Matt Vespa - CT GOV: Dem Trails By Six, Voters Say Republican Is Better On Economy And Spending
Posted: 9/11/2014 7:30:00 PM EST

It looks like Republicans will control the majority of governorships after the 2014 cycle. They lead most gubernatorial races, albeit with small margins. Things look grim for incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, but Republicans are in fairly decent shape in blue states like Illinois and Connecticut.

In Illinois, Republican challenger Bruce Rauner has a decent 7-point lead over Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, which is probably why both men “went for the jugular” in their first non-debate with the Chicago Tribune editorial board. Quinn has been struggling to break beyond 40-43 percent in the polls since January.

In Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Republican challenger, Tom Foley, holds, on average, nearly a 7-point lead over him with likely voters. The new Quinnipiac poll also gives Foley a 6-point lead. While Malloy has the edge over Foley with women voters 45/38, it still makes him competitive within that demographic and offsets any advantages due to Foley’s massive lead with men 54/35. Additionally, Independent voters favor Foley over Malloy 48/35.

When it comes to favorability, both men are under water; Foley has a slightly better rating at 42 percent compared to Malloy’s 40 percent. For Malloy, his unfavorable ratings are high at 53 percent, with 40 percent saying they strongly dislike their current governor; an aspect Quinnipiac notes will be an additional obstacle in his re-election bid.

A further breakdown shows Malloy trailing Foley badly on key issues in this campaign, which are the economy/jobs, taxes, and a balance in government spending. In those three areas, on average, Malloy trails Foley by 21-points: 54/37, 59/31, and 54/36. Also, 48 percent of likely Connecticut voters think that Malloy doesn’t care about “their needs and problems.” On a positive note, 57 percent think he has “strong leadership qualities.” Yet, 53 percent also said the same thing of Foley.

While gun control might not be a top-tier issue, it has been brought up in debates. Regardless, Foley is much more gun friendly than Malloy and a pro-gun governor winning in the state that set off the latest anti-gun crusade across the country is interesting.

Guy Benson - Toxic: Obama Falls to New Lows in Fox News Poll
Posted: 9/11/2014 5:50:00 PM EST

Let's review eight data points from Fox's newly-released national survey, which is hardly an outlier in the national polling picture.  The picture isn't pretty for the White House:

(1) The president's job approval rating is at an all-time low in the series (38/56).  He's at (-37) among independents, (-16) with women, and (-12) with young voters.

Obama is deep underwater on every single major issue tested: The economy (-18), healthcare (-16), immigration (-32), foreign policy (-25), Syria (-34), Ukraine (-19), terrorism (-18), and Iraq (-25).

Fifty-nine percent of Americans say the US has become less respected in the world during Obama's presidency, compared to just 10 percent who say "more respected."  More than one-third of Democrats agree that America's standing has slid under Obama.  Fifty-seven percent of respondents call the president's leadership "weak and indecisive." 

A whopping 76 percent say the US should do more to combat ISIS, but a majority (54 percent) say Obama isn't prepared to do what it takes.  The survey was taken before Obama's prime time address last night.  Fifty-one percent said defeating ISIS will require ground troops, an assessment shared by top military officials, but rejected by the White House.  Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the beheaders of two American journalists should be dealt with by the US military, as opposed to the criminal justice system (14 percent).  Fully 77 percent believe it's at least somewhat likely that ISIS will attempt an attack on US soil in the future.

For the first time in this series, more voters feel less safe than they did before 9/11.

Presidential approval ratings are a significant factor in midterm election cycles -- which we discussed in yesterday's 2014 polling deep dive.

Greg Hengler - Gutfeld Kills Obama's ISIS Address
Posted: 9/11/2014 5:23:00 PM EST

"And you're right about climate change. Since you've been in charge it's gotten hotter in Libya, the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq...Detroit. You're worse for the environment than coal."

Daniel Doherty - MO Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto, Ratifies Statute Mandating 72-Hour Waiting Period for All Abortions
Posted: 9/11/2014 5:15:00 PM EST

The Missouri state legislature passed a statute earlier this year requiring all women seeking abortions to wait 72 hours before obtaining one. However, because there were no exemptions enumerated in the bill itself -- and thus deemed too “extreme” -- Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO) vetoed it. That’s why Republicans were forced to cobble together a two-thirds, veto-proof majority coalition to override him and get it on the books -- which they barely did.

The law will go into effect sometime next month:

Missouri women seeking abortions will face one of the nation's longest waiting periods, after state lawmakers overrode the governor's veto to enact a 72-hour delay that includes no exception for cases of rape or incest. The new requirement will take effect 30 days after Wednesday's vote by the Republican-led Legislature, overruling the veto of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. He had denounced the measure as "extreme and disrespectful" toward women.

The abortion bill was one of the most prominent Republican victories in a record-setting September session, during which Missouri lawmakers also overrode 47 line-item budget vetoes and nine other bills, including one creating a training program for teachers to carry guns in schools. Earlier this year, the Republican-led Legislature overrode Nixon's veto to enact the state's first income tax rate reduction in nearly a century.

Again, the reason the bill is so controversial is because it will be one of the most restrictive anti-abortion statutes in the country. Only two other states have laws requiring women to wait 72 hours before terminating a pregnancy; Missouri will be the third:

About half the states, including Missouri, already have abortion waiting periods of 24 hours. Missouri's current one also lacks an exception for cases of rape or incest. The new law will be the second most-stringent behind South Dakota, where its 72-hour wait can sometimes extend even longer because weekends and holidays are not counted. Utah is the only other state with a 72-hour delay, but it grants exceptions for rape, incest and other circumstances.

For those interested, here's how Republicans expedited the legislative process and successfully overturned Gov. Nixon's veto:

After the House voted to override Nixon's veto by a 117-44 vote, senators deployed a rarely used procedural move to shut off prolonged Democratic debate. They completed the veto override by a 23-7 vote, barely getting the required two-thirds majority. Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri's only licensed abortion clinic in St. Louis, has not said whether it will challenge the 72-hour waiting period in court. But the organization has said its patients travel an average of nearly 100 miles for an abortion, and an extra delay could force them to either make two trips or spend additional money on hotels.

As stated above, the measure passed 117-44 and 23-7, respectively, in the House and Senate.

Matt Vespa - On 9/11, Democratic Campaign Groups Either Tweet War On Women Haikus Or Forget Altogether
Posted: 9/11/2014 3:45:00 PM EST

Today, our thoughts and prayers go out to the 2,977 victims and their families. While the nation pauses to remember those we have lost, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) seems to have forgotten that it’s the thirteenth anniversary of the most horrific terrorist attack on American soil.

The DSCC has nothing about it. The DCCC is tweeting “War on Women” haikus–and the DGA is mostly retweeting poll numbers.

To make optics look even worse, the DNC, the White House, and even DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz have paused to give their respects on this solemn day. If Ms. Schultz can take a moment and not accuse Gov. Walker’s policies of “grabbing” women “by that hair,” then the campaign arm for the Democratic Party can do the same.

Guy Benson - Report: Obama Overruled 'Best Military Advice' on Ground Troops to Fight ISIS
Posted: 9/11/2014 3:25:00 PM EST

In his war speech last night, President Obama was at strikingly adamant about what the US mission to "degrade and destroy" ISIS would not entail: American ground troops in a combat role.  The 475 additional personnel being deployed to the region are only authorized assist with "training, intelligence and equipment."  Direct American intervention will be limited to a protracted campaign of airstrikes, in Iraq and -- for the first time -- Syria.  The Washington Post reports today that when the president tasked military leaders with devising the best strategy to defeat ISIS, the Pentagon presented a plan that involved a limited number of combat "boots on the ground."  They were rebuffed, in favor of a more politically-palatable light footprint approach:

Such a mission was not the U.S. military’s preferred option. Responding to a White House request for options to confront the Islamic State, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said that his best military advice was to send a modest contingent of American troops, principally Special Operations forces, to advise and assist Iraqi army units in fighting the militants, according to two U.S. military officials. The recommendation, conveyed to the White House by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was cast aside in favor of options that did not involve U.S. ground forces in a front-line role, a step adamantly opposed by the White House...Recommitting ground combat forces to Iraq would have been highly controversial, and most likely would have been opposed by a substantial majority of Americans. But Austin’s predecessor, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, said the decision not to send ground troops poses serious risks to the mission. “The American people will once again see us in a war that doesn’t seem to be making progress,” Mattis said. “You’re giving the enemy the initiative for a longer period.”

This turn of events was inevitable, given the instincts and priorities of the Oval Office's current occupant.  According to the New York Times' bureau chief in Baghdad, the Obama administration has serially misled the American people about on-the-ground realities in Iraq in order to protect a politicized "receding tide of war" illusion.  The president shrunk from his own red line in Syria last year due, at least in part, to heavy domestic pressures, ultimately resorting to a fake "solution" that has since collapsed.  Having ignored and dismissed ISIS for years, the president has finally been pressed to play catch-up with events.  Public opinion has turned sharply in favor of intervention, likely spurred by grisly images of beheaded American journalists broadcast around the world, but most are still wary of ground troops.  Obama -- once again leading from behind with no discernible strategy beyond 'win the current news cycle' -- is giving the public what it wants at the moment.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Following that "best military advice" would have required the president to forcefully make the case that a limited American ground force was vital to victory. He clearly had no appetite to do so, as it would have entailed further eroding his anti-war cred and infuriating his core base ahead of an election.  Even with the scaled-back mission, Hill Democrats are fracturing over whether to support the president's path forward:

Vulnerable Democratic senators were split — or in some cases, silent — on President Obama’s proposal to tackle the growing terrorist threat in the Middle East. Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), both facing tough reelection fights this fall, issued statements sharply critical of Obama’s proclaimed plans to launch military attacks unilaterally and to arm Syrian rebels....[Udall], like every Democrat who weighed in Wednesday, said he plans to continue to demand further details from the administration on its plans.Begich, one of four Democratic incumbents running for reelection in a red state, said, while he supports airstrikes, he’s opposed to arming rebels...But another quartet of vulnerable Democrats, Sens. Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Al Franken (Minn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), were cautiously supportive of Obama’s remarks...The issue is politically fraught for Democrats, as support for military action risks alienating progressive Democrats opposed to an aggressive, hasty response, like the one that launched the Iraq War, which is now seen by many as a quagmire. But polling has shown Americans overwhelmingly support military action, and are expressing higher levels of fear and concern for their safety than they have in recent memory, increasing the pressure to act. And the division within the party underscores the challenge Congress faces in rallying behind a passable proposal for military action against ISIS.

Of course, if President Obama wanted a decisive show of unity from Congress, he would ask for an authorization vote on the expanded air campaign.  Such a resolution would pass overwhelmingly, neutralizing continuing questions about the bounds of his authority in escalating a renewed military conflict.  But the White House, with some bipartisan backing, insists that Obama possesses all the authority he needs to pursue his strategy.  Read Eli Lake's piece detailing Obama's remarkable, shall we say, evolution on presidential war powers.  Candidate Obama wouldn't recognize this man, who is now relying on Congress' post-9/11 Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) as the legal grounds for ratcheting up a new war in Iraq and Syria.  Ironically, just last year he was urging Congress to roll back and eventually abrogate that very AUMF: "Not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States," he said at the National Defense University. "Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states. So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further."  

Well, promise (technically) kept.  He isn't "signing laws" to expand the mandate, per se.  He's expanding it unilaterally.  What Obama is directly asking Congress for is permission and appropriations to arm so-called moderate rebels in Syria, which is the most treacherous element of the four-point plan he laid out last night.  Obama backhanded this gambit as "fantasy" just last month, perhaps for good reason.  The White House says it would "welcome" a show of solidarity from Congress, but is ambivalent about whether vote on a no-brainer authorization of force.  Obama wants Congress on the hook with him for the riskier and more divisive Syria business.  Congressional Democrats, in particular, are in a tough spot, for reasons cited in the story above.  On one side of the tightrope is their reflexively pacifist base (which may not be quite as pacifist as advertised, now that it's no longer Bush who's mongering the wars or whatever); on the other is the rest of the American public:

UPDATE - Extraordinary:

Sarah Jean Seman - Blurred Lines: Two Straight Men Getting Married?
Posted: 9/11/2014 3:07:00 PM EST

Two straight men in New Zealand are getting married, but not because they love each other, they are tying the knot because they love Rugby. Travis McIntosh, 23, and Matt McCormick, 24, are best friends who are willing to repeat marriage vows in order to win a radio station competition and get a free trip to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

The “Love You Man” campaign began in August and promises a “trip of a lifetime” to “two best mates” who get married. The Edge radio station has a history of promoting “outrageous weddings, according to Media Works. They have previously prompted strangers to marry, couples to elope to Las Vegas, and for individuals to agree to “Nudie Nuptials.”

Tickets to the Rugby World Cup can cost as much as $1,217.00. Throw in the costs of flights, hotel rooms, etc. and you might end up saving money after throwing a small wedding. So, maybe it comes down to the fact that these are just two very competitive guys (I mean, their "bromance" did begin at ages 5 and 6 when they met on the Rugby field). 

The New Zealand Herald has more:

"We are not here to insult anyone. We are here to do our own thing and travel our own path." Mr McIntosh said the wedding was not mocking the institution of marriage.

"It's just seeing how far two good mates would go to win a trip to the Rugby World Cup."

"We picked up our wedding certificate and the nerves are starting to really hit home."

They will marry in front of 60 family and friends at Eden Park, Auckland.

Same-sex activists, however, are not taking the situation with such levity. Neill Ballantyne, co-coordinator of the Otaga University Students' Association Queer Support in New Zealand called the wedding an “insult:”

"Something like this trivialises what we fought for." The competition promoted the marriage of two men as something negative,"as something outrageous that you'd never consider", Mr Ballantyne said.

LegaliseLove Aotearoa Wellington co-chairman Joseph Habgood said the competition attacked the legitimacy of same-sex marriages.

The truth is, however, when marriage is no longer about having children you can get married for whatever reason you want. This sort of competition is merely the after-effect of creating blurred lines around the institution of marriage. 

Katie Pavlich - George W. Bush on 9/11/2001: We're at War, We Will Find Who Did This and "We're Going to Kick Their A**"
Posted: 9/11/2014 2:10:00 PM EST

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is tweeting today about experiencing 9/11/2001 first hand with President George W. Bush. This is my favorite one. 

You can read all of Fleischer's compelling tweets here. It's worth your time. Twitchy also has a good summary. 

For good measure, here's Bush's bullhorn speech from Ground Zero.

"I can hear you! I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

Greg Hengler - Remember: Bush's 1st Pitch at Yankee Stadium After 9-11
Posted: 9/11/2014 2:03:00 PM EST

Daniel Doherty - Ted Cruz Walks Off Stage After Crowd Boos Him for Pro-Israel Remarks
Posted: 9/11/2014 2:00:00 PM EST

According to the Daily Caller, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was the keynote speaker at a forum last night put on by the nonprofit organization In Defense of Christians.

In his remarks, Cruz spoke to the crowd of Middle Eastern Christians and others about the “cancer” of “religious bigotry,” and how important it is for Jews and Christians to live together in solidarity. It is a feeling widely shared by most Americans. And yet, as the DC points out, it wasn’t until he asserted, “Christians have no greater ally than Israel,” that the night was totally ruined.

“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, I will not stand with you.”

Good for Cruz. This spectacle is appalling and there's no justifiable reason why, in my view, he should have continued to preach tolerance to a crowd of bigots and anti-Semites (see below). Also, the fact that the phrase “solidarity dinner” is blasted across the big screen as the shouting grows -- and the bigotry becomes even more apparent -- is fairly ironic. (Although, given the makeup of the crowd, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised).

When Cruz suggested that only some attendees were being rude, and expressing hateful views, it was interesting to hear one man actually shout “most of us!” feel the same way. After the event, Cruz told the Washington Free Beacon how he felt about the whole thing. “I’ve certainly encountered audiences that disagreed with a particular point of view,” he said. “But this virulent display of hatred and bigotry was remarkable, and considerably different from anything I’ve previously encountered.”

Remember, this is Ted Cruz's reaction, who, as you well know, is no stranger to controversy or public condemnation. It is simply amazing, then, how some self-professed and so-called "Christians" can act this way -- and yet still prescribe to the religion of Christ.

Editor's note: The video above was recorded by EWTN News. This post has also been updated.

UPDATE: Two things. One, Cruz released this statement confirming his version of events. Two, Mollie Hemingway has an important post explaining why she believes Ted Cruz is “no hero,” and that many people, in fact, were offended by what he said. They think he missed an opportunity (by accident or not) to address important issues -- namely, Christian persecution. She also reminded readers that not all Christians have the same political interests and/or partnerships as the United States, and that’s something all of us should keep in mind.

UPDATE: This is relevant, too: