Many Questions Remain After Kerry Senate Hearing

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was grilled in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee this afternoon.

Yesterday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey remarked that the United States may eventually need to send soldiers in as ground troops for the ISIS (ISIL) campaign.

In Wednesday afternoon’s hearing, Kerry took multiple opportunities to unequivocally state that would not be case. He repeated that U.S. soldiers would not have a combat role and that the troops deployed would serve only in support missions and training capacities.

However, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) pressed Kerry, asking if the president and the administration would change their position should they find out that inserting U.S. ground forces would be the only viable way to defeat ISIS.

Kerry responded that he wouldn’t “entertain a hypothetical,” saying, “If we're failing and failing miserably, who knows what decision they're going to make.” He insisted that there were numerous other possibilities that would take place before reversing the decision to involve American soldiers.

The Secretary also made the case for the president’s authority to act alone in executing airstrikes outside of Congress’ official approval, citing the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). He argued that the administration was acting under the pervue of the law, because the language provided for executive authority to combat “Al Qaeda and associated forces” (with ISIS being a direct offshoot of the group). Kerry welcomed the committee’s call for the passage of a new AUMF and said he encouraged cooperation with Congress moving forward.

Others senators used their time to express concern over exactly who was being classified as a “vetted moderate” Syrian, whether the Free Syrian Army would actually fight ISIS as opposed to Assad (who many claim is and even bigger enemy than ISIS to the opposition), and whether or not providing arms would unintentionally empower the terrorist group or the Assad regime.

While many members of the committee expressed their desire to engage in some sort of combative action against ISIS (with the exception of Senator Rand Paul), almost all were uncomfortable with the level of detail they currently have from the administration on the duration of the operations and the extent to which the coalition of other countries have committee to the fight.

Without providing detail in an “unclassified” setting, Secretary Kerry reiterated his confidence in the coalition he has been working to build over the past week, saying the “world will begin to see what all of these countries are prepared to do.”

“If we do this right, this effort could become a future counterterrorism model.”

Confusion still runs rampant as the early stages of this war progress. Both Secretaries Kerry and Hagel will be back on the Hill tomorrow to address the House’s concerns and questions and continue to sell the president’s anti-ISIS agenda.

“ISIL must be defeated. Period. End of Story,” Kerry said. “And collectively we are all going to be measured by how we carry out this mission.”

Is ISIS Trying to Assassinate Pope Francis?

Iraq’s envoy to the Vatican, Habeeb Al Sadr, believes there are “credible" and alarming "reports" that ISIS is hell-bent on assassinating Pope Francis. The Holy See must therefore take extraordinary measures to ensure his safety and security when he travels to Albania in a few days, he argues. The Vatican, however, has categorically dismissed such threats—and will not cancel or alter Pope Francis’ travel schedule.

The Telegraph reports:

Habeeb Al Sadr said there were also indications of a more specific threat against Pope Francis, who recently spoke out in favour of the US and its allies halting the advance of Isil in Syria and Iraq. "What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible," the ambassador told La Nazione, an Italian daily, on Tuesday.

"I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of Isil who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians. "Isil could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe.

The ambassador said the Pope had made himself a target by speaking out against the human rights abuses committed against Christians in Syria and Iraq, as well as by his approval of attempts by the US to try to roll back Isil.

Certainly, the pontiff’s strong pronouncements against ISIS is one reason why the terror group would want to assassinate him. But that’s not the only reason. As St. Peter’s successor, his assassination would deliver a crippling blow to the Roman Catholic Church (and, by extension, all of Christendom). In other words, ISIS’ brand of nihilism is so grotesque that assassinating a world leader—a world leader who emphasizes compassion, peace, tolerance, and ecumenism—would be a symbolic “victory” for them. This gives one some insight into the scope—and seriousness—of the threat the West now faces from ISIS.

Needless to say, the Vatican must exercise extreme caution and vigilance this weekend. But of course, the Vatican doesn't need me to tell them that.

House Keeps Government Open, Arms Syrian Rebels

The continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11th passed easily in the House of Representatives this evening with a vote of 319-108 and is now headed to the Senate. Per Fox News' Chad Pergram, 53 Republicans and 55 Democrats voted down the measure, which also authorizes the president to train and arm “vetted,” moderate Syrian opposition for the purpose of providing ground troops in the war against ISIS.

While many members, both in the House and Senate, have taken this week to voice their opinions and concerns on the current course of U.S. involvement in a tumultuous Middle East, it seemed likely that the House would find the numbers to support the president’s request that Congress weigh in on immediate action.

Even Speaker Boehner cast his vote on Wednesday - a rare, but meaningful and symbolic, act for Speakers of the House. Boehner said this in a statement released shortly after passage:

"By authorizing the Department of Defense to help train and equip the Syrian opposition, this measure represents an important, initial step forward in taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL represents a direct threat to the safety and security of the United States, and House Republicans are firmly committed to doing everything we can to help keep America safe.

"This year, the House worked methodically to pass seven annual appropriations bills. Senate Democrats didn’t even bother – they passed zero. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of inaction we’ve also seen from them on more than 40 House-passed jobs bills. This bill preserves previous spending reductions and keep the government running at current levels past the end of this month. And importantly, it ensures the ban on internet access taxes does not expire on November 1. I urge the Senate to act on it quickly."

Beginning Tuesday, representatives spent six hours debating the “Train & Equip” amendment, which was introduced earlier this week by Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA).

Fellow Californian and newly-elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke briefly on the House Floor this afternoon in support of the provision, saying in part:

“Voting against this request would send a terrible message that America is unwilling to stand with those who are already fighting a common enemy, and confirm the views of many in the region that America is but a paper tiger…Congress must maintain a central role. We must conduct oversight to ensure this program is managed effectively. Under the Leadership of Chairman McKeon, we have taken the President’s original request and have added substantial oversight provisions to ensure this program is properly and carefully managed. Congress must also push the President to craft a comprehensive strategy that recognizes the inescapable reality that ISIL is but a symptom of a broader terrorist threat.

"…A president who has made ending the war on terrorism the central focus of his foreign policy must now change. He must now make winning the war a priority.”

In addition, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) applauded the passage, saying, “We face a great and growing threat from ISIL. Never has a terrorist organization controlled so much territory, cash, or weapons. This measure gives the Syrian opposition what they desperately need – training and equipment – as they continue to risk their lives to combat ISIL terrorists as well as the Assad regime. With greater U.S. training and supplies, they’ll be bolstered. And as an ultimate boost, this force would be supported by U.S. and coalition airpower, without a combat role for U.S. ground forces. This training and equipment would put strong backing into a fighting force – which will be needed to confront and defeat ISIL. If we do not act, the threat will continue to grow.”

Members of the House will continue to investigate the administration’s plan of action for the remainder of the week. Tomorrow, Secretary Kerry and Defense Secretary Hagel will testify separately in front of the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees.

New Poll Shows Voters Prefer Payroll Tax Cut to Minimum Wage Hike

As Guy Benson reported earlier today, a new poll of likely voters conducted for Townhall by Gravis Marketing found that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) was statistically tied with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) at 45 percent in the race for Lousiana's U.S. Senate seat.

That result is right in line with both the RealClearPolicits poll average of the race (Cassidy +1.3) and the HuffPost Pollster model (Cassidy +.5).

In addition to the top line result, however, Gravis also included a question, at the request of Townhall, that may provide Republicans a better way to answer Democratic questions about raising the minimum wage on the campaign trail. 

Gravis asked, "Given the choice, would you rather see Congress: 1) raise the minimum wage, 2) cut the payroll tax for all working Americans, or 3) increase tax credits for some low-income Americans." 

The results found a strong preference for cutting the payroll tax. "The majority of those polled; 50% believe that cutting the payroll tax for all working Americans would be a good start, 39% indicated that raising the minimum wage would be their choice, while only 9% believe increased entitlement spending by increasing tax credits for some low-income Americans would be smart. 2% were unsure," Gravis reported.

It is not hard to see why Americans would prefer a payroll tax cut to a minimum wage hike. A payroll tax cut, paid for by eliminating loopholes for the wealthy, would both increase take home pay for all working Americans and create new jobs by lowering the cost of employment

Raising the minimum wage, however, would benefit only 4.3 percent of American workers, and, according to both the Congressional Budget Office and President Obama's choice to un the Federal Reserve, would kill hundreds of thousands of jobs.  

Despite Recommendations, Diplomatic Security Levels Still Not Improved Post-Benghazi

More than two years after the Benghazi terror attack, recommendations made by the Accountability Review Board about how to boost security and protect Americans working around the world at diplomatic posts have been ignored by the State Department. Members of the Benghazi Select Committee, led by Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, raised serious concerns on Capitol Hill Wednesday during testimony given by officials involved in either implementing or recommending new security measures. 

Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Greg Starr testified that although "tremendous progress on the 29 Benghazi ARB recommendations" have been made, the position of Under Secretary for Diplomatic Security has not been created despite being the number one recommendation from the ARB to prevent future security lapses. The same recommendation was made after the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya more than a decade ago. 

Former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection and member of the Independent Panel of Best Practice Todd Keil testified that security recommendations haven't been implemented and reconfirmed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens repeatedly asked for more security leading up to the 9/11 attacks and was denied multiple times.

"Our Panel was committed to identifying best practices from throughout the U.S. government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and international partners which can which can finally establish an effective risk management process in the Department of State, improve the security of U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad and enhance the safety of Department of State and foreign affairs agencies’ personnel not only in high-risk areas, but globally. We identified 40 recommendations to achieve this goal. We continue to stand behind our report in the strongest possible terms, and believe that each of the 40 recommendations and the supporting narratives, which were derived from well - known and established best practices , provide a clear road map for security management enhancements throughout the Department of State," Kiel said. "In meeting earlier this year with Deputy Secretary Higginbottom and Assistant Secretary Starr, we were encouraged by their candor and support for our recommendations and their stated intent
to adhere to the recommendations in our report. In light of the long history of such reports and recommendations to the Department of State, and with a continuing sense of responsibility, we voiced our concerns in a recent letter to Deputy Secretary Higginbottom, both for those recommendations not implemented and those that apparently rely on pre-Benghazi processes and procedures to demonstrate or achieve implementation."

"Clear the smoke and remove the mirrors," Kiel continued. "Now is the time for the Department of State to finally institutionalize some real, meaningful and progressive change. Words and cursory actions by the Department of State ring hollow absent transparency, and verifiable and sustainable actions to fully put into practice the letter and the intent of our recommendations, which will facilitate diplomacy and safeguard the selfless Americans who carry out our national security priorities around the world."

Leading up to the Benghazi attack, the State Department relied on Libyian militias for consul security. According to State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf, relying on local militias or security personnel is standard practice that continues today.

Poll: Republican Beauprez Boasts 10-Point Lead Over CO Democratic Gov. Hickenlooper

Republican frontrunner Bob Beauprez is gaining unexpected ground in Colorado’s gubernatorial race, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. The former U.S. Rep. holds a double-digit lead over Democratic incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper.

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Additionally Beauprez slid into the lead among one key demographic: women. According to Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll:

"Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is behind the challenger on the key qualities voters want in a leader: honesty, caring and leadership. 

"Pundits were predicting that Gov. Hickenlooper faced a close race for reelection. Instead, he's got a mad dash to make up a double-digit deficit. The Democrat does not get the traditional strong support from women to offset Bob Beauprez's army of support from men."

Hickenlooper has raised almost four times the amount of his opponent, according to a recent Associated Press article. While the governor has accumulated around $4.2 million, Beauprez stands at $1 million. 

"We are not going to let this or any other poll distract us from getting the job done and giving Colorado the leadership it deserves," Beauprez said in a press release Wednesday, "We are going to run like we're behind."

Intelligence Officials Admit It's Hard to Track Americans in Syria

“At present, we have no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the homeland of the United States,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in statement for the House Committee on Homeland Security hearing today. “But that is not, by any means, the end of the story.”

It certainly isn’t. As ISIS continues to strengthen in numbers and resources, the threat posed by them both overseas and at home only worsens.

Foremost among the concerns raised by lawmakers today during the hearing on ‘Worldwide Threats to the Homeland’ was the issue of foreign fighters returning to the U.S. 

National Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen said that there are more than 100 Americans that have traveled to Syria, some of whom may have joined the ranks of ISIS, but he acknowledged it’s difficult to determine where foreign fighters go and what they do once they reach the country.

Johnson and Olsen said they’ve been focused on the issue of foreign fighters for months. They assured the committee that there are systems in place to track those who attempt to travel to Syria, but neither downplayed the difficulty of knowing which Americans have gone to the country to join a terrorist organization.

Johnson said that based on the systems in place the agency has “a reasonable degree of confidence" but "not a high degree of confidence” that they know who has attempted to travel to Syria.

Responding to questions about reports that ISIS is trying to enter through the Southern border, Johnson said there’s no specific intelligence or evidence to suggest at present that the group is attempting to infiltrate the U.S. through the Southern border, although we must remain vigilant.

Insane: Rich Los Angeles Neighborhoods Vaccinating Kids at Lower Rates Than Poor African Countries

Herd immunity, that beautiful concept that protects the medically fragile from dying of horrible, preventable diseases like pertussis and measles, is a thing of the past in some upscale Los Angeles neighborhoods. Why? Because parents are refusing to vaccinate their children—and in some areas of the city, vaccination rates are lower than war-torn impoverished African countries.

Parents are able to skip vaccinating their children by filing a "personal belief exemption" (PBE) form. These forms are available for parents who do not want to vaccinate their children for either personal beliefs or religious reasons.

From The Atlantic (emphasis added):

In some schools, up to 60 to 70 percent of parents have filed these PBEs, indicating a vaccination rate as low as that of Chad or South Sudan. Unlike in Santa Monica, however, parents in South Sudan have trouble getting their children vaccinated because of an ongoing civil war.

And lo, it is these very same L.A. neighborhoods that are experiencing a resurgence of diseases like whooping cough, otherwise known as pertussis. Measles cases have also hit a high in California this year.

To be clear, not all PBEs are evidence of an anti-vaxxer parent. Schools require either a PBE or an up-to-date shot record for school attendance, and sometimes parents submit them if they simply aren't able to get the shots done on time. Still, the L.A. Times has previously reported that the percentage of kindergartens in which at least 8 percent of students were not fully vaccinated because of the parent's beliefs had more than doubled since 2007, and private-school parents were likelier to file the PBEs than their public-school counterparts. The paper found that the exemption rate for all of Santa Monica and Malibu was 15 percent.

This is a terrifying trend. I've written previously about measles outbreaks in unvaccinated communities, and it's terrifying to think of something similar happening in Los Angeles and spreading throughout the nation. Vaccines work. Vaccines are safe and do not cause autism. I'm thankful to have grown up in a time where I didn't have to worry about catching measles or polio. Americans have no excuse not to protect their children from these horrible diseases.

A Terrible Polling Day For Democrats

National - Let's start with the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, which speaks to the national 'fundamentals' of the 2014 cycle.  The environment remains treacherous for Democrats:

Republicans hold a six-point lead on the Congressional ballot among likely voters, winning independents by nine points and holding a double-digit enthusiasm advantage.  Those are all very significant numbers.  The GOP holds substantial voter preference edges on the economy (+11), terrorism (+21) and foreign policy (+12), while pulling even with Democrats on immigration and largely erasing Democrats' wide, decades-long lead on healthcare.  

Obama's overall approval rating is sagging at 40 percent, underwater by double-digits.  He's fallen to new lows in this poll on his handling of terrorism (41 percent approval) -- formerly a bright spot amidst otherwise ugly numbers -- and foreign policy (34 percent).

- Nearly six in ten Americans say Obama's posture toward ISIS is "not tough enough, with 31 percent saying he's handling things "about right."  Some respondents said he's being "too tough" on ISIS: Two percent, which is within the poll's margin of error.

"This poll finds no improvement in overall views of the health care law."

Senate - I've been writing a lot about the disparity between national polling trends (see above) and many of the state-level polls of individual races, in which many Democrats have been outperforming the president and the overall environment.  When, if ever, would those surveys "catch up" with the fundamentals?  One headline-grabbing poll isn't necessarily a turning point, but the Iowa Senate poll Conn highlighted earlier is undoubtedly a shot in the arm to the GOP.  Most striking about Joni Ernst's six-point lead is that she's hit 50 percent, with Democrat Bruce Braley sitting in the mid-40's, as quite a few Senate Democratic candidates in toss-up states are.  Here's a new ad highlighting popular Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley's endorsement of Ernst in the race:

Braley infamously demeaned Grassley and farmers at an out-of-state fundraiser with fellow trial lawyers.  Such a lawyer, that guy.  And then there's this, out of Colorado:

An incumbent at 42 percent isn't in good shape, and that may not be the only favorable-looking poll to emerge from this race this week.  See below for more.

Governor - Survey USA has Charlie Crist (the worst politician in America) trailing Florida Gov. Rick Scott by five points, and polling at just 39 percent. The respected Marquette University Law School poll shows a significant swing toward Scott Walker in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race; he now leads Mary Burke by three points.  (A NYT/CBS poll last week gave Walker a four-point lead). And finally, this stunner out of Colorado:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ties former U. S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger, among women and trails among all likely voters 50 - 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Libertarian candidate Matthew Hess and Green Party candidate Harry Hempy each have 3 percent.

Suffolk/USA Today shows this contest roughly tied (with Hickenlooper up by two points), but if Quinnipiac has Beauprez ahead by ten, we're looking forward to see their yet-to-be-released Senate data. Last but not least, why do we write some many posts on polls? Because the media hates showcasing data that makes them sad. Straight up bias:

Obama: "Our Reach Is Long, if You Threaten America, You Will Find No Safe Haven"

Speaking from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, President Obama delivered remarks defending his pledge to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS.” But he also spoke confidently about, and reaffirmed his support for, the people who need and deserve it most: U.S. service members and their families.

“I came here to say the same thing I’ve been saying to troops across this country and around the world,” he began. “And that is thank you.”

“I want to thank you for all your service, I want to thank you for your sacrifice,” he intoned. “As your commander in chief, I could not be prouder of each and every one of you.”

Quite rightly, he reminded his audience of military personnel that the “9/11 generation” has met every challenge handed down to them with both acceptance and professionalism.

And while terrorist groups like ISIL–and their al Qaeda affiliates–do not directly threaten America’s national security at this time, they could “if left unchecked,” he said.

Which is why, almost as if he was speaking directly to the terrorists himself, he delivered the most stirring and rousing line of his oration.

“Our reach is long, if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven–we will find you eventually,” he averred to wild applause.

“But this–I want to emphasize–is not and will not be America’s fight alone,” he continued. “This is why we’ve spent the last several weeks building [a coalition].”

“Forty countries so far have offered some assistance,” he added. “And meanwhile, nearly 30 nations have [pledged to help] with humanitarian relief.”

That is to say, after nearly 14 years of war, it’s time for other nations as well as Iraqi citizens to step up to the plate.

“The point is, we cannot do for the Iraqi people what they must do for themselves,” he said. “But this is an effort that calls on America’s unique abilities and responsibilities to lead. In a world that’s more crowded and connected, it is America that has the unique capabilities to mobilize against an organization like ISIL.”

He thus turned to the inescapable fact that the safety of the nation relies chiefly upon a small yet dedicated warrior class of men and women who sometimes do not get the recognition they have earned.

“To all the service members here and around the world, we ask a lot of you,” he said softly. “And any mission involves risk. And any mission separates you from your families. And sending our soldiers into harm’s way is the hardest decision I make–nothing else comes close.”

“I do it,” he added, “only because you are the best at what it is that you do."

“Only 1 percent of Americans may wear the uniform and shoulder the weight of special responsibilities that you do,” he continued. “But 100 percent of Americans need to support you and your family–100 percent.”

Legislation Introduced to Eliminate ATF

Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has introduced legislation to eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal law enforcement agency with 5000 employees. If passed, the legislation would dissolve the duties of ATF to the FBI and DEA. From the legislation:

To abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, transfer
its functions relating to the Federal firearms, explosives, and arson laws, violent crime, and domestic terrorism to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and transfer its functions relating to the Federal alcohol and tobacco smuggling laws to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and for other purposes.

“Washington should be responsible stewards of the American taxpayers’ money. While all too often that is not the case, this is a good government bill to streamline agency activity at DOJ—increasing effectiveness while decreasing cost. The ATF is a largely duplicative, scandal ridden agency that lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership. For decades it has been branded by high profile failures. There is also significant overlap with other agencies. At a time when we are approaching $18 trillion in debt, waste and redundancy within our federal agencies must be addressed. Without a doubt, we can fulfill the role of the ATF more efficiently," Sensenbrenner said in a statement about the ATF Elimination Act. 

According to Sensenbrenner there are two main goals for the legislation, "to eliminate and reduce duplicative functions and waste to the maximum extent possible, and to report to Congress with a detailed plan on how the transition will take place."

The legislation comes after years of corruption, Operation Fast and Furious and after a series of ATF stings in Sensenbrenner's home state of Wisconsin where agents took advantage of mentally disabled teenagers by giving them neck tattoos and teaching them how to commit crimes. ATF agents also lost track of a fully-automatic machine gun in Milwaukee after it was stolen from an unattended government vehicle. 

Vindicated: Agent Jay Dobyns Wins Long Court Battle With ATF

After a long six year court battle with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Special Agent and whistleblower Jay Dobyns says he as been vindicated after Federal Judge Francis Allegra ruled in his favor late Tuesday. Dobyns, who infiltrated the dangerous and deadly Hells Angels gang as an undercover agent years ago, brought a lawsuit against the Bureau after supervisors ignored death threats to his family, which included plans to murder him either with a bullet or by injecting him with the AIDS virus, kidnapping and torturing his then 15-year-old daughter and kidnapping his wife in order to videotape a gang rape of her. Contracts were solicited between the Hells Angels, the Aryan Brotherhood and the MS-13 gang to carry out these threats, which were laid out in prison letters and confirmed through FBI and ATF interviews of confidential informants inside numerous detention centers. In 2008, his Tucson home was burned to the ground. When the fire was started, his wife and children were inside. Luckily, they escaped. Instead of investigating, ATF supervisors accused Dobyns of being the arsonist.

"I have been vindicated. First, I must thank God who provided me with strength and faith during these events. I thank those who have supported me; family, friends, peers and strangers but mostly my wife and kids – they have been the true victims here and been forced to suffer too needlessly," Dobyns wrote about the ruling on his website, where he released the news. "An agency I spilled my own blood for and enthusiastically accepted every dirty assignment on behalf of for twenty-seven years, knowingly and intentionally accused me of a crime I did not commit; being a person who would murder his own wife and children by fire."

In his opinion, Allegra said ATF exhibited "organizational weaknesses," in handling the threats against Dobyns and described ATF officials as demonstrating misfeasance in the case "rooted in the sorry failure of some ATF officials."

“The violations occurred because of the way officials like ASAC Gillett and RAC Higman functioned – and were allowed to function – after the arson, especially in terms of how Agent Dobyns was treated”; “In the courts view, the evidence showed that ASAC Gillett and Agent Higman knew that Agent Dobyns was not responsible for the fire, and still allowed him to be treated as a suspect as a form of payback. Moreover, ATF officials knew, or should have known, that individuals like ASAC Gillett and Agent Higman should not have been allowed to participate in the investigation – as it turned out their conduct was not only reprehensible, but predictably so. In donning blinders in this regard, ATF officials compounded potential harm that might have befallen the Dobyns family,” the opinion states.

In his writing about the ruling, Dobyns stressed that the abuses toward him occurred prior to Operation Fast and Furious and were carried out by many of the same players (ASAC Gillett being one of them) ultimately responsible for the bloody project that left Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry dead. 

During Operation Black Biscuit, Dobyns operated as a special field agent under ATF Phoenix Field Office management. At the time of the threats, that management team included Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Phoenix Field Division William Newell, Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett and ATF Deputy Assistant Director William McMahon, who served as Newell’s direct supervisor at the time. All were intimately involved in Operation Fast and Furious. Newell and McMahon have both testified before the House Oversight Committee regarding their roles in the lethal gun trafficking operation that deliberately put over 2,000 high powered weapons into the hands of ruthless Mexican drug cartels and allowed those weapons to be lost south of the border.

Dobyns warned ATF about corrupt, power hungry supervisors for years and was ignored. 

"Why is that important? Because in 2007 and 2008 I warned ATF of the dangers of these people well in advance of Fast and Furious providing them ample time to prevent what was coming. The asleep-at-the-wheel malfeasance of Michael Sullivan, Ronnie Carter, Billy Hoover and Ken Melson empowered them. Once the corruption was exposed they all questioned, 'How did this happen?'" Dobyns wrote. "It happened while I was being buried and tormented by ATF for speaking out and the ringleaders of Fast and Furious remained un-touched, un-investigated, un-disciplined at a time when they were just beginning to orchestrate the greatest law enforcement scandal of the modern era."

Dobyns will be rewarded damages from ATF. In the lawsuit ATF argued the Bureau is entitled to book royalties from Dobyns' New York Times Bestseller No Angel. That argument was denied. 

"I thank the select few of my ATF peers who displayed the courage to publicly stand by me when doing so put their own careers and reputations at risk. Friends I thought I had vanished while friends I never knew I had arrived. There is nothing comparable to “pressure” in a time of need to find out who truly believes in you...Doing the right thing is not always easy but, it is always right," Dobyns wrote.

“Jay Dobyns spent two years as an undercover agent infiltrating the Hells Angels. His bravery resulted in 16 indictments against the group, including charges of racketeering and murder. After this period, he and his family were utterly terrorized by this organization and received virtually no protection from the federal government he spent 27 years serving. The family even survived arson while his wife and children were asleep in their home. Instead of supporting Mr. Dobyns, the federal government turned its back on him, accusing this celebrated law enforcement agent of committing the crimes himself," Chairman Alfred Regnery of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, the organization representing Dobyns in the case, said in a statement. “Judge Allegra’s decision is just one step in restoring Mr. Dobyns’ reputation. It is also an unfortunate reminder of the deplorable treatment of law enforcement agents are under the Obama Administration. That is why the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund is proud to have supported Mr. Dobyns and will continue to fight for justice for those who serve our country.”

Editor's note I: I've had the honor and pleasure of getting to know Jay Dobyns over the past few years. He is a good man who has been through hell. Jay has become a friend, has given me valuable insight into ATF and was gracious enough to write the intro to my book about Operation Fast and Furious. He has done this country a great service through his more than 25 years of law enforcement work and through his brave stance as a whistleblower. Although ATF hasn't changed and still refuses to prosecute corrupt supervisors, I am grateful to see the court system deliver justice. Thank you Jay for all that you have done and congratulations. 

Editor's note II: This post has been updated with a statement from the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, the organization representing Dobyns in his case against the government.

RELATED: ATF Ignored Death Threats, Tried to Frame Whistleblower Agent to Cover Corruption

White House Celebrates Constitution Day With a Picture of Obama

Stop me if you have heard this before: The official White House Twitter account tweeted their recognition of Constitution Day today...with a picture of President Obama in the National Archives building.

Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) took a different approach to celebrate the day, and tweeted the entire Constitution word for word from his official account, 140 characters at a time.

Happy Constitution Day!

Bobby Jindal Explains Why Democrats Are the True Science Deniers

Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal turned the tables on President Obama yesterday, accusing the White House of being "science deniers" when it comes to energy.

"We now face an administration that is composed of science deniers when it comes to energy and the environment," Jindal said at a lunch with reporters at The Heritage Foundation. "You are looking at an administration that is holding our economy hostage to their radical views. It really is an article of religious faith amongst this administration the way they approach these questions of policy."

Pressed after his presentation to identify what specific science the White House was denying, Jindal rattled off a lengthy list:

Look, the most obvious one is the Keystone Pipeline. For five years they said they were studying this and their own State Department says it will have no discernible environmental impact. It will create tens of thousands of construction jobs. It would boost both of our country's economies and energy self sufficiency. So the Keystone Pipeline is the first example.

The second example is when you look at the EPA's policies, again even if you accept the premise behind their attempts to regulate CO2 admissions from power plants, not even the EPA's regional office could explain to us how they came up with their numbers for the states or what the rationale was. They basically said, 'Go to DC, we don't know where the 40 percent came from.' And again in my state's own personal experience there is no rational connection ... It's not like we're a state where we have a lot of outdated facilities that can be easily upgraded. That is not the case in our state. There is not that low hanging fruit. 

Third, when you look at their approach to the environment, simply shifting energy intensive industries overseas, at a time where China now emits more CO2 than America, the growth is coming from the developing world, they've added more new coal capacity in the last few years than our entire coal capacity, the idea that unilateral actions that hurt our economy are going to somehow benefit the environment makes no scientific sense.

Exporting those energy intensive industries, if that's what we succeed in doing, will actually make the environment worse. Those activities will now be performed in countries with weaker environmental regulations. Today we export about ten percent of our coal. And now this president has said, 'We are going to bankrupt anyone who wants to build a new coal facility' ... 'we're going to increase electricity prices,' so as a result instead of us using our coal we export it and so now China and India are going to burn it, does nothing to help the environment. All we are doing is giving them more affordable electricity to compete with our manufacturers. 

So there are several other examples, when you look at the regulatory overreach this administration that has opposed efforts to do cost benefit analyses before they do environmental regulations. So you look under MACT [Maximum Achievable Control Technology] they will justify the most expensive intervention even without a proportionate benefit to emission reductions or environmental benefit, again ignoring the analysis and the facts.

So I think time and time again the left, they like to tell us they are the ones who are following science and we are the science deniers, but I think over all their approach to energy is telling. You look at the shifting ... and it's pretty startling how quickly they shifted their views on natural gas. Natural gas was the left's favorite energy, at least fossil energy, source for a long time until fracking happened. 

When it was scarce and expensive they loved natural gas. When it was $13 they loved natural gas. As soon as it was affordable, all of a sudden they decided they didn't like it so much. I think that if they are honest, they want energy to be scarce and expensive because it allows the federal government to be more involved in our lives and it allows them to decide what kind of cars you drive, what kind of homes you live in, how we live our lives.

Look I think for much of the left the whole debate about CO2 is really a trojan horse. These are folks that never reality wanted a fee market. These are folks that are always looking for an excuse to impose more government regulation, more government oversight, this is just their latest vehicle to do it.

So in many ways they are hiding behind these claims to use that as a trojan horse to come in and do what they wanted to do anyway. 

You can read Jindal's full 48-page report, "Organizing Around Abundance: Making America and Energy Superpower," here.

Gaffe-Prone Vice President Steps in it Again

The politically incorrect and offensive word the vice president used this time was “Shylocks.” During a recent speech, he was trying to describe the dishonest and greedy bankers his son warned him about, while deployed in Iraq, who knowingly took advantage of American soldiers. It’s unclear whether he was reading from prepared remarks, or speaking off-the-cuff, but the characterization has at least one Jewish group wondering what in the world he was thinking (via Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox and Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey):

“Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day. The Vice President should have been more careful,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said.

Shylock, the villain in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” is a Jewish moneylender who mercilessly demands a “pound of flesh” from the merchant who defaults on a loan. Whether the 16th-century play is anti-Semitic or reflects the anti-Semitism of the time is a subject of frequent, bitter debate, but the term Shylock is offensive enough that Florida stripped it from state law back in 2009. (Not everyone has gotten that memo). …

Biden’s slip came in a speech to the Legal Services Corporation, which provides lawyers to Americans who could not afford them otherwise. In his remarks, the vice president described the experience of his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, who was deployed for one year in Iraq.

Incidentally, Buzz Feed released a video several weeks ago highlighting the commonly-used pejoratives still in circulation today. I found the video instructive, in part, because I didn’t even know some of those words and phrases were offensive. Is it possible, then, that Biden used the term “Shylocks” in his own speech to emphasize a point -- not understanding its hidden meaning and its implications?

For the life of me, I can’t imagine he would use the word willingly or knowingly in public, let alone in a speech, if he knew it would offend Jewish Americans. The Anti-Defamation League National Director, for his part, seemed to admit as much. He told Olivier that “[w]hen someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden, uses the term 'Shylocked’ to describe unscrupulous moneylenders dealing with service men and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society.”

In other words, Biden almost certainly didn't use the term maliciously. And that, in turn, is one of many reasons why I suspect he will soon be forgiven.

UPDATE: See below.

Exclusive Poll: Louisiana Senate Race a Dead Heat, Landrieu Languishing

To see the full results of the Townhall/Gravis Poll, click here

A new poll of likely voters conducted for Townhall by Gravis Marketing reveals that Louisiana's US Senate race is statistically deadlocked, with support for incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu mired in the low-to-mid 40's.  In a three-way contest among the top contenders, Landrieu attracts 43 percent support, with Republicans Rep. Bill Cassidy and Col. Rob Manness combining for 44 percent:

LASen ThreeWay

In the likely runoff match-up (see below) between Landrieu and Cassidy, the candidates are separated by two-tenths of a percentage point. Neck and neck:

LASen TwoWay

Within the still-sizable cohort (10 percent) of undecided voters, nearly two-thirds identify as political "independents" who don't align themselves with either major party.  President Obama's job approval among Louisiana independents is underwater by 45 points (24 percent approve / 69 percent disapprove) in this poll, suggesting that the bulk of undecided voters are at least somewhat inclined to break against Democrats.  Obama's overall job approval rating in the state is a paltry 37 percent, with a 58 percent majority disapproving. The president has been consistently and deeply unpopular in Louisiana across multiple statewide surveys.  "This poll is good news for Republicans," says Gravis co-founder Doug Kaplan.  "The GOP will be happy with these results, and Democrats know this is a crucial seat for them if they want to keep control of the Senate."

This random, scientific survey polled 426 likely Louisiana voters, with a margin of error of five percent.  The D/R/I partisan breakdown of the sample is (44/36/20), or D+8; women comprised 53 percent of the sample.  Mary Landrieu was first elected to the US Senate in 1996, having been re-elected twice.  She won her most recent race by just six points -- in a Democratic wave year, against an unheralded and deeply under-funded opponent.  Landrieu is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the country in the 2014 cycle.  Louisiana boasts a "jungle primary"-style election system wherein a runoff between the top two vote-getters is automatically triggered if no candidate breaches 50 percent of the aggregate vote total.  This year's runoff date is slated for December 6.

New Poll Shows Ernst Surging in Iowa Senate Race

Republican State Sen. Joni Ernst has pulled ahead of Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) in the race to become the next U.S. Senator from Iowa by a six-point, 50 to 44 percent, margin according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll of likely voters.

Ernst's lead is due almost entirely from a strong showing among independents, who favor the former-hog farmer by a seven-point, 50 to 43 percent, margin. 

"Sen. Ernst's television commercials and campaign have presented her as a born and bred Iowan, who never lost her farm girl values. She should pay her strategists and media folks quite well because up until now they have sold that message effectively," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll said. "The fact that more voters think she cares about their needs than does Braley is telling. That is a measurement that many Republicans, even winning GOPers, lose.

Earlier polls showed Braley with a slight lead, including one taken two weeks ago with Braley up by four points.

You can see Ernst's latest campaign ad, "About," below.

WATCH LIVE: First Benghazi Select Committee Hearing

The first public House Select Committee on Benghazi starts at 10 a.m. et. You can watch live below. 

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Eric Holder Really Doesn't Want Fast and Furious Documents Released

Back in July after a long FOIA lawsuit from government watchdog Judicial Watch, a federal judge ordered the Department of Justice to produce a detailed list or Vaughn Index of documents being withheld from Congress and the American people under President Obama's executive privilege claim. A month later in August, a federal judge ordered DOJ to turn over a privilege log of withheld documents to the House Oversight Committee. Both orders were to be completed by October 1. 

Now, Attorney General Eric Holder is asking a federal judge to delay (again) an order requiring him to turn over thousands of Fast and Furious documents, not just a detailed list. More from POLITICO

Attorney General Eric Holder is again asking a federal court to delay the transfer of disputed documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious to a House committee.

In a new court filing Monday night, Justice Department lawyers asked U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson not to require Holder to turn over any of the roughly 64,000 pages of documents to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee until after her rulings can be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

"The Department respectfully submits that it would be preferable for the parties, this Court, and the D.C. Circuit — if an appeal were taken — to have any injunctive order await the conclusion of the district court litigation to allow for orderly and complete appellate proceedings," DOJ lawyers wrote.

Jackson has previously denied DOJ permission to file an immediate appeal, although lawyers for Holder indicated in the new filing (posted here) that they may do so anyway. Any appeal is likely to take months and perhaps more than a year to resolve. If that process does not begin until Jackson rules definitively on the the executive privilege claim President Barack Obama has made for many of the documents, the timeline for the case being resolved could begin to approach the end of the Obama administration.

How convenient that the appeals process will bump right up against the end of Obama's, and therefore Holder's, time in office. This tactic and strategy has been used by Holder since the beginning to run out the clock until a new administration comes into office and dumps the case.

Regardless, Holder is still required to produce a list of documents by October 1, which will give us significant insight into the kind of documents the Department of Justice is trying so desperately to hide.

Benghazi Back in the Spotlight on Capitol Hill With First Select Committee Hearing

The 9/11/2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya is back in the spotlight today on Capitol Hill as lawmakers from the select committee prepare to hold their first public hearing. 

Led by Republican South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, members of the Committee have been working for months to interview witnesses and to gather more information about what happened the night Americans Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith were killed by terrorists.

Today Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Greg Starr, Chairman of the Independent Panel on Best Practices Mark J. Sullivan and former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Todd Keil will testify.

“As Chairman Gowdy has said, he is willing to risk answering the same question twice rather than risk it not be answered at all. Since all documents responsive to Congressional inquiries into the Benghazi terrorist attack have not been produced, it is fair to say that not all questions have been asked and answered," Gowdy Communications Director Jamal D. Ware released in a statement yesterday. “Chairman Gowdy is leading a fair, fact-based and impartial investigation. The Committee will consider all evidence, across all jurisdictions, and produce the final, definitive accounting on behalf of Congress of what happened before, during and after the terrorist attacks on our facilities in Benghazi."

"Chairman Gowdy sincerely hopes that all sides will not prejudge the outcome of the investigation—before even the Committee’s first hearing, which is on a topic suggested by the Democrats—and instead allow a constructive and thorough investigatory process that produces a final report on Benghazi that is beyond any doubt. Chairman Gowdy is committed to a process and result worthy of the sacrifice of the four Americans who were killed in Benghazi and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens,” Ware continued. 

This hearing comes just days after a report was published by investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson showing senior aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were ordered to separate and withhold damning documents from investigators.

The hearing starts at 10 a.m. et. You can watch live here.

DML 2016?

The question posed to Dennis Michael Lynch was simple enough: “What will you do to bring back America as a cohesive unit?” 

Explaining that she does minority outreach for the GOP, the woman who asked the question continued: “My cousin and his crony, the president of the United States, my cousin is Eric Holder.” Before she could finish her thought, the room erupted in laughter and Lynch jokingly interjected, “Are you lying to me?”

Despite the lighthearted twist her question had taken, it was a serious one—every issue these days turns into a race issue, and she wanted to know what Lynch would do to overcome that.

Since openly discussing his interest in running for president in 2016, Lynch has been fielding a wide range of questions during his Fighting for America Tour, which concludes next month. So far, the idea of a presidential bid is gaining steam among his supporters—and fast.

“People are very excited about him,” Carol Davis, leader of an independent tea party group in Illinois, told Townhall. But her support for the idea of DML 2016 wasn’t immediate.

“We seemed to have been conditioned by our political system to think that, you know, all of the people who represent us in government have to be lawyers, or something like that, and so I think that might be why I first kind of brushed it off,” she explained. “But then as I got to looking at Dennis’ background, I thought, ‘who better to get in there but a real person with real world experience?’ I think that’s what the tea party movement has been all about—a rejection of the status quo because it hasn’t served us well.”

Aware that declaring his candidacy would be an uphill battle, Lynch is undeterred by suggestions that he’d need prior military or political experience to be a serious contender.

“As long as you have a strong backbone and surround yourself with top brass, I don’t think you need military experience, I think you need leadership experience,” he said. And regarding political experience, Lynch believes having it is a negative at this point.

Lynch may not have walked a typical path to the presidency, but his story truly embodies the American Dream and is one filled with hard work, passion, integrity, and love of country.

A self-made man, the native New Yorker started his own computer repair and recycling business out of his mother’s basement, which eventually grew to become a multi-million dollar company. In 2000, after expanding to five locations across the U.S. and employing 300 people, Ernst and Young selected him as Long Island’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

But running from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 changed his life, he told Townhall earlier this year, which is what led him to filmmaking, something he’d always been passionate about.

With three highly acclaimed documentaries on immigration and liberal media bias under his belt, he’s now looking to brush off the title of filmmaker, which isn’t what he considers himself to be.

“I’m really a CEO who’s dangerous with a camera,” he says with a laugh.

And to a certain degree, he’s right. Each film he’s made has been created with the purpose of A) showing Americans the true nature of the problem at hand, and B) presenting solutions—no matter the issue. And like a CEO would for his company, he’s always done it for the betterment of America.

When he was trying to understand the problem of illegal immigration in his documentaries, for example, he didn’t just call federal agents or ranchers along the border and ask. He went out with the Texas Border Volunteers, at night, without a weapon, to help Border Patrol apprehend large groups of illegal aliens, many of whom were gang members or repeat offenders with dangerous criminal backgrounds.

“These other guys talk," he said. "I do," noting his leadership style compared to other potential candidates. 

The idea of running for president, then, has been an offshoot of his desire to solve the problems vexing this nation. “[Barack Obama] has fundamentally transformed this country,” he said, “we’re gonna need somebody fundamentally different to get it back on track.”

And to Davis and so many others, that’s part of the allure about Lynch—he would be a fundamentally different candidate.

“He’s just like one of us, and I think people are hungry for that,” Davis said. “He hasn’t lived in that rarified atmosphere of politics his entire adult life. … He doesn’t pretend to know it all, but he knows [how to be] a good leader because he built a successful business, he knows how to surround himself with excellent people, and that is very appealing.”

“Listen, I’m not in this for the money or the fame. I’m not in this because I want the power. I’m in this for my kids, and for my country—that’s it,” he said. 

Welfare Sign-ups Beat Job Creation 2-to-1 in Illinois

For every job created in the state of Illinois, two people sign-up for food stamps—not exactly an encouraging statistic. The state ranked ‘dead last’ across America for job growth in 2014, according to the Illinois Policy.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 4.24.02 PM.png

Not only is the economically-challenged state failing to create positions in the private sector, it actually lost nearly 6,000 jobs between January and July of this year. Since the financial crisis of 2008, Illinois has almost 300,000 fewer workers: 

The pace at which Illinois has been creating jobs is simply not good enough for Illinois families, and policy mistakes, such as the historic 2011 tax hikes, have made it worse. Illinois has gained only 240,000 jobs since the bottom of the recession, while food-stamp enrollment has gone up by 420,000.

To visualize just how grim these numbers are for the future of the Prairie State, take a look at this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 5.01.29 PM.png

Hardly the way to economic prosperity and self-reliance.

Gov. Bobby Jindal Releases Plan to "Confront Radical Policies" of Obama Admin

Becoming an energy superpower is the crux of Governor Bobby Jindal (R-La.) and Congressman Bill Flores (R-Texas) strategy to "cultivate economic growth." 

Tuesday at The Heritage Foundation, Gov. Jindal released a plan he believes would stand "in direct contrast to the Obama Administration's tired policies of energy scarcity and sluggish growth." 

Through the utilization of all forms of domestic energy, Jindal believes America's economy would "supercharge," creating millions of jobs and boosting consumer spending. He also stressed that a lessened dependence on foreign imports would reduce vulnerability to "hostile" nations. 

The "America Next" energy plan includes 42 individual policy recommendations to institute what Jindal and Flores believe are America's full energy and economic potential. He broke them down into six principles:

1) Promote responsible development of domestic energy resources and construction of infrastructure to transport it.

2) Encourage technological innovation of renewables and emerging energy resources.

3) Unlock the economic potential of the manufacturing renaissance by putting America’s energy resources to work.

4) Eliminate burdensome regulations.

5) Bolster national security.

6) Take simple steps to address the possible risks of climate change, in concert with other major economies.

Jindal was persistent in his claim that the Obama Administration has continually stood in the way of energy development on American soil keeping oil prices higher than they need to be. Regulations on fracking and the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline are what Jindal calls Obama's "religion out of opposing sensible energy policies."

Gov. Jindal said at the event: 

“This is not just an energy plan – it’s a jobs plan and a strategy for America’s economic future. It’s the kind of stimulus that can get our country moving again—creating millions of jobs while lowering energy prices for consumers. And unlike President Obama’s 'stimulus' disaster—which created nearly a trillion dollars in spending and debt for the federal government—this jobs program would actually raise revenue for the federal government.” 

Finally: DHS Adviser Whose Tweets Were Praised by ISIL Loses Job

Is there anyone left in the Obama administration? Since the president took office, the White House has seemed to be a revolving door. Kathleen Sebelius "retired" as Health and Human Services Secretary after overseeing a botched Obamacare rollout, Steven Miller left his position as IRS chief after revelations that the agency had unfairly targeted conservative groups, and Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation as Veteran Affairs Secretary amid headlines that vets were being denied care across the country thanks to his agency's disorganization. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is the latest agency dealing with a scandal and another employee leaving in disgrace.

Mohamed Elibiary served as a senior member of DHS' Homeland Security Advisory Council. In June, he tweeted this controversial message:

Islamic jihadists were more than pleased by his comments, allegedly even using them to recruit members. The tweet also made the rounds through Arabic press. Elibiary's radical statements recently led to his departure from the agency.

Elibiary took to social media again earlier this month, announcing his decision to leave DHS, but documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon suggest he had no choice but to leave. The agency was kicking him out, partly due to allegations that he improperly used security clearances to obtain classified materials.

These past few weeks, ISIL has shown the world its evil intentions, savagely beheading two American journalists and a British aid worker. It shouldn't have taken the White House four months to give Elibiary his pink slip for sympathizing with such a group. This administration should have taken immediate action, showing there is no room for such extremist comments in the nation's capital - where our leaders are supposed to have our best interests in mind.

Anyone who seems to sympathize with the enemy doesn't deserve a post in Washington.

Good riddance.

Obama Deploying Thousands of US Troops Overseas to Combat Ebola

Fears of global contagion vis-à-vis the Ebola virus, especially into the Western hemisphere, have largely taken a back seat to growing concerns about American foreign policy towards the Middle East and the rise of ISIS. But perhaps not anymore. In fact, later today President Obama will unveil a sizeable aid package to several beleaguered nations in West Africa in the hopes of alleviating the suffering there and containing this scourge.

USA Today has the details:

President Obama today will announce the expansion of a $763 million military-led plan to help West Africa nations fight the spread of the Ebola virus and prevent it from reaching the United States, officials said Tuesday. The revamped project calls for more doctors and health care professionals; more portable hospitals, laboratories, and other medical facilities; and increased training for first responders and other medical officials throughout West Africa.

Some 3,000 U.S. military personnel will be deployed to West Africa to lead the project, officials said. The total cost of the program is estimated at $763 million over six months, officials said, including $175 million that has already been dedicated to fight the disease that has claimed more than 2,400 lives in Africa.

Reuters reports, meanwhile, that many professionals believe U.S. efforts to combat the virus are well-intentioned but wholly inadequate:

The U.S. action, which goes far further than previous offers of aid, won praise from aid workers and officials in the region, but health experts said it was still not enough to contain the fast-spreading epidemic.

The death toll from the fever, which spreads rapidly, causes uncontrolled bleeding and fever and typically kills more than half of its victims, has doubled in the past month to 2,461, mostly in three countries in West Africa. The World Health Organization said a "much faster" response was needed to limit the number of cases to the tens of thousands.

"This health crisis we're facing is unparalleled in modern times," WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward told a news conference in Geneva. "We don't know where the numbers are going on this."

Hence why the president is taking decisive action by (a) putting boots on the ground in West Africa and (b) appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars to end the epidemic. But what meaningful difference on the ground, if any, these generous efforts will make remains unclear.