Global Warming Continues To Pummel Polar Ice Caps By Not Causing Them To Melt

As I've written previously, we’ve experienced the calmest Hurricane season in 30 years, the quietest tornado season in 60 years; the creation of 19,000 Manhattan islands worth of sea ice, and (again) the Arctic Ice Cap has grown by 533,000 square miles. In 2007, the BBC warned the cap could vanish by 2013. Oh, and we’re at the most industrialized point in human history–and air quality couldn’t be better, according to the EPA.

Now, the polar ice caps aren’t melting. In fact, they haven’t retreated at all. James Taylor of the Heartland Institute wrote in Forbes that the 1979 baseline on polar ice recorded a figure with that was unusually high, so when some melted we didn’t really need to panic. Well, the green warriors of the world did, but the ice rebounded in 2012. Taylor wrote,“Ever since, the polar ice caps have been at a greater average extent than the post-1979 mean.” [emphasis mine]

Updated data from NASA satellite instruments reveal the Earth’s polar ice caps have not receded at all since the satellite instruments began measuring the ice caps in 1979. Since the end of 2012, moreover, total polar ice extent has largely remained above the post-1979 average. The updated data contradict one of the most frequently asserted global warming claims – that global warming is causing the polar ice caps to recede.

The timing of the 1979 NASA satellite instrument launch could not have been better for global warming alarmists. The late 1970s marked the end of a 30-year cooling trend. As a result, the polar ice caps were quite likely more extensive than they had been since at least the 1920s. Nevertheless, this abnormally extensive 1979 polar ice extent would appear to be the “normal” baseline when comparing post-1979 polar ice extent.

Updated NASA satellite data show the polar ice caps remained at approximately their 1979 extent until the middle of the last decade. Beginning in 2005, however, polar ice modestly receded for several years. By 2012, polar sea ice had receded by approximately 10 percent from 1979 measurements. (Total polar ice area – factoring in both sea and land ice – had receded by much less than 10 percent, but alarmists focused on the sea ice loss as “proof” of a global warming crisis.)

A 10-percent decline in polar sea ice is not very remarkable, especially considering the 1979 baseline was abnormally high anyway. Regardless, global warming activists and a compliant news media frequently and vociferously claimed the modest polar ice cap retreat was a sign of impending catastrophe. Al Gore even predicted the Arctic ice cap could completely disappear by 2014.

In late 2012, however, polar ice dramatically rebounded and quickly surpassed the post-1979 average. Ever since, the polar ice caps have been at a greater average extent than the post-1979 mean.

Now, in May 2015, the updated NASA data show polar sea ice is approximately 5 percent above the post-1979 average.

It’s been recently reported that there’s so much sea ice around Antarctica that vessels carrying scientists and supplies are having trouble reaching the research stations there. It appears global warming isn’t melting any polar ice in her ongoing campaign against earth and humanity. Additionally, she decided not to make 2014 the warmest year in history. Global warming, we are still waiting for you to kill us all.

Last week, President Obama said global warming is a threat to national security. So, why did the CIA shut down their climate research project?  As Leah wrote, this is pretty "awkward timing," and another example that this administration really doesn't know what's going on regarding threats to the country.  ISIS is pushing forward, China is upgrading their ballistic missiles, Yemen has fallen, the Iran nuclear deal is fraught with uncertainty.  Is anyone home?

Editor's note: James Taylor works for the Heartland Institute (still a great organization), not Forbes. The post has been updated to reflect the changes. 

The ATF Should Be Scrapped … Says Center For American Progress?

The Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has been the source of ire on the right, especially since their most recent proposal to ban green tip AR-15 ammo, which is commonly used. It was done under the guise of “law enforcement safety,” though if anyone bothered to read FBI crime statistics, rifles are rarely used in crimes, let alone green tip ammo being used to target police officers. After the failed ban attempt, ATF Director B. Todd Jones decided to resign and take a job with the NFL.

Now, a report from the left-leaning Center for American Progress says that federal law enforcement agency should be scrapped and merged into the FBI (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, charged with enforcing the nation's gun laws and regulating the firearms industry, has been so hobbled by high-profile operational failures, internal dysfunction and external limits on its authority that the agency should be eliminated and merged into the FBI, a new report concludes.

The report, by the left-leaning Center for American Progress, comes in the wake of a bill by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) that seeks to dissolve the agency and move its law enforcement and gun industry regulatory functions into the FBI and other agencies.

The bill and the report are the latest in a series of efforts, from both sides of the political spectrum and even by veterans of the ATF, to reform or eliminate the agency. In July, a Government Accountability Office report on the ATF described an agency trying to redefine itself while struggling with high personnel turnover and internal problems.

The report's authors interviewed more than 50 current and former ATF personnel, and retired Supervisory Special Agent Mark D. Jones advised the authors. The report's argument boils down to this: The vital job of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is too important to leave to a weakened, embattled agency like the ATF.

"ATF, as it currently exists, suffers from substantial weakness that compromises its ability to effectively combat gun crime and regulate the firearms industry, and a new director or piecemeal changes cannot fully solve these problems," the report concludes. "It is time to consider a major reboot of how these issues are addressed at the federal level and for an overhaul of the federal law enforcement agencies responsible for doing so."

The report's proposal to fold the ATF into the FBI differs in at least one significant way from Sensenbrenner's bill.

Sensenbrenner's proposal would keep the prohibition against the ATF publicly sharing data about how many crime guns are sold by gun dealers. The new report says those limits hinder law enforcement's ability to enforce gun laws. Gun rights groups have pushed hard to get those limits and keep them in place.

An earlier Journal Sentinel investigation revealed how those and other special rules created by Congress protected corrupt crime gun dealers and allowed them to escape ATF punishment by shifting its ownership.

Gun control and gun rights groups both came out against Sensenbrenner's proposal last year. The National Rifle Association didn't have a comment on Sensenbrenner's bill last year, but the NRA made it clear recently that the group is against dissolving the ATF. Jennifer Baker, an NRA spokeswoman, said the problem with the ATF is not where it is located.

"The Obama administration has only contributed to ATF's dysfunction by politicizing the agency to advance its gun control agenda," she said. "No matter where the ATF is located, nothing will change until we get a president who respects the Second Amendment."

In 2011, the ATF became involved in a highly embarrassing scandal where they simply lost track of 1,400 weapons intended to track the dealers and buyers of these illegal arms sales with Mexican drug cartels. It failed miserably–and a Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, was murdered with one of the lost weapons. And, unlike Operation Wide Receiver, which was smaller in scope, Mexican law enforcement officials were virtually kept in the dark on Fast and Furious. Reportedly, the Mexican government was working closely with the ATF on Wide Receiver. It should also be noted that while both operations had their problems, Receiver never involved the death of the Border Patrol agent.

In a more recent fiasco, the ATF has reportedly been targeting the mentally challenged for gun violations, disproportionally arresting minorities, and leaving their government-issued firearms in sewer grates, on top of cars (and then driving away), public bathrooms, and other venues. The ATF refuses to release the protocols for agents regarding keeping their firearms in their vehicles since it will leave them open to robbery. Nevertheless, an ATF spokesperson could not say if the weapons that were lost, but later recovered, were used in any crimes in the interim period in which they were out of the government’s possession.

In another moment of sheer incompetence, the agency left behind highly sensitive information about undercover agents when they conducted a 10-month storefront sting operation last year. And, by highly sensitive, I mean  just some stuff like the names of the agents, their vehicles and the cell phone they used.  No big deal, right? 

Defense Secretary: Iraqi Army Has No ‘Will To Fight’

Last week, ISIS forces took over Ramadi. It was their most significant victory in months. It also showed that airstrikes weren’t working in stopping the fledgling terrorist organization from taking more territory in Iraq. Moreover, when Iraqi government forces retreated from Ramadi, they left various U.S.-supplied vehicles, including tanks, behind that are now considered to be in the hands of ISIS. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said that the Iraqi army wasn’t outnumbered, but they a lacked the “will to fight.” Iraqi government officials said such allegations of no Iraqi fighting spirit were “baseless” (via AP):

The Islamic State group's takeover of the provincial capital Ramadi is stark evidence that Iraqi forces lack the "will to fight," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a TV interview that aired Sunday. The harsh assessment that raised new questions about the Obama administration's strategy to defeat the extremist group that has seized a strategically important swath of the Middle East.

Although Iraqi soldiers "vastly outnumbered" their opposition in the capital of Anbar province, they quickly withdrew last Sunday without putting up much resistance from the city in Iraq's Sunni heartland, Carter said on CNN's "State of the Union." The interview aired on Sunday.

The Iraqis left behind large numbers of U.S.-supplied vehicles, including several tanks, now presumed to be in Islamic State hands.

"What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," Carter said. "They were not outnumbered; in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."

The White House declined to comment on Sunday.

Iraqi lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the parliamentary defense and security committee, called Carter's comments "unrealistic and baseless," in an interview with The Associated Press.

"The Iraqi army and police did have the will to fight IS group in Ramadi, but these forces lack good equipment, weapons and aerial support," he said.

American officials say they are sending anti-tank weapons to the Iraqi military. But they also noted that Iraqi forces were not routed from Ramadi— they left of their own accord, frightened in part by a powerful wave of Islamic State group suicide truck bombs, some the size of the one that destroyed the federal building in Oklahoma City two decades ago, said a senior State Department official who spoke to reporters last week under ground rules he not be named.

"The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week. "They drove out of Ramadi."

The Pentagon this past week estimated that when Iraqi troops abandoned Ramadi, they left behind a half-dozen tanks, a similar number of artillery pieces, a larger number of armored personnel carriers and about 100 wheeled vehicles like Humvees.

Right now, less than 20 percent of Americans think we’re defeating ISIS. Retired Army General Jack Keane spoke before the Senate Armed Service Committee last Thursday and said we were losing. So far, the Obama administration’s strategy seems to be holding steady, and by steady, I mean allowing ISIS to continue their land grab campaign in the Middle East. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on May 21 that defeating ISIS will “take some time.”

“I don’t think that they will find a lot of support on the part of the American people for a large-scale deployment of military resources to essentially re-invade Iraq—or invade Syria,” he added. Actually, a CBS News poll conducted in February found that 57 percent of Americans supported sending ground troops to fight the Islamic State.

Last noteThis wasn't Bush's fault

Poll: Less Than 20 Percent Think We're Beating ISIS

Clearly, President Obama has convinced himself that the United States is holding its own against the terrorist army ISIS.

“No, I don’t think we’re losing,” he recently told The Atlantic in an exclusive interview.

Public opinion, however, is not on his side.

A new Rasmussen survey demonstrates that a plurality of respondents believe ISIS has the upper hand in the present conflict, while at the same time very few Americans think we’re actually close to defeating them.

“The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 43% of Likely U.S. Voters now believe ISIS is winning, up five points from 38% two months ago," the pollsters write. “Just 18% now think the United States and its allies are winning, compared to 25% who felt that way in mid-March. Twenty-nine percent (29%) still think neither side has the advantage.”

Not only has a major Iraqi city fallen in recent days, but the extremist group has also taken control of the Iraq-Syria border. This will give them increased and renewed influence in the region as they continue their death march across the Middle East. National security experts, meanwhile, strongly believe that the war will almost certainly be lost without a change in strategy—and soon.

Judging, however, by the president’s rosy reassurances—and the statements of his press secretary—that’s very unlikely to happen.

Awkward: CIA Shuts Down Climate Research Program After Obama Frames Climate Change as National Security Threat

Speaking to cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard this week, President Obama said that those who deny global warming are putting America at risk. Not only that, to ignore it would be a “dereliction of duty.”

"Denying it or refusing to deal with it undermines our national security,” he went on. “We need to act and we need to act now."

Talk about awkward timing:

The Central Intelligence Agency is shutting down a research program that offered classified data to scientists to examine the link between climate change and global security threats.

A CIA spokesman confirmed that the agency had ended its MEDEA program, a 1990s-era intelligence program restarted in 2010 under President Obama. The collaboration gave scientists access to intelligence assets like satellite data to study climate change and inform on how its impacts could inflame conflicts.

CIA spokesman Ryan Whaylen said "these projects have been completed and CIA will employ these research results and engage external experts as it continues to evaluate the national security implications of climate change." […]

The research effort, as with most environmental work, has drawn the ire of congressional Republicans. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming has particularly been critical of the intelligence agency's environmental work, saying in 2010 that "should be focused on monitoring terrorists in caves, not polar bears on icebergs."

And generally, Republicans have been scornful of the defense community's work on climate change, saying that the administration is ignoring the threat of terrorism and global instability in favor of environmental goals.

Of course Republicans have been scornful.

The week Obama gave that speech Ramadi had just fallen to ISIS, North Korea announced it could make nuclear weapons small enough to place on missiles, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is reportedly using chemical weapons against his own people again. Sen. James Inhofe was right when he said Obama is “disconnected from reality.”

Russian Senator Calls for Ban on Young Hockey Stars Moving to North America

A former NHL star turned Russian senator has had enough with the country's young talent fleeing Russia's Kontinental Hockey League for the NHL. Slava Fetisov, who moved to the United States in 1989 to play for the New Jersey Devils following a relaxation of Soviet law that prohibited any athlete from moving to North America, has called for a law that would prohibit any player under the age of 28 from playing in North America.

Russia has been known for playing hardball with its young players to keep them from moving to the NHL. It was rumored that current Washington Capitals player Evgeny Kuznetsov was promised a spot on the Russian national team in the Olympics if he stayed in the KHL--and when that failed to materialize he promptly jumped ship and moved to Washington.

Out of the 11 Russian-born players to have been drafted in the first round of the NHL draft since 2010, only four played exclusively in Russian leagues prior to the NHL. (The rest played in Canadian Major Junior leagues, such as the Ontario Hockey League.)

This is the latest attempt by Russia to mix hockey and politics. The Russian team came under fire when the majority of the players left the ice prior to the playing of the Canadian National Anthem during the medal ceremony of the IIHF World Championship. Prior to playing the United States in the tournament semifinals, a player on Russia's team was quoted saying that his team wanted to "teach those college kids a lesson." The Russian federation also accused the referees of being biased for the Americans in an earlier loss in the tournament.

From a purely selfish angle (Go Habs and go Caps), I hope this law doesn't go through. One would think that Russia would consider it to be a source of pride that her home-grown players absolutely dominate the best players from the rest of the world, rather than force them to stay home to prop up a struggling league.

Hm: All 15 Charter School Applicants Rejected in NY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) recently proposed the Parental Choice in Education Act as a way to provide more opportunity for parents in choosing which schools would be the best fit for their children. The legislation would use $70 million in taxpayer money to create an education tax credit for families making $60,000 or less. Parents who qualify could receive up to $500 in a tax credit or refund for each student attending a private school. Among other benefits, it would also encourage more private school scholarships.

"This is about fairness and this is about parents choosing the school that is right for their children," Cuomo said on Sunday, as he promoted the idea in four churches in New York City. "We must reward donations to support public schools, give tax credits to teachers who pay for classroom supplies out of pocket, and ease the financial burden on families who exercise choice in sending their children to a nonpublic school."

Cuomo said his administration’s goal is to raise the cap of charter schools from 460 to 560.

However, a new report all but proves this is a far fetched goal and that school choice is non-existent in New York. Fifteen charter school applicants who applied to operate in the state have just found out they’ve all been turned down.

The State Education Department tried to justify the rejections, simply stating that none of the schools met their standards.

“We always look for quality and these applications didn’t measure up,” Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins said Wednesday. “We invited several of the applicants to reapply in June and we gave them suggestions on how to improve their applications.”

Yet, others argue these denials do little more than defend the interests of teachers unions. Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of the pro-charter group Families for Excellent Schools, said as much.

“The timing and nature of these blanket rejections should raise serious concerns for New Yorkers.”

“The last thing parents would want to see is the politics of the moment standing in the way of opening more high-quality public charter schools for students,” Kittredge said. “Solving New York’s failing-schools crisis requires both that independent authorizers move swiftly to open strong charter schools and Albany to eliminate the charter cap.”

The prevalence of charter schools has been a constant point of contention between the governor and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. While Cuomo has actually tried to take power from teachers’ unions and put it into parents’ hands, De Blasio has made it clear he’s the unions’ champion. What's more, his administration has insisted there’s no need to raise the cap.

There is some good news for the rejected charter school applicants. All 15 will have a second chance to apply come June 23, when the current legislative session ends. 

This is one fight I hope Gov. Cuomo wins, for parents' sake.

Biden to Annapolis Grads: You Are the Real One Percent

On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden attended the commencement ceremony at the United States Naval Academy, serving as the college’s 2015 graduation speaker.

During his speech, which lasted some 30 minutes, he alternated between light-hearted jokes about the daily grind of being a cadet, and bringing attention to the seriousness and importance of the occasion.

“Class of 2015, you were among the most promising high school students on the planet,” he said. “No one would have blamed you for choosing an easier path. But you chose service. You chose honor. You chose to join the real one percent that protects the 99 percent of the rest of us here in America.”

��Today, you graduate from one of the most venerated military and academic institutions on the entire earth,” he continued. “You spent your summer abroad on real ships rather than at internships, and the specter of living in your parents basement after graduation day is not likely to be your biggest concern.”

More seriously, however, he heralded the sacrifices the soon-to-be-commissioned officers were making, both personally and professionally, by joining the United States Navy. But at the same time, he reminded them that such a career path—while honorable—does not come without grave responsibilities.

“We, your fellow Americans, expect a great deal from you,” he intoned. “Not just your physical courage, but your moral courage as well, which at times can be even harder to muster. [As] officers in the United States military, you must demand that every one of your fellow sailors and marines is afforded the dignity—and respect—that they deserve, no matter their race, gender, faith, or sexual orientation.”

“As leaders of the United States Navy, we count on you to refuse to tolerate sexual harassment or sexual assault in any form—under any circumstances,” he added. “It’s a matter of honor that you prevent that.”

But, he said, more will also be required of Annapolis graduates and officers.

After all, many will soon find themselves in harm’s way.

“I have been in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq over 27 times,” he announced. “Thirty-five thousand of you marines—and 5,000 sailors—at this moment are deployed ashore in conflict areas.”

“You are everywhere,” he declared.

Finally, while he noted that the life all cadets choose for themselves is both dangerous and unglamorous, their service and training is needed now more than ever.

“You remain indispensable,” he said. “America’s command of the oceans is the measure and the symbol of our diplomatic and military primacy in the world. As George Washington remarked during the Revolutionary War, ‘It follows then as certain, as the night succeeds day, that without a decisive naval force, we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.’ That hasn’t changed one single bit.”

“We cannot promise you fame or money,” he concluded. “We cannot promise you a calm or quiet passage. But I can promise you that, beyond the exception of ‘mother,’ ‘father,’ ‘husband,’ and ‘wife,’ there will be no title you will more proudly bear than being an officer in the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps.”

Clinton Foundation: Oh, We Made Additional $12-26 Million From Speeches Given By the Former First Family

So, the Clintons have been making some big money since January of 2014. They’ve made $25 million worth of speaking fees since then, and Guy noted that after they left the White House; Bill began earning $24,000 a day in the first few months after leaving the presidency. But, remember they were “dead broke,” or something.  Now, the Clinton Foundation has disclosed an additional $12-26 million in revenue from donations, $12 million of which came from the former first family's speaking engagements. Nevertheless, this attempt at transparency is overshadowed by the rather disconcerting allegation that Clinton staffers at the State Department might have blocked some FOIA requests (via Politico):

Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton brought in more than $12 million in speaking fees since 2002 that was donated directly to their family foundation, covering a a total of 97 speeches across the U.S. and around the world, according to data made public for the first time Thursday night.

The new list of paid speeches gives a more complete financial picture of the Clintons’ high-dollar public appearances. A personal financial disclosure filed last week by Hillary Clinton shows that the couple made over $25 million in personal income on public speeches since the beginning of 2014.

The release of appearances where fees went directly to the family charity offered no explanation for how the Clintons decided which speeches should go to the foundation and which to the Clintons’ own pockets.

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey wrote that the Clinton Foundation listed these speaking fees as revenue–and didn’t disclose them per an agreement with the Obama administration:

There are a couple of notable entries on the new set of books released by the foundation. Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who owns a considerable interest in the New York Times, paid Hillary Clinton as much as $500K for one speech through his Telmex Foundation. Qatar First Bank paid Bill Clinton a similar amount. The government of Qatar also arranged for another Bill payday in the same range at the Brookings Institution for the US Islamic World Forum.

Needless to say, the two instances of government involvement in the Clinton Foundation are more than problematic during the tenure of Hillary at State, especially Qatar. Nominally a US ally, Qatar was until last summer the main diplomatic partner of Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by State. What is the Secretary of State doing by accepting cash from Qatar through a spouse while representing the US as its top diplomat in that highly sensitive and precarious relationship? What would Israel (among others in the region) think about the direction of US policy while someone who’s getting money indirectly from the then-partner of Hamas?

In a sane world, this kind of corruption would be disqualifying

Editor's Note: Post has been updated with additional information.

Santorum: These New Debate Rules at Fox Are Kind Of BS

Let’s be serious: Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) is running for president in 2016.

But after reviewing the questionable new debate rules being implemented this year by Fox News, as Guy wrote up earlier this week, wherein candidates polling in eleventh place or higher are essentially denied participation rights, the former senator spoke to National Journal in an exclusive interview.

And, of course, he wasn't very happy.

"I'm probably the best person to comment on this,” he said. “In January of 2012 I was at 4 percent in the national polls, and I won the Iowa caucuses. I don't know if I was last in the polls, but I was pretty close to last. [And so] the idea that a national poll has any relationship to the viability of a candidate—ask Rudy Giuliani that. Ask Phil Gramm that. You can go on down the list of folks who were doing real well in national polls and didn't win a single state and were not a viable candidate."

His frustration is understandable, though I don’t believe he has any chance of winning the nomination. But he raises an interesting point: Shouldn’t he at least be allowed on stage, even if he isn’t polling high enough, given how he fared in 2012? That is to say, doesn’t he have more credibility than any other first-time candidate, even if that particular candidate edges him in the polls? While there is a case to be made that all candidates should be allowed to debate on stage at once, Santorum’s argument is particularly strong given he went further than any other GOP hopeful in 2012 before conceding the nomination. As it stands now, however, it seems likely that Santorum will be denied access to key nationally televised debates, while less serious and credible personalities will not be.

Naturally, this issue isn’t going away. But at the same time, the major networks have to contend with a field that has roughly 16 candidates. How do they give them all a fair shake, without appearing biased and partisan?

That, my friends, is the million dollar question.

Islamic State Takes Ramadi, Obama Preaches Climate

On this week's Townhall Review:

Bill Bennett and Mark Thiessen on Islamic State’s stunning capture of Anbar province–formally secured by the United States before President Obama pulled the troops. Dennis Prager on Islamic State’s continued triumphs. Hugh Hewitt with Kirsten Powers, author of “The Silencing.” Charles Krauthammer and Hugh Hewitt discuss Obama’s ongoing itch to vilify Fox News. Prager on Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev receiving the death penalty–and Boston’s pathetic anti-death penalty reaction to it. Bill Bennett with Jonathan Last, senior writer for the Weekly Standard, they discuss fatherhood. Michael Medved on California Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez (D) and her caught-on-camera Native American war yelp during campaigning.

The Friday Filibuster: All For Nothing?

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

Closing numbers:

60% of Americans who believe terrorists are likely living in their communities.

55,000—the number of Hillary Clinton’s emails the State Department plans to release 'portions' of in January 2016.

51% of Democrats pretty much want to destroy the First Amendment.

6—the number of Baltimore police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray were charged.

32-15—the final vote in the Nebraska legislature in favor of abolishing the death penalty.

$26 million—the amount the Clinton Foundation failed to disclose in payments. 

$30 million--the amount party of the people Bill and Hillary have banked since last January. 

Foreign policy failures

The key Iraqi city of Ramadi has fallen to ISIS in their biggest victory to date this year, and it’s wasn’t Bush’s fault. According to Robert Gates, Iraq was in pretty good shape in 2010 and early 2011. Ramadi’s capture shows that, even though the White House believes otherwise, the U.S.’s current strategy to defeat ISIS has failed, which is an assessment coming from Gen. Jack Keane. The White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest did admit, however, that defeating the group will ‘take some time.’ That’s not surprising given that President Obama thinks global warming is a more pressing national security threat. Meanwhile, here at home, the NYPD Police Commissioner is so worried about ISIS in the Big Apple that he wants 400 officers dedicated to combating the threat, and the FBI is already reaching out to students in high schools across the Tri-State area warning them about ISIS’s online recruitment threat. And in other foreign policy news, Iran says that nobody is allowed to inspect its nuclear facilities. Worse yet, in the event of an Iranian missile launch, neighboring countries only have four minutes to react

Campaign & election news

Another presidential candidate jumped in the race this week (Sen. Lindsey Graham), while others dropped hints that they would likely be running as well (Govs. Bobby Jindal and John Kasich). Given the expansive field, Fox News and CNN are setting up some boundaries ahead of the first Republican debate that will “require contenders to place in the top 10 in an average of the five most recent national polls in the run-up to the event.” 

Planned Parenthood asked supporters to vote for which Republican presidential candidate (both announced and tbd) poses the worst threat for women in 2016. Among their options? Carly Fiorina, the only female GOP candidate. Unreal. 

HRC happenings

The Clinton Foundation has some more disclosure problems and Hillary’s email scandal continues. According to a NYT report, her emails contain sensitive information that trace the Benghazi story, and she also used an address her lawyers claimed didn’t exist. Oh, and while at state (where she had no achievements according to Iowa Dems), her staff sometimes blocked FOIA requests. Guy Benson has some questions for Her Majesty, even though she hates questions from journalists. There will be a lot after Friday's document dump, however. By the way, did she already reveal her running mate as Julian Castro?

Groan-inducing stories of the week:

  • Administrators at a South Carolina high school told a student he couldn’t fly the American flag out of his truck. Fortunately, however, this story has a feel-good ending: the order prompted dozens of parents, students, and veterans to protest, waving the flag out of their vehicles.
  • Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., compared the struggles of Afghan women to a college student who lied about rape.
  • The Boy Scouts banned water gun fights between scouts because they are “unkind.”
  • You know how much the government spent on the TSA full body scanners? Forty million. Now, can you guess how little they’re selling them for, some of which are brand new? Ten dollars. 
  • And in case you missed it, the USDA has actually published a guide to roasting marshmallows. Sigh.. 

In other news:

From coast to coast, Obamacare is still awful. The NAACP lost a court battle to silence a black pro-life activist critical of the organization’s policies. In D.C., a federal judge struck down a provision of its new carry law that required applicants to show “good reason,” ruling that it is unconstitutional. Cortney also caught up with Taya Kyle, who spoke about the controversies surrounding the film “American Sniper,” her lasting love for her husband, her new book, and more.


Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer
Feven Amenu. 

Friday Document Dump: State Department Releases First Round of Clinton Emails (All 298 Of Them)

Just in time for the long, three-day, kick-off to summer Memorial Day weekend, the State Department has released the first round of emails belonging to former Secretary Hillary Clinton. There are just under 300 of them. I would post some of the documents here, but the page on State.gov hosting them is down (naturally).  UPDATE: Back up. You can read the emails here

Although the emails reportedly cover the time period when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked on 9/11/2012, State Department Deputy Press Secretary Marie Harf insists the emails contain no new information.

The State Department announced plans earlier this week the rest of Clinton's emails, which were hosted on a personal server before they were deleted, should be reviewed and released by January 2016.

More to come.

A Liberal Woman Admits She Has a Gun And It's Awesome

When I get asked about how to change the perspective of an anti-gunner, particularly on the left, I always tell people to extend an invitation to the shooting range. Why? If the invitation is accepted, the person you take will more than likely have a fantastic time and will want to go again. This can eventually lead to their first gun purchase and the rest become history. But most importantly, taking them to the range allows them to find out that the media has been lying to them about guns for years.

Earlier this week a woman named Jenna Glasser published a piece titled "I'm a Lefty With a Gun" over at xoJane as an "unpopular opinion." She writes about why she bought a gun as a liberal who is supposed to be against them. Her choice to be a firearm owner comes down to two main things: personal security and fun (bolding is mine). 

For years, I was what we lefties in Texas refer to as, "A bright blue dot in a big red state." I believe in recycling, social services, a woman's right to choose, and immigration. I spent a lot of time defending these things around my red friends, and bemoaning this defense around my fellow blue dots.

And then I bought a gun, and everything changed. I was shamed by the blue dots and consoled by the red. I turned purple.

When my fellow blue dots found out I owned a gun, they were shocked. Gape-mouthed and stunned to speechlessness, they usually recovered with, “What are you thinking?” or, “How could you?!”

How could I? Here’s how: I lived alone in a sweet 1905 cottage in a historic section of east Dallas, with original heart pine on the floors and exposed shipboard walls. The first vacation I took after I bought it, someone entered uninvited and stole my new drill, my cheap DVD player, and my expensive tequila. The next three unwanted advances cost me three different laptops and over 100 CDs. And those were just the physical costs.

The emotional costs were much greater. After each break in, I wouldn’t sleep for days. I would move into the guest room, and curl into a tight ball of nerves with a comforter pulled over my head. Despite taking Nyquil, I would wake each time a squirrel ran the perimeter of my backyard fence, convinced someone was coming for me. My dreams were all of victimization, or revenge.

As the little slips of paper with police report numbers on them piled up, I became familiar with the questions detectives would ask when they learned of my prior break-ins.

I took every precaution I could think of before buying a gun. I built a better fence. I added a wrought iron gate. I got a dog, though he is more likely to lick someone to death than bite him. I put in a better alarm system. I eventually added cameras, and I could see the feed from them on my phone. I checked it multiple times while at work; if I was out of town, the first thing I did in the morning, and last thing I did at night, was check on my house.

Here’s the truth about guns that no one, on either side of the debate, wants to tell you: shooting them is fun. I’m a bleeding-hearted, left-leaning liberal and I get a cheap, easy thrill out of shooting my little .38 caliber pistol. The “I am woman; hear me roar,” thrill I’ve gotten the few times I shot an Uzi, AK, or even a Glock is enough to leave a tremble running up my arms (though in reality, that’s likely just kickback).

But the emotional component here is huge. That thrill at the range translates to confidence outside of it. And confidence was a great comfort.

When you live alone, in a house that has been broken into five times, and people keep saying to you, ‘Just move,’ or, ‘It’s only a matter of time before they come while you’re home,’ then you can decide that getting a gun isn’t right for you. But for now, this is what’s right for me.”

That usually shuts them up.

The gun became my sleep-aid. Each night, I would take it from its locked case, load it with six beautiful brassy bullets, and rest it on my nightstand, where I could reach it without opening my eyes.

This is just a heavy excerpt, the entire piece is worth reading and can be found here.

"That thrill at the range translates to confidence outside of it. And confidence was a great comfort," she wrote. "This is what's right for me." Isn't that the truth. That's the great thing about gun ownership and why having the choice to own a gun is so crucial. Each individual person has their own reasons and circumstances for purchasing a firearm that can't, and shouldn't be, determined by anyone else (especially the government).

The reality is, Glasser's opinion is only unpopular among her liberal peers. Her "unpopular" is opinion is popular with the majority Americans. In fact according to Gallup, more people in the United States believe gun rights should be protected rather than infringed upon with gun control.

To back up Glasser's sentiments about gun ownership and shooting, data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation and polling from Gallup repeatedly shows that the number one, overwhelming reason people buy their first firearm is for self-defense purposes. Further, the fastest growing demographic of shooters and gun owners are women.

I may disagree with Glasser on a number of other political issues, but on gun ownership, rock on sister.

Josh Duggar Resigns from FRC Action After Molestation Admission UPDATE: TLC Removes Show From Lineup

Reality TV star Josh Duggar has resigned from his post as Executive Director of FRC Action after admitting to having molested five underage girls, including some of his own sisters, as a teen in 2002. A police report was filed in 2006, but no charges were filed. The statute of limitations had since passed.

Josh is the oldest of the 19 Duggar children featured on the TLC show "19 Kids and Counting." His wife, Anna, is pregnant with their fourth child.

In a statement released to People magazine, Josh admitted that the reports were true and that he is "extremely sorry" for his actions.

"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends," Josh, 27, tells PEOPLE in a statement. "I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing, and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life."

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar also released a statement via their family's Facebook page saying that the events 12 years ago were "difficult times" and brought the family closer to God. Josh's wife also said in a statement that Josh had informed her about his "past teenage mistakes" two years prior to their marriage.

The Family Research Council denied knowing anything about the allegations prior to hiring Josh.

TLC has yet to release a statement about the matter. Given that the network quickly canceled "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo" after it was revealed that June Shannon, mother of "Honey Boo-Boo," was dating a man who had previously molested one of her other daughters, I wouldn't be too surprised to see "19 Kids and Counting" meet the same fate.

UPDATE: Reruns of the show have been pulled from TLC's lineup.

Surprise: Insurers Anticipate Significant 2016 Obamacare Premium Hikes


We opened the week on Obamacare, so let's close up shop on the same topic. Via Philip Klein:

In recent weeks, large insurers selling coverage through Obamacare have proposed massive rate increases for 2016 – even exceeding 40 percent – because they haven't been able to sign up enough young and healthy customers. This is an ominous sign for the future of Obamacare, because two federal programs that were supposed to act as training wheels for insurers in the early years of Obamacare by absorbing excess risk are set to expire after 2016. If insurers don't do a better job of attracting a healthier risk pool, 2017 promises to be a rocky year for insurance markets, regardless of which party is in control of the White House. In the first two years of the implementation of Obamacare's insurance exchanges (2014 and 2015), insurers set rates with the expectation that the government would absorb a certain degree of risk and they made assumptions about the medical costs of their enrollees. Now that insurers have had more time to look at the claims coming in from those enrolling from Obamacare, they're finding that the pool of customers is older and sicker than originally projected, driving up medical costs...

Klein notes that "bailout"-style safety net payments for insurers aren't meeting expectations, and echoes what experts have been predicting: Once those programs sunset, premiums are likely to jump even higher. He walks through some of the 2016 data:

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the largest health insurer in Maryland, proposed an average increase of 30.4 percent for 2016 (with a range of 19.3 percent to 45.7 percent). A similar story is playing out among insurers who have filed rate proposals throughout the country. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee asked for an average increase of 36.3 percent. In South Dakota, Wellmark proposed a 42.9 percent average increase. In Oregon, Moda Health, which serves roughly half of the state's individual market, is aiming to raise rates by an average of 25.6 percent.

Senate Republicans are highlighting double-digit spikes across the country. Klein quotes the always-insightful Bob Laszewski, who puts the new data into context:

"What we are seeing is a mixed bag in terms of how carriers are responding to their 2016 rates. There seems to be a trend growing where carriers with the largest market share are coming out with the eye-popping increases. Carriers with the least share are still coming in with the smaller increases." Part of this might be that in the first two years of Obamacare, when they were expecting more federal help, larger insurers were able to offer "teaser rates" to rapidly build up their market share, but now that they have access to more data, they're increasing their rates. Larger insurers, he noted, have access to more data. "The key to getting a insurance risk pool that eventually supports lower rates is to attract as many people into it as possible," Laszewski said. "Lower rates will attract more people and provide a better chance of getting more sustainable rates." But, he said, "even with the lower rates the Obamacare reinsurance program enabled, only about 40 percent of those eligible eventually signed up after two full open-enrollments. Carriers need more like 75 percent of an eligible pool to get the most efficient pool. Things just haven't worked out."

"Things just haven't worked out" sounds like a plausible slogan for the law. Klein notes that based on the administration's own data, sign-ups among healthy young adults are nowhere near White House projections, and that overall enrollment is lagging far behind the pace needed to hit stated goals. Avik Roy has examined Obamacare supporters' spin on "new" enrollments, and finds it wanting. I'll leave you with this:



Has China Eclipsed America as World’s Superpower?

In an issue that gets little attention these days, we sat down with Dr. Michael Pillsbury, author of The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower, to discuss his new book and if China has really surpassed the US as the world’s superpower.Dr. Pillsbury is an expert on US-China relations and was previously the Assistant Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning in the Reagan administration responsible for implementation of the program of covert aid known as the “Reagan Doctrine.”

Q: Congratulations Dr. Pillsbury on your new book, The Hundred Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower! You were once one of the strongest advocates inside the U.S. government for closer ties with China. Why have you changed your views so drastically about the threat the nation poses?

I changed my views because the reality is that China was not developing into a peaceful partner according to our wishful thinking. My book outlines five assumptions that experts in the U.S. had about China going back to the 1980s. All of them proved to be overly optimistic and wrong. As I also note, President Reagan warned about this back then.

Most Americans have no idea that Beijing has had a decades long strategy to take advantage of our expertise, technology, and good will to overtake us. It breaks my heart every time I hear conservatives talk about the coming collapse of China when in fact China grew three times faster last year and some years as much as six times faster than us.

Q: You’ve discovered some fascinating things about what official Chinese textbooks teach about American history. What did you find most surprising?

The most surprising is the gap between how the Chinese leadership portrays themselves in propaganda to the West, as compliant friends and partners, while at home approving textbooks that claim Americans are brutal barbarians that have been stopping China’s rise for 150 years.

Probably the weirdest discovery is how the Chinese portray Abraham Lincoln as an evil mastermind against them. Of course, Lincoln had a few more pressing concerns during his administration than keeping China down.

Q: How has the Obama administration performed on China? And what should the next president do about it?

President Obama has slowly been waking up to China’s ambitions. However, China has not been a high priority for him. None of his senior staff speak Chinese or are considered to be experienced dealing with China.

A new president will have to take stock of our wishful assumptions and design a whole new approach for dealing with the China that’s about to surpass us.

Q: Why do we resist discussing China as a Communist power?

Because we’ve been seduced into believing China’s claims that they are pursuing something akin to a free market economy. It’s not true. Roughly half of the economy is still state-controlled, as are China’s largest companies.

"Mistake": Clinton Foundation Admits Failing to Disclose $26 Million in Payments

After weeks of officials trying to explain why the Clinton Foundation is refiling it's taxes after "mistakes were made," new information published by the Washington Post shows at least $26 million was not disclosed properly. Where is the money from? More speeches of course. 

The Clinton Foundation reported Thursday that it has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups.

The disclosure came as the foundation faced questions over whether it fully complied with a 2008 ethics agreement to reveal its donors and whether any of its funding sources present conflicts of interest for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she begins her presidential campaign.

The money was paid as fees for speeches by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Foundation officials said the funds were tallied internally as “revenue” rather than donations, which is why they had not been included in the public listings of its contributors published as part of the 2008 agreement.

Oops. Where the money came from is as shady as ever, with a Nigerian newspaper paying Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech. 

Not only do we see a pattern of favorable moves by the State Department toward people and governments that donated to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton's time as secretary, we now see a pattern of non-disclosure and "mistakes" as well. This pattern begs the question: What else have the Clinton's failed to disclose? And if the media doesn't find the non-disclosure first, will the Clinton Foundation ever voluntarily reveal the issue? After all, the Clinton Foundation has raised $2 billion over the past 15 years, that's a lot of cash to sift through.

Cringe-Worthy Yearbook Quote Goes Viral

It's that time of year again: school is ending, graduation season is upon us, and yearbooks are being distributed. While it's hardly uncommon to look back at one's yearbook and cringe, an image from one yearbook has gone viral. In it, a says that if she had founded America she would have ended "women sufferage"[sic].

Yikes.

Yikes.

Suffrage, of course, is the right to vote. "Sufferage" is not a word. While women in colonial America certainly had fewer rights than they do right now, I think that most would agree that ending women's suffrage would be a backwards step. Now, I'm not going to use this quote to vilify the American education system, but I will say that it's astounding that this made it through rounds of editing and into the final product. One would think/hope that at least someone would have spoken up.

The image was initially posted to the hosting site Imgur, where it received nearly 400,000 views in a matter of hours.

Indicted: All Six Baltimore Police Officers Involved In The Death Of Freddie Gray Charged

Freddie Gray was arrested in Baltimore on April 12, suffered a severe spinal injury en route to the police station, slipped into a coma, and died a week later. The police van ride was 45 minutes long, with officials piecing together what happened that led to his death. Anger poured into the streets, where Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard to maintain order. The State Attorney for Baltimore City, Marilyn Mosby, filed charges against the six police officers involved in Gray’s death. Now, nearly three weeks after the charges being filed, the grand jury has decided to indict all of them (via Baltimore Sun):

Some charges were slightly different than what Mosby announced on May 1. The grand jury review is a procedural step to move the case forward to a higher court, from District Court to Baltimore City Circuit Court.

New charges included reckless endangerment, while charges of false imprisonment were removed by the grand jury.

Officer Caesar R. Goodson, the driver of the van used to transport Gray on April 12, remains charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, which is the most serious charge among all six officers. He was also charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, vehicular manslaughter -- gross negligence, vehicular manslaughter -- criminal negligence, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, which is a new charge.

Lt. Brian W. Rice was charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. A second-degree assault charge and false imprisonment charge Rice had been facing were removed.

Sgt. Alicia D. White was charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, which is a new charge.

Officer William Porter was charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, which is a new charge.

Officer Garrett E. Miller was charged with second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. A second-degree assault charge and false imprisonment charge were removed.

Officer Edward M. Nero was charged with second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. A second-degree assault charge and false imprisonment charge were removed.

All six officers have been free on bail.

Police has reportedly been “hesitant” to conduct their duties in Baltimore, leading to a surge in crime. As of three days ago, the rise in crime is ongoing, with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake calling it “disheartening.”

The mayor has also received criticism for saying “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well” at the onset of the unrest; the first wave being on the night of the White House Correspondence Dinner on April 25. The more destructive phase of the rioting occurred two days later–April 27–when Gray was laid to rest.  

The attorneys of the police officer had asked Ms. Mosby to recuse herself citing conflict of interest issues; the Gray's family attorney gave her a campaign contribution and was on her transition team.  Mosby has also been criticized by some, especially the police union, for acting too hasty in bringing the charges against the officers. 

Nebraska Legislature Votes to Abolish Death Penalty

Nebraska is on the verge of making history. In a bipartisan move, the state’s legislature on Wednesday voted 32 to 15 to abolish the death penalty. All that stands in the coalition’s way at this point is Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, a staunch defender of capital punishment, who has promised to veto the measure.

The Republican and Democratic lawmakers who have united to support the bill oppose the death penalty on moral, religious, fiscal, and limited government grounds.

If passed, the measure would replace lethal injection for life imprisonment. According to Attorney General Doug Peterson, in Nebraska, this sentence would effectively mean life in prison without the possibility of parole.

If the bill becomes law, the Cornhusker State would be the first red state to abolish the practice since North Dakota did in 1973.

“The conservative Republicans’ positions as expressed in Nebraska are basically a microcosm of what’s going on with conservatives about the death penalty nationwide,” Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told The Christian Science Monitor. “Abolition in Nebraska could empower conservatives in other 'red' states to move forward because they know it can be done.”

The legislature needs 30 votes to override a veto from Gov. Ricketts, which could come as early as Tuesday.

NYT: Hillary Emails Contain Sensitive Information, Trace Benghazi Story


The New York Times got a crack at the first tranche of Hillary's emails, and turned up a few interesting tidbits. Before we go any further, please allow me to remind you that the emails being released by the State Department (following a court order to expedite the process) are only the ones that Mrs. Clinton's inner circle didn't unilaterally delete. In other words, these are the emails she's comfortable with the public seeing, via a server she wasn't allowed to have in the first place. Her "I want these emails released, too!" posturing is deeply disingenuous. This point cannot be emphasized enough.  Nevertheless, what has the Times uncovered in the first few hundred pages?

href="http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2015/05/19/uh-oh-hillary-used-private-email-address-her-lawyers-claimed-didnt-exist-n2000710">already aware, Secretary Clinton often circulated un-vetted memos of questionable provenance that were provided by political mercenary Sid Blumenthal, without attribution.  The emails indicate that Amb. Chris Stevens, later murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, was asked to weigh in on the analysis and intelligence that came from an unnamed "Clinton friend," whom the Obama White House had explicitly banned from working at the State Department.

(2) Blumenthal helped shape the administration's Benghazi narrative, wrongly reporting the "spontaneous demonstration/YouTube video" claim just after the attacks, before changing his tune the very next day.  Was Blumenthal the original source of the White House's infamous lie?  Why did Hillary, Obama and others stick to the false story for weeks, even after Blumenthal's revised intel quickly aligned with what the US government discovered almost immediately?

Citing “sensitive sources” in Libya, the memo provided extensive detail about the episode, saying that the siege had been set off by members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan terrorist group. Those militants had ties to Al Qaeda, had planned the attacks for a month and had used a nearby protest as cover for the siege, the memo said. “We should get this around asap” Mrs. Clinton said in an email to Mr. Sullivan.

Note Hillary's response. Blumenthal was confirming the true story, which US intelligence was already piecing together -- and she obviously found it compelling and important. Days later, though, she was still spinning an untruthful tale to victims' families.  Why?  Perhaps because of... (3) concerns stressed in a separate email from Blumenthal, warning of Benghazi-related political liabilities:

In early October 2012, a month before Mr. Obama was re-elected, Mr. Blumenthal forwarded Mrs. Clinton an article on a left-leaning website. The article cautioned that the Republicans could exploit the attacks in a “Jimmy Carter Strategy” and use them to paint Mr. Obama as weak on terrorism. Mrs. Clinton forwarded the email to Mr. Sullivan. “Be sure Ben knows they need to be ready for this line of attack,” Mrs. Clinton wrote. She did not say to which Ben she was referring, but one of Mr. Obama’s senior national security advisers is Benjamin J. Rhodes, who handles communications and speechwriting.

Yes, that would be this Ben Rhodes.  (4) "Mrs. Clinton’s emails show that she had a special type of government information known as 'sensitive but unclassified,' or 'SBU,' in her account. That information included the whereabouts and travel plans of American officials in Libya as security there deteriorated..."  It's unclear how much classified material passed through Hillary's under-secured personal server, but given that she used it as her exclusive email source, it seems likely that some did.  A defense intelligence analyst and the former acting CIA director have both stated that foreign intelligence agencies almost certainly penetrated Clinton's "home-brew" email system.  A few additional takeaways from this initial document dump:



Hillary's original excuse for her secret email scheme was the need to consolidate everything to just one mobile device.  This never made any sense, but we've since discovered that she used multiple devices anyway.  Also, her lawyers claimed that the email address she was using in that first screenshot didn't exist at the time.  Oops.  And requests like "please do not forward" obviously do not apply to the Clintons, even when they come from high-ranking White House officials.

White House Press Secretary: Defeating ISIS is “Going to Take Some Time”

The situation in Iraq and Syria appears to be quickly unraveling as ISIS gains ground and continues sacking cities. Nevertheless, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed (and reaffirmed) on Thursday that such territorial losses are not going to induce the president to change his stated strategy.

“What this administration will continue to do is to implement the strategy that the president has laid out, which is to build up the capacity of local fighters on the ground in Iraq and in Syria to take the fight against [ISIS],” he said. “But they will have the strong support of the United States and the coalition of 60 countries that the president leads.”

“And they’ll have that support in the form of offering training and equipment to those local fighters,” he continued. “They’ll be able to get some battlefield advice from coalition personnel that are deployed to Iraq, and they will—importantly—have the support of coalition military air power.”

And yet, this strategy doesn’t appear to be working. The cities of Ramadi and Palmyra have already fallen, raising major questions about how the White House is prosecuting the war.

Earnest, however, suggested a lack of troops—and training—is the chief reason for all the “setbacks,” not the strategy itself.

“We’ve acknowledged for a year now that our efforts in Syria to build up a ground force that can work closely with the coalition is going to take some time,” he said. "There is no natural force that’s there. So there is an active training mission that’s taking place to fill this force.”

“But the president is not going to be in a position where he is going to consider a large scale, US military deployment,” he added. “And for those who are calling on a change in strategy, I would encourage them to be specific. I don’t think that they will find a lot of support on the part of the American people for a large-scale deployment of military resources to essentially re-invade Iraq—or invade Syria.* The president does not believe that would be in the best interests of the United States.”

Contrast the tone of the press secretary’s comments this afternoon to what two national security experts said earlier today in front of the Senate Armed Services committee. There is a very stark difference.

*Fact check: That's not necessarily true.

Illegal Alien Charged With Child Molestation and Pornography Able To Work With Kids Thanks to Obama Amnesty

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley has sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson demanding to know why an illegal alien who was working as a camp counselor, charged with child molestation and with distributing nearly 1000 images of child pornography, may have avoided deportation under President Obama's deferred action program (DACA). 

"This month, I write to you again about another potential DACA recipient who has allegedly distributed and possessed hundreds of images of child pornography and who has used his position at a summer camp, employment he may have legally obtained only with employment authorization he achieved as a DACA recipient, to molest and victimize the children he was tasked with helping. Recent press accounts have reported that Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla, a night counselor at a popular science camp in California was charged with sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy along with distribution and possession of child pornography. Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla allegedly applied for and received deferred action under the DACA program. On Monday, Covarrubias was charged with four felonies, which included possession and distribution of more than 600 child porn images and a charge for lewd and lascivious act with a child under 14," the letter states (bolding is mine). "The Santa Clara County Office of Education confirmed that Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla worked at two campsites over the past two years in various capacities that involved contact with children. According to news accounts, since this story broke last week, the Santa Clara Sheriff’s office has received over 100 calls and 50 emails from concerned parents. Reportedly, at least some of these calls are from parents who believe that their children were among Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla’s victims."

According to Grassley and cited whistleblowers, Covarrubias-Padilla was scheduled for deportation but approved for DACA and a work permit in October 2012. Further, it seems DHS was aware his heinous behavior and allowed him to stay in the country anyway, jeopardizing the safety and well being of the children he was working with. 

"Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla also allegedly filed an application for employment authorization in October of 2012 that was approved with validity until May of 2015. The Committee has received reports that on November 17, 2014, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed a note in Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla’s record that indicated that he was part of an ongoing investigation for exploiting children and distributing child pornography. Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla has been employed at the camp for the last two years," Grassley wrote (bolding is mine). "These allegations are deeply troubling because, if true, they suggest that DHS was aware for months or years that Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla posed a public safety threat to the children he was monitoring, yet took no action to revoke his DACA authorization. Of note, news sources have reported that the Santa Clara Sherriff’s Office initiated Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla’s arrest after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contacted them with concerns about Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla’s involvement in child exploitation and child pornography. These reports raise significant questions concerning the coordination of ICE and USCIS, in regards to DACA recipients. These allegations are particularly alarming because they suggest that Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla would not have been placed in a position to abuse and exploit children had DHS properly vetted DACA recipients."

Over the past two months, Grassley has written two letters to Secretary Johnson with inquiries about other criminal illegal aliens. Emanuel Rangel-Hernandez, who was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in North Carolina, and Jose Bojorquez who was recently charged with second degree murder. Rangel-Hernandez and Bojorquez were both scheduled for deportation but were able to staying in the United States thanks to, again, President Obama's DACA program.

Secretary Johnson has been asked to respond to a series of questions about Covarrubias-Padilla and how this happened by May 29.

Hmmm: Fox, CNN Announce Controversial GOP Debate Rules


"Controversial" because the networks are understandably trying to limit the number of participants, as to avoid unwieldy spectacles of 16 candidates trying to get a word in edgewise.  We touched on that concern earlier in the week.  Excluded or marginalized parties will inevitably cry foul ("the establishment is silencing my voice!" or what have you), whipping up anger among their supporters.  Would they have a point, or are Fox and CNN right to establish some boundaries?  The truth may lie somewhere in between, and we'll discuss arguments on both sides in a moment -- but first, here are the hosts' newly-announced ground rules, starting with Fox News:

Fox News announced guidelines Wednesday that will winnow the field of participants in the first Republican debate of the 2016 presidential campaign. The network will require contenders to place in the top 10 in an average of the five most recent national polls in the run-up to the event, narrowing what is expected to be a field of 16 or more by the Aug. 6 event in Cleveland. The rule could trigger an early rush of spending by lower-tier candidates seeking to boost their standing in national surveys before the pivotal first forum.

How would those regulations play out if the debate were held today?

It remains to be seen how many candidates will be included in the Fox News debate under the criteria, which could allow more than 10 participants if some are tied in the polls. The top?10 contenders in the five most recent national polls are former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, real estate tycoon Donald Trump and former Texas governor Rick Perry, according to a Washington Post analysis. Former U.S. senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are a fraction of a point behind Perry. Lagging behind those 12 are Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and former New York governor George Pataki.

Under this rubric, the clownish Donald Trump -- who'd actually have to formally declare a candidacy and file requisite paperwork, rather than publicly threaten to run to gain attention -- would make the cut, while a sitting governor (and a minority, for those who care about racial optics), a sitting senator, and the only woman in the race would be excluded.  Is that a desirable outcome for the party?  Fox says candidates who fail to make the cut will be afforded airtime on the day of the forum.  CNN is trying a two-tiered approach:

The CNN Republican primary debate on Sept. 16 will be divided into two parts featuring two different sets of candidates: those who rank in the top 10 according to public polling, and the remaining candidates who meet a minimum threshold of 1 percent in public polling, the On Media blog has learned. "The first 10 candidates – ranked from highest to lowest in polling order from an average of all qualifying polls released between July 16 and September 10 who satisfy the criteria requirements ... will be invited to participate in 'Segment B' of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate," the network states in its candidate criteria. "Candidates who satisfy the criteria and achieve an average of at least 1 percent in three national polls, but are not ranked in the top 10 of polling order will be invited to participate in 'Segment A' of the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Primary Debate." The network also stipulated that "if the number of candidates who qualify for the debate is 14 or fewer, CNN reserves the right to limit the number of participants in 'Segment B' to eight candidates. The remaining qualified candidates will be invited to participate in 'Segment A' of the debate."

So "segment B" is, in effect, the A-team; "segment A" of CNN's debate is already being dubbed the kids' table.  I'm quite sympathetic to the argument that constricting the number of participants, or shunting them into categories of viability, at this early stage is counter-productive.  How useful are national polls at the very beginning of the cycle, really?  Each candidate should be given an opportunity to advance his or her case under the bright lights near the beginning of the campaign season, this line of thinking goes, after which more concrete limitations based on public polling becomes more equitable.  Fair enough, but do attractive and feasible alternatives exist?  Allahpundit floats a series of one-on-one debates, which is great fun to consider, but simply isn't going to happen. DrewM recommends killing the traditional-format debates and replacing them with forums: "Just bring out each candidate and let them respond to two or three questions from a panel of conservative journalists and/or policy experts. Jim DeMint hosted one of these on Labor Day 2011 to great effect. There's no reason it can't be replicated."  Not a terrible plan, but I doubt any of the networks would play along.  The best compromise I've seen comes from Ace:

For one thing, this isn't a normal year. We have a lot of serious candidates. So do we stick with the usual, or do we adjust our practices to take into consideration the unusualness of this season? I think the latter. My proposal is that they split debate night into two panels, over two nights. (Or two panels on one night-- but that would be a long night, with around three hours total debate time plus time in between.) The top six in the polls would do a random draw to be split between the panels, three and three. Everyone else would do another random draw to determine which panel they'd be in. You'd end up having about 6-8 people per panel, which is a workable number.

Using the current RCP national average, the top six -- Bush, Walker, Rubio, Paul, Huckabee and Cruz -- would be randomly split evenly among the two panels, with all remaining qualified candidates being selected (again, randomly) to round out each bifurcated debate field.  Each debate is conducted independently, and could either air on the same night, or be held on back-to-back evenings.  Everyone would receive a reasonable amount of face time, viewers would learn about candidates with whom they're less familiar, and subsequent debate could be winnowed down using various methods.  Those who end up on the outside would still kick up a fuss, but they'd at least have had their shot.  Major changes seem unlikely at this point, but CNN's set-up would only have to be tweaked to accommodate this plan.  Fox's system is far less flexible, although I full expect the network's highly capable triumvirate of moderators -- Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace -- to do an excellent job.  One other point to those who are clamoring for elaborate changes to debate formats: Television is a business, and putting on these debates is quite expensive. Asking a network to pay for, and grant air time to, consecutive debates is no small thing.  And somebody is always going to be unhappy with the rules. The trick is to balance the public good, good television, airtime constraints, and the bottom line. It's a thorny calculus.

Editor's note: Guy Benson is a Fox News contributor.