routinely bash Republicans who've refused to expand that failing program under an Obamacare provision made voluntary, not compulsory, by a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling.  These ideologues apparently believe. millions more Americans should be dumped into a foundering, creaky entitlement program in which many existing consumers can't even see a doctor.  I'll leave you with one of the most cringe-worthy exchanges from yesterday's Gruber hearings, via Allahpundit -- who tallies Gruber's lies in his post:

Gruber is now trying to cast himself as a tangential figure in the Obamacare saga, denying that he was an 'architect' of the law, or a crafter or the policy. As we've noted, a 2012 New York Times profile detailed how intimately involved he truly was in the process. But what better rebuttal exists than yet another video clip from the man himself?

Kevin Glass - Boehner Touts Increased NIH Funding As Reason To Pass Omnibus Spending Bill
Posted: 12/10/2014 2:05:00 PM EST
In a message today urging Americans to support the upcoming omnibus appropriations bill, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) listed ten reasons why the spending bill would "fulfill the people's priorities, including protecting jobs, stopping wasteful spending, reining in government overreach, and funding our national security."

What's interesting is that Boehner's office touts increased funding for the National Institutes of Health as a reason to support the bill:

9. The bill increases funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Notably, the bill increases funding to boost Alzheimer’s, cancer, and brain research, funds the Gabriella Miller Kids First Act pediatric research initiative, and includes $2.7 billion in emergency funding to address the Ebola crisis.

NIH funding has been something conservatives have tried to target in the past as a place for the government to save money. Sen. Tom Coburn's "wastebook," which chronicles government spending waste, has repeatedly singled out NIH funding as wasteful.

This isn't a new hobbyhorse for conservatives either. In 2005, Townhall columnist Terry Jeffrey pointed out a "yoga study" funded by the NIH as an example of how the bureaucracy of government-funded science was wasteful.