Wow: 40 Percent of Driver's Licenses Given Out in California Last Year Went to Illegals

In January 2015, California officially approved a measure allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license in the Golden State. Some background: 

California on Friday will start taking driver's license applications from the nation's largest population of immigrants in the country illegally.

California officials say they can't predict how many people will line up immediately to apply, but the number of people making appointments for a license more than doubled when immigrants were allowed to sign up. Appointments are required to apply for a license except at four newly-created DMV offices.

California is one of 10 states that now provide licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. The licenses issued to immigrants without legal status will include a distinctive marking and are not considered a valid form of federal identification.

As a result, 40 percent of new driver's licenses issued last year went to people living in the country illegally.

Since California implemented Assembly Bill 60 last January, an estimated 605,000 driver’s licenses were issued to undocumented immigrants in the Golden State, with 400,000 of these licenses issued during the first six months of 2015.
The licenses have “federal limits apply” printed on them – meaning that federal officials and law enforcement officers in other states are not required to accept them as a valid form of identification.  

Opponents to issuing illegal immigrants driver's licenses argue not only does the practice overload the system, but it gives people in the country illegally, violating federal law, an advantage and privilege that should be reserved for those who go through the proper legal channels for residency or citizenship.

Dixville Notch Votes: Kasich, Sanders Win Respective Primaries

Dixville Notch, a small unincorporated community of nine registered voters nestled in New Hampshire's White Mountains, is the first place in the state to vote during each election. The midnight voting tradition dates back to 1960, making it the longest continuous streak of midnight voting in the country. While two other small New Hampshire communities will also vote at midnight this year, Dixville Notch's teeny-tiny election has the most notoriety and is referred to as the first vote in the nation.

This year's results: A close win for John Kasich over Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders demolished Hillary Clinton.

Polls in the rest of New Hampshire close at 7:00 p.m., and it will certainly be interesting to see if this tiny community is an accurate barometer of the state's politics.

UPDATE: The Kasich camp is pretty stoked by this victory:

FBI: Yeah, We’re Looking Into Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Server

Katie or Guy will have more on this in the coming days, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation has publicly stated that they’re looking into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and that it’s an ongoing process. They wouldn’t give specifics. Such confirmation was made public after Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit over release of the Clinton emails (via The Hill):

The FBI formally confirmed that its investigation connected to Hillary Clinton’s private email server remains ongoing in a letter released on Monday.

The letter from FBI general counsel James Baker comes one day before the New Hampshire primary.

The message does not offer new details about the probe, which the bureau has been reluctant to discuss. However, it represents the FBI’s formal notification to the State Department that it is investigating the issue.

Since last September, “in public statements and testimony, the Bureau has acknowledged generally that it is working on matters related to former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server,” Baker wrote to the State Department.

“The FBI has not, however, publicly acknowledged the specific focus, scope, or potential targets of any such proceedings.

“Thus … we remain unable [to] provide [details about the case] without adversely affecting on-going law enforcement efforts,” he concluded.

The letter was sent on Feb. 2 but released on Monday as part of an ongoing lawsuit related to the disclosure of Clinton’s emails from conservative watchdog Judicial Watch.

There’s been a lot of talk about indictments handed down over Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal server, which had classified information sent through it. Twenty-two recent emails are so sensitive that they’re not being made public, and the former first lady’s position was made more precarious (or at least to it should) when it was discovered that she had instructed a staffer to remove the classified markers on a document and send it unsecure. CIA informants and deep cover agents were possibly exposed through the server.

Updates are sure to follow.

Obama’s $10–a-Barrel Oil Tax Will Do Nothing To Fix Infrastructure–And It Could Mess With Hillary

President Obama is planning $300 billion in infrastructure and other green energy-related projects over the next ten years, which is part of a string of last minute budget requests that have zero chance of passing Congress. The president's plan to pay for it all: a $10-a-barrel oil tax (via Politico):

The biggest chunk of Obama’s proposed new spending, about $20 billion a year—roughly equivalent to the EPA and Interior Department budgets combined—would go to “enhanced transportation options,” especially alternatives to driving and flying. That would include subways, buses, light rail, freight rail modernization projects, and a major expansion of the high-speed rail initiative that Obama launched in his 2009 stimulus bill. It would also include a 150 percent increase for a more popular stimulus program known as TIGER, which provides competitive grants for multi-modal transportation projects with measurable economic and environmental benefits.

Obama’s plan will also include about $10 billion a year to encourage local, regional and state governments to plan and build smarter infrastructure projects, including incentives to reduce carbon emissions through land-use planning, public transit, electric-vehicle charging, and other strategies. There would be a Climate Smart Fund to reward states that make greener choices with existing federal dollars, as well as competitive grant programs to promote region-wide planning, more livable cities, and infrastructure projects with greater resilience to climate impacts.

Finally, Obama will call for more than $2 billion in annual investments in clean transportation research and development, including efforts to deploy self-driving cars, charging stations for electric vehicles, greener airplanes, and other climate-friendly technologies.

As with most policies emanating from this administration, it won’t nearly be enough to ameliorate America’s infrastructure woes (via Wired):

The new law “falls far short of the level needed to improve conditions and meet the nation’s mobility needs and fails to deliver a sustainable, long-term source of revenue,” according to Trip, a private nonprofit research think tank. Last year, Trip found that clearing the epic backlog of repairs to roads, highways, and bridges would cost $740 billion. Even Obama’s relatively aggressive proposal doesn’t get there. According to The Washington Post, once the tax is fully phased in, it will generate about $65 billion annually—but not all of that is going toward infrastructure repair. And even if it were, we’re looking at more than a decade just to fix the stuff that’s broken now.

And it could screw Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail:

…[B]y raising the specter of new taxes on fossil fuels, it could create a political quandary for Democrats. The fee could add as much as 25 cents a gallon to the cost of gasoline, and even with petroleum prices at historic lows, the proposal could be particularly awkward for Hillary Clinton, who has embraced most of Obama’s policies but has also vowed to oppose any tax hikes on families earning less than $250,000 a year.

Hillary’s proposed agenda for America is projected to cost us $1 trillion in new spending. The promise of tax hikes not being impacting families who make less than $250k is also a long lost promise; Obama included a cigarette tax to pay for State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Also, there’s the Obamacare tax slapped on those who remain uninsured under the new Affordable Care Act. More Americans are remaining uninsured since paying that tax is often cheaper than paying the premiums for the plans under Obamacare. Oh, and premiums are set to spike just before Election Day.

Infrastructure is part of the economy; it’s in bad shape. The president has a plan, albeit a bad one, to fix it–and you can bet that the press will be asking her if she would undertake a gas tax to pay for such projects if she’s elected come November. Additionally, does she support the president’s dead on arrival tax hike?

Yes, this policy could spur debate, which seems to be the intention, but it could also allow voters (and the media) to ask her about how she would pay for her own infrastructure agenda as well. Yet, given the hollow promises of no tax increase for the middle class made by Democrats, you can bet that Clinton will duck, dive, dip, and dodge on this gas tax question to further avoid alienating voters. Either way, it could end up being a pickle for her, as she would have to defend a tax and spend policy that usually doesn't turn out well for Democrats. Not to mention, detrimentally impact millions the home budgets of millions of hard working Americans who will have to eat the tax.

Speaker Paul Ryan was quite adamant that this proposal is a non-starter.

"Once again, the president expects hardworking consumers to pay for his out of touch climate agenda. A $10 tax for every barrel of oil produced would raise energy prices—hurting poor Americans the most. This announcement, the latest in a series of regulatory attacks on the energy sector, proves President Obama is still on a mission to destroy a major backbone of the U.S. economy. The president should be proposing policies to grow our economy instead of sacrificing it to appease progressive climate activists. The good news is this plan is little more than an election-year distraction. As this lame-duck president knows, it's dead on arrival in Congress, because House Republicans are committed to affordable American energy and a strong U.S. economy."

Dear Beyonce

Congratulations on your successful Super Bowl Halftime show. It was many things to many people, but it certainly wasn't a transparent political hit job designed to perpetuate the lies and influence of the Black Lives Matter movement. I want to share with you a very simple solution I have developed that solves the problem of police shootings in the United States. While it may not work in every single situation, this one weird trick for every citizen would prevent the vast majority of officer involved shootings. Enjoy.


           Sincerely, 

-Leigh Wolf  

In Bloom: Former NYC Mayor Says He Might Enter 2016 Race

Oh, here we go; former New York City Mayor, and rabid gun control advocate, Michael Bloomberg hasn’t changed his stance from last month on a possible presidential bid. He’s only made it public (via the Hill):

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said publicly for the first time that he is considering a 2016 presidential run.

Bloomberg told the Financial Times for a story published Monday that he was "looking at all the options" regarding a bid.

“I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” Bloomberg told the newspaper, saying the public deserved "a lot better."

The Hill added that the billionaire has an early March deadline for setting up an exploratory committee, and could set aside more than $1 billion of his own money to fund the effort. GOP pollster Frank Luntz suggested in January, that if Bloomberg should toss his hat into the ring–there is an avenue of victory for him.

In one match-up, Bloomberg receives 29 percent of the vote, compared to Republican primary front-runner Donald Trump’s 37 percent support and Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton’s 33 percent support.

In a race against Clinton and Republican primary hopeful Ted Cruz, Bloomberg receives 28 percent of the vote, compared to Clinton’s 37 percent and Cruz’s 35 percent.

And in a scenario in which Republican primary hopeful Marco Rubio wins his party's nomination, Bloomberg receives 28 percent of the vote, compared to Rubio’s 38 percent and Clinton’s 35 percent.

These results, according to Luntz, give Bloomberg a real shot at mounting a successful White House run.

“The key takeaway? There’s more than a political lane available to the former mayor; it’s an interstate highway,” he said.

Former Mexican President: Yeah, We're Not Going To Pay For That Wall

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon mocked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's claim that Mexico will pay to build a wall on the U.S. border.

From CNBC:

The GOP presidential hopeful insisted in October that if elected, he would build a wall aloing the Mexican border and get Mexico to pay for it. But Calderon, Mexico's president from 2006 to 2012, told CNBC on Saturday that there was no way that Mexico would pay for it.

"Mexican people, we are not going to pay any single cent for such a stupid wall! And it's going to be completely useless," Calderon said.

"The first loser of such a policy would be the United States," he said. "If this guy pretends that closing the borders to anywhere either for trade (or) for people is going to provide prosperity to the United States, he is completely crazy."

Despite Trump's repeated claims that Mexico will build the wall (and pay for it), he has offered vague explanations as to how this would actually happen.

NARAL Freaks Out Over Doritos Super Bowl Commercial 'Humanizing Fetuses'

If you were one of the millions of Americans who watched Super Bowl 50 Sunday night, you likely noticed two baby-themed ads in the first quarter. One, the “Super Bowl Babies Choir,” was a heartwarming pro-family ad about how winning cities see a rise in births nine months after a Super Bowl victory.

The other was a Doritos ad featuring a mother getting an ultrasound, her Dorito-munching husband, and the baby on the monitor, which eagerly reaches for the Dorito as the husband holds it closer. Eventually, the mother gets upset and throws the chip across the room. The baby then propels itself out of the womb to go after the chip.

You might’ve laughed, you may have thought it was weird, but it’s unlikely you got as upset over it as pro-choice group NARAL did.

#NotBuyingIt - that @Doritos ad using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses & sexist tropes of dads as clueless & moms as uptight. #SB50

— NARAL (@NARAL) February 8, 2016

Newsflash, NARAL: Fetuses always turn into babies, thereby making them human from the moment of conception. The source of their outrage is likely because ultrasounds have been one of the most important technological advancements that has helped the pro-life movement, and thus saved countless babies from abortion. Thus, showing an ultrasound on one of the most-watched television events annually does not help their ‘cause.’

As for the first commercial about the spike in births in winning cities, NARAL’s Ohio branch sent out a tweet suggesting women get on birth control.

More Super Bowl babies?!?! Get thee an IUD! #MediaWeLike

— NARAL ProChoice Ohio (@ProChoiceOH) February 8, 2016

In a follow-up tweet, however, the group insisted they liked the ad (and babies!) because they tagged it #MediaWeLike. Could’ve fooled me. 

That's Rich: Bill Clinton Accuses Sanders Supporters Of Being Sexist

Christine wrote about Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's complete lack of self-awareness over her tweet mocking the GOP for hiding their New Hampshire debate on a weekend, or something. Now, we have Bill Clinton accusing Sanders supporters of sexism. Folks, you just can’t make this up (via Time):

Bill Clinton did not mince words when it came to his wife’s Democratic rival at an event in New Hampshire on Sunday.

At an event in Milford, the former President blasted Sen. Bernie Sanders’ positions on health care, his assertion that Hillary Clinton is a part of the establishment during his fiercest attack on the candidate ahead of Tuesday’s pivotal primary.

“When you’re making a revolution you can’t be too careful with the facts,” Clinton said, the New York Times reports.

[…]

Clinton also called attention to a collection of male Sanders supporters dubbed ‘Bernie bros’ who launch vitriolic attacks on Clinton supporters online in solidarity with the Senator’s cause. Though the Sanders campaign has distanced itself from the “bros,” Clinton suggested that Sanders supporters made it difficult for women to speak freely about his wife’s campaign online.

Bloggers “who have gone online to defend Hillary, to explain why they supported her, have been subject to vicious trolling and attacks that are literally too profane often, not to mention sexist, to repeat,” Clinton said Sunday.

Even Gawker found Bill to be the last person who should be making claims about sexism in politics:

True as these claims may be, Bill Clinton—you know, the guy who screwed his intern—is probably not the right guy to be making them. It’s also not hard to remember what happened when Bill attacked Barack Obama in 2008, calling his campaign “the biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen.” Video of Bill delivering that choice comment was all over the news for weeks, and it didn’t do much to actually help Hillary’s campaign.

It’s not the only thing falling flat. Bill might be losing his edge on the campaign trail; his ability to communicate and energize democrats–the secret weapon–might be fading, providing yet another indicator that the Clinton-era of American politics is coming to an end. Such observations were made during Iowa (via NYT):

He seemed perfunctory, looked gaunt, didn’t seem to captivate the crowd,” said Jon Ralston, a veteran political commentator in Nevada, who attended the Las Vegas event last Friday. “I have seen him speak many times, and he just didn’t seem to be the same guy. He could still summon stats and an anecdote or two, but not with the same verve.”

Mr. Clinton still shows flashes of brilliance. On Wednesday night, he acknowledged the appeal of the fractious Republican race in one breath, then eviscerated its candidates in the next.

“It may be entertaining, but it doesn’t have a lick of impact on how you live,” Mr. Clinton said, emphasizing those last three words and pausing between each one.

It is still early enough in the race for Mr. Clinton to warm up. (And he can take some time to warm up.) A more subdued Bill Clinton may not be such a bad thing either, say some Democrats, who cringe as they recall the distraction of his piping-hot words about Barack Obama in the 2008 race.

Yet the Clinton of lore, the once-in-a generation political natural who fought back to win his party’s nomination in 1992 and came through in clutch moments with great speeches over the years, has yet to appear.

New Hampshire votes tomorrow; it’s just a question of how bad Clinton loses to Sanders.

Obama Sees No Cause for Panic Over Zika, Yet Asks for Nearly $2 Billion in Emergency Funds

The Zika virus, which originated in Brazil, now has several confirmed cases in the United States. The infection has forced thousands of people to cancel their travel plans and is even threatening to disrupt the summer Olympic games in Rio De Janeiro. Yet, President Obama is trying assure Americans that the virus is not as scary as it sounds. 

Zika is spread through mosquito bites and causes fever-like symptoms, yet only in rare cases does it require hospitalization. During an interview with CBS this Sunday, Obama insisted there is no cause for alarm and that the threat is nowhere near as serious as Ebola:

 "There shouldn't be panic on this. This is not something where people are going to die from it. It is something we have to take seriously," he said.

Yet, that doesn’t mean the president isn’t taking precautionary measures.

President Obama will ask Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus through mosquito control programs, vaccine research, education and improving health care for low-income pregnant women, the White House said Monday.

As for where the money is going to come from, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Congress will “have to work out” how to pay for the funding.

In the same CBS interview, Obama reiterated how Zika pales in comparison to the severity of contracting Ebola, yet he did note that pregnant women are especially at risk:

"The good news is this is not like Ebola. People don't die of Zika. A lot of people get it and don't even know that they have it," Obama said. "What we now know, though, is that there appears to be some significant risk for pregnant women or women who are thinking about getting pregnant."

The nations of Colombia, EcuadorEl Salvador and Jamaica all urged women to delay pregnancy, noting the high rate of birth defects in Brazil, reports USA Today.

If we are spending $2 billion on the effort to combat Zika, is the president dangerously downplaying the threat?

So Much For 'Hiding': GOP Debate Ratings Highest for 2016, Crush Democratic Debate

On Saturday, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz invented the holiday of Super Bowl Eve and accused the RNC of attempting to "hide" their debate in the buildup to the big game.

As it turns out, Republicans are terrible hiders: the debate drew 13.2 million viewers, and was the highest-rated debate of 2016.

Conversely, the hastily-planned, last-minute DNC debate, on a weekday, drew about a third of that total: 4.5 million viewers, the lowest of any debate by any party this election cycle.

In response to the pushback to her accusation that the Republicans were trying to hide their debate during a football game (something she'd be familiar with considering the Democrats literally did just that) Wasserman Schultz tweeted an odd claim that her party's debates "set viewer records."

Perhaps she means record lows?

November Surprise: Obamacare Rate Hikes to Hit Just Before Election


One of the biggest reasons why Congressional Republicans' successful effort to defund the so-called Obamacare bailouts to insurers was so important -- aside from saving taxpayers billions, of course -- is that it guarantees voters will feel the law's impact in 2016. The "risk corridor" programs were designed to use taxpayer dollars to paper over insurers' Obamacare-related losses early on in the program, in order to delay the inevitable reckoning on costs and rates. The new, more transparent reality is that many Americans will learn of their new premium increases just before heading to the polls in November. The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein has the details:

In trying to stave off a challenge from socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has whole-heartedly embraced Obamacare, promising to build on it. "Before it was called Obamacare, it was called Hillarycare," she has been saying regularly on the campaign trail. She'll own Obamacare and its problems going into the general election assuming she's the nominee, and according to the schedule put out by HHS, insurers who wish to participate in Obamacare will have to submit their initial rates in the late spring. After back and forth with HHS over the summer, they'll start to become finalized in the fall. That means for months leading up to the election, voters are going to be hearing more and more about staggering rate increases coming in 2017. And this year, open enrollment – when individuals shopping for insurance can start to go online and see the premiums on new plans -- begins on Nov. 1, or just one week before the election. This means that for the months, weeks, and days leading up to the election, the Democratic presidential nominee and all of the party's Congressional candidates are going to have to contend with news of sky-rocking rates coming from Obamacare as insurers struggle to make the business profitable. Considering that Republicans owe their current House and Senate majorities to Obamacare, this should be a scary thought for Democrats.

Yes, Obamacare is Hillary care -- and yes, she's doubling-down on its failure as a means of bludgeoning Bernie Sanders' unaffordable single-payer fantasy. Klein runs through additional indicators of Obamacare's "rocky start" to 2016:

On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that fewer than 13 million individuals signed up for Obamacare plans for 2016. Though the administration is trying to argue that this 12.7 million number beat expectations, nobody is buying it...This is significantly lower than the 21 million individuals the Congressional Budget Office initially projected the law would signup in 2016, below the downwardly revised 13 million CBO projection, and effectively flat from a year ago. Perhaps even more significant than the headline number, HHS also revealed that just 28 percent of those who signed up for coverage are between the ages of 18 and 34 – which is the same proportion as last year, and well south of the 40 percent target that HHS said was crucial to the exchanges remaining viable...During the initial botched launch of Obamacare in late 2013 and early 2014, there was a theoretical debate about whether the risk pool would be stable. But that is no longer theoretical. Insurers have now had a chance to look at actual claims data from Obamacare enrollees, and it isn't encouraging for insurers.

Because of these low enrollment numbers and older, sicker risk pools, an adverse selection problem is developing. This, in turn, is costing (non-bailed-out) insurers, some of whom are hinting that they'll exit the marketplace. Because of the law's additional provisions, premiums are continuing to increase, often sharply; a central political promise destroyed. And it's not just the rising rates that are the problem. For many consumers, the worst part of this raw deal is the sticker shock of unaffordable out-of-pocket costs that must be paid out before insurance coverage even kicks in. The New York Times reports:

Deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing have been creeping up in the United States since the late 1990s. A typical employer health plan now asks an individual to pay more than $1,000 out of pocket before coverage kicks in for most services. The most popular plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges require customers to pay several times as much. Even Medicare charges deductibles...The other problem with high deductibles is the obvious one: Many Americans simply do not have the savings to afford them. In partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, we recently conducted a survey of Americans struggling with their medical bills. A substantial fraction of them could not pay their deductibles and were left with tough choices about how to cut thousands of dollars from their household budgets to pay for health care. For those people, deductibles often seem like an unfair trick, or a feature that makes insurance worthless. More than 3,000 readers wrote us about that medical debt article, many deploring high deductible health plans that had put them in financial distress.

The "Affordable" Care Act forces people to pay for very expensive coverage that they can't even use until they blow through thousands in out-of-pocket expenses, which they already can't afford.  According to the Kaiser study referenced in the piece, 62 percent of those who says they can't pay their medical bills are insured.  I'll leave you with the healthcare portion of Saturday night's debate, in which Donald Trump dissembled his way through a clumsy answer trying to explain why his vision for universal, government-paid-for healthcare doesn't place him closer to Bernie Sanders than even Hillary Clinton on this issue:



Seeing Red: Clinton Considers Axing Staff In New Hampshire

Hillary Clinton, the prohibitive nominee for the Democratic Party, barely pulled through in Iowa, and is expected to be slaughtered by her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), in New Hampshire by double-digits. It should come as no surprise that Hillary isn’t too pleased; mulling whom to possibly cut pending her more than likely defeat tomorrow night. Yet, the street goes both ways. Politico published a piece today, which used mostly unnamed sources, that indicated the Clinton staff is equally frustrated, especially with how the former first lady dragged her feet on the email controversy. Yet, Clinton could just add more staffers to make the ones she has a problem with irrelevant, but let's not kid ourselves about her potentially axing a few folks. After all, as the publication added, there was going to be some sort of Red Wedding event if Clinton lost New Hampshire back in 2008:

“The Clintons are not happy, and have been letting all of us know that,” said one Democratic official who speaks regularly to both. “The idea is that we need a more forward-looking message, for the primary – but also for the general election too… There’s no sense of panic, but there is an urgency to fix these problems right now.”

[…]

The focus of their dissatisfaction in recent days is the campaign’s top pollster and strategist Joel Benenson, whom one Clinton insider described as being “on thin ice,” as the former first couple vented its frustrations about messaging following Clinton’s uncomfortably close 0.25 percent win in last week’s caucuses. Benenson, multiple staffers and operatives say, has been equally frustrated with the Clintons’ habit of tapping a rolling cast of about a dozen outside advisers – who often have the candidate’s ear outside the official channels of communication.

The result is a muddled all-the-above messaging strategy that emphasizes different messages – and mountains of arcane policy proposals – in stark contrast to Bernie Sanders’ punchy and relentless messaging on income inequality.

[…]

But from the beginning, there have been deeper issues simmering within the cheerfully-decorated Brooklyn headquarters -- and much of that had to do with a disconnect between the candidate and her campaign. Over the summer while her campaign was bogged down in the email controversy, Clinton was deeply frustrated with her own staff, and vice versa. The candidate blamed her team for not getting her out of the mess quickly, and her team blamed Clinton for being stubbornly unwilling to take the advice of campaign chairman John Podesta and others to apologize, turn over her server, and move on. The entire experience made her a deeply vulnerable frontrunner out of the gate, and underscored a lack of trust between Clinton and her operatives, many of whom were former Obama staffers that she didn't consider part of her inner circle of trust.

As with many situations with the Clintons, the drama level is high. It’s a soap opera. And from these reports, a loose confederacy of top dogs botching the messaging, which probably explains why she’s gone down in the polls–along with why she’ll have trouble getting out. Last August, the Des Moines Register noted that her support had dropped by a third–and that the old Obama coalition seemed to be drifting to Sanders. A disorganized staff, coupled with a candidate who is already  a bad campaigner, is a recipe for lackluster results, which is what we’re seeing.

Yet, this staff shakeup also seems to show signs that Clinton is thinking of her firewall in the South, where the electorate is more diverse and favorable to her. By the numbers, she should be able to trounce Sanders onward from South Carolina primary, but this double-digit blowout might have her preparing a shake up just in case some more cracks in her firewall appear in the days to come. Regardless, while some might note how Trump has caused chaos in the GOP primary, Democrats have a fragile frontrunner and a disheveled democratic socialist with horrible ideas vying to be the left’s standard-bearer this year.

Chris Christie Not Afraid to 'Get on One Knee' for a Vote

Governor Chris Christie was in New Hampshire Monday campaigning for the GOP primary on Tuesday and was willing to do just about anything to get one woman's vote.  

At one point during his town hall event in Hudson, New Hampshire, a woman introduced herself as an undecided voter who was leaning toward supporting him but wasn’t quite convinced.  The New Jersey governor proceeded to kneel down on one knee, proposal-style, and ask for her vote.

"I hope she votes for me. I’ve got dirt all over my pants,” Christie said after listening to her.

Christie gave the woman his plans to cut the Social Security debt which includes eliminating Social Security benefits for Americans who bring in more than $200,000 per year in retirement.

"Do you need a $1,200 Social Security check a month if you're making $200,000 a year in retirement?  I don't think so," Christie said.   

After Getting Police Escort, Beyonce Spews Black Lives Matter Message at Super Bowl

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was no fan of the Super Bowl 50 halftime show – particularly the part where Beyoncé showed up. Appearing on “Fox and Friends” Monday morning, he was outraged that the artist clearly used her performance to convey an anti-police message. Her backup dancers, it appeared, were dressed as members of the Black Panther Party. Fox News offers a detailed explanation of their controversial outfits:

Clad in a black leotard with a gold embellished jacket, Beyoncé was flanked by dancers who sported afros and black berets, reportedly in reference to the Black Panther Party. Beyoncé’s outfit was also a nod to Michael Jackson.

The dancers also appeared to make a symbol that paid tribute to Malcolm X.

Giuliani responded to her performance by insisting politics has no place on the football field:

"Can't you [the Super Bowl organizers] figure out who you're putting on? I mean this is a political position, she's probably going to take advantage of it. You're talking to middle America when you have the Super Bowl, so you can have entertainment. Let's have, you know, decent wholesome entertainment, and not use it as a platform to attack the people who, you know, put their lives at risk to save us."

The controversy actually began a day before Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance, when she released the music video for her new single, “Formation.” The video appeared to make references to the Black Lives Matter movement and featured a young man who resembled Trayvon Martin, an African-American male killed by George Zimmerman in Florida a few years ago. In 2013, a jury acquitted Zimmerman of any wrongdoing, ruling he had acted in self-defense. The decision resulted in rioting and looting. Similar scenarios played out in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland, where angry rioters threatened police and torched their cities.

Citizens have no right to act like criminals when a court case doesn’t go their way. Yet, this appears to be exactly the kind of behavior Black Lives Matter encourages. Katie wrote an important piece on the controversial movement last year, equating it to a “racist, violent hate group” that promotes cop killing. She had plenty of evidence to back up her claim.

One final point: “Fox and Friends” host Anna Kooiman noted that Beyoncé “got a police escort there” before she saluted the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Female Bernie Sanders Fans Are Angry At Being Told It's "Their Duty" To Support Hillary Clinton

Women who consider themselves to be supporters of Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are none to please with suggestions by prominent feminist Gloria Steinem and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that they are betraying their gender for not supporting Hillary Clinton.

Appearing on HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher, Steinem said that younger women, while more feminist and involved in activism than older women, were flocking to Sanders over Clinton because more boys were supporters of Sanders and they wanted to be around men.

"They're going to get more activist as they get older," Steinem said. "And when you're young, you're thinking, 'Where are the boys?' The boys are with Bernie."

Steinem later apologized for the comment on her Facebook page.

In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what's been...

Posted by Gloria Steinem on Sunday, February 7, 2016

The next day, Albright, speaking at a Clinton rally, said there was a "special place in hell" for women who don't help each other.

Needless to say, many Sanders supporters were not thrilled with the idea that they were somehow being a bad woman or bad feminist by not supporting Clinton, and found Albright and Steinem's remarks to be incredibly condescending.

We are canvassing in New Hampshire for Bernie not to impress boys, but to make a difference #nothereforboys #feministsforbernie

Posted by Millennials For Bernie Sanders on Sunday, February 7, 2016

Why I’m one of the #feministsforbernie — and I won't apologize for it! https://t.co/ODpCzRnChW from @EcoSexuality pic.twitter.com/l2b1gxhvsF

— Jewish Daily Forward (@jdforward) February 8, 2016

While I'm the furthest thing from a Sanders supporter, as a woman who is involved in politics and has been involved for a long time, I'd be equally as angry as these women are if someone told me that I was only supporting a candidate in order to attract the male gaze. That's the opposite of feminist thought, and it's a sign of how desperate the Clinton camp is getting.

Would Sanders Have Won Iowa If He Attacked Hillary On Her Email Fiasco?

The Iowa Democratic Caucus last Monday night was a shambles, with the Des Moines Register calling on the state’s Democratic Party to order an audit of the precinct that reportedly had irregular tallies. The Iowan Democratic Party initially rejected calls to review the totals, but relented over the weekend. They’ve since been revised, with Clinton again eking out a win (via The Hill):

The Iowa Democratic Party on Sunday updated the results of the Iowa caucuses after discovering discrepancies in the tallies at five precincts, but the final outcome remains unchanged.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton still places first in the caucuses with 700.47 state delegate equivalents, or 49.84 percent, the party said in a statement.

Primary rival Bernie Sanders comes in second with 696.92 state delegate equivalents, or 49.59 percent.

The total net change gives Sanders an additional 0.1053 state delegate equivalents and strips Clinton of 0.122 state delegate equivalents.

Would have hitting Hillary over her email controversy put him over the top? It’s hard to see how it wouldn’t have given the close voter totals, coupled with the excitement and energy drifting towards the Sanders camp in this primary. Additionally, it’s the most visible, and highly publicized, flaw the Clinton camp has in this election cycle. As the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote prior to the Caucuses:

Clinton had long maintained that the leaks of information regarding classified information on her private email server were largely the result of an overzealous intelligence community and part of a broader interagency spat. State finding the same thing that the intelligence community had found regarding what was on Clinton's server suggests that her narrative has been disrupted in a serious way.

On its face, the State Department news seems like just the sort of thing that might tip wavering Iowa Democrats to Sanders's side. In fact, the email issue plays into a broader general-election argument that Sanders has been making in the closing weeks before the Iowa caucuses: That he is a stronger general-election candidate than Clinton.

[…]

Politics is about contrasts. For Sanders, the mishegas surrounding Clinton's email server is a perfect way to remind people of their doubts and worries about going back to the Clinton way of politics — and to cast himself as a new and different kind of pol. (Yes, it's weird that a 74-year-old man is the "new" kind of politician, but for Sanders it sells.)

He chose not to do that — at least not directly. If Sanders comes up short in Iowa, expect there to be some significant second-guessing in his campaign over that fateful decision.

His colleague, Greg Sargent, argued that if Sanders went after Clinton’s emails–he would undercut a core part of his campaign’s narrative:

The Sanders candidacy is premised on the idea that our political system is failing people in a very profound and fundamental way — that it has been rendered paralyzed in the face of the immense challenges the country faces. For Sanders, the political media’s obsession with the Clinton email story simply represents another way in which our system is broken so irrevocably that it is incapable of addressing those challenges.

[…]

Now, I don’t claim to know whether Sanders’s decision to refrain from attacking Clinton’s email setup is entirely rooted in a principled adherence to this broader story he’s trying to tell. For all I know, if Sanders doesn’t win Iowa, and if his candidacy looks like it’s in some trouble, perhaps he will begin going after her emails, to undermine her integrity and case for electability. But it’s hard to see how he could do this without diluting one of the ingredients most crucial to giving his candidacy the power it has gathered, particularly given that his own previous handling of the email story has transformed it into a massive symbol of everything he’s running against.

Sanders barely lost Iowa, and he’s poised to win big in New Hampshire. But we shall see if this truce over the emails last when the Democratic primary takes a cruise into the south, where Sanders isn’t well known. And where Clinton has an apparent lock on black Democratic primary voters. This is her firewall.

Yet, there could be an area where Sanders could go after Hillary incredibly hard if he’s serious about winning: her donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Sen. Sanders has questioned Hillary’s progressive bona fides since she has a super PAC and takes donations from Wall Street. He noted in the last Democratic debate before the primary how certain policies may have certainly been influenced by large donations from certain industries. There are plenty of instances where Clinton has changed her mind on trade policy after donations were made to the Clinton Foundation, rewarded nations with arms deals after checks to the Foundation were cut, and other interests giving Bill millions for paid speeches, who also had “matters before Mrs. Clinton’s State Department” at the time. Granted, the latter example is more of an ethical question, but the timing of donations and good things happening to the party handing over the check certainly poses a serious question about whether Clinton is truly independent.

If Bernie doesn’t think that there’s anything fishy about these donations, their consequences, and the ethical questions relating to the Foundation, then he’s not serious about winning. Yes, it’s not in the news as often as Mrs. Clinton’s email drama… yet. It should be. And if it doesn’t become as hot a topic as Hillary’s emails, then we’ve opened another area of media scrutiny.

Video: Personal Stories, Powerful Answers at GOP Debate


One critical political metric on which Democrats often vastly outperform Republicans pertains to the question of caring about people. This so-called 'empathy gap' is a major explanatory factor behind Barack Obama's re-election victory over Mitt Romney, and it's one of several reasons why Hillary Clinton is a risky bet for Democrats in 2016, beyond the email scandal and ethical struggles. Maybe the GOP is finally starting to learn and adapt. At Saturday's Republican debate, several candidates gave outstanding answers related to policy matters that were very personal in nature, and even emotionally moving. Connecting with voters requires making policy points while appealing to people's hearts. Here are four examples of Republicans achieving this balance in front of millions of viewers:

(1) Ted Cruz on drug addiction. Cruz, who is sometimes criticized for being too slick and calculating, opened up on a very personal level in his discussion of the impact of drug addiction on his family. He spoke about the tragic case of his half-sister, who died of an overdose, and tied her story into his signature issue of border control. I can tell you that you could hear a pin drop in the debate's media filing center as Cruz relayed this heartbreaking story:


(2) Rubio on his brother's struggles with the VA.  The Republican field as a whole offered a much more substantive and forward-looking discussion of the VA's failures than the Democrats did on Thursday night.  While Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders defended a failed status quo, lobbing disingenuous grenades at Republicans and attacking the Koch brothers (!) in their responses, Republicans talked about the importance of solving problems and guaranteeing veterans strong options for care.  Marco Rubio personalized the issue by raising an example about his brother, who has battled the VA for decades over simple dental care arising from an accident suffered while he was serving with the US Army's special forces:


In spite of all the talk about Rubio's repetition debacle during the Christie confrontation, Rubio citation of his brother's situation was by far the most Googled event of the debate, from any candidate. Cruz's story about his sister came in second:


The Washington Post  writes that after Google released search trends in New Hampshire alone, "Rubio dominated during the second half of the debate, where he performed much better. The media (like me) makes a lot out of fights like the one he had with Christie. But voters maybe are paying less attention to it."  Team Marco undoubtedly hopes that's the case.  But look at that chart again.  For all the buzzy media moments on Saturday night, the two events after which the most Americans opened up their browsers to seek more information about a candidate occurred when Rubio and Cruz spoke about their siblings, tying those anecdotes to serious national problems.

(3) Chris Christie on raising his daughters.  In the context of a question about women registering for the draft (on which Bush, Rubio and Christie seemed to be in agreement, prompting a strong Cruz dissent after the debate), the New Jersey governor described the values he and his wife have instilled in their two daughters:


(4) Donald Trump on the perils of negotiating with terrorists. In one of his best answers of the night, Donald Trump handled a difficult question about the appropriateness of ISIS hostage relatives raising ransom money for in an effort to save their loved ones with deftness, compassion, and conviction. He cited his personal relationship with the family of beheading victim James Foley, praising them to the hilt, before stating the principled case for why negotiating with terrorists is a dangerous idea (the key piece starts at the 1:45 mark):


Voter behavior, often to conservatives' consternation, is frequently dictated by how candidates make people feel, not hard statistics or empirical data. The political sweet spot for Republicans is to convey their ideas and policy cases on the latter front after or while they arrest people's attention and demonstrate their own humanity on the former.   These clips show how it can be done.

Hypocrisy: Democrats Blasted Cost Of Benghazi Committee, But Gave Staffers Thousands In Bonuses

The House Democrats on the Select Committee On Benghazi have wasted $2 million obstructing the body’s investigation into the 2012 terrorist attack that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead. Thus far, the Democrats on the committee have not called one member of the Obama administration to testify, nor have they requested any documents from the administration for review. Now, after complaining about the committee’s cost, it’s been reported that these very Democrats have doled out tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses to staffers (via Fox News):

Democrats on the House committee probing the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks awarded tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses to their staff, while at the same time repeatedly attacking Republicans over the rising cost of the investigation.

According to publicly available reports, a total of $33,600 was given to six Democratic staffers at the end of 2014 and 2015.

While the bonuses make up only a fraction of the panel's total expenses to date, critics suggested they undermine the minority members' complaints about the budget.

[…]

Democrats complain the committee’s investigation, established in May 2014, has gone on longer than the 9/11 Commission's review of the 2001 terror attacks and have accused Republicans of using the committee as a political weapon to attack Democratic 2016 front-runner Hillary Clinton -- who was secretary of state at the time of the Benghazi attacks.

And they have been relentless in describing the investigation as a waste of money, even including a “Benghazi Spending Tracker” on their website. The total taxpayer tab is now at nearly $6 million.

Hypocrisy thy name is Democrat.

Boston Globe: Even Hillary's Staff Admits a NH Win Is 'Nearly Impossible'

It was no wonder why, after barely squeaking out a win in Iowa last week, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton bolted from her “victory” rally in just 5 minutes, knowing New Hampshire would be a much steeper climb. Her opponent Bernie Sanders has had a commanding double digit lead in the Granite State for weeks.

The fact that this particular state once boosted her and her husband’s political careers makes her fall from grace in New Hampshire especially painful, writes The Boston Globe.

Team Clinton once saw the Granite State as friendly territory — after all, voters here rescued her husband’s 1992 presidential campaign and injected energy into her 2008 contest. The relationship with the state’s voters seems to have frayed quite a bit since then, with even some top supporters acknowledging that a win Tuesday looks nearly impossible.

Because Clinton is trailing at an embarrassing rate, her team now seems to be downplaying the importance of the primary win. That’s why, The Boston Globe suspects, Clinton decided to leave New Hampshire for a few hours to travel to Flint, Mich. While The Globe says the trip was “designed” for Clinton to raise awareness for the families who have been affected by lead poisoning, it also seemed to serve as a disguised opportunity to escape an obvious defeat.

Up until now, Clinton has had name recognition and money on her side. Sanders, however, is gaining on her in both areas.  His progressive message is resonating with Democrats – especially young voters – and for the first time last month he raised more money than Team Hillary.

No wonder she doesn’t want to look New Hampshire in the eye.

Ratings Gold: GOP's NH Debate Crushes Dems, Draws 13.2 Million Viewers


CONCORD, NH -- Saturday night's Republican debate in Manchester drew a robust 9.3 rating, attracting an average of 13.2 million viewers.  This was up slightly from Fox News' pre-Iowa debate, likely due to three factors: High voter interest now that actual balloting is underway, its airing on over-the-air broadcast network, and the anticipated return of Donald Trump to the stage.  Although these numbers are substantially down from the sky-high ratings of the first few Republican debates -- which ranged from 18 to 24 million viewers -- they're still historically high.  ABC's forum held on the same weekend of the 2012 campaign was that cycle's highest-rated primary debate, at 7.6 million.  Saturday's clash beat that number by more than five million viewers; every GOP debate audience in 2016 has exceeded 11 million.  Another striking trend in 2016 is that interest in the Republican race far outstrips the Democratic nominating contest.  Some statistics:

In this election season, debates on cable news channels have generally out-rated debates on broadcast networks. But ABC's debate was the highest-rated one on any broadcast network to date. ABC's Republican match-up also far surpassed MSNBC's Democratic debate earlier in the week. That forum, which was a late addition to the schedule, had 4.5 million viewers, a new low for the debates this season. The second lowest debate of the season was on ABC. There were 7.8 million viewers for its Democratic debate on the Saturday before Christmas.

Caveats about networks and air dates aside, the GOP's New Hampshire debate drew nearlynine million more viewers than the Democrats' version. Pair that data with the record-shattering Republican voter turnout in Iowa, and an enthusiasm gap narrative begins to emerge. Here's another interesting ratings tidbit:

ABC also benefited from enviable timing, three days before the New Hampshire primaries, with all the major candidates fiercely fighting for votes. The debate ratings rose each half hour between 8 and 10 p.m., indicating that viewers stuck with the program despite an embarrassing flub during the candidate introductions. (Two candidates initially didn't come on stage, and then the moderators seemingly forgot to invite John Kasich on.)

This may come as welcome news at Rubio headquarters, given that ABC's audience continued to build after the Florida Senator's wince-inducing takedown by Chris Christie.  Following that brutal exchange, Rubio improved dramatically over the remainder of the debate.  Then again, the negative press focusing on that moment has been significant, as the lowlights have made the rounds online and on-air.  The Weekly Standard's Jonathan Last has written a perceptive piece gaming out how Rubio's "repeat button" stumble might play out.  He points out that the anti-Obama attack Rubio repeatedly advanced on Saturday is likely shared widely among the Republican electorate, also noting (as others have) that an unrattled Rubio seemed at ease and at peace on the campaign trail the very next day.  Indeed, Rubio appeared on ABC's This Week and aggressively defended his message by thanking Democrats and rival campaigns for circulating clips of him describing how, in his view, Obama is deliberately and fundamentally changing America.  "I'm going to keep saying it," he tells host George Stephanopolous.  I've embedded the clip below. So that's the upbeat, bullish take.  The bearish side of the equation is obvious and ought to be worrying for the Rubio camp:

The pessimistic case (if you're a Rubio supporter) goes like this: Rubio needed to close the sale with New Hampshire voters and he blew it...But it's worse than that. The best political attacks turn an opponent's strength into a weakness. By indicting Rubio's candidate skills—the fact that he's so polished and talks so well—Chris Christie was attempting not just to blow up Rubio in the debate, but to diminish his biggest advantage and poison everything voters hear from him going forward. Voters will wonder, Is that answer Rubio just gave on ISIS, or vaccinations, or the estate tax a sign of a smart, fluid candidate? Or just another rehearsed, scripted soundbite?

There's some thin evidence, based on meh data and several anecdotes, that Rubio may be weathering the storm. There's equally questionable data and anecdotes that suggest he's taking a real hit. We'll know the truth soon enough. Here's what I'm still scratching my head over:


There were so many avenues he could have taken to has at Christie and repackage his point, but instead, he fell directly into Christie's trap. Worse, he seemed self-unaware about what was happening and totally failed to adjust. Assuming he doesn't absolutely tank over one poor (partial) debate showing -- remember this? -- Rubio would be well-served in the next debate to poke a bit of fun at himself, with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. "You know what? Let me repeat what I just said..." As promised, I'll leave you with this:


He's better here, certainly, but has the momentum irreparably shifted? And if so, who is the primary beneficiary?  If I had to bet, I'd put more chips on this guy than anyone else.

North Korean Satellite Flew Over Super Bowl

According to the Associated Press, the recently launched North Korean satellite Kwangmyongsong, or "Shining Star," soared over the San Fransisco Bay area in close proximity to Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night.  

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said the North Korean satellite absolutely passed near the area around the time the game was finished.  

"I have no idea when the end of the Super Bowl was, not a sports fan," he said. "But KMS-4 did pass over that part of California at 8:27 p.m. PST at an altitude of 480 kilometers. I calculate it was 35 miles west and 300 miles up as it passed overhead heading almost due north."

For a little perspective of what the Super Bowl looks like from space, astronaut Scott kelly shared his first experience of the big game from Earth's atmosphere.

WATCH: Mary Katharine Ham Questions Candidates at GOP Debate

In case you missed it Saturday night, Hot Air (a property of Townhall Media and Salem Communications) Editor-at-Large Mary Katharine Ham questioned GOP presidential candidates during the debate hosted by ABC News in Manchester. Not surprisingly, she was a total pro. 

Watch below: 

Also, be sure to check out Guy's analysis of the debate from New Hampshire.

What Time Do the Polls Close in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire votes tomorrow, February 9, in the first-in-the-nation primary for both major political parties.

Polls will be open until 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Find a polling location here.

When Is The Next Debate?

The next Democratic primary debate will be held on February 11, 2016. It will air on PBS (and be available online) at 9:00 p.m. ET. The debate will be moderated by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff.

The next Republican primary debate will be held on February 13, 2016. It will air on CBS at 9:00 p.m. ET. The debate will be moderated by John Dickerson, Major Garrett, and Kimberley Strassel.