Wyo., ND Governors To EPA: Hey, We Need More Time On Clean Power Plan Regulations Because You Totally ‘Blindsided’ Us

By now, you know that the Obama administration has a plan to combat the threat of global warming by cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. It’s already projected to gut millions of jobs from black and Hispanic communities, place fixed-income seniors in a bind over increased energy costs, and  disproportionately impacts most of the states that didn’t vote for the president in 2012. Moreover, a majority of Americans already know their electrical bills are going to go up.

Regardless, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with the plan, and states draft their own blueprints to best accommodate the prescribed regulations of the plan. If states refuse, than a federal model will be applied, though states still retain the option to draft their own plans after the deadline, which would replace federal protocols. This has been a source of contention between the White House and Republicans, specifically Republican governors, some of which have said they’re either refusing or considering ignoring the new regulations.

For some governors, like Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, both Republicans, they feel like they need more time, but are willing to look at other ways to reduce their emissions. At the same time, both governors admitted that the plan sets impossible standards for them (via E&E Publishing):

The governors of two coal-dependent Western states, Wyoming and North Dakota, believe they have a strong case to make to the Obama administration about the extra time they need to comply with U.S. EPA's new rule to slash CO2 emissions from power plants.

Despite EPA officials' frequent claims of "unprecedented outreach" to states while crafting the final Clean Power Plan, last week the two Western governors told E&E Publishing they felt blindsided when the federal agency announced in August that both states will have to meet much steeper greenhouse gas reduction targets than initially proposed.

"I think I read it in the newspaper," said North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R).

North Dakota's emissions rate reduction jumped from 11 percent to 45 percent under the final rule. Wyoming's leapt from 19 percent to 44 percent.

"To me, to come to be that far off would suggest shoddy work," Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) said in a separate interview.

Both states plan to challenge the rule in court. But although both governors say EPA's new rule sets impossible carbon reduction targets that will harm their states' economies, the two also expressed willingness to explore what their states could do to reduce carbon emissions. Both Wyoming and North Dakota are drafting compliance plans for what they think they can achieve.

The preliminary strategy plans to accommodate the goals of the Clean Power Plan have a September 6, 2016 deadline. Fifteen state attorneys general filed a petition to extend the deadlines, though it was rejected by the D.C. Court of Appeals in September.

House Democrats Will Try To Dissolve Select Committee On Benghazi Tonight UPDATE: Voted Down, Committee Remains

It probably wasn’t the best idea for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the presumptive successor to outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner, to suggest that Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers were sinking due to the existence of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The Clinton Team already has a campaign ad about it, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is challenging McCarthy for the speakership, called the remarks “absolutely terrible.”

In a second salvo, House Democrats are aiming to dissolve the Select Committee on Benghazi tonight, with Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) proposing the Rules Committee eliminate it tonight, though it’s bound to be blocked given the Republican majority. The Washington Post  reports that while this move is unlikely to succeed, it shows that Democrats intend to soften up the panel ahead of Hillary’s Oct. 22 testimony before the committee:

Democrats will double down Tuesday night on their push to end the House Select Committee on Benghazi when Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) offers an amendment to kill the panel during a meeting of the Rules Committee.

Slaughter’s move will be blocked by Republicans, who are a majority on the panel. But the amendment offers a hint at Democrats’ strategy to weaken the panel before it hears testimony from Hillary Clinton on Oct. 22.

Slaughter, the top Democrat on Rules, will offer her amendment to a Republican bill creating a new Select Committee on Planned Parenthood in response to a series of controversial, undercover videos about the group. The amendment will strike the Planned Parenthood language and order the dissolution of the Benghazi committee.

UPDATE: Rep. Louise Slaughter offered an amendment to dissolve House Select Committee on Benghazi and it was voted down.

Police Agencies Display 'In God We Trust' on Patrol Cars, Tell Critics to 'Go Fly a Kite'

In 1956 President Eisenhower signed a law that made “In God We Trust” the nation’s official motto. Two years prior he successfully sought to add “under God” to the country’s “Pledge of Allegiance.” Today, despite fervent efforts to completely separate church and state in America, reverence to God is still seen on our printed money, coins, and some state flags.

Lately, however, you may have seen the motto cropping up in an unfamiliar place: on the back of police cars.

“In recent months, dozens of Southern and Midwestern law enforcement agencies have added the axiom to squad cars, usually to the vexation of vocal, often distant critics, and at the personal expense of sheriffs, police chiefs or rank-and-file employees,” The New York Times reports.

“If it’s on my money and it’s on the state flag, I can put it on a patrol car,” said Sheriff Johnny Moats, who encouraged sheriffs in Georgia this year to promote the motto’s placement on their official vehicles. “Just about every single day, I have another sheriff calling and saying, ‘I’ve done it’ or ‘Can you send me a picture of your patrol car?’"

Some officials contend that their display of the motto is elementary patriotism, a four-word way of “standing up for America, standing up for our country,” Sheriff Moats said. Others in law enforcement say the stickers are a response to the battering their profession’s reputation has taken after more than a year of high-profile killings and extraordinary scrutiny.

“With the dark cloud that law enforcement has been under recently, I think that we need to have a human persona on law enforcement,” said Sheriff Brian Duke of Henderson County, Tenn. “It gave us an opportunity to put something on our cars that said: ‘We are you. We’re not the big, bad police.’ ”

But critics, like the organization Freedom From Religious Foundation, argue they shouldn’t be allowed on government vehicles, despite the fact that the courts have repeatedly dismissed challenges to the motto.

"We are getting a lot of concern from non-believers in these smaller communities, where they feel they will be targeted," the group’s Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor told Fox7. "These sheriffs and police think they take guidance from God instead of our civil law and that's scary."

Childress Police Chief Adrian Garcia was unfazed by critics, however. 

“After carefully reading your letter I must deny your request in the removal of our Nations [sic] motto from our patrol units,” Garcia responded in a letter, “and ask that you and the Freedom From Religion Foundation go fly a kite.” 

Kasich: Maybe I'll Buy Bibles for Medicaid Expansion Critics, So They'll Care About the Poor

Since we just slammed Democrats' grotesque End of Discussion tactics, we'll strive for evenhandedness by upbraiding a Republican for his own contribution to this scourge.  Enter Ohio Governor and presidential candidate John Kasich.  He's been a staunch defender of his decision to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, often invoking religious values as a justification for his public policy stance.  The Left has applauded, by the way, because citing the Bible within a political context is perfectly acceptable when it's in service of certain ideological interests; otherwise, it's a dangerous harbinger of incipient theocracy.  At a forum today, Kasich -- who, again, is seeking to win the Republican nomination, which requires attracting the support of conservatives whose contempt for Obamacare is essentially universal -- quadrupled down on his unseemly go-to line:

Might this have been pulled out of context, resulting in a buzzy, uncharitable, unfair exaggeration? Nope:

Kasich begins by whining about people "yelling" at him over his controversial decision on Medicaid.  Civil discourse is of course a laudable goal, but Kasich's tone here is redolent of Democrats cynically reaching for the smelling salts after citizens dared to raise their voices at Obamacare town hall meetings in 2009.  Politics stir passions and inspire rough-and-tumble debates sometimes.  You're a powerful elected leader, governor.  Deal with it.  Next, he climbs atop his high horse to reprise his discussion-ending talking point, explicitly arguing that the Bible teaches us to care for the poor, ergo, his political decision is effectively blessed by God Himself.  Questions: Would Gov. Kasich, who's campaigning for the White House as a budget-balancing fiscal conservative, accept this exact same framing if it were applied in advocacy of expanding all elements of the welfare state?  Does enacting compassionate policies while seeking Godliness require ever-increasing government spending, across the board?  If not, where does he draw the line on this "logic"?

Then there's the small matter of pre-Obamacare Medicaid already straining state budgets, already struggling with access problems, and already  failing the truly indigent on an empirical level.  Obamacare took a wheezing, bloated program beset with systemic challenges and expanded it to millions of additional Americans. The results have been predictable and tragic.  Beyond the aforementioned shortcomings, one of its supporters' chief selling points has also been debunked by reality.  Medicaid's enormous new burdens render the program even less effective and accessible for those who need it most: The very poor.  How would God feel about that outcome, governor?  Incidentally, the accuracy of a few claims you've made about Medicaid in your state have been called into question by fact-checkers.  Since we're apparently impugning opponents' motives in the crassest way possible, one wonders if the Bible has anything to say about lying.  Someone buy this man a copy, stat.  I'll leave you with a few points from Gabriel Malor:

Good News: Deportation Rates For Criminal Immigrants Lowest Since Obama Took Office

Well, we have this terrific news from the Associated Press:

Deportations of criminal immigrants have fallen to the lowest levels since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, despite his pledge to focus on finding and deporting criminals living in the country illegally. The share of criminal immigrants deported in relation to overall immigrants deported rose slightly, from 56 percent to 59 percent.

The overall total of 231,000 deportations generally does not include Mexicans who were caught at the border and quickly returned home by the U.S. Border Patrol. The figure does include roughly 136,700 convicted criminals deported in the last 12 months. Total deportations dropped 42 percent since 2012.

The Homeland Security Department has not yet publicly disclosed the new internal figures, which include month-by-month breakdowns and cover the period between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sept. 28. The new numbers emerged as illegal immigration continues to be sharply debated among Republican presidential candidates, especially front-runner Donald Trump. And they come as Obama carries out his pledge from before his 2012 re-election to narrowly focus enforcement and slow deportations after more than a decade of rising figures.

The biggest surprise in the figures was the decline in criminal deportations. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last year directed immigration authorities anew to focus on finding and deporting immigrants who pose a national security or public safety threat, those who have serious criminal records or those who recently crossed the Mexican border. The decline suggests the administration has been failing to find criminal immigrants in the U.S. interior, or that fewer immigrants living in the U.S. illegally had criminal records serious enough to justify deporting them.

Well, whatever the reason, people have been getting killed due to our reported inability to find them. On July 24, 64-year-old Marilyn Pharis was raped and murdered by 29-year-old Victor Aureliano Hernandez Ramirez and his accomplice, Jose Fernando Villagomez, after they broke into her home in California. Hernandez was released after serving time for a battery charge. As Leah wrote, Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a detainer request on Hernandez, asking local sheriffs to notify them when he would be released so he could be taken into custody and determine whether he should be deported; that request did not receive a response from local law enforcement. Moreover, it doesn’t help that this administration has hamstrung federal immigration enforcement measures.

The crimes caused by illegal immigrants in the country was spotlighted by the death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, where she was shot by Francisco Sanchez, while walking on a pier with her father, her last words being “help me, Dad.” Sanchez was deported five times before, but kept coming back into the country illegally, seeking refuge in San Francisco since he knew it was a sanctuary city–and that no effort would be made to detain him. He said Steinle’s death was an accident.

Despite Video Investigation, 30 Percent of Americans Have ‘Very Favorable’ View of Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood’s ability to spin its way out of a scandal, coupled with the mainstream media's agenda, is more effective than we thought. Even after the Center for Medical Progress captured hours of inhumane footage behind Planned Parenthood's closed doors, a majority of Americans still support the abortion giant.

CMP’s 3-year investigation into Planned Parenthood revealed that officials like to joke about selling fetal body parts and sip their wine while discussing the price tag. The campaign outraged pro-lifers, who demanded the organization, at the very least, be stripped of its taxpayer funding.

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards offered an unconvincing defense of her organization’s actions when she faced the House Oversight Committee last week in Washington, D.C. Instead of offering an explanation for the recorded content, she dismissed the video investigation as a “deceptively edited” smear campaign by a radical anti-abortion group. 

As for the media, they have many times ignored or reported on the investigation in a way that suggests they are trying to protect Planned Parenthood's reputation.

Unfortunately, it all seems to be working. A new Rasmussen Reports phone survey of 1,000 likely voters determined a majority of Americans still view the organization positively.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 53% of Likely U.S. Voters have a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, including 29% with a Very Favorable one. Forty-two percent (42%) view the reproductive health organization unfavorably, with 30% who hold a Very Unfavorable view of it.

These results suggest Americans still perceive Planned Parenthood as a well-meaning women’s health organization. Too many, for instance, are under the impression that the organization provides mammograms. Yet, Richards even admitted they do not. What's more, a statistic Planned Parenthood supporters like to dangle in front of the opposition is that abortion only accounts for 3 percent of its services. Americans United for Life explains just how misleading that number is, considering abortion accounts for a huge chunk of Planned Parenthood's revenue. What pro-life lawmakers hope is that the federal funding saved for Planned Parenthood can be redirected to other women’s health centers that only offer lifesaving services.

For those who don't believe everything Planned Parenthood says, this Saturday will mark the second National Day of Protest against the organization. A list of locations can be found here.

Hillary: Hey, I’ll Totally Bypass Congress On Gun Control If Necessary

We all knew this was coming. Hillary Clinton unveiling her new gun control policies, which included the holy grail of liberal proposals–expanding background checks. Yet, she isn’t just going to throw policies out there for progressives to munch on; she’s threatening to use executive action to get some of them enacted (via AP):

Her campaign rolled out a robust set of proposals Monday, including using executive action as president to expand background check requirements. Under current federal law, such checks are not required for sales made at gun shows or over the Internet.

Clinton pledged to require anyone "attempting to sell a significant number of guns" to be considered a firearms dealer, and therefore need a federal license. She did not say how many gun sales would constitute a "significant" number.

Efforts to require such comprehensive background checks have failed several times in recent years in Congress, where Republican leaders have shown no willingness to even hold votes on efforts to curb access to guns.

Clinton's attempt to circumvent staunch opposition would likely spark legal challenges from gun advocates, as well as from Republicans sure to question whether a president has the authority to act directly.

Clinton also said she would support a law to expand the definition of domestic abusers barred from buying guns. She also wants to prohibit retailers from selling guns to people with incomplete background checks, as happened in the June case of a man accused of killing nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Clinton proposed repealing legislation that shields gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers of firearms from most liability suits, including in cases of mass shootings.

Again, none of these policies are going to curb mass shootings or gun violence. The law already prohibits those convicted of domestic abuse from owning firearms–and rightfully so. Don’t take the bait; it’s just another chance for them to inject a war on women talking point. Since liberals still don’t get that all FFL (federal firearm license) dealers have to conduct a background check on all sales, let’s revisit yet another absurd claim about the gun show loophole. First, gun shows aren’t the problem. As mentioned prior, gun dealers with FFLs must conduct background checks on all sales; this includes gun shows, my progressive friends. There is no…safe space in which the laws connected to a federal firearms license is checked at the door of a gun exhibit. This is something that the Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowksi took umbrage with concerning Maggie Haberman’s piece on Hillary’s gun control initiatives, where she wrote, “Mrs. Clinton’s proposals are the background checks on prospective gun buyers, which are required for retailers at stores. But under federal law, they are not required at gun shows or over the Internet with private sellers.” Gutowski noted, there isn’t some special carve out regarding these sales:

…Gun shows and online sales enjoy no special carve-out or loophole. Under federal law, all sales through commercial gun dealers, known as Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), must be processed through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Instant Background Check System regardless of whether the sale was made at a gun shop, gun show, or over the Internet. Similarly, sales of used guns between private parties living in the same state are not required, under federal law, to go through the background check system regardless of where the sale occurs.

A small number of states do require sales between private parties to submit to background checks.

Oregon is one of those states.

As a side note to our friends who lean to the left in the media, here’s a nice video from Bud’s Gun Shop, which details how you can buy firearms online. Notice step two: finding a FFL dealer in order to conduct a background check in accordance with all state and federal laws.

Also, the incomplete background check, or three-day delay provision, that allowed Dylann Roof to purchase a .45 handgun was the fault of the FBI. They admitted to the clerical error, where they forgot to update Roof’s admission to a drug charge; the three-day provision is included in the pro-gun control Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act; and it’s not a loophole! If liberals actually bothered to read the process of a delayed response on the FBI’s website, you’ll see that a) the dealer isn’t obligated to hand over the firearm to the buyer if the background check is still incomplete after three days b) if it is determined that the buyer had prior convictions–and that he was transferred the firearm–then the matter is referred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for gun retrieval. In other words, they will confiscate the firearm from the prohibited buyer [emphasis mine]:

In most cases, the results of a background check yield definitive information regarding a individual’s eligibility when the firearm background is initiated. However, not all inquiries can be provided a final status during the initial contact with the NICS Section. Many transactions are delayed because of incomplete criminal history records, e.g., a missing disposition or a missing crime classification status (felony or misdemeanor), which is needed to determine if a transaction can proceed or must be denied.

When a validly matched record is potentially prohibiting but is incomplete, the NICS Section must search for the information needed to complete the record. This process often requires outreach to local, state, tribal, and/or federal agencies (e.g., arresting agencies, court systems). The Brady Act allows the FFL to legally transfer the firearm if the NICS transaction is not resolved within 3 business days. In some instances, the potentially prohibiting records are completed, and the NICS Section staff deny the transaction. The NICS Section notifies the FFL of the denial and determines if the firearm was transferred to the buyer. If it was transferred, the NICS Section transmits this information to the ATF for further handling as a firearm retrieval referral.

Once again, we’re left with no serious policy solutions that will curb gun violence because the ones being doled out are already law. Second, the real gun control goodie bag, which is being held by Gov. Martin O’Malley, includes provisions that also don’t curb gun violence, like the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, or provisions that wouldn’t see the light of day in Congress, like the gun registry and the repeal of the Protection Of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act.

This movie is starting to become a horror franchise in the likes of Friday The 13th, which after part VIII devolves into a sad and absurd disaster. The only silver lining is that we know what’s going to happen. Democrats will propose measures that won’t curb violence, they may get some media buzz–maybe a few more people added to their email lists, and then they will go nowhere because the support isn’t there.

Roseburg, Oregon doesn’t want Obama in their town pushing the gun control agenda. The brother of one of the shooting victims said the real problem is mental health (he’s right), and the mother of Cheyenne Fitzgerald, who was shot in the back by Chris Harper-Mercer at Umpqua, said her daughter should have been armed, and that we should all exercise our Second Amendment right for self-defense.

For now, we have to bear and grin the drivel dished out by the anti-gun left, and their allies in the media. We have to once again hear liberals telling us the irrelevant views the rest of the world hold about our gun laws. And we need to read how liberals don’t understand basic gun laws and definitions. That was on grand display wit Obama’s remarks about the shooting this week, where he said there are responsible law-abiding gun owners, that we need new common sense gun control laws, and how we should model those laws based on the UK or Australian model, which were confiscatory acts. That’s not common sense.

Additionally, you have this from the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne [emphasis mine]:

After a psychologically disturbed man killed 35 people in Tasmania, [former Australian Prime Minister John] Howard championed state bans on the ownership, possession and sale of all automatic and semiautomatic weapons by Australia’s states, along with a federal ban on their importation. He also sponsored a gun buyback scheme that got almost 700,000 guns — the statistical equivalent of 40 million in the United States — off the streets and destroyed. “Few Australians would deny that their country is safer today as a consequence of gun control,” Howard wrote in the New York Times shortly after the Newtown killings.

Politicizing this struggle means being unrelentingly candid in calling out an American conservative movement that proudly champions law and order but allows itself to be dominated by gun extremists who deride every gun measure that might make our country a little bit safer — no matter how many mass killings we have.

Conservatives all over the world are aghast at our nation’s permissive attitude toward guns. Is a dangerous and harebrained absolutism about weaponry really the issue on which American conservatives want to practice exceptionalism?

Well, the polling says yes we are–and that’s okay because we’re winning the public opinion, legislative, and legal war in this matter. Second, how is eliminating personal, constitutionally protected ownership of firearms common sense? Third, does Dionne know the difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons? Banning the semi-automatic weapons means banning guns; it’s not common sense, legal, nor is it feasible. Fourth, the Boston gun buyback programs had nabbed one firearm this year. Fifth, even if this fairy tale of Americans just handing over 40 million guns to the government were to occur (in some LSD-laced, alternate reality), then we would still have close 300 million guns in circulation, most being in the hands of law-abiding citizens. Even Bernie is with me on that latter point. Sixth, why so much about gun extremism, the NRA, and gun bans? When will there be a substantive white paper on how to reform the mental health system in America, and a process to make sure those who are mentally unstable can’t obtain firearms?

Have we really devolved into gun bans and gun confiscation rhetoric in less than a week? It seems so.

Final Note: Oh, and of course Everytown had executive action recommendations on gun control for Obama, which–again–are already law.

Democrat to Rich Lowry: Look, Your Obama Criticism is 'Almost Treasonous'

"Dissent is patriotic." Until it isn't. On Fox News this morning, Top Hillary Clinton supporter and former DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse flew right past 'unpatriotic' -- a former bugaboo of the Left -- and leapt straight to the T-word. Why? National Review editor Rich Lowry had the temerity to notice and name President Obama's self-evidently weak foreign policy vis-a-vis Russian aggression in Syria.  Rather than debate Lowry on substance, Woodhouse accused his counterpart of "cheering on" Vladimir Putin while disparaging Obama -- which is tantamount to near-traitorous conduct, or something:

Social media immediately exploded in justified mockery, prompting Woodhouse to offer Lowry a reprieve from his Thought Crimes Against the State:

How generous. By the way, the news hook for this exchange is the increasing evidence that Russia's pro-Assad interventionism in Syria involves clear actions against US interests; it's not a fight against ISIS, as claimed. In the face of Obama's ambivalence and weakness, Putin is escalating his defiant meddling, basking in the glow of American humiliation.  Ah well.  Details.  In any case, as Blake Seitz reminds the Free Beacon's readership, this is hardly the first time the Left has excoriated conservatives fora alleged anti-American disloyalty in recent months.  Many incensed liberals charged that 47 Republican Senators who sent a letter to Iran's leaders spelling out America's separation of powers (in advance of the disastrous nuclear deal) were guilty of treachery, with some demanding the 'violators' be prosecuted for asserting their constitutional role.  Months later, President Obama declared that domestic opponents of his nuclear giveaway to the Iranian regime (namely, large, bipartisan majorities of Congress and most American voters) were making "common cause" with death-to-America zealots. Harry Reid spent an insane amount of time denouncing the Koch brothers from the Senate floor last year, en route to an epic electoral beat-down, describing the libertarian-leaning businessmen and prodigious philanthropists as "un-American." And he's back at it today:

Prosaic demagoguery. The thesis of Mary Katharine Ham and my book, End of Discussion, is that many on the Left are increasingly resorting to tactics that seek to "win" political and cultural debates by preventing those debates from actually happening. It takes intellectual exertion to argue on the merits and compete in the arena of ideas; impugning motives and casting opponents as de facto evil -- racist, sexist, homophobic, unpatriotic, etc. -- is lazier, easier, and all too often effective.  I'll leave you with this soothing flashback voice memo to Brad Woodhouse from the woman for whom he's now shilling.  Ah, the good old days:

Sorry Hillary, The NRA Is More Popular Than You

Last week during a town hall style campaign stop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went on a rant about the NRA a day after a madman murdered 10 people at Umpqua Community College. From TIME

In fiery remarks delivered at Broward College in Davie, Florida, Clinton lambasted the NRA and vowed to take on the gun lobby as president.

“What is wrong with us, that we cannot stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby, and the gun manufacturers they represent?” a visibly angry Clinton said. “This is not just tragic. We don’t just need to pray for people. We need to act and we need to build a movement. It’s infuriating.”

Clinton refrained just a day earlier on the eve of the Oregon shooting from harshly critiquing the NRA, and called on Thursday for stricter gun control measures.

But she used her remarks on Friday to go on the attack, calling out Republicans for blocking background checks and other measures in Congress. “Republicans keep refusing to do anything to protect our communities. They put the NRA ahead of American families,” Clinton said.

But what Clinton fails to understand is that the NRA has a higher approval rating among American voters than she does. 

According to an August 2015 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, the NRA has an approval rating of 43 percent and a disapproval of 32 percent. 

Clinton holds a favorability rating of 41 percent, with 51 viewing her as unfavorable. According to Gallup, this is her worst number since her position as First Lady in the 90s: 

Dogged by continued scrutiny of her email practices as secretary of state, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's favorability with the American public has sunk to one of its lowest levels in Gallup's 23-year trend. Currently, 41% of U.S. adults say they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic front-runner, while 51% hold an unfavorable view.

You can bet the NRA is ready to take on Clinton as 2016 inches closer.

Graham to US Commander: We Would Be ‘Nuts’ Not to Have Counterterror Effort in Afghanistan

Wednesday marks 14 years since the start of the war in Afghanistan. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, U.S. Commander John Campbell offered some updates on the fight to maintain a stable government in the region and ensure terror forces do not gain control. The committee was right to be concerned, considering just last week the northern city of Kunduz fell to the Taliban.

When it was Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) turn to interrogate Campbell, he asked the commander what the military’s goals were in the region: “What would winning look like?”

“Having a stable Afghan and a professionalized army and police,” Campbell said. “People could go to school, work.”

The opposite, he said, would be an unstable government that would provide opportunity for insurgents to thrive.

“Do the Afghan people want us to stay?” Graham followed up.

Campbell said we “overwhelmingly have that support.”

Graham then asked if the commander agreed with his notion that if we slash our presence to 1,000 forces in Afghanistan by 2017, as President Obama has pledged to do, there’s a “90 percent chance the country falls apart.”

Campbell responded by saying he “doesn’t know” if he’d put a percentage on it.

Yet, Graham insisted having so few forces would not be enough to create an effective counter terrorism process. 

“A better trained counterterrorism force is better for stability, but there’s no substitute for American forces to protect the homeland,” Graham said. “They would have a focus the Afghans would not have. We would be nuts to not have a counter terror effort in Afghanistan.”

Campbell, while not stating the exact number of forces needed, agreed it’s imperative to have a counter terrorism force in effect because we need to continue to build Afghan capacity and counter terror capability to keep pressure on ungoverned stations.

Campbell also addressed the tragedy in Kunduz last week in which a Doctors Without Borders medical facility was hit in a U.S. airstrike, leaving 22 innocent people dead. Campbell acknowledged it was a "mistake."

WaPo: 'How Hillary Kept Her Wealthy Friends Close' While at State Department

With all the attention (rightfully) being paid to Hillary Clinton's reckless and improper email scheme -- and the federal investigation thereof -- many Americans may have forgotten about a separate controversy that would likely plague her in a general election: The cash, cronyism and influence peddling at the Clinton Foundation, which has been described by a charity watchdog as a "slush fund."  The foundation appears to be a fundraising juggernaut whose actual charitable activity is…less than robust. From suspect uranium deals, to lucrative contributions from entities with business before Hillary Clinton's State Department, to questionable speaking engagements and practices, to eye-popping accounting 'irregularities,' the Foundation will be an oppo-research gift that keeps giving. The Washington Post is out with a piece this week detailing how Clinton's emails (released under duress and court order) spotlight how major Clinton donors and political allies were afforded enviable access to Mrs. Clinton as she ran point on America's foreign policy. And the story begins with -- ta da! -- George Soros:

The note to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton from liberal financier George Soros demanded “urgent attention from the highest levels of the U.S. government.” Clinton swiftly alerted a top aide to what she described as a “very forceful message which is good — and needed.” The e-mail exchange, in which Soros warned of growing unrest in Albania, illustrates how Clinton interacted with major donors to her family’s causes during her tenure at the State Department, staying in touch with her political network before her 2016 run for the Democratic presidential nomination. And they show how these donors, some of them with interests before the U.S. government, gained high-level access to press policy concerns inside the Clinton-led State Department. Soros, a top contributor to the Clinton Foundation, was one of several major donors whose messages were disclosed by the State Department last week as part of the ongoing release of the former secretary’s e-mails. Other exchanges included references to entertainment mogul Haim Saban, who has said he would pay “whatever it takes” to propel Clinton to the White House in 2016, as well as other major Clinton Foundation donors such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates, fashion industry executive Susie Tompkins Buell and Ukrainian steel magnate Viktor Pinchuk. The e-mails that mention donors — numbering a few dozen out of the thousands of pages of messages released so far — do not show that financial supporters were able to alter policy decisions.

They'll pay "whatever it takes." As for the email trail, bear in mind that Hillary's team unilaterally deleted more than 30,000 emails they claimed to be personal in nature, swearing that all work-related messages had been turned over.  These assurances have been disproven. Twice, so far. If the FBI accesses all of the deleted emails, we may eventually discover what else is lurking on that server. Regardless, this is just the latest indicator of how the Clintons have practically built a mega-mansion at the intersection of big money and politics. Hillary is now laughably trying to run a campaign calling for the reimagining of the First Amendment, supposedly to stem the corrupting influence of money on our political system, an issue on which she has precisely zero credibility.  She's gone so far as to state that she'll impose a litmus test on her judicial picks: Opposition to the Supreme Court's pro-free speech Citizens United decision -- which centered around whether an anti-Hillary Clinton movie could be censored and banned under campaign finance laws.  In that case, the Obama administration's lawyer literally argued that, yes, books featuring political advocacy close to an election could be banned by the government if they were paid for by corporations.  Speaking of Citizens United and its implications, Jonah Goldberg is out with a sharp column at USA Today in the wake of SNL's Hillary love fest:

it wasn’t just the skit with Clinton’s walk-on that was a gift. It was almost the whole show. The SNL News segment took shots at potential Clinton opponent Joe Biden and New Hampshire Democratic frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders. Even the inevitable potshots at Donald Trump were aimed, at least in part, at making Hillary Clinton seem like the only safe choice in the 2016 race. And that’s fine...Saturday Night Live has the same first amendment rights as The New York Times, The Washington Post and this newspaper. But you know who else has the same free speech rights as the mainstream media? You and me — and George Soros, Charles and David Koch, and every other citizen of the United States. And that’s why the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United was correct. In that decision, the Court held that everyone has the right to get their views and opinions out into the public conversation. In the arguments before the court, the Obama administration took the position that the government could even ban books during election season if those books amounted to “express advocacy” for a candidate, even if that advocacy took the form of a single mention of a candidate. The court rejected that argument and President Obama, along with most liberals, have never forgiven the justices. Hillary Clinton is so opposed to the ruling, she has made amending the First Amendment a cornerstone of her campaign. Why do liberals hate Citizens United so much? No doubt there are many explanations, but one seems particularly obvious. In a world where only powerful institutions in the mainstream media have an unfettered right to make their case during elections, then the conversation is going to go in their favor.

Even if you ignore Clinton's incandescent money-in-politics hypocrisy, and the fact that Democrats often out-raise and out-spend Republicans on elections, the last bolded sentence makes perfect sense.  If you were an ambitious, unscrupulous, self-interested politician, why wouldn't you try to limit your ideological opponents' ability to compete in message amplification?  When you have today's mainstream media on your side, trying to double down on your inherent advantage is irresistible:

Terrific: Team Hillary Using McCarthy's Disastrous Benghazi Comments in New Campaign Ad

Last week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the huge mistake of tying Hillary Clinton's nosediving poll numbers directly to the work of the Benghazi Select Committee during an interview on Hannity

"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable, but no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen,” he said. 

Democrats have been able to use the comments as "evidence" the Select Committee was created to go after Hillary Clinton and her presidential run, rather than truly getting to the bottom of what happened. In particular, Democrats on the Benghazi Select Committee immediately issued responses to the comments, with some members arguing for the Committee to be shut down.

“This stunning concession from Rep. McCarthy reveals the truth that Republicans never dared admit in public: the core Republican goal in establishing the Benghazi Committee was always to damage Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and never to conduct an even-handed search for the facts. It is shameful that Republicans have used this tragedy and the deaths of our fellow Americans for political gain. Republicans have blatantly abused their authority in Congress by spending more than $4.5 million in taxpayer funds to pay for a political campaign against Hillary Clinton,” Ranking Member Elijah Cummings said in a statement. 

His comments have also come under heavy fire from fellow Republicans and has even prompted a challenge for House Speaker from Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz.

To no avail, McCarthy tried to clarify his comments during an interview with Special Report.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday that he regrets remarks he made about Hillary Clinton and the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

"This committee was set up for one sole purpose: to find the truth on behalf of the families for four dead Americans," the California Republican said in an evening interview with Fox News' Bret Baier. "Now, I did not intend to imply in any way that that work is political. Of course it is not. Look at the way they have carried themselves out."  

McCarthy also issued a statement this morning about the purpose of the Benghazi Select Committee. 

"The mission of the Select Committee on Benghazi is to find the truth -- Period. The integrity of Chairman Gowdy, the Committee and the work they've accomplished is beyond reproach. The serious questions Secretary Clinton faces are due entirely to her own decision to put classified information at risk and endanger our national security," he said. 

Now, Clinton's official campaign is using the comment in a new campaign ad. Not only does the ad use McCarthy's comments to destroy the credibility of criticism surrounding Benghazi, but it also slams Republicans for the use of millions in taxpayer dollars.

At this point, Benghazi won't sink Clinton's presidential campaign, but it certainly could ruin McCarthy's plans to become Speaker.

Sen. Cotton Blocks Three Obama Ambassador Noms Due to Chaffetz Secret Service Scandal

Until Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) gets answers about the Secret Service's snooping into his colleague Rep. Jason Chaffetz's (R-UT) personal information, President Obama will not be getting a few of his ambassador nominations through Congress.

Chaffetz, chairman of the Oversight Committee, who is challenging Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House, was once denied a job in the Secret Service. He has since been one of the agency's biggest critics, especially in light of the string of incidents at the White House where agents failed to stop intruders from jumping the fence. In what has largely been seen as payback, the government agency accessed the congressman's personal information from a secret database and leaked it to the media.

Incensed by the Secret Service's treatment of Chaffetz, Cotton spoke on the Senate floor Monday explaining why he's taking action against the Obama administration:

"The gravity of this scandal hasn't thus far been met with appropriate action from the highest levels of the executive branch," Cotton said on the Senate floor. "Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson stated last week that he's 'confident U.S. Secret Service Director Joe Clancy will take appropriate action to hold accountable those who violated any laws or policies of this Department.' This response is woefully inadequate on multiple counts."

Cotton is halting the nominations of Cassandra Butts as ambassador to Bahamas, Azita Raji as ambassador to Sweden and Samuel Heins as ambassador to Norway. 

"The executive branch needs to take it much more seriously than they have," Cotton reemphasized on Fox News Tuesday morning. "There needs to be a criminal investigation."

Oregon Community Rocked By Campus Shooting: We Don't Want Obama Here

Just hours after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Rosenberg, Oregon last week, President Obama stepped to the microphones at the White House to deliberately politicize the tragedy in the name of gun control. 

“Somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize,” he said, admittedly without all of the facts surrounding the situation. "We should be changing these [gun control] laws."

Now the community affected by the shooting is saying no thanks to an official Obama visit, which is scheduled for later this week. Why? They don't want Obama standing on the graves of their dead for political reasons.

President Barack Obama will travel to Oregon this week to visit privately with families of the victims of last week's shooting at a community college.

However the trip has angered locals in Roseburg who say Obama is 'not welcome' in the town because the visit will be nothing but a 'grandstand for political purposes'.  

Lee Stranahan has the video:

No word yet on who exactly President Obama plans to visit while he's in town or how long he'll stay.

Ben Carson Promotes ‘I Am a Christian’ Trend After Tragic Oregon Shooting

Presidential candidate Ben Carson kickstarted a very popular trend this weekend with one simple, yet beautiful message.

The picture has now garnered over 1.4 million likes on Facebook and 7,400 retweets.

Carson chose to boldly express his faith after the tragic mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The murderer, 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, demanded students stand and state their religion before firing, multiple witnesses reported.

People of faith face persecution around the globe. Pastors are imprisoned in Iran and ISIS just murdered 12 Christians for refusing to renounce their faith, as Leah reported earlier today. Now, it appears hate-filled people are targeting Christians here in the States, where we have the freedom to worship.

Thanks to Dr. Carson for encouraging Christians not to be afraid to announce the most important characteristic about them.

Deal Reached In Trans-Pacific Partnership

Douglas Holtz-Eakin of American Action Forum noted this morning that the clock was ticking on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as no one wants to be dealing with this when election season gets going.  The deal is projected to add $80 billion in national income, with an additional $125 billion in exports. The trade deal, which involved 40 percent of the world’s economy, apparently reached an agreement in Atlanta after days of negotiations.

According to The New York Times, the deal would gradually eliminate thousands of trade tariffs, establish rules for intellectual property, expand Internet rights, curb wildlife trafficking, and protect against environmental abuses. Nevertheless, President Obama still faces an uphill battle in Congress, where anti-trade Democrats and Tea Party Republicans refuse to support the deal for various reasons. Democrats think that the agreement will further gut American jobs for working class Americans, while conservatives don’t want to give any more power to Obama–and also have taken a more populist tone on trade. As for progressives, they’re skeptical that this agreement would improve labor conditions and protect the environment:

The Pacific accord would phase out thousands of import tariffs as well as other barriers to international trade. It also would establish uniform rules on corporations’ intellectual property, open the Internet even in communist Vietnam and crack down on wildlife trafficking and environmental abuses.


Several potentially deal-breaking disputes had kept the 12 trade ministers talking through the weekend and forced them repeatedly to reschedule the promised Sunday announcement of the deal into the evening and beyond. Final compromises covered commercial protections for drug makers’ advanced medicines, more open markets for dairy products and sugar, and a slow phaseout — over two to three decades — of the tariffs on Japan’s autos sold in North America.


The Office of the United States Trade Representative said the partnership eventually would end more than 18,000 tariffs that the participating countries have placed on United States exports, including autos, machinery, information technology and consumer goods, chemicals and agricultural products ranging from avocados in California to wheat, pork and beef from the Plains states.

Japan’s other barriers, like regulations and design criteria that effectively keep out American-made cars and light trucks, would come down.

While many opponents say the trade pact will kill jobs or send them overseas, the administration contends that the United States has more to gain from freer trade with the Pacific nations. Eighty percent of those nations’ exports to the United States are already duty-free, officials say, while American products face assorted barriers in those countries that would end.


The accord for the first time would require state-owned businesses like those in Vietnam and Malaysia to comply with commercial trade rules and labor and environmental standards…


Unions and human rights groups have been skeptical at best that Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei will improve labor conditions, or that Malaysia will stop human trafficking of poor workers from Myanmar and Southeast Asia. The United States reached separate agreements with the three nations on enforcing labor standards, which would allow American tariffs to be restored if a nation is found in violation after a dispute-settlement process.

There are a few concessions. The article noted that the agreement isn’t as tough on currency manipulation, which is why the Ford Motor Company is against TPP in its current form. Additionally, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he would withdraw his support for TPP if the current provision that cuts down the time in which brand-name pharmaceuticals can keep their biologics data secret, is cut. Biologics are medicines derived from living things–and American pharmaceutical companies have a 12-year window to keep that information private.

If the fight over Trade Promotional Authority (aka “fast track”) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (a program that helps workers whose jobs might be affected by free trade) are any indicators, then the final passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will probably go down as one of the most difficult pieces of legislation for Obama to get pass Congress since Obamacare.  For starters, 151 members of the House Democratic Caucus is against TPP.

Fast track authority was critical for Obama, as it assures the other nations that America would speed up the approval process, giving an up-or-down vote on whatever agreement is in question. No filibuster or amendments can be logrolled into the agreement if this authority is granted.

Obama got this authority, but only after a stinging defeat at the hands of his own party over TAA. The president signaled that he wouldn’t sign off on TPA without the TAA provision. Being that TPA/TAA was a packaged deal in its initial form, the Democrats torpedoing the TAA provision stopped any advance on Obama’s trade agenda. Congress then voted on TPA and TAA separately, which was successful. When TPA passed, there was no reason for Democrats to use TAA, as leverage.

The initial debate about TPP saw Obama going head-to-head against some prominent members of his own party, getting involved in intra-party squabbles that he normally stayed out of for most of his presidency. 

TPP involves the United States, Peru, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Canada, and Mexico.

Connecticut Dunkin' Donuts Tells Police Officer They 'Don’t Serve Cops Here'

It’s happened yet again. Another franchise telling police officers they won’t be served because they put their lives on the line to uphold the law. This incident brings us to New England, where a Dunkin’ Donuts employee in Hartford, Connecticut told an officer standing in line that they don’t serve law enforcement (via PIX 11):

According to police, the officer was standing at the back of the line when an employee looked over at him said loudly, “He didn’t get the message. We don’t serve cops here.”

As the officer left the store, he was approached by the manager and the employee who apologized, stating it was just a joke.

The officer told the employee she should apologize to the people in the store who appeared to take offense to her comment. The employee then apologized to the patrons and offered the officer a free coffee.

He declined and said he would go to a different store.

This idiocy, and other like-minded incidents of disrespect, has been occurring across the country. In Texas, a Whataburger employee was fired after refusing to serve two off-duty two police officers, both of whom were working security at a construction site. A police officer from Newton, Kansas received his Taco Bell order with the word “PIG” written on the wrappers. In an incident similar to Dunkin’ Donuts, a police officer in Florida was told by an Arby’s manager at the drive-thru window that an employee doesn’t want to serve her. In the end, it seemed to be a misunderstanding, and the whole incident was meant to be taken as a joke. It was costly. The manager was fired and the clerk was suspended.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ senior director for global public relations, Michelle King, said in a statement that the coffee and donut giant is aware of the situation, with the franchise owner–and long-time supporter of police, reaching out to local law enforcement to apologize as well.

Protip for all the comedians out there: don't joke about refusing service to police officers in light of current events. It could cost you your job, you look like an idiot, and you'll rightfully experience the wrath of social media. It's not fair to the people who employ you, so cut it out.

Watch: Planned Parenthood Fact Checks Planned Parenthood on Mammograms

The people over at Live Action put together an amusing video that shows how Planned Parenthood has duped the public into believing that they provide mammograms:

No Planned Parenthood clinics have mammogram machines, but some do offer manual breast exams.

MSNBC: Fiorina 'Terrifying' to Democrats

Carly Fiorina's stellar debate performances have vaulted her candidacy into the upper echelon of GOP contenders -- both nationally and in New Hampshire, home to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.  As we noted earlier, a pair of general election NBC News polls show the former business executive leading Hillary Clinton by eight points in that state, and a whopping 14 point margin in Iowa.  MSNBC's Morning Joe crew (alongside Hugh Hewitt) mulled over these numbers earlier, with left-leaning co-host Mika Brzezinski declaring the prospect of facing Fiorina "terrifying" to national Democrats:

Liberal columnist Mike Barnicle chimed in, arguing that Fiorina presents as the "direct opposite" of Hillary Clinton in the campaign: "Every time she appears in the debate, I think somewhere in a voter’s mind, they contrast her with Hillary Clinton, and Hillary loses," he said.  Fiorina has been disciplined, informed and focused on the trail thus far.  She's answered every question thrown her way -- including a more than a few high hard ones -- and has even directly engaged critics protesting her events.  Hillary Clinton has been evasive, aloof, annoyed and inconsistent.  "Direct opposites," indeed.  Fiorina also presents an obvious clear and present danger to the Clinton campaign's longer-term identity politics strategy.  Then again, if Fiorina were to win the GOP nomination, her tenure as CEO of Hewlett Packard would no doubt become a major issue in the campaign.  Democrats would try to "Romneyize" her, painting her as a ruthless CEO who laid off thousands of workers while lining her own pockets.  Fiorina seemed prepared for this criticism in an exchange with Donald Trump and moderator Jake Tapper at the CNN/Salem Radio debate last month:

She has a proactive case to make on the HP issue, and she's demonstrated that she'll make it, aggressively.  But Democrats would definitely have several lines of attack to pursue.  Fiorina must be ready to parry and counter-attack, a task that may be made easier if Democrats nominate their frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.  Clinton is a privileged plutocrat and a multimillionaire; hardly a credible carrier of the "average Joe" mantle.  Another potential pitfall for the Fiorina camp was resurrected today by the Washington Post, which quotes sources who say Fiorina's 2010 US Senate campaign still owes hundreds of thousands in unpaid bills to vendors and staffers:

Upon his death, Fiorina praised Shumate as “the heart and soul” of her team. She issued a news release praising him as a person who believed in “investing in those he worked with” and offering her “sincerest condolences” to his widow. But records show there was something that Fiorina did not offer his widow: Shumate’s last paycheck, for at least $30,000. It was one of more than 30 invoices, totaling about $500,000, that the multimil­lionaire didn’t settle — even as Fiorina reimbursed herself nearly $1.3 million she lent the campaign. She finally cleared most of the balance in January, a few months before announcing her run for president. “Occasionally, I’d call and tell her she should pay them,” said Martin Wilson, Fiorina’s former campaign manager, who found Shumate after the pollster collapsed from a heart attack. “She just wouldn’t.

Asked to account for these reported outstanding IOU's, the Fiorina campaign side-stepped the issue in a statement to Hot Air's Jazz Shaw (see update):

It’s interesting that the Washington Post—to my knowledge—never ran a similar front page headline about Hillary. Hillary, a multi, multi-millionaire, held $20 million in campaign debt for over 4 years. That’s roughly 40 times the amount the 2010 senate campaign had—but the Washington Post barely mentions it. And let’s not forget this is the same media organization that was widely mocked after trying to claim Carly wasn’t a secretary while noting she had been a full time secretary after college. It’s becoming obvious that the Left and their allies in the media are terrified of Carly because she is everything Hillary isn’t—a candidate from outside the political class whose authenticity and grasp of the issues connects with voters because she has the track record to challenge the status quo.

These are savvy digs at Hillary Clinton and the Washington Post, but they're not good enough.  Fiorina should address the actual issue at hand, take responsibility, and make things right.  Showing the capacity to be an attack dog is important, but more will be expected of a presidential nominee.  I'll leave you with this, from the insightful Dan McLaughlin:

UPDATE - The Fiorina camp has reached out to clarify a key point: Carly's full 2010 campaign debt "was paid off nearly a year ago," Sarah Isgur Flores writes in an email to Townhall. "The FEC terminated the [campaign] committee, so it's all done." In other words, the crux of WaPo's story is that it took Fiorina years to tie up these loose ends; slow, subject to criticism, but hardly unprecedented. That's why Team Carly is highlighting the parallel Hillary example: Her campaign owed tens of millions of dollars after she lost the 2008 Democratic primary, and the ledger wasn't totally settled for more than four years.

ISIS Executes 12 Christians For Refusing to Renounce Faith

In the latest display of ISIS's barbarity, jihadists tortured and brutally murdered 12 Christians, including the 12-year-old son of a Syrian ministry team leader, for refusing to renounce their faith in Jesus and embrace Islam. The attack, which only recently came to light, occurred in an unnamed town outside of Aleppo, Syria on Aug. 28. 

"In front of the team leader and relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam," humanitarian group Christian Aid Mission revealed, reports The Gospel Herald. "When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion."

They were killed for refusing to return to Islam after embracing Christianity, as were the other eight aid workers, including two women, according to Christian Aid. The eight were taken to a separate site in the village and asked if they would return to Islam. However, after they refused to renounce Christ, the women, ages 29 and 33, were raped before the crowd summoned to watch, and then all eight were beheaded.

They prayed as they knelt before the Islamic State militants, according to the ministry leader Christian Aid assists, who spoke with relatives and villagers while visiting the site.

"Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord's Prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus," the ministry director told Christian Aid. "One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, 'Jesus!'"

In a manner reflective of Christ's crucifixion, the bodies of those killed were then hung on crosses for display.

The twelve martyrs are among thousands of Christians who have been ransomed, tortured, beheaded and killed over the past year by the Islamic State, a hardline Muslim group determined to wipe Christianity off the Middle Eastern map.

Patrick Sookhdeo, founder of Barnabas Fund, a charity that seeks to provide hope and relief to the persecuted church, told the Daily Express that “were are dealing with a group which makes Nazism pale in comparison.”

Since the civil war in Syria began in 2011 the Christian population has dropped by roughly two-thirds. In Iraq, Christianity is practically nonexistent, falling from around 1.5 million in 2003 to under 200,000 now.

"Crucifying these people is sending a message and they are using forms of killing which they believe have been sanctioned by Sharia law," Sookhdeo added. "For them what they are doing is perfectly normal and they don't see a problem with it. It is that religious justification which is so appalling."

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan To Challenge Ayotte in 2016

The speculation is over; New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is going to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2016. While Ayotte leads Hassan in the latest polls, which have been updated regularly, it’s safe to assume that she will be facing a tough re-election battle next year; Ayotte won a landslide victory in 2010, clinching 60 percent of the vote. Don’t expect that this time around.

In her video announcing her senate run, Hassan played up her bipartisan approach in Concord, how both Democrats and Republicans “held the line” against a sales and income tax, and balanced the budget. Hassan also outlined how both parties cut taxes for small businesses and research and development. As a result, Hassan claims that her governorship created a business friendly environment in the state, reducing unemployment to its lowest level since 2008.

She then added the typical we can do better mantra for teachers, the middle class, police, senior citizens, and women, who have had their access to health care threatened by the Planned Parenthood fiasco. Of course, she had to add that point into the mix.

So far, Ayotte has $5 million in the bank, and raised $1.6 million in the third quarter of this year. She’s in decent shape financially, but Hassan is popular, has won two statewide races before, and will be running during a presidential year. She's bound to be a solid opponent, with Ayotte trying to convince a very different electorate in a presidential year. The last time New Hampshire went Republican in a national contest was during the 2000 presidential race.

As for the bipartisan warrior bit, the New Hampshire Union Leader is already hitting her for that claim, saying she’s not credible on that front.

Bloomberg's Anti-Gun Group Pushes Obama to Take Executive Action on Gun Control

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun advocacy group Everytown is putting pressure on President Obama to use his pen to implement new gun control measures through executive action. 

In an effort to exploit the murders at Umpqua Community College in Oregon last week, Everytown has issued a report with actions they claim will "save lives" and "keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people."

"This report answers the President’s call, and offers five life-saving measures that the Administration could advance — today — to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," the Everytown website states. "These five critical — and simple — steps would: keep dangerous people with guns out of our schools; crack down on gun trafficking and curb the sale of guns without background checks; ensure that law enforcement identifies and prosecutes the most dangerous criminals who try to illegally obtain guns; help states to enforce their own background check laws; and ensure that all convicted domestic abusers are prohibited from possessing guns. A comprehensive list of these and other recommended executive actions is set forth in the appendix to this report."  

The executive action recommendations: 

1. Issue guidance to ensure that dangerous people are not permitted to carry guns within 1,000 feet of a school;
2. Issue a regulation clarifying that high-volume gun sellers are “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms and must obtain dealer licenses and comply with applicable laws, including background checks on all gun sales;
3. Instruct federal law enforcement to identify and arrest dangerous criminals who try to buy illegal guns, and to notify and work with state and local authorities when these illegal purchases are attempted;
4. Assist states in enforcing their existing background check laws by publishing aggregate background check denial data for guns sold by unlicensed sellers; and
5. Protect victims of domestic abuse by clarifying that convicted abusers are prohibited from having guns regardless of marital status.

I should note:

1) The vast majority of schools are already "gun free zones" by law with the goal of banning "dangerous people with guns out of schools." 

2) It is already illegal to operate as a business selling firearms with the intent of making a profit without an FFL.

3) The U.S. already has laws that allow law enforcement to identify and prosecute dangerous criminals who try to illegal buy guns but under President Obama, prosecution of these crimes and enforcement of these laws are down significantly.

4) Oregon in particular has a universal background check system which didn't stop the murders last week.

5) Convicted domestic abusers are already banned from purchasing firearms.

As Everytown notes, President Obama lamented the lack of action from Congress to implement more gun control during remarks last week and said he can't change current laws by himself. Everytown seems to think he can and that he should.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said over the weekend she would use executive action to implement more gun control should she win the race for the White House in 2016.

Poll: Hillary Now Trails Trump, Jeb, Carly in New Hampshire and Iowa

Voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, two key nominating states and general election battlegrounds, have had quite a lot of exposure to Hillary Clinton through campaign rallies, meet-and-greets, and millions of dollars in television advertising. Democrat-leaners in the two early states have't been impressed; self-described Socialist Bernie Sanders has inexorably gained on her on Iowa, and has led in every major New Hampshire survey since August.  NBC News is out with fresh polling data from the Hawkeye and Granite States that may stir additional consternation in Democratic circles. Iowa:

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She's down ten to Jeb, down seven to Trump, and trails Fiorina by 14 points in hypothetical match-ups.  In New Hampshire, Hillary holds a modest three-point lead over Donald Trump, but has fallen behind Bush and Fiorina by seven and eight-point margins, respectively. Bernie Sanders outperforms her against all three potential GOP rivals -- leading Trump in both states, and Carly in New Hampshire.  In fairness, head-to-head numbers tend to bounce around, so their utility in predicting voters' actions 13 months from now is spotty at best.  The Clinton campaign should be more concerned about several enduring trends: First, President Obama's job approval rating is underwater in Iowa (38/55) and New Hampshire (43/51). Any Democratic nominee -- Clinton and Biden especially -- will be tied to the Obama legacy. Second, Mrs. Clinton's personal favorability remains quite weak in these critical states, in which she's spent so much time and money since launching (and re-launching) her campaign (Iowa, then New Hampshire):

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Roughly six in ten registered voters hold unfavorable views of Hillary Clinton, with almost nobody undecided, thanks to her brand saturation.  The only other candidate polled in these surveys whose numbers are this far upside-far down is...Donald Trump, sitting at (-23) in Iowa -- on par with Hillary -- and (-33) in New Hampshire, significantly worse than her. Whatever small bounce Hillary have have gained from her please like me performance on SNL this past weekend, she may well have erased it in an interview with NBC this morning.  She abandoned all pretense of contrition over her email scandal, blithely asserting that she's been historically transparent and suggesting that the continued focus on the issue is "beyond the pale:"

This arrogant, dishonest career politician is attempting to disqualify questions pertaining to her improper email arrangement as illegitimate. Unfortunately for her, the FBI is investigating her server scheme, which violated federal rules and compromised reams of classified material -- and about which she's lied repeatedly. She's been shown to have withheld emails that she claimed under penalty of perjury to have already turned over, a process that only commenced under intense public pressure and court orders. Cease and desist with your impertinent questions, Her Majesty demands. And she wonders why people don't like or trust her.

Gov. Haley: 9 Dead After Historic Floods

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) held a somber press conference Monday to address the frightening situation in her state as South Carolina enters its third straight day of flooding. Weather-related events, she said, have now claimed nine lives across the Carolinas.

South Carolina has already received 50 percent of its annual rainfall, Haley said. It is the worst flooding in the state’s history. While Hurricane Joaquin seems like the obvious source of the devastating floods, CNN reports it may be more complicated than that:

The low pressure area associated with the rain soaking the Carolinas is funneling heavy tropical moisture into the region, creating the torrential rainfall, the CNN Weather Center said.

While Hurricane Joaquin is predicted to miss the U.S., water connected to the storm is feeding torrential rain on the East Coast.

The moisture the storm is pulling in is also associated with Hurricane Joaquin, but the two systems shouldn't be confused.

Haley said she was late to today’s presser because she had just got off the phone with President Obama, who she said was “extremely gracious” in his comments and “concerned” about the life-threatening situation her citizens are facing.

Some positive news: National Guardsmen and water rescue teams have worked together to make over 150 rescues and the rain is expected to stop soon.

Yet, the flooding will persist. To avoid any more tragic casualties, Haley plead with her state to avoid the elements at any cost:

“If you’re in your house – stay in your house," she said. "This is not the time to take pictures.”

Chicago Had A Horror Show Of A Week With Reported Fentanyl-Laced Heroin

Since Tuesday, almost 75 people have overdosed on a rather dangerous batch of heroin, which authorities suspect is laced with fentanyl. The painkiller-laced heroin sent 14 people to Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago on Friday alone, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Drug Enforcement Administration has stepped in to help Chicago police find the source of the drugs, which have some patients taking two to three doses of Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids, in order to bring them out of their heroin-induced state. The Tribune added that a similar case with laced heroin occurred in 2006:

In all, nearly 75 people have overdosed in Chicago since Tuesday afternoon from dangerous batches of narcotics, possibly heroin laced with the painkiller fentanyl, according to city health and fire officials. Police were investigating if at least one recent death was caused by a heroin overdose.

"We suspect what is happening is the same thing that happened in 2006 when people were getting heroin that was cut with fentanyl, which is a very strong narcotic," said Diane Hincks, a registered nurse and emergency room director at Mount Sinai on the West Side. "That's what we think is happening."

By early Friday afternoon, emergency crews had responded to 74 cases over 72 hours, more than double the same three-day period last year, said Larry Langford, spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department.

Hincks said some of the 14 overdose victims treated at Mount Sinai had collapsed as soon as they injected themselves. The hospital typically sees two or three overdoses a day, she said.

Two of Mount Sinai's patients were in intensive care, another was still undergoing treatment, seven had been discharged and a few more were still in the emergency room as of about 3 p.m, Hincks said.

Chicago police said the drugs were purchased primarily at two locations on the West Side, one of them in the North Lawndale community. A sample of heroin recovered by police may have contained fentanyl, authorities said.

On top of that, the last weekend of September saw the Windy City experiencing another bloody weekend of shootings that killed four and wounded 52. According to NBC Chicago, it marks the second weekend in a row in which over 50 people were shot. The violence continued into that following Monday–September 28–where 14 people were shot in 15 hours:

According to a Chicago Tribune analysis, at least 2,300 people have been shot in the city so far this year, roughly 400 more than in the same period last year.

Last month, the New York Times reported Chicago saw the sixth highest murder rate increase so far this year when compared with other U.S. cities. The report indicated the city had 294 murders by the end of August, a 20 percent increase from 2014. According to Chicago police data, that number rose to 349 as of Sept. 20, up 21 percent from the year before.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday [Sept. 29] that he was "angry" about the recent shootings in the city.

"I'm going to try to control my anger," he said. "We have way too many guns in the city of Chicago."

Originally, many thought Illinois' latest recognition of carry laws, and the implementation of concealed carry, would cut down on the violence. It’s led to predominantly black and Hispanic communities in the city to line up for their respective permits. For a time after the implementation of concealed carry, Chicago’s murder rate dropped to its lowest levels since 1958, and robberies had decreased by 20 percent. Nevertheless, Illinois’ concealed carry laws are restrictive, and the state, overall, isn’t friendly to gun owners. Maybe instead of discussing tougher penalties for people who don’t care about law, Mayor Emanuel should consider loosening the city’s stringent anti-gun laws because the pro-gun control way isn’t working. It’s only making the butcher’s bill longer.