Ben Carson Hasn't Been a Registered Republican For Very Long

Donald Trump has been widely criticized for the fact that before he became the GOP frontrunner, the real estate mogul he identified more as a Democrat (at least that’s what he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in a 2004 interview). But times have changed, his opinions evolved, and here he is on the Republican ticket.

As it turns out, however, Trump isn’t the only GOP presidential candidate who recently became a Republican. The American Mirror has obtained public records that show Ben Carson, who’s No. 2 in the polls, only officially joined the Republican Party on October 31, 2014. He was previously registered as an independent, according to the documents.

Carson spokesman Doug Watts confirmed this information to The Blaze.

“Prior to registering as a Republican, Dr. Carson was indeed registered as an Independent in the state of Maryland,” Watts told TheBlaze in an email. “His registration as a Republican followed and was generally in concert with his declaration of Florida as his official domicile.”

While switching from Independent to Republican certainly isn’t as drastic as from Democrat to Republican, should it matter at all?

Horror: Palestinian Terrorist Slams Into Israeli Pedestrians With Car, Wields Meat Cleaver

Graphic, disturbing video out of Jerusalem, where fears of a "third intifada" are mounting in the wake of a string of stabbings and other violent acts over recent weeks.  This attack against Israeli civilians were especially savage (extreme content warning):

A Palestinian terrorist drove his vehicle into a group of several people waiting at a bus stop. He then exited his car with a meat cleaver and began attacking the wounded and others with the implement. Rabbi Yeshayahu Krishevsky, 60, was killed, apparently both from the vehicular attack and the axe wounds while two other people were seriously injured. Shimi Grossman, a paramedic from the Zaka voluntary emergency response service and a resident of Geula, was one of the first on the scene. He saw the vehicle stuck inside the bus stop that the assailant had struck and was told by eye-witnesses that the man had got out of his car with the axe. The terrorist was shot and critically injured by police officers who arrived swiftly at the scene.

Depressingly, this ghastly scene depicts the second-deadliest terrorist attack...of the day:

Two Jewish men were stabbed to death, and three others seriously wounded in a gun and knife attack on an Egged bus in the capital’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, located next to the flashpoint Arab neighborhood Jabel Mukaber...Trails of blood could be seen inside and outside the vehicle, as hundreds of anxious residents gathered to watch the chaotic scene...“One of the terrorists shot at passengers from the outside while his accomplice entered the bus and stabbed five passengers, killing one,” said [a police spokesman].

Bret Stephens' latest Wall Street Journal column takes the international media to task for its craven coverage of the recent spate of bloodshed, routinely conflating deliberate, hate-fueled attacks against civilians with Israeli military reprisals.  Consider the climate of constant, random threats under which Israeli Jews now live:

If you’ve been following the news from Israel, you might have the impression that “violence” is killing a lot of people. As in this headline: “Palestinian Killed As Violence Continues.��� ...Such was the media’s way of describing two weeks of Palestinian assaults that began when Hamas killed a Jewish couple as they were driving with their four children in the northern West Bank. Two days later, a Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis to death in Jerusalem’s Old City, and also slashed a woman and a 2-year-old boy. Hours later, another knife-wielding Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli police after he slashed a 15-year-old Israeli boy in the chest and back. Other Palestinian attacks include the stabbing of two elderly Israeli men and an assault with a vegetable peeler on a 14-year-old. On Sunday, an Arab-Israeli man ran over a 19-year-old female soldier at a bus stop, then got out of his car, stabbed her, and attacked two men and a 14-year-old girl. Several attacks have been carried out by women, including a failed suicide bombing

Stephens quotes Palestinian leaders and clerics exhorting and "blessing" the murderous rage, noting that tired media tropes explaining the surge of terrorism aren't readily applicable to current conditions.  The Palestinian Authority operated in a unity government with Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas for years, and its leader recently unilaterally withdrew from the Oslo Accord's mandates, "which created the foundation for the Middle East peace process."  Much of the media seems content to approach the new wave of terror as just the latest developments in the endless "cycle of violence," for which "both sides" bear responsibility, offering on sparse, cliched coverage. Watch this chilling clip of several perpetrators' family members evincing pride over their loved one's homicidal sprees and resulting "martyrdom" (content warning):

I'll leave you with a stark assessment from Commentary's Jonathan Tobin: "While the narrative about this latest outbreak of violence from critics of Israel is that it is all about the sins of the 'occupation' and Israel denying hope to the Palestinians, what we hearing from them is a very different story. Read any of the accounts of the motivations of the people going into the streets to stab random Jews they encounter or the mobs in the West Bank who are seeking to set off confrontations with Israeli troops, and you don’t hear much about frustration about the peace process. The same applies to clips from Palestinian television that Palestine Media Watch provides. What you do see are accounts of Muslim religious fervor that is drenched in the fever of martyrdom and faith-based hate. This is significant and not just because most of the popular notion that the violence is caused by the failure of Israel to make enough concessions in negotiations to bring peace. If Palestinians are engaged in an intifada that is, at its core, a religious war rather than a protest movement about Israeli policies or a desire for a Palestinian state, then everything that the Obama administration and even many of Israel’s American supporters think they know about the conflict is just plain wrong."

Investigator Behind Planned Parenthood Videos Calls Policy Change a ‘PR Stunt’

Does Planned Parenthood have some humanity after all? Reluctantly, it seems. On Tuesday CEO Cecile Richards announced her organization will stop accepting money for aborted baby parts. When she made the statement, however, she suggested they are only doing so to silence their anti-abortion opponents: 

But today, according to the Wall St. Journal, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards announced in a letter to the National Institutes of Health that planned Parenthood will stop accepting “reimbursement” from the sales of aborted fetal body parts. Attacking the pro-life group that exposed her, Richards says the move is designed to take away the “smokescreen” of the “extremists” behind the Center for Medical Progress videos.

Richards claims the decision “is first and foremost about preserving the ability of our patients to donate tissue, and to expose our opponents’ false charges about this limited but important work.”

Keep in mind this is an organization that receives $500 million a year from taxpayers. 

One of the "extremists" behind those Center for Medical Progress videos, David Daleiden, said he sees right through Planned Parenthood's decision:

"For three months, Planned Parenthood has tried to pass off its baby-parts-for-money scheme as totally legitimate. Today, Planned Parenthood’s latest PR stunt of so-called “policy” change is an admission of guilt.

"If the money Planned Parenthood has been receiving for baby body parts were truly legitimate “reimbursement,” why cancel it? This proves what CMP has been saying all along—Planned Parenthood incurs no actual costs, and the payments for harvested fetal parts have always been an extra profit margin.

"Without releasing the text of the alleged new “policy” and the exact model from the their Washington affiliate, Planned Parenthood’s stunt today tells us nothing. This only raises more serious questions about what Planned Parenthood leadership has been allowing its clinics to do with money and baby parts, and intensifies the need for Congress to pursue full auditing and oversight of Planned Parenthood’s unaccountable criminal enterprise of baby parts trafficking."

To emphasize Daleiden's significant point, why would Planned Parenthood need to discontinue a practice they have up until now defended as perfectly sound and legal? Moreover, why did Richards feel the need to apologize for the content uncovered in the investigation?

This puzzle isn't hard to put together. Planned Parenthood is obsessed with abortion because it is one of their most significant sources of revenue. Now that they have been so publicly exposed, they feel cornered and pressured to save their "women's health" reputation. 

I must leave you with the most biting excerpt from Rep. Diane Black's (R-TN) reaction to Planned Parenthood's policy change. Black authored the House's Defund Planned Parenthood bill. 

“In light of this news, I suppose Doctor Mary Gatter will have to find another way to get her Lamborghini."

White House: Likely Iran Violated UN Sanctions With Missile Test, But They'll Uphold Nuclear Agreement

Speaking from the White House Tuesday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed to reporters Iran's recent ballistic missile test likely violated United Nations sanctions. 

"The missile test that we did see over the weekend, are, we've got strong indications those missile tests did violate UN Security Council rules that pertain to Iran's ballistic missile activities. Unfortunately that's not new. We have seen Iran on on, almost serially, violate the international community's concerns about their ballistic missile program and the UN Security Council resolution actually gives the international community some tools to interdict some equipment and material that could be used to advance their ballistic missile program and gives us the ability to work in concert with our partners around the world to engage a strategy to try to disrupt continued progress of their ballistic missile program," Earnest said .

Despite the likely violation, Earnest stressed that the White House believes the Iranian regime will uphold its obligations to the recently made nuclear agreement.

"This is altogether separate from the nuclear agreement that Iran reached with the rest of the world. In contrast to the repeated violations, of the the UN security resolution as it pertains to their ballistic missile activity, we've seen that Iran over the past couple of years has demonstrated a track record of abiding by the commitments being made in the context of the nuclear talks," Earnest said, admitting Iran had used previous nuclear talks over the years as a distraction and cover for the advancement of their nuclear program. "We have been saying all along that the nuclear agreement Iran reached with the rest of the world will not be predicated on trust, but it will be predicated on the most robust, intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country's nuclear program." 

Pentagon Wants to Bring Gitmo Prisoners to Colorado, Local Official Says They Want to 'Create Destruction'

Guantanamo Bay may be reaching its expiration date. Pentagon officials have begun actively searching for US sites to move current Gitmo prisoners to once they are transferred out of the controversial prison in Cuba. Colorado, it seems, is first on their list.

The team planned to assess facilities at the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence and the state penitentiary in Canon City as alternatives for a "limited" number of detainees from Guantanamo, said Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman.

Local Florence City officials like Manager Mike Patterson are justifiably nervous:

"This is a situation where these people could come with significant national security threats,” Patterson said.

The Florence police chief agrees.

"They (inmates) want to come to our country and create destruction,” Chief Michael DeLaurentis said. “That's my fear is that we'll have all these people in one place."

Closing Guantanamo has been one of President Obama’s priorities in his last year and a half in office.

A total of 114 prisoners connected with terrorism are still detained at Guantanamo. If all goes according to plan, Coloradans may be getting some of them as unwanted neighbors.

Donald Trump to Host SNL on Nov. 7

Live, from New York it's...Donald Trump.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump will host Saturday Night Live on November 7. The musical guest will be Sia. Trump is a second-time host and last hosted on April 3, 2004.

The GOP presidential frontrunner and real estate magnate will host NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on November 7, the show announced Tuesday.

Trump last hosted the NBC comedy show in April 2004.

The episode's musical guest will be the artist Sia, who will be making her second appearance on the show.

None of the candidates who ran for president in either the 2008 or 2012 election cycles ever hosted the show during their campaign.

I bet the ratings will be yuuuuuuge.

AP Confirms: Hillary's Private Server Was Extremely Vulnerable to Hacking

In his interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, President Obama tossed Hillary Clinton a partial lifeline on her email scandal, averring that while the controversy is a "legitimate" issue, it hasn't posed a "national security problem." He aired this personal conclusion amid an ongoing FBI investigation seeking a formal determination on precisely that question -- and despite ample evidence that Mrs. Clinton's improper scheme compromised highly sensitive government secrets. As of this writing, we know that hundreds of the emails that passed through her unsecure server contained classified materials, including secret and top secret information. Speculation mounted early on that Clinton's "homebrew" server was irresistibly vulnerable to foreign hacks, with subsequent evidence lending credence to these concerns. Which brings us to these new revelations from the Associated Press, published the day of the first Democratic presidential debate:

The private email server running in Hillary Rodham Clinton's home basement when she was secretary of state was connected to the Internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers, according to data and documents reviewed by The Associated Press. Clinton's server, which handled her personal and State Department correspondence, appeared to allow users to connect openly over the Internet to control it remotely, according to detailed records compiled in 2012. Experts said the Microsoft remote desktop service wasn't intended for such use without additional protective measures, and was the subject of U.S. government and industry warnings at the time over attacks from even low-skilled intruders. Records show that Clinton additionally operated two more devices on her home network in Chappaqua, New York, that also were directly accessible from the Internet. One contained similar remote-control software that also has suffered from security vulnerabilities, known as Virtual Network Computing, and the other appeared to be configured to run websites. The new details provide the first clues about how Clinton's computer, running Microsoft's server software, was set up and protected when she used it exclusively over four years as secretary of state for all work messages. Clinton's privately paid technology adviser, Bryan Pagliano, has declined to answer questions about his work from congressional investigators, citing the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

Oh, right.  The man who set up and ran Clinton's server has refused to testify, fearing the legal implications of doing so.  And then there's this tidbit about the worrisome activities of a Serbia-based hacker:

It's hard to overstate how reckless and irresponsible Clinton's email arrangement was, so let's leave the opining to the experts:

Remote-access software allows users to control another computer from afar. The programs are usually operated through an encrypted connection — called a virtual private network, or VPN. But Clinton's system appeared to accept commands directly from the Internet without such protections. "That's total amateur hour," said Marc Maiffret, who has founded two cyber security companies. He said permitting remote-access connections directly over the Internet would be the result of someone choosing convenience over security or failing to understand the risks. "Real enterprise-class security, with teams dedicated to these things, would not do this," he said...The findings suggest Clinton's server "violates the most basic network-perimeter security tenets: Don't expose insecure services to the Internet," said Justin Harvey, the chief security officer for Fidelis Cybersecurity...Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at F-Secure, a top global computer security firm, said it was unclear how Clinton's server was configured, but an out-of-the-box installation of remote desktop would have been vulnerable. Those risks — such as giving hackers a chance to run malicious software on her machine — were "clearly serious" and could have allowed snoops to deploy so-called "back doors."

Three IT security mavens, unanimous in their astonishment.  Back to Obama's assertion that Hillary's transparency-evading server machinations didn't damage American interests: Some of the latest emails revealed by the Benghazi select committee -- which first uncovered Clinton's use of a private server for all public business -- reveal that unsecure emails (at both ends) between the former Secretary of State and Clinton Foundation employee Sidney Blumenthal contained classified data, including the name of a CIA asset in Libya.  A former CIA official appeared on MSNBC yesterday and slammed Clinton's handling of this exceptionally sensitive secret as potentially "lethal."  Clinton received the information in an unsecure server from an off-the-books advisor lacking top security clearances, then forwarded it along to another colleague from her own unsecure server:

“That’s the holiest of holies inside the CIA—the true identity of a secret source. Even inside CIA, in internal emails, in cables, you never mention or talk about the true name of a source. You use a pseudonym. So I mean, honestly, it’s quite stunning...It could be literally lethal....Who has access to that? Who is trying to hack into it? If this was a foreign-based source living in Libya, let’s say, if you get outed as the CIA source over there, you’re a dead man. So it couldn’t be more serious.

Mrs. Clinton's justifications of her conduct have repeatedly shifted as her many lies have been systematically debunked by emerging evidence.  She seems to have settled on two primary arguments: That her actions were permitted (they were not, according to government officials and a Bill Clinton-appointed federal judge), and that she just doesn't understand the Internet very well.  Even if the latter argument were true, (a) wouldn't the wisest path for a self-professed technological ignoramus be to carefully adhere to established protocols, rather than going through the inconvenience of establishing a risky alternative system?  And (b) don't Americans deserve a president with at least an elementary grasp of how the world works in the 21st century?

Terrific: Taliban Strength At Its Strongest Level In Afghanistan Since 2001

Concerning Afghanistan, it’s clear that the president wants to end our longest war. He had hoped to bring back all the troops by the end of his presidency, though that seems unlikely. He’s mulling keeping 5,000 troops in the country for counterterrorism operations, but that might not be sufficient, given that the Taliban’s insurgency has reached its highest level of strength since 2001 (via NYT):

The Taliban insurgency has spread through more of Afghanistan than at any point since 2001, according to data compiled by the United Nations as well as interviews with numerous local officials in areas under threat.

In addition, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan over the past two weeks has evacuated four of its 13 provincial offices around the country — the most it has ever done for security reasons — according to local officials in the affected areas.

The data, compiled in early September — even before the latest surge in violence in northern Afghanistan — showed that United Nations security officials had already rated the threat level in about half of the country’s administrative districts as either “high” or “extreme,” more than at any time since the American invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001.


As Ed wrote on Hot Air, Obama and the rest of the Democrats in 2007-2008 regarded Afghanistan as the good war; one where our attention should have been focused on all along instead of a haphazard invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in Afghanistan. Obama campaigned on increasing military resources into Afghanistan. Ironically, Obama did exactly what Bush did in Iraq. He had started a surge of his own in Afghanistan by sending 30,000 additional troops in the first year of his presidency. In 2012, as the Afghan surge came to a close, Rajiv Chandrasekaran of Foreign Policy  wrote about its impact:

For the surge and its accompanying countersurgency strategy to prevail in Afghanistan, four main things needed to occur: The Afghan government had to be a willing partner, the Pakistani government had to crack down on insurgent sanctuaries on its soil, the Afghan army had to be ready and willing to assume control of areas that had been cleared of insurgents by American troops, and the Americans had to be willing to commit troops and money for years on end.

Well, as it turned out, Afghan President Hamid Karzai did not agree with the surge, the Pakistanis did nothing to root out Taliban insurgents on their side of the border, the Afghan forces let our guys do all the fighting, and the American people were not as supportive, with Chandrasekaran writing that many “balked at the price tag,” which was around $100 billion. War fatigue had settled into the American psyche. In the end, the surge was met with mixed results. Some areas of the country became more secure, but as recent events show, that footnote has been undercut with the Taliban’s continued rise. It doesn’t appear to have been a windfall for military intelligence either, but it did include one government official who appeared to outline the strategy Obama might be considering now, which is keeping a smaller, leaner force on the ground to provide security, prevent the re-establishment of terrorist activities, among other things [emphasis mine]:

Still, despite all the misguided assumptions U.S. commanders held going into the surge, U.S. and NATO troops have made remarkable progress in the past three years. Parts of southern Afghanistan that were once teeming with insurgents are now largely peaceful. Schools have reopened, as have bazaars. People in some of those places are living as close to a normal life as possible. But Afghanistan as a whole is not fully secure.


Commanders insist that the large surge force was crucial to assembling the necessary intelligence for special operators to conduct their raids. I don’t buy it. The vast majority of the night raids conducted in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 were based on signals intelligence — mobile phone calls, text messages, and conversations on walkie-talkies that were vacuumed up by the National Security Agency and the U.S. military eavesdropping aircraft that continuously circled over the country — not on information provided by villagers who suddenly felt safer because American troops were around.


…a former State Department officer named Kael Weston who spent seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan — more than any other American diplomat — argued that instead of going big or going home, we should have gone long. The president needed to determine how many troops he was willing to commit to Afghanistan for a decade or more, and then he needed to pledge that level of support to the Afghan people. That meant no surge. But Weston was convinced that a smaller but enduring force would be smarter on all fronts: It would appeal to the Afghans, who chafed at the presence of so many foreign soldiers on their soil; it would compel the Afghan army to more quickly assume responsibility for fighting the Taliban and securing the population; it would encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiating table; and it would force the Americans to focus on only the most essential missions instead of grand nation-building projects. Afghanistan, he often told me, is a marathon, not a sprint. The surge was a sprint. And America got winded too quickly.


In 2008, then-Sen. Obama articulated nation building; when he said that we needed troops, as well as civil engineers in the country in order “to stabilize Afghanistan.” Maybe 30,000 additional troops wasn’t enough to provide the security, while making sure these arduous tasks could be completed in a country that is mostly illiterate, that has deeper tribal ties than that of Iraq, and sees an Afghan government that’s corrupt and illegitimate. The latter part would doom any counterinsurgency campaign. Nevertheless, I guess the silver lining to all of this is that the Taliban recently withdrew from the city of Kunduz, which was their first takeover in 14 years. The Times reported that they held the city long enough to free prisoners, destroy government offices, and kill political opponents.

Report: Russian Warhead Took Down Malaysian Airlines Flight

After a thorough investigation, the Dutch Safety Board has concluded that a Russian-made surface-to-air missile took down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

The board’s chairman, Tjibbe Joustra, explained their findings at a press conference Tuesday:

Giving what was the most detailed description of the jet's final moments to date, Joustra said the explosion killed the plane's three crew members in the cockpit and that investigators had found "high energy fragments" in their bodies.

The blast — less than one yard from the plane's fuselage — also caused "structural damage," which resulted in the jet's "forward part" tearing off. The plane broke up in midair and scattered over a 20-square-mile area, he said.

The safety board criticized Ukrainian authorities for failing to close the airspace, since it was over a conflict zone.

Russia has denied involvement in the tragedy and Almaz-Antey, the company behind the missile in question, disputed the board’s claims with their own report:

Speaking at a news conference before the Dutch report's release, the firm's head Yan Novikov said: “We have proven with our experiments that the theory about the missile flying from Snizhne is false." He said evidence shows that if the plane was hit by a Buk, it was fired from the village of Zaroshenske, which Russia says was under Ukrainian government control at the time.

Two hundred and ninety-eight people were on board. Their families are still searching for answers.

You can read the Dutch Safety Board’s full report here.

Chicago Racks Up Deadliest September in More Than a Decade

The Windy City is having a very violent year and according to new numbers, Chicago just wrapped up its worst September for homicides since 2002.

September was Chicago's deadliest month since 2002, with 60 homicides. Through Sept. 27, homicides and shooting incidents had risen 21 percent from the year-earlier period, Police Department numbers show. Most of the City Council's black aldermen last week called for Emanuel to fire police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, but the mayor said he supports his top cop.

So why the increase in violence? Mayor Rahm Emaunel is blaming police hesitation and heavy media scrutiny for criminals running wild.

"We have allowed our Police Department to get fetal, and it is having a direct consequence. They have pulled back from the ability to interdict … they don't want to be a news story themselves, they don't want their career ended early, and it's having an impact," Emanuel said, according to the Washington Post.  

In the meantime, I haven't heard any new outcry from gun control advocates over these latest murder stats. 

Fight Night on The Left: Democrats Square Off in Las Vegas Presidential Debate

Tonight five declared Democratic presidential candidates will square off in a Sin City debate as the battle for the progressive base continues. 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be at center stage as she continues to lead in the polls. Not far being her and to her right (stage left) will be Bernie Sanders. Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee and Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb will also be on stage. 

The focus tonight will no doubt be on the battle between Clinton vs. Sanders. Although he's trailing her nationally, Sanders is currently beating Clinton in New Hampshire and has caught her in Iowa. Just last week, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Sanders being a better pick than Clinton against Republicans in those states as well. 

Hillary Clinton has always been viewed as the Democrats' best general-election candidate. But new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls of Iowa and New Hampshire show that Bernie Sanders outperforms Clinton in those two general-election battleground states.

In Iowa, Republican Jeb Bush leads Clinton by 10 points in a hypothetical general-election match up among registered voters, 50 percent to 40 percent, and Donald Trump is ahead of her by seven points, 48 percent to 41 percent - essentially unchanged from the poll's results a month ago.

And Carly Fiorina leads Clinton in the Hawkeye State by 14 points, 52 percent to 38 percent.

But when Sanders is matched up against these same Republicans, his numbers are stronger: Sanders leads Trump by five points in Iowa (48 percent to 43 percent). And he narrowly trails Bush (46 percent to 44 percent) and Fiorina (45 percent to 42 percent).

The same dynamic plays out in New Hampshire.

According to reports, Sanders will go after Clinton on her history of flip-flopping on controversial issues while promoting his own socialist consistency over the past three decades. Sanders will also likely go after Clinton and her close, cushy ties to Wall Street. Clinton, who has refrained from attacking fellow Democrats up to this point, will likely go after Sanders on the issue of gun control.

Ultimately, Clinton vs. Sanders will come down to each of the candidates trying to prove they're liberal enough to satisfy a far-left base.

CNN, the network sponsoring the debate, has placed an extra lectern just in case Vice President Joe Biden makes the surprise decision to jump into the race today.

Leading up to tonight's debate there has been much controversy surrounding the Democratic National Committee and it's favoritism of Hillary Clinton. There have been a number of calls from former Gov. O'Malley for DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to schedule more primary debates. She has refused. As Leah wrote about yesterday, DNC Vice Chairwoman Tulsi Gabbard was reportedly disinvited to tonight's debate after suggesting to Wasserman-Schultz more debates should be scheduled.

We'll have full coverage and a live open-thread of tonight's debate right here at Townhall. Be sure to check in and comment with your thoughts.

The Verdict: Killing Cecil Was Legal

To those of you who were foaming at the mouth in rage over Walter Palmer killing some dumb lion, the debate is over. Walter Palmer, who killed poor, poor Cecil, isn’t a murderer. He was hunting; an activity that millions of Americans partake in every day. The only exception is that he was in Africa, which is awesome, hunting lions, which is even more awesome. And he did so with a bow-and-arrow, which is pretty hardcore. Oh, and this was all perfectly legal:

Zimbabwe will not charge American dentist Walter Palmer for killing its most prized lion in July because he had obtained legal authority to conduct the hunt, a Cabinet minister said on Monday, angering conservationists.

Palmer, a lifelong big-game hunter from Minnesota, touched off a global controversy when he killed Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, with a bow and arrow outside Hwange National Park in Western Zimbabwe.

Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said on Monday that Palmer's hunting papers were in order, and therefore he could not be charged.

"We approached the police and then the prosecutor general, and it turned out that Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order," Muchinguri-Kashiri told reporters.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said Palmer would be free to visit Zimbabwe as a tourist in the future but not as a hunter. The implication was that Palmer would not be issued the permits a hunter needs.

The environment minister's comments immediately drew the ire of the animal conservation group Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, which maintained that Palmer had committed a crime and said it planned to pursue legal action against him in the United States.>

Palmer forked over about $50,000 to take down Cecil. In September, Palmer returned to his dental practice under police escort, as protestors shouted “murderer!” when he approached his office.

“I’m a health professional. I need to get back to treating my patients. My staff and my patients support me, and they want me back. That’s why I’m back,” he said.

What’s so ironic about this whole fiasco is that no one really cared about Cecil in Zimbabwe–and the natives were pretty much unaware of his existence until some animal lovers started to raise a social media army to go after Palmer for straight-up owning Cecil. With a country embroiled in socioeconomic troubles, a dead lion is met with merely a shrug, as Florida Rumidzai Mapeto wrote in IJ Review last summer. While she did say that the death of Cecil was sad, people who are enraged by this incident need to get a grip:

…whilst I find nature attractive and beautiful, and I love wild animals, I honestly have much bigger problems than the illegal shooting of a wild cat. I am not trying to be insensitive, it is just me, it just our culture. I was brought up in a society which respects the sanctity of human life and human dignities. I was taught, and I know it is very un-African to feed my dog when just outside my front gate a fellow country man starves. I can never elevate the life of an animal above that of a human being, and I can with all authority say the same for most if not all Zimbabweans.


As we speak, Zimbabwe has an unemployment rate nearing a staggering 93 percent. The bulk of the population survive on inner city informal vending of cheap imported second hand goods. Both of which have now been banned, rendering the livelihoods of over seven million redundant and illegal. Now how do you tell someone who just got retrenched from their job with no benefits that the world is outraged over a dead lion?

So you see, whilst I worry about what will happen to Cecil’s seven cubs and what they will eat, or if they will survive in the jungle, I worry more about the fate of the seven million black Zimbabweans and their offspring. Theirs is truly a desperate situation. Trapped, hungry, and with all avenues to survival blocked. They face a real possibility of unforgiving death.


The Tsonga people of these communities, despite living in Cecil’s backyard also knew nothing about him, and to make matters worse, these are probably the most under-developed towns in the entire country. To claim that these people, surviving on subsistence farming relied on Cecil for a living is to mock their struggle for development and self-actualisation. It is frankly offensive, presumptuous and misinformed.


Allow me to categorically state that, Cecil matters, he does, but we really didn’t know him and would not choose a lion over the Zimbabwean lives facing bleak events. In a nutshell, requiring us to be sympathetic over this issue is like asking a woman who has had no groceries in her kitchen for a year to worry and get mad over a missing plate or spoon. I rest my case.

Cecil is dead. Gone. Poof! Into the wind, and he’s not ever coming back. In other news, the Islamic State might have come into possession of American-made missiles, which is an actual news story. So, instead of all of us worrying about some dumb lion getting completely owned by a bow and arrow, let’s focus on other pressing issues.

Democrats Are Starting To Line Up Against Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is facing some opposition from his own party in Kentucky and Missouri. The ambitious green energy plan aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. It’s a regulatory nightmare that will hurt millions of Americans, especially those in rural areas and living on fixed-incomes. It will impact Americans’ electrical costs, and possibly gut millions of jobs within the black and Hispanic communities. Also, states that didn’t vote for Obama in 2012 are disproportionately impacted. In Missouri, the Clean Power Plan was projected to cost the state $6 billion by 2030, which is why Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Koster has planned to join other states suing to block these regulations

The state’s utilities, including Ameren Missouri, had urged Koster to join the states — most of them Republican-led — fighting the rules. Koster, the only Democrat running for governor in Missouri, has sued the EPA over other recent regulations, including the controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule strongly opposed by large agricultural interests.

Koster made the announcement Friday in a speech at a meeting of rural electric cooperative members in Branson. He argued that the state’s businesses rely on lower-cost energy and costs would rise under the EPA’s rules, which would shift Missouri’s heavy reliance on coal power to renewables and natural gas.

“The EPA’s Clean Power rule effectively eliminates Missouri’s competitive advantage as a low energy-cost state,” Koster said according to a transcript of his speech released Friday.


In Kentucky, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Jack Conway remains pro-coal. In his 2010 senate bid ended in defeat to incumbent Republican Sen. Rand Paul, but both men ran in support of mountaintop coal mining. He even has his pro-coal record on his campaign website. This year, he signed a letter, with other state attorneys general, to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy noting that the new ozone regulations are set at an “unachievable” level for his state.

The Environmental Protection Agency is giving states until September of 2016 to draft strategies to curb their emissions based on CPP’s goals. Some states have sued to delay the deadline, though, in September, the D.C. Court of Appeals rejected the petition. Nevertheless, relating to blocking the EPA’s increased power, Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently blocked the latest regulation that would have bright more waterways under federal control.

Regardless, Conway and Koster’s opposition to EPA regulations point to two things 1) this isn’t a partisan fight; Republicans have allies across the aisle on this one 2) the Obama administration and the EPA are pushing bad policies that will hurt ordinary Americans.

So far, this issue hasn’t received much attention in the 2016 cycle, with the exception of Carly Fiorina mentioning it in passing at the first Republican debate. Nevertheless, a full reversal of these abysmal policies hinges on electing a Republican president next year.

ICYMI: Kelsey Grammer is Proudly Pro-life

Frasier, AKA Kelsey Grammer, shocked the social media world last week by posting a picture of himself in a shirt that most people in Hollywood would never dare to be seen wearing. Take a look for yourself:

Thank you for the tee! @abort73

A photo posted by Kayte and Kelsey Grammer (@kayte_kelsey) on

The message on Grammer's shirt clearly suggests that Americans are more concerned with gun control than protecting the unborn. He received the apparel from, a pro-life website that is dedicated to exposing the injustices of abortion.

Wearing the shirt so proudly may prevent him from getting invited to some Hollywood parties, but the "Cheers" actor doesn't seem to care.

This isn't the first time Grammer has proved to be a warrior for the unborn. This past July he made a surprise visit to the National Right to Life convention in New Orleans.

DNC Officer Disinvited After Calling for More Debates

Despite pressure from the Democratic Party and some very outspoken critics like Gov. Martin O’Malley, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz refused to budge on the limited number of presidential debates, presumably to help Hillary Clinton.

Now it seems those within the DNC’s inner circle who dared to disagree with Wasserman Schultz’s decision to keep the count firmly at six got the boot from the first debate.

“When I first came to Washington, one of the things that I was disappointed about was there’s a lot of immaturity and petty gamesmanship that goes on, and it kind of reminds me of how high school teenagers act,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, vice chairwoman of the DNC, told The New York Times.

“It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them,” Gabbard said. “When I signed up to be vice chair of the D.N.C., no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door.”

Gabbard and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a fellow DNC vice-chair, have for weeks called on the DNC to hold more than the six scheduled debates. She reiterated that message last week.

An unidentified person close to the committee insisted to the Times that Gabbard was not disinvited but that an aide to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) wanted to focus on the candidates in the debate and not a "distraction."

"The focus of the debate in Nevada as well as the other debates and forums in the coming weeks should be on the candidates who will take the stage, and their vision to move America forward," a DNC spokesperson said in a statement sent to The Hill.

"All that was asked of Ms. Gabbard’s staff was to prioritize our candidates and this important opportunity they have to introduce themselves to the American people," the spokesperson added, saying the Democratic Party embraces a diversity of opinions from members.

The first Democratic debate will take place Tuesday night and include Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chaffee, and Jim Webb.

Gabbard told the Times she will end up watching the debate in her district. 

Austin Professor: Campus Carry Will Lead to ‘Better Grades’ Because No Teacher Wants to Get Shot

University of Texas at Austin professor Daniel Hamermesh has some interesting concerns about Texas’ new campus carry law, passed in June. The economics professor is leaving his post at the college next fall as the policy goes into effect because he thinks concealed carry will only put firearms in the hands of students wanting to seek revenge for poor grades.

“Occasionally a student comes into my office disgruntled about a grade or something,” he said. “The worst they’re going to do is throw a wastebasket around with a concealed gun in their pocket they could have a brake and pull out and shoot at me. I don’t want to take that risk.”

I had a hard time finding a realistic example of this scenario on Google, but Hamermesh was insistent.

“It would lead to much higher grades for students, because who wants to give a student a bad grade if you’re afraid they might shoot at you?”

The professor dismissed the argument that allowing students to arm themselves would help to stop a gunman before he or she goes on a mass shooting spree, saying he doesn’t want to turn his classroom into the Wild Wild West.

“I know I would be the victim,” he said.

Does this not sound a bit selfish? Instead of being so frightened of his students, perhaps Hamermesh should take into account that they are the ones who could be victims should they have no way to defend themselves against an intruder.

He concluded that the policy will scare faculty from joining the ranks, yet failed to take into account the other demographic concealed carry laws could keep at bay: criminals. Campus carry is, after all, more intimidating than those gun-free zone signs.

In other news, students unhappy with the law will be using provocative measures to be protest the policy come next August.

Humiliation: Iran Test Fires Long-Range Missile, Possibly Violating Nuclear Deal

The Iranian regime's sham conviction of an American journalist today -- reportedly a maneuver designed to help precipitate a prisoner exchange -- comes on the heels of yet another egregious provocation. The New York Times reports:

Iran tested a new guided long-range ballistic missile on Sunday, hours before Parliament, in a rowdy session, approved the generalities of the nuclear agreement reached in July between Iran and world powers, the state news agency IRNA reported. The missile launch may have violated the terms of the agreement, reached in Vienna with six world powers. According to some readings of the deal, it placed restrictions on Iran’s ambitious missile program. Experts have been debating the interpretation of a United Nations Security Council resolution, adopted a few days after the accord was agreed upon, that bars Iran from developing missiles “designed to carry nuclear warheads.”

Who's to say, really?  After all, our Secretary of State already handed out a preemptive hall pass to Tehran, signaling that the regime could violate certain elements of the deal without nullifying the entire agreement. The pact supposedly maintained restrictions on Iran's rogue ballistic program for a number of years (phasing them out at all was a shocking concession), a timetable the regime appears to be aggressively ignoring.  These advanced missiles are said to have a range of 800 miles; this further endangers Israel, whose leader's strenuous opposition to Obama's deal has been cast as racist by Susan Rice. Another sad detail of the Times story:

Also on Sunday, members of Parliament voted in favor of a bill approving the generalities of the nuclear agreement, but they had been denied information on its details. State television broadcast the session using only audio and archived images of Parliament...The bill allows the government to stop carrying out the nuclear agreement if the six world powers fail to lift sanctions.

Even Iran's so-called "representatives" held an up-or-down vote on this agreement, even if the outcome was preordained and/or toothless.  Meanwhile, back in our actual constitutional republic, Senate Democrats obstructed any Congressional vote on this enormously consequential international accord -- about which many of them have purported to harbor serious reservations -- for the sole purpose of sparing President Obama the political humiliation of rejecting Congress' strong, bipartisan verdict on the matter.  It appears as though the Iranian regime made, ahem, "common cause" with the Obama administration by withholding details of the pact from legislators, which represents a violation of US law. The Iran nuclear deal crosses multiple American red lines, pumps roughly $150 billion in sanctions relief into Iran's beleagured economy, extracts no significant concessions from the regime, and virtually guarantees that Iran will be an internationally-blessed threshold nuclear state within 10 to 15 years.  And that's if they don't cheat.  Which it appears they're already doing, as they so often have, with impunity.  The administration has reportedly shirked its sanctions-enforcement duties against Iran for two years, and will undoubtedly ignore credibly claims that lifting certain sanctions under the agreement's terms would violate another federal law signed by this president in 2012.  For what it's worth, the 2016 attack ads have already started flying:

Obama: Hillary’s Email Server Is a ‘Legitimate’ Issue, But It’s Getting Politicized Or Something

President Obama sat down with CBS News’ Steve Kroft, where the issue of Hillary’s email was brought up. The president walked a somewhat waffled line in the interview, where he said it was a “legitimate” issue, but also said that it’s being politicized due to the campaign season. Obama also said he didn’t know about Clinton’s private email server, and when pressed if whether he felt it was a big deal; the president deflected, saying it’s better for Hillary to answer these questions. He also said the server didn’t pose a national security problem (via CBS News):

Steve Kroft: Did you know about Hillary Clinton's use of private email server--

President Barack Obama: No.

Steve Kroft: --while she was Secretary of State?

President Barack Obama: No.

Steve Kroft: Do you think it posed a national security problem?

President Barack Obama: I don't think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged and-- you know, as a general proposition, when we're in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data. And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it's been ginned-up is in part because of-- in part-- because of politics. And I think she'd be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly. But--

Steve Kroft: What was your reaction when you found out about it?

President Barack Obama: This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate, but the fact that for the last three months this is all that's been spoken about is an indication that we're in presidential political season.

Steve Kroft: Do you agree with what President Clinton has said and Secretary Clinton has said, that this is not-- not that big a deal. Do you agree with that?

President Barack Obama: Well, I'm not going to comment on--

Steve Kroft: You think it's not that big a deal--

President Barack Obama: What I think is that it is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public. And they can make their own judgment. I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America's national security was endangered.

Steve Kroft: This administration has prosecuted people for having classified material on their private computers.

President Barack Obama: Well, I-- there's no doubt that there had been breaches, and these are all a matter of degree. We don't get an impression that here there was purposely efforts-- on-- in-- to hide something or to squirrel away information. But again, I'm gonna leave it to--

Steve Kroft: If she had come to you.

President Barack Obama: I'm going to leave it to Hillary when she has an interview with you to address all these questions.


Okay; for starters, it did pose a national security problem, as China, South Korea, and Germany tried to hack into her private email system. Even Russian-linked hackers tried five times to gain access into her server. A system that she said didn’t have classified information on it, which we all know turned out to be a lie, though her campaign says they were retroactively declared classified (yeah, nice try). Second, as Allahpundit pointed out many moons ago, didn’t the White House admit that Obama knew about Hillary’s private email account, and that the two sent unsecure correspondences to one another?

Lastly, is the president tipping his hand already in the Democratic primaries? He gave a waffled answer on the email stuff, yes, but he also said it was a legitimate issue that Hillary will need to address. The president of the United States, and the leader for the Democratic Party, just said that the prohibitive nominee in next year’s election has a legitimate (and self-inflicted) wound from the use of this system. Yet, as Allah pointed out, it’s a bit odd that Obama said Clinton should answer these questions about her email server “to the satisfaction of the American public,” but not to him. Also, he did have this to say about Joe:

You know, I am going to let Joe make that decision. And I mean what I say. I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history, and one of the more consequential. I think he has done great work. I don't think there's any politician at a national level that has not thought about being the president. And if you're sitting right next to the president in every meeting and, you know wrestling with these issues, I'm sure that for him he's saying to himself, "I could do a really good job."

Shorter Obama: Joe “could do a really good job” as president, and Hillary could too, I guess, but she has a “legitimate” issue to absolve with the American people about her email server–and we didn’t get the impression that she was trying to cover up anything when that classified information was found. But it’s all politics, you know.

That doesn’t sound like a shining endorsement of the former.

Full Interview here:

Aerosmith to Trump: Please Stop Playing 'Dream On' At Your Events

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and artists getting upset when politicians use their songs at events.

This time it's Boston rock band Aerosmith, who would prefer that GOP front-runner Donald Trump stop using their song "Dream On" at events.

On Saturday, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's reps sent Donald Trump for President Inc. a demand to stop using the power ballad "Dream On" at campaign events. The cease and desist letter was actually the second time Trump has been warned about using the song. According to the letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Trump was first told to not use "Dream On" after an Aug. 21 event in Mobile, Ala. Since then, the song has been used, including at Trump's recent rally in Georgia.

"Trump for President does not have our client’s permission to use 'Dream On' or any of our client’s other music in connection with the Campaign because it gives the false impression that he is connected with or endorses Mr. Trump’s presidential bid," states a cease and desist letter.

Despite the cease and desist letter, Tyler's attorney insists that this is not about politics, but rather copyright. Tyler and Trump have been friends for a while, and Tyler is a Republican.

Tyler's attorney, Dina LaPolt, said in a statement: "This is not a political nor personal issue with Mr. Trump. Steven works tirelessly with both Republicans and Democrats regarding copyright reform and his position has always been consistent regarding copyright and intellectual property. Simply, one must get permission from the music creators. Steven wrote 100% of 'Dream On,' and this is about the un-authorized use of his property. Steven is a registered Republican."

Honestly, I can't really blame Aerosmith on this one. (Plus, I feel like "Dream On" is a really odd choice for a campaign song, but that's just me...) Aerosmith owns the song, and they don't want it politicized by anybody. That's reasonable and fair.

Gowdy Responds to Charges from Ex-Staffer After Benghazi Committee 'Refused to Pay Him'

In an attempt to dismiss the Benghazi Select Committee as a partisan witch hunt against Hillary Clinton, an ex-committee staffer has accused the panel of being obsessed with a political agenda.

Bradley F. Podliska, an investigator and Air Force Reserves officer, told The New York Times that the Benghazi committee was becoming “primarily focused” on Clinton. His comments come on the heels of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s controversial statement on "Hannity," when he said the Benghazi committee was directly responsible for sinking Clinton’s poll numbers. Chairman Trey Gowdy (S-SC), while accepting McCarthy's apology, insisted his words can't "fix the damage" done to the panel.

Gowdy, again having to defend his committee’s work, responded to Podliska’s claim, noting the latter only voiced his so-called concerns after they refused his demands to pay him. Here’s the chairman's full statement:

Gowdy has already proven he's a whiz at penning powerful letters. Last week, he torched his Democratic colleague Elijah Cummings for contributing nothing to the Benghazi committee's efforts except leaking lies to the media.

UPDATE: Guilty; Verdict Reached in Case of American Journalist Obama Left Behind in Iran

When President Obama made a deal with the Iranians in July over the terror sponsor's nuclear program, he left four Americans behind. One of those Americans is Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. 

By the administration's own admission and standards Rezaian, who has been held in an Iranian prison for more than a year, is being held on trumped up, bogus charges. This morning, it is being reported Rezaian has been issued a verdict on those same charges after a closed door "trial."

An Iranian judiciary spokesman said Sunday that a verdict has been reached in the espionage case of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, though he offered no details. It was uncertain what the verdict is and whether there is a sentence.

“The ruling on this case has been issued,” Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei said in his weekly televised news conference with Iranian journalists. “There is still the possibility of this ruling being appealed, and it is not final.”

The Post has vehemently disputed the allegation that Rezaian was a spy. Executive Editor Martin Baron has said that Rezaian was acting solely as a journalist, and he has called the trial a “sham” and “a sick brew of farce and tragedy.”

We'll have to wait and see whether Rezaian has been convicted on charges. Based on the talks from Iranian sources about an appeal, things aren't looking good.

In the meantime, Iran is still unjustly holding U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini, U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, FBI agent Robert Levinson and of course, Rezaian. No word yet from the White House on how the administration plans to help.

UPDATE: Rezaian convicted as guilty.

The Washington Post on Monday angrily denounced the conviction of one of its reporters in a secret Iranian court, calling the proceeding an "outrageous injustice."

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron criticized Iran’s conviction of Post reporter Jason Rezaian in a closed-door trial on charges that are unclear, saying the verdict was unconscionable.

Rezaian was found guilty of various allegations by an Iranian court, the country's state TV reported late Sunday.

"Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing. For now, no sentence has been announced," Baron said in a statement Monday.

It was not immediately clear of what exactly Rezaian had been convicted. He had faced multiple charges, including espionage, at his trial, which was widely criticized by the U.S. government and press freedom organizations.

Rezaian reportedly faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

As Putin Gains Power in Middle East, Obama Touts "Leadership" on Climate Change

Over the weekend President Obama sat down for an interview with 60 Minutes, where he addressed a variety of issues about his foreign and domestic policies. When asked about the increasing chaos in the Middle East, with Russian President Vladimer Putin invading Syria and bombing rebel forces the U.S. has been supporting, Obama downplayed the need for leadership in the region and instead pivoted to his "leadership" on climate change. Obama also argued Putin's decision to send troops into Syria wasn't based on strength or a power grab, but instead is a result of a broader failed strategy. 

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The U.S. ending its multi-million Syrian rebel training program last week after it failed miserably could be a reason Obama changed the subject. In the meantime, Putin continues to embarrass the United States and is gladly filling the remaining power vacuum.

SCOTUS Watch: 'Assault Weapons' Bans

Jazz Shaw, our friend over at our sister site Hot Air,  wrote about a looming decision about Second Amendment rights from the Supreme Court that could come as early as this Tuesday. It deals with Chicago’s ordinance that bans semi-automatic rifles that carry more than 10 rounds (via LA Times):

The justices on Friday were to consider the appeal in Friedman vs. City of Highland Park. If they refuse to hear the appeal, the announcement could come as early as Tuesday morning. Such a decision would signal that cities have the authority to restrict high-powered weapons.

But if the justices vote to take up the case, it would put in doubt the constitutionality of laws in other places, including California, that prohibit semiautomatic weapons.

"These are some of the most popular firearms commonly used by law-abiding citizens in America," said David H. Thompson, a lawyer for the Illinois gun owners who are challenging the assault weapons ban adopted in the North Shore Chicago suburb of Highland Park.

They lost before a federal judge and in a decision from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. Now they are asking the high court to hear their appeal.


In upholding the Highland Park ordinance, the 7th Circuit cited the Supreme Court's statement that "dangerous and unusual weapons" may be restricted.

"Assault weapons with large-capacity magazines can fire more shots, faster, and thus can be more dangerous in aggregate," said Judge Frank Easterbrook in April for a 2-1 majority. "Why else are they the weapons of choice in mass shootings? A ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines might not prevent shootings...but it may reduce the carnage if a mass shooting occurs."

In dissent, Judge Daniel Manion said some homeowners want to keep a semi-automatic weapon at home for self-defense. "Ultimately, it is up to the lawful gun owner and not the government to decide these matters," he wrote.


Well, for starters, members of the media need to learn the difference between semi-automatic and automatic weapons. Simply put, a semiautomatic (or self-reloading) weapons system fires one round per trigger pull. Automatic fires multiple rounds per trigger pull. In fact, it’ll keep firing as long as that trigger is pulled back. They’re legal to own, though you’ll need to go through the ATF regarding the permit process.

There is no ban on semiautomatic weapons in the United States, as that which would mean a very extensive gun ban was passed in Congress without anyone knowing about it. California, and other blue states’ so-called assault weapons ban, prohibits the sale of semiautomatic AR-15-style rifles that hold more than 30 rounds. That’s not the same thing, as buying handguns, which are also semiautomatic, is still legal, though the process for that is highly cumbersome in these anti-gun states.


Second, and more to the point, it’s dubious whether the Supreme Court will hear arguments for this case. The Court has refused to hear a string of pro-Second Amendment cases, mostly relating to the concealed carry processes in “may issue” states. In 2013, Wollard v. Gallagher was asking the Court to address “whether state officials violated the Second Amendment by requiring that individuals wishing to exercise their right to carry a handgun for self-defense first prove a “good and substantial reason” for doing so.” The Court refused. In 2014, the Court refused to hear a New Jersey-based Second Amendment case–Drake v. Jerejianwhich also asked “(1) Whether the Second Amendment secures a right to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense; and (2) whether state officials violate the Second Amendment by requiring that individuals wishing to exercise their right to carry a handgun for self-defense first prove a ‘justifiable need’ for doing so.”

The Drake case is especially tough to tolerate since it could have cleared a path to 50-state concealed carry rights given the first question. I’m sure it will be addressed in time. These cases spoke much more to the Second Amendment, and could have had a huge impact regarding expanding those rights, but the Court decided to take a pass…twice. The case we’re dealing with here is a city ordinance in one of the most anti-gun urban areas in the country. Don’t be shocked if they take a pass on this one too.

At the same time, Jazz noted something in his post that yet again places the anti-gun wing of America in a bind.

“Are you hoping for a ban on “high-powered weapons” or are you looking to get rid of automatic weapons?” Jazz asks. He aptly notes that hunting rifles are by far much more powerful than a AR-15 concerning the type of ammunition each weapon system carries, so a so-called “high-powered” weapons ban would undercut what gun control activists have been saying for years; that they support the rights of hunters but want to keep the more scary, yet less powerful, weapons out of civilian hands. They lost that battle too. Regarding automatic weapons, they’re already regulated by the ATF, with a process that takes anywhere from eight months to a year, possibly more. If approved, that weapons system goes into a federal database, and every additional feature or improvement to that weapons must first be cleared by the ATF. Sounds like banning isn’t necessary in this front either.

We should be taking a victory lap. Yes, public opinion can change, but it’s unlikely. We have won on every single front in this battle. We’ve won in Congress, the courts, the various legislatures, the ballot boxes, and the data and the polls show us–the pro-Second Amendment wing of America–stronger than ever. Then again, this seems to have been a double-edged sword, especially in the courts since a resemblance of a consensus has been formed on this issue. The courts aren’t really divided; even California’s Appeals Circuit struck down portions of the Golden State’s carry laws. The Supremes probably don’t see a need to move any faster on this issue. That doesn’t mean we stop fighting protecting our constitutional rights however.

WaPo Writer: When Was Hillary Being Disingenuous on Trade?

With the first Democratic debate happening this Tuesday, the former first lady has flip-flopped on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying that currency manipulation and Republican obstruction at home creates an environment unsafe for U.S. workers. On CBS’ Face The Nation, the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus said Clinton also is against the TPP’s provision that cuts down on the time brand-name pharmaceuticals can keep their biologics–medicine derived from living things–data private. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has threatened to withdraw his support of TPP unless this is readdressed, though Hatch won’t be on the debate stage this week.

Marcus added that when Clinton called TPP the “gold standard in trade agreements,” which was in 2012, currency manipulation and pharmaceutical provisions on biologics were at a worse point in those two areas than they are now with the finalized deal.

“In law, they teach you to say–when you’re cross-examining somebody–to say which time were you lying. For Hillary Clinton, at the debate, the question is which time were you being disingenuous,” said Marcus.

This comes as CBS News released a new poll showing that 53 percent of registered voters have an unfavorable opinion of her; 61 percent feel that she is not honest or trustworthy; 71 percent believe it was “not appropriate” for her to have used a private email system.

CBS News poll 2016 Democratic presidential campaign by CBSNewsPolitics

Open Thread: Did the House Dodge a Bullet With McCarthy?

Last week, the House Republicans were plunged into disarray when House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the presumptive favorite, withdrew from the speakership race. It seemed he was already facing a troubled road to succeed out-going Speaker John Boehner, given that the House Freedom Caucus–a 40-member block–was going to vote for Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) for the top spot; McCarthy had reportedly refused to give in to their demands. That, coupled with the possibility of relying on Democrats for his victory, along with his comments about the House Select Committee on Benghazi–he said it was sinking Hillary’s poll numbers–crippled any notion that he could move the House forward in any direction. Democrats seized on his remarks proposing an amendment and a privileged resolution to dissolve the committee­. Both failed on party-line votes. Yet, the damage was done, and McCarthy exited the stage.The possibility that Republicans might have to solicit Democratic votes (just awful optics) for the next speaker remains open, as Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) alluded to in the midst of McCarthy's withdrawal.

Guy mentioned the rather depressing scenario House Republicans are in with McCarthy’s withdrawal. There’s a very short list of candidates who want the top spot given the headaches that comes with it. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) can’t move because he needs to restore the credibility that McCarthy torpedoed with his awful remarks. Rep. Paul Ryan is happy where he is, but is getting pressure from Boehner to run for speaker. Ryan spoke with his former running mate Mitt Romney as well, though the latter did not pressure him into running. The worst scenario that could possibly come out of this, as Guy noted, was an interim speaker, which would be disastrous for fundraising and would set a horrible narrative: Republicans cannot govern … at all.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post said that the conservative activist base's threat to the establishment is real, and the sooner the latter realizes this the better:

Given all of that, it never made any sense for McCarthy to move up to speaker -- or, for that matter, Steve Scalise of Louisiana to move up to majority leader. In a party whose base is sending a clear message that they are sick and tired of the status quo, the idea of simply moving each member of leadership up a slot was insane.

And the argument for McCarthy -- when weighed against the anger and passion against the establishment coursing through the base -- was feeble. The members like him! He texts them on their birthdays! He's been to their districts! Dick Cheney endorsed him! None of that was a match for the fundamental belief -- within the base and among Republican politicians trying to channel that base -- that McCarthy was part of the problem, not the solution. He was doomed to have an ending like this -- no matter the extenuating personal circumstances that might have also influenced the lack of support for him.


This threat to the establishment from the conservative activist base is real. The sooner the establishment realizes it -- and the resignation of Boehner/demise of McCarthy should help them get it -- the better chance they will have to combat it. But, I also think that the possibility exists that the establishment doesn't have the ability to put down this revolution. Which is an amazing thing to ponder as the country gets ready to elect a new president in 13 months time.

Adding to the argument side for McCarthy came from Cillizza’s colleague Dave Weigel, who wrote that the “chaos” in the House GOP is a good thing since the gentleman from California wasn’t a good Majority Whip–and that states of anarchy have led to good things for House Republicans in the past:

McCarthy, a "young gun" Republican organizer who helped the party recruit much of its winning 2010 class, was less a manager and more a Doctor Frankenstein. McCarthy presided over -- sorry, whipped -- a failed extension of the Patriot Act, a failed extension of the payroll tax cut, a failed attempt to raise the debt limit, a failure to pass the GOP's preferred "fiscal cliff" rescue, a failed attempt to pass the farm bill. The default drama of McCarthy's whip tenure was that Republicans would prep a vote, someone would realize that they were short, and crisis would ensue until someone wrote up a compromise that would allow Democrats to bail out a rump of the GOP.


What will be the long-term impact of McCarthy's faceplant? If previous leadership crises tell us anything, the GOP might be better off. The 1998 impeachment debacle that took down both Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and would-be-speaker Bob Livingston (La.) produced Dennis Hastert (Ill.), who colorlessly led the House GOP through three election wins and created a separation from the past that helped George W. Bush rebrand the party. His closest competitor: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whose 2002 ascension to minority leader made some Democrats wonder if the party would seem hopelessly, un-electably left-wing.

The GOP is in a better position now than the Democrats or Republicans were in those scenarios. Its next speaker will inherit a majority that can sustain dozens of losses and is protected from those losses by gerrymandering in key states. And its voters, as pollsters will tell you, don't pay a ton of attention to who the speaker is. There is life after chaos -- though, seriously, it's better to figure out how to raise the debt limit first.

Of course, I’m not sold on the gerrymandering argument, and I don’t agree with the politics and governing styles of Reid and Pelosi. But will this little chaos bring us something better after McCarthy? Is there hope? From McCarthy’s past leadership record, it seems as if Republicans dodged a bullet, but I’ll let you debate that point. I’m just putting it out there.