Let's revisit my Senate 2014 post from this morning by examining a batch of new polls, shall we? Let's begin with the sobering numbers for Republicans. NBC News and Marist have released fresh polls of the Colorado and Michigan Senate races showing Democrats leading by mid-single digits in each contest. According to the survey, Sen. Mark Udall is ahead of Republican challenger Cory Gardner by seven points among registered voters in the Rocky Mountain State, while Rep. Gary Peters enjoys a six-point cushion over Republican Terri Lynn Land in the battle for Michigan's open seat. (Obamacare is deeply unpopular in both states, according to the data). The Democrats are boosted by double-digit gender gaps (with Michigan women choosing a middle-aged male Democrat over the female Republican nominee), and advantages with Latinos. Oddly, the Colorado poll shows both Udall and the state's Democratic Governor leading independent voters by wide margins. Virtually all 2014 polling has shown independents breaking heavily for the GOP. These numbers out of Colorado are especially perplexing when compared to two additional new polls. Quinnipiac -- which has thus far only released its survey of the gubernatorial race this week -- has Republican Bob Beauprez leading Gov. John Hickenlooper by a point among registered voters, a far cry from NBC's six-point lead for the Democrat. We'll see if they release any Senate results in the near future. Then there's the new Gravis data, which crosses several wires:
Gravis poll in Colorado: Hickenlooper +6 in Gov race Gardner +4 in Senate race http://t.co/jC2E1bt2cB— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) July 16, 2014
FWIW, Gravis had pretty good results in their last poll in Colorado in '12. Had Obama up 3 weeks out http://t.co/iifdk62ujJ— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) July 16, 2014
This isn't exactly a keen insight, but it's going to come down to turnout. Republican-leaning voters are much more fired up to vote this year, and history shows that the president's terrible approval ratings should be a big drag on his party. Neither NBC nor the Q-Poll used a likely voter screen, which very well could tilt the results to the right. Then again, Colorado Democrats have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to turn out their victory coalition in statewide races. Republicans haven't won a major Colorado statewide office (governor or senator) in a decade. In Iowa, a brand new Senate poll shows the race knotted at 43 percent apiece -- with Joni Ernst pulling even with Democrat Bruce Braley. Iowa has never elected a woman to its Congressional delegation, and Ernst is looking to change that. If this exchange is any preview of his attitudes toward professional women, Braley may not be able to hide his contempt for Ernst during debates. Braley leads among women by seven points, with Ernst outpacing her male opponent with men by roughly the same margin. In Arkansas, a new poll shows Rep. Tom Cotton opening up an eight-point lead over incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor. It's the fourth consecutive poll showing Cotton ahead. I'll leave you with the latest (positive) ad from that Michigan race, in which Terri Lynn Land just had an outstanding fundraising quarter as she tries to stay within striking distance in a blue state:
House Rules Committee Republicans were united today in their determination to go ahead with authorizing Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) suit against President Obama over his selective enforcement of Obamacare.
“My fear is that our nation is currently facing the exact threat that the Constitution is designed to avoid. Branches of government have always attempted to exert their influence on the other branches, but this President has gone too far,” Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) said.
Republican leaders plan for a full House vote in favor of suing Obama over selective Obamacare enforcement before they recess at the end of this month. The Rules Committee will draft and vote on specific wording for the resolution sometime between now and then.
Today, the committee heard testimony from four Constitutional law experts, including Florida International University law professor Elizabeth Price Foley and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley in favor of the suit, and activist lawyer Simon Lazarus and Duke University law professor Walter Dellinger against the suit
Turley, a Democrat, told the committee in part:
Today's hearing is a historic step to address the growing crisis in our constitutional system - a shifting of the balance of power within our tripartite system in favor of a now dominant Executive Branch. ... We are seeing the emergence of a different model of government in our country - a model long ago rejected by the Framers. The rise of a dominant presidency has occurred with relatively little congressional opposition. Indeed, when President Obama pledged to circumvent Congress, he received rapturous applause from the very body that he was promising to make practically irrelevant.
Some of the changes ordered by President Obama did, in my view, cross the constitutional line in violation of the Separation of Powers.
Dellinger, for his part, turned to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia to make his case against the suit:
When government takes action that burdens a citizen, the citizen can rightly seek redress in the courts for his or her "personal particularized" and "cornet" injury. The courts of this country do not exist, however, for the purpose of intruding into disputes between the elected branches of government on the proper interpretation of statutes. As Justice Scalia put it in his opinion in Windsor v United States, the framers of the Constitution emphatically rejected a "system in which Congress and the Executive can pop immediately into court in their institutional capacity, whenever the President... implements a law in a manner that is not to Congress's liking."
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) then asked Dellinger if a President Ted Cruz could simply not enforce the individual mandate all together. Dellinger said that would be different because Obama "actually agrees with the act as a whole" while Cruz would only be acting to "subvert" the law by selectively enforcing it.
One doubts Scalia would find Dellinger's presidential intention test convincing.
Why is it considered assault when a mother-to-be harms her unborn child by taking drugs, yet it is perfectly legal for a woman to outright terminate her pregnancy? What exactly determines personhood? Is it whether or not the baby is wanted?
These are the confounding questions a new Tennessee law raises.
Mallory Loyola, 26, is the first to be charged under a recently passed state law that classifies drug use during pregnancy as assault. Loyola was just released on $2,000 bail and charged with a misdemeanor offense after she and her newborn baby tested positive for meth.
This law, which took effect last week, aims to protect the health and well-being of unborn babies by pushing addicted women to receive the help they need. Those convicted face up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. However, an affirmative defense is allowed for mothers who are able to show they sought treatment while pregnant and successfully completed it after giving birth.
Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens explains, “It's sad to see a child not getting an opportunity to come drug-free and given a chance. We want to see our children have a chance in life… Hopefully it will send a signal to other women who are pregnant and have a drug problem to seek help. That’s what we want them to do."
Opponents of the law say that criminalizing the status of being a drug-addict will only drive women away from treatment and the threat of jail will discourage visiting a doctor for basic prenatal care. Civil rights groups claim that it unfairly affects minorities and the poor by targeting street drugs while failing to address alcohol and prescription drug abuse.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is actively seeking a plaintiff to challenge the law. The director of the ACLU, Thomas Casetelli, says, “This dangerous law unconstitutionally singles out new mothers struggling with addiction for criminal assault charges.”
The state legislature strongly supported the bill, passing it 26 to seven in the state Senate and 64 to 30 with one abstain in the House. All seven senators who opposed the bill were Republican and stated that a lack of access to treatment centers would be a major obstacle for constituents in rural districts.
Remember, The United States is just one of four nations where a woman can have an abortion for any reason at any time during her nine months of pregnancy. In a country with one of the most radical abortion policies in the world, it is ironic to see a bill of this kind passed.
Fox News' Catherine Herridge is out with fresh reporting showing that thousands of unaccompanied illegal minors crossed the southern border with Mexico under the impression that if they made it to the United States they'd be able to stay, not because they're fleeing violence in their home countries. Further, new statistics show crime in Central America is actually down, not up.
A new intelligence assessment concludes that misperceptions about U.S. immigration policy – and not Central American violence – are fueling the surge of thousands of children illegally crossing the Mexican border.
The 10-page July 7 report was issued by the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), which according to the Justice Department website is led by the DEA and incorporates Homeland Security. Its focus is on the collection and distribution of tactical intelligence, information which can immediately be acted on by law enforcement.
"Of the 230 migrants interviewed, 219 cited the primary reason for migrating to the United States was the perception of U.S. immigration laws granting free passes or permisos to UAC (unaccompanied children) and adult females OTMs (other than Mexicans) traveling with minors,” the report said.
Many on the left have called for thousands of illegal children to be classified as refugees, this report strongly refutes that classification. The Obama administration has blamed the crisis on violence in Central America for the surge, which this report also blows out of the water.
It is predicted nearly 200,000 unaccompanied minors will enter the United States next year. Democrat Senator Henry Cuellar and Republican Senator John Cornyn are working on legislation that could allow for faster deportations of unaccompanied minors.
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has a very interesting reason as to why he is opposed to building a fence along the US southern border:
We are all connected. We can't just build a wall or a fence and say no more. This is America. Our doors are open. #AskDems— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) July 15, 2014
That’s a nice sentiment, and to a certain extent, he’s right. But is he really suggesting that we jettison US laws and customs, and just let everyone in, because "we are all connected"? Lewis is conflating two separate processes here: There is legal immigration -- the process by which those who want to come to this country lawfully follow the proper legal channels and pay the requisite fees, as broken and expensive as they might be -- and there is illegal immigration, the process by which foreign nationals cut the line in front of those who've patiently waited their turn.
Certainly, I wholeheartedly agree that “our doors are open” -- and should be. But only to those who follow the rule of law and respect our immigration policies.
Parting thought: In Lewis’ utopian paradise, where will all these illegal immigrants stay once the border becomes even more porous than it already is? Will the congressman himself agree to host them? How will we shelter and feed them all? How will this affect our national security interests? In other words, an open border policy is an idealistic and impractical pipe dream ostensibly designed to make our country "better." But here in the real world, it raises all sorts of complications that Democrats clearly haven’t even begun to think about.
No one disputes that we need to overhaul and reform our broken immigration system. But opening the border to anyone and everyone just because "we are all connected" is exactly the wrong approach. It simply costs taxpayers way too much.
As the unaccompanied child crisis on the border continues to get worse by the day, many voters now see immigration as one of the biggest problems facing the United States according to new Gallup polling. The percentage of people who believe immigration is a top concern has tripled in the past month.
With thousands of undocumented immigrant minors crossing the nation's southern border in recent months, the percentage of Americans citing immigration as the top problem has surged to 17% this month, up from 5% in June, and the highest seen since 2006. As a result, immigration now virtually ties "dissatisfaction with government," at 16%, as the primary issue Americans think of when asked to name the country's top problem.
Over the past few weeks, we've seen protests in California and Arizona against the busing of illegal immigrants into American communities. We've also seen reports of dangerous MS-13 gang members exploiting the crisis and using the Nogales Border Patrol processing center as a hub for gang recruitment and for access into the United States.
If Democrats are intent on staging moronic messaging votes designed to obfuscate the core issue in the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, Republicans stand prepared to offer their own moronic messaging legislation -- which will at least serve the purpose of exposing their opponents' deliberate distortions. As the upper chamber readies a procedural vote on Democrats' misnamed "not my boss' business" bill, The Hill reports that Senators Mitch McConnell, Kelly Ayotte and Deb Fischer are introducing a Republican alternative that would bar employers from blocking employees' access to contraception:
“We plan to introduce legislation this week that says no employer can block any employee from legal access to her FDA-approved contraceptives," McConnell said. “There’s no disagreement on that fundamental point.” The legislation appears to be an attempt by Senate Republicans to address an emotional political issue that Democrats have made central to their midterm election campaign.
The Huffington Post groans that "the GOP bill would change nothing, because women can already legally access contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration." Correct. Thank you, HuffPo, for accurately identifying the entire point of Republicans' proposal: Pushing back against Democrats' repeated and highly dishonest attempts to cast the Court's narrow religious liberty ruling as a fictitious assault on birth control "access." Click through and read quote after quote from Congressional Democrats muddying the waters to promulgate the false impression that Hobby Lobby gives "bosses" the right to wield "permission slip" power over what forms of contraceptives women are allowed to access. Totally bogus. Mary Katharine Ham reiterates the actual facts, which McConnell's legislation seeks to highlight:
It makes no difference to [Democrats] that birth control was readily available to everyone, subsidized and provided free by the government, and covered by almost all employer-based insurance plans before a bureaucrat at Health and Human Services decided to force every employer in America to provide it without a copay, regardless of their religious beliefs. It was even available to Hobby Lobby employees before the Hobby Lobby case was decided and will remain available to them after that decision.
The Hobby Lobby ruling turned the clock back all the way to...2012, when HHS bureaucrats concocted their menu of mandates that touched off the current controversy. Birth control's availability and legality is not, and has never been, at issue here. The question is whether a relatively narrow band of religious employers, and religious organizations, can be forced by the federal government to directly pay for and facilitate a products that violate their beliefs. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 -- co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy, passed with only three dissenting votes, and signed by President Clinton -- the government may only intrude on Americans' religious liberties if there is (a) a compelling state interest at stake, and (b) if the government employs the least invasive method possible to achieve that interest. Five justices determined that the HHS mandate failed that two-pronged test, as it pertains to closely-held businesses. MKH asks another good question: Why was this crucial, women's-rights-protecting, anti-dark-ages measure left to the whims of unelected bureaucrats? Why didn't Democrats proudly include this language in the bill itself while it was being debated? It's scandalous and outrageous that Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi did nothing -- positively nothing! -- to rectify the antediluvian, misogynistic status quo that "denied women's access to birth control," or whatever, in their own landmark legislation. How can they possibly justify this knuckle-dragging oversight? The answer, of course, is that they couldn't afford the attending political controversy that would inevitably have arisen. The American public is split on this question, with strong majorities supporting opt-outs for religious organizations. Pushing this envelope would have made it much harder to peel off just enough votes to drag the underlying bill across the finish line. Recall that Rep. Bart Stupak's recalcitrant coalition had to be bought off at the eleventh hour with a grand, empty gesture from the president. Stupak has since stated that he was duped, and that the HHS mandate clearly violates the president's executive order and the White House's assurances. Another Obamacare lie. Who could possibly have seen that coming?
Parting thought: Will Republicans get a vote on their bill? Don't hold your breath. Why would Senate Democrats obstruct a bill that explicitly satisfies their stupid and redundant "not my boss' business" motto? Here's McConnell calling out Democrats' "outlandish" claims:
Just when you thought there couldn’t be another Planned Parenthood scandal, the pro-life group Live Action finds this: an employee encouraging a 15-year-old girl to engage in sex fantasy games with her boyfriend.
In the second episode of a series entitled “SexEd: Planned Parenthood’s Dangerous Sex Advice for Kids,” a Live Action volunteer went undercover at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains in Denver, Colorado, to see how workers would react to her questions about Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission (BDSM). Unfortunately, this particular employee was all too eager to give the young girl advice about how she and her partner could get more creative in the bedroom. What's particularly striking about the video is not so much the language, but how casually this Planned Parenthood employee discusses sexual bondage games with the young woman.
First, she discussed the different kinds of bondage, such as "whipping" her boyfriend, in an excited tone:
"It can be really fun, you know?"
Then suggested where she could find the necessary items:
“There is tons of sex shops around here. Basically, that’s where they carry different outfits. Like, if you wanna role play, like, a teacher, or a nurse, they have outfits. That would be a good place, for you guys to go together and be able to ask questions together and try new things.”
Other then visit a sex shop, here are a few other tips the employee gave to this 15-year-old girl:
- read "50 Shades of Grey"
- do some internet research on BDSM
- watch porn
- act out porn videos
- don't say "stop," use a "safe word" instead
Some more of the employee’s suggestions will not be repeated here.
This undercover video is just the latest reason why Planned Parenthood does not deserve the $500 million it received in taxpayer funds last year. You are paying for these “counseling sessions.” Even more disturbing, some schools have implemented sex education programs in schools across the country. The last place these inappropriate lessons should be allowed, is in the classroom. Not to mention, it is an abortion giant and has a history of covering up rape.
Live Action President Lila Rose appeared on Hannity last night to discuss her organization’s recent findings and insist we need to change our attitudes and take a stand against Planned Parenthood:
"We're giving them power. We should not be trusting our kids with this organization."
Click below to watch the whole undercover video. I probably don’t have to warn you it contains some graphic language:
This is a question even senators in his own party are perhaps starting to wonder. To recap: Inquiries into the Senate Majority Leader’s mental state of mind first sprung up when he started rambling incoherently and ad nauseam about Charles and David Koch, and their supposed quest to “buy America,” and continued up through yesterday when the good senator from Nevada actually stated that the border is secure (via Katie Pavlich):
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday asserted the southern border is secure despite the massive surge of illegal minors from Central America that has overwhelmed federal agencies.
“The border is secure,” he told reporters after the Senate Democrats’ weekly policy lunch. “[Sen.] Martin Heinrich [(D-N.M.)] talked to the caucus today. He’s a border state senator. He said he can say without any equivocation the border is secure.”
Assertions such as these fly in the face of what’s actually happening on the ground. But that doesn't matter. A friend of the Senate Majority Leader's (alas, it wasn’t the imaginary one in 2012 who informed him Mitt Romney hadn't paid his taxes in ten years), confirmed “without any equivocation” that the border was secure. Case closed, or so Reid seemed to be suggesting. Let’s move onto more pressing issues, like the Koch brothers.
Not surprisingly, such a jarring statement prompted syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer to wonder aloud last night on Special Report if Harry Reid keeps forgetting to take his medication:
“When you hear Harry Reid saying the border is secure you've got to wonder, you know, whether he's really on his medication or not. I mean, that is so detached from reality. We just saw at the beginning of the show the report from John Roberts -- you get how many we have now? 60,000 -- at least -- kids who come over. And we're completely helpless. And it's the helplessness that I think is driving the president and the Democrats to accept. What they want is for the Republicans to be the one who would propose the change in the law because it looks so cruel.”
That being said, Reid’s too shrewd a politician to believe his own rhetoric, right? He knows that the situation along the US southern border is an unmitigated disaster -- how could he not? – and getting worse by the day. Instead, he chose to peddle a lie with the intended effect of washing away a problem that everyone knows, including himself, must be dealt with sooner or later.
Politics, it can be said, is all about perception, and for Democrats to admit a problem even exists is to also concede they are at least partially to blame for it. And they can’t afford that, now can they?
I wrote about a similar finding back in May, poking fun at the precision of this model (eighty-six percent, not eighty-five) as silly, while confessing I wasn't -- and still am not -- nearly as bullish on Republicans' chances as these Washington Post/Election Lab analysts are. Nevertheless, there's little doubt that Democrats are in for a difficult fight to maintain their Senate majority:
Our model suggests that the GOP has a very good chance of winning the Republican-leaning states: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana. That gives them five seats. They also have a better than 50-50 chance of winning Iowa, where Joni Ernst’s recent surge has made the race neck-and-neck—a trend that is consistent with what our model suggested about the Iowa race back in May. Meanwhile, Democrats have a good chance of winning Colorado, Michigan, and North Carolina.
That summary also assumes that Republicans will hold on to large leads in the contests to fill open seats in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota. It also strangely lists Iowa is a likely Republican pick-up, while categorizing North Carolina as solid for Democrats. I'm dubious of both propositions, but this is all an imprecise science. Here's how the Election Lab Senate projection map looks at the moment, less than four months out from the midterms:
Rather than repackage my admonition from May, I'll take the liberty of quoting myself verbatim: "You may recall that Republicans were supposed to have a decent chance to capture the Senate two years ago. They managed to lose two seats. This round, if the party were to relinquish any of the 45 seats they currently control or fail to secure the trio of aforementioned low-hanging pick-ups, it’s probably game over right out of the gate. Moral of the story: Take nothing for granted." That being said, Chris Cillizza points to another historical trend that pulls strongly in Team Red's favor. This is why the lame duck president's dismal approval ratings still matter:
One of the biggest threats to Senate Democrats' control of the upper chamber is the relative ambivalence and disillusionment among core sectors of Obama's 2012 victory coalition. In order to mitigate their inevitable losses, Democrats must motivate these groups -- which explains their shameless and utterly perfidious grandstanding about the Hobby Lobby decision and birth control. The Washington Post's fact-checker ran through an embarrassing series of false and misleading statements from elected Democrats, who are attempting to convince their low-information base that the Supreme Court effectively handed employers veto power over the contraceptive choices of female employees. That's not what the Court did in its appropriate and narrow ruling, of course, but details are intentionally being subordinated to passions here. The Left's base-goosing, anti-liberty rhetoric is taking various forms. For instance:
.@SenWarren: Remember the government shutdown? That was started by a GOP effort to let employers deny workers access to birth control.— Senate Democrats (@SenateDems) July 15, 2014
Indeed, who among us doesn't remember that the government shutdown was all about birth control? And that anti-McConnell ad from a pro-abortion group jumps aboard the moronic "not my boss' business" bandwagon -- a specious slogan that gets things perfectly backward. Indeed, it's not women's boss' business what sorts of birth control they choose to use. The Obama administration proactively made it some "bosses' business" when they required -- for the first time in US history -- that employers pay for a litany of contraceptives, even if that act violated the proprietors' religious beliefs. The administration has also sought to extend this unprecedented coercion to explicitly religious groups, embodied by the outrageous lawsuit against the Little Sisters of the Poor. Defenders of religious liberty merely want to return America to the pre-2012 dark ages, when women were free to obtain the affordable birth control methods of their choice, and the vast majority of businesses voluntarily provided contraceptive-inclusive health coverage. Radical. One last thing: The NARAL ad hits McConnell for opposing "equal pay for women." Over to you, Obama White House.