Mark Kirk Bolts from Fellow Republicans to Defend Planned Parenthood

Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois bucked his Republican colleagues yesterday and sided with Senate Democrats to keep taxpayer money flowing to Planned Parenthood. Kirk, who has a 25 percent rating from NARAL (the nation's leading pro-abortion group), defended his vote to sustain the Democratic filibuster on the grounds that Planned Parenthood does not sell baby parts in his home state of Illinois.

“In other states tissue donation programs should be investigated but in Illinois there is no similar program,” Kirk said in a statement to The Hill. “I do not plan to cut access to basic health care and contraception for women, the majority of whom have no other resources.”

Apparently, it was of no consequence to the senator that Planned Parenthood illegally sells baby parts in the United States, the country whose laws Kirk has sworn to defend.

Kirk was the only Senate Republican to defend Planned Parenthood's revenue stream and side with the Democrats. Mitch McConnell did vote to sustain the filibuster, but only for procedural reasons so that he could bring the bill up again in September. In addition, two Democrats bucked their party and voted to defund Planned Parenthood: Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

Kirk is up for reelection next year and could be running to the left to avoid criticism in his home state. Yet this vote is quite consistent with his pro-abortion history. In 2000, he ran for Congress as a pro-choice politician, and in the mid-2000s, he voted to allow embryonic stem cell research, and later to expand it.

Kirk had a 100 percent rating from NARAL back in 2003, but NARAL reduced his rating to 25 percent after he opposed the provision of Obamacare that allowed for taxpayer funding of abortion. Kirk has said he is against such public funding, even though he remains pro-abortion.

It's a wonder, then, that he is now defending Planned Parenthood's right to get taxpayer dollars. It's quite possible, after all, to be pro-choice in principle and yet oppose public funding for Planned Parenthood. In fact, the public funding of Planned Parenthood is precisely the kind of thing one would expect Kirk to be fighting, given what he's said in the past.

But this is now election season, and the long arm of the Chicago political machine is unforgiving.

Whatever the case, when it comes to action on abortion, Senate Republicans can count on a full army, minus one.

Marine Corps Congressional Fellow Arrested For Having A Loaded Handgun In DC

I deeply respect our men and women in uniform, but they should also know that the District of Columbia is not gun-friendly. Not even in the slightest. We’ve had press secretariescongressional interns, and members of the National Pork Producers Council arrested for trying to bring their firearms into government buildings.

Now, we have a Marine Corps congressional fellow who’s been arrested by Capitol Police after .45 caliber handgun was found in his car upon a routine search outside the Rayburn building (via Roll Call):

Gunnery Sergeant Peter Boby was arrested after officers discovered loaded .45 caliber handgun in his vehicle during a routine vehicle inspection outside of the Rayburn House Office Building. USCP spokesperson Lt. Kimberly A. Schneider said in a statement, “At approximately 2:00 pm today at Washington Avenue and C Street, SW, USCP officers were conducting administrative security screening required for entry into the secure perimeter. Officers discovered a loaded .45 caliber handgun in a vehicle.”

Boby was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, unregistered ammunition, and unregistered firearm. Schneider said he is being processed at USCP headquarters on D Street NE.

“[Boby] is an active duty Marine. He is a gunnery sergeant and he is assigned as a congressional fellow,” Major Paul Greenberg, a Marine Corps spokesman, told CQ Roll Call when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon. The Marine Corps did not offer a comment on Boby’s arrest.

So, once more, do not bring your guns into DC. You’re messing with Scylla and Charybdis (legally) by doing so, and it could ruin your life.

Awful: Taco Bell Employee Writes 'PIG' On Police Officer's Order

So, this is a rather awful story coming out of Newton, Kansas. A police officer and his fiancé decided to grab some food at the local Taco Bell. Upon receiving their order, they found the word “pig” written on their taco wrappers (via

The couple called and spoke to a manager on duty.

"I was told I could bring the 5 tacos back and she would have them remade," the couple shared with us. "I advised her that we were both working and that wasn't an option. She then said she would leave a note to refund our money and get the food remade."

In an update to the original story, we now learn that the Taco Bell employee in question had been fired:

Jeff Graves, senior director of operations for Taco Bell, said the worker was let go from the job. The worker wrote “PIG” on to-go orders for the couple Saturday night in Newton.

“We do not share the same belief or view as the employee whatsoever,” Graves said. “Our company, Taco Bell, has always been pro-law enforcement, military. We’ve always supported the police in our community. Many of our restaurants give police discounts when they come in and eat.”


We’ve of course apologized to him, all the Newton Police officers and, in fact, everyone in the community,” Graves said. “In fact, I’ve even met with the lieutenant with the Newton Police Department this morning, and we’re even going to plan a community event working with the Newton Police officers within the next week just to show our support for the officers and the community.”

Law enforcement has suffered a public relations nightmare for the past year. Officers themselves have been targeted, some times with fatal results. Yet, the vast majority of police officers who wear the uniform–and put their lives on the line to maintain law and order–are good people. They take up a job that comes with an enormous responsibility, and one that’s fraught with danger. It's not easy being a cop.  Anyone with common sense knows this.

Yes, there are bad cops out there, and they need to be called out and held accountable. We’ve seen this happen in South Carolina in June and most recently in Cincinnati. Yet, if you want to express your anger towards this perceived lawlessness among the law enforcement community (though that’s a load of you know what), feel free to send a letter to the editor, organize a rally, or join a protest. It’s perfectly legal. Writing “pig” on a Taco Bell wrapper is cheap, ridiculous, and puerile.

All that was lost was the employee’s job and reputation for taking an unnecessary low blow to what appears to be a police officer that does the uniform and the profession proud.

Obama Puts Rural America In The Cross Hairs

Yesterday, the president announced his Clean Power Plan, which is aimed to tackle the phantom threat of global warming. In doing so, the president has put rural America, black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and those on fixed-income seniors in the crosshairs. First, let’s go to what Obama said:

Now, not everyone here is a scientist -- (laughter) -- but some of you are among the best scientists in the world. And what you and your colleagues have been showing us for years now is that human activities are changing the climate in dangerous ways. Levels of carbon dioxide, which heats up our atmosphere, are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years; 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. And we've been setting a lot of records in terms of warmest years over the last decade. One year doesn’t make a trend, but 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have fallen within the first 15 years of this century.

Climate change is no longer just about the future that we're predicting for our children or our grandchildren; it's about the reality that we're living with every day, right now.

The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security [I guess the CIA didn’t get the memo].


With this Clean Power Plan, by 2030, carbon pollution from our power plants will be 32 percent lower than it was a decade ago. And the nerdier way to say that is that we’ll be keeping 870 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of our atmosphere. (Applause.) The simpler, layman’s way of saying that is it’s like cutting every ounce of emission due to electricity from 108 million American homes. Or it's the equivalent of taking 166 million cars off the road.

By 2030, we will reduce premature deaths from power plant emissions by nearly 90 percent -- and thanks to this plan, there will be 90,000 fewer asthma attacks among our children each year. (Applause.) And by combining this with greater investment in our booming clean energy sector, and smarter investments in energy efficiency, and by working with the world to achieve a climate agreement by the end of this year, we can do more to slow, and maybe even eventually stop, the carbon pollution that’s doing so much harm to our climate.

Well, NASA is only  38 percent certain that 2014 was the warmest year, out air quality has never been better, according to the EPA’s own studies; and the price tag for this will be millions of jobs. The Clean Power Plan aims to cut these greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 30 percent from 2005 levels. They know this is tough. They know they’re going to face political obstacles in trying to get this plan implemented. Hence, the emphasis that health, specifically children’s health, will improve. The narrative will be if you’re against this, you’re anti-science and you want children to die. Nevertheless, it doesn’t negate the fact that rural America will be devastated (E&E News):

Rural America stands to lose more than urban America if U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan drives power prices up, according to a paper released today by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The trade group for rural electricity nonprofits argued in its report that rural economies are more sensitive to rate fluctuations because they tend to run on energy-intensive industries like agriculture and manufacturing, rather than the service and financial sectors that tend to locate in urban areas.

Businesses in what the paper dubbed "Co-op Nation" -- areas of the country that are served by rural co-ops because they are too sparsely populated to entice for-profit utilities -- required 34 percent more power than industry elsewhere, the report said.

This means that if electricity prices climb 10 percent or 25 percent between now and 2040 -- as the paper suggests they will, in part because of the rule -- that would have a proportionally larger impact on rural regions than it would on urban areas. Those losses would trickle down to local businesses, reducing the tax base and impacting public-sector jobs, it said.

The study holds that a 10 percent increase in electricity prices would mean 1.2 million jobs lost in 2021 nationwide, with nearly 500,000 of those located in rural communities.


Lisa Johnson, CEO and general manager of Seminole Electric Cooperative in Florida, said after her own meeting with OMB and other administration staff earlier this month that the rule as proposed would force 27 of her state's 30 coal-fired power plants to shutter by 2020 to meet a tough interim target of 794 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour.

What about fixed-income seniors? Obama is going to toss them of the fiscal cliff, according to a study conducted by The 60 Plus Association. Sixty-three percent of America’s 65+ households have gross annual incomes of less than $50,000. In fact, on average, seniors 65+ and older make 41 percent less than the median $57,353 of younger households, according to the study. They also represent almost a quarter of the 116 million households in the country, and almost two-thirds of these households had a pre-tax income of just $24,842, or $2,070 per month before state and federal taxes. In short, a surge in electrical prices will leave these folks open to financial disaster. As for blacks and Hispanics, Clean Power will show no mercy; the plan is projected to gut millions of jobs for them.

In July, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made no qualms about that fact that the power plant rule was going to be stronger. To no one’s surprise, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been advocating states to reject the new rules, setting up another policy battle between GOP governors and the president. The Wall Street Journal described the Clean Power Plan as “regulation without representation,” and, of course, this new agenda favors green energy initiatives that are inefficient, won’t be able to keep up with our energy needs, and above all a complete waste of time and money.

Rarely do American Presidents display the raw willfulness that President Obama did Monday in rolling out his plan to reorganize the economy in the name of climate change. Without a vote in Congress or even much public debate, Mr. Obama is using his last 18 months to dictate U.S. energy choices for the next 20 or 30 years. This abuse of power is regulation without representation.

The so-called Clean Power Plan commands states to cut carbon emissions by 32% (from 2005 levels) by 2030. This final mandate is 9% steeper than the draft the Environmental Protection Agency issued in June 2014. The damage to growth, consumer incomes and U.S. competitiveness will be immense—assuming the rule isn’t tossed by the courts or rescinded by the next Administration.


Coal-fired power will be the first to be shot, but the EPA is targeting all sources of carbon energy. As coal plants have retired amid seven years of EPA assault, natural gas recently eclipsed coal as the dominant source of electric power. This cleaner-burning gas surge has led to the cheapest and fastest emissions plunge in history, but the EPA isn’t satisfied.

Thus the new rule’s central planning favors green energy sources like wind and solar. The plan expands their quotas and funding, while punishing states that are insufficiently enthusiastic. The EPA estimates renewables will make up 28% of U.S. electric capacity by 2030, up from less than 5% today.


As for the home front, the point is to bull-rush states into making permanent changes to their energy systems. The investments and lead times in new power plants and transmission lines on this scale are generational. Yet state compliance plans are due in September 2016, and most of the carbon reductions must be complete by 2022.

The White House and EPA know they are distorting the law beyond recognition and that this rule will be litigated for years. But they figure that if they can intimidate the states into enacting as much change as fast as possible, a legal defeat won’t matter because the outcome will be a fait accompli.

Oh, and as Morgan Chalfant of the Washington Free Beacon wrote today, the optics of this whole things are muddied when it’s been discovered that environmentalists and EPA officials have met in secret for years over these new carbon emission rules.  Additionally, the carbon tax debate could be resurrected thanks to Clean Power Plan.

Exit Question: Knowing the detrimental economic impact this clean power agenda will have on the Hispanic community, why do they support this plan? Do you think these numbers will shift as more information comes forward?

Bring on the 'Happy Hour Debate': Reactions from GOP Candidates in 5pm Debate

So how did the seven Republican presidential candidates who didn’t make the cut for the prime-time debate react? Let’s take a look, in the order they ranked.

1. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has no complaints, publicly at least.

2. We can’t say the same for Rick Santorum & Co., however.

3. No word from Gov. Bobby Jindal yet.

4. Carly Fiorina is still looking forward to the debate and "continue[s] to be encouraged by the support of conservative activists and grassroots Republicans across the country."

5. Sen. Lindsey Graham was in good spirits about the 5pm “happy hour” debate—perhaps even thankful he won’t be on stage with The Donald.

6. No word from former Gov. George Pataki, either.

7. And radio silence from former Gov. Jim Gilmore.

BREAKING: Fox News Announces Which GOP Hopefuls Made the Cut For First Debate

So who’s in and who’s out? Finally, the results we’ve all been waiting for.

Fox News has just announced that the following GOP hopefuls have qualified for the primetime debate:

See the 10 Republicans Who Qualified for the @FoxNews Primetime Debate @BretBaier @megynkelly

— FoxNewsInsider (@FoxNewsInsider) August 4, 2015

Real estate magnate Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

That means that the seven candidates who will be sitting at the proverbial kids table, i.e., those who will be invited to appear in the 5pm debate, are: Former Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Gov. George Pataki, and former Gov. Jim Gilmore.

According to, “The roster of 10 candidates was determined based on an average of the five most recent national polls,” a necessary measure given how large the field of Republican hopefuls is.

"Our field is the biggest and most diverse of any party in history and I am glad to see that every one of those extremely qualified candidates will have the opportunity to participate on Thursday evening. Republicans across the country will be able to choose which candidate has earned their support after hearing them talk through the issues,” RNC Chair Reince Priebus said in a statement reacting to the news.

"Democrats will have to take Hillary Clinton's word that she deserves to be their nominee. While the RNC is moving forward with our sanctioned debate schedule, the DNC has yet to even announce when they will put her onstage."

Shady: Hillary Super PAC Filled with Dark Money

A pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC received money from a pro-Democrat super PAC financed by dark money groups, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Free Beacon breaks down the details:

Fair Share Action (FSA) donated $1 million to pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action in late June, one of eight million-dollar contributions the pro-Clinton group has received so far this year from various sources.

FSA also gave $5,000 to another pro-Clinton super PAC in April.

The source of FSA’s money is nearly impossible to trace. It’s received just two contributions this year: $300,000 from Fair Share Inc., its 501(c)(4) dark money affiliate, and $800,000 from another dark money group called Environment America.

The Free Beacon has done previous research on these groups. First, Fair Share Action:

Fair Share Action is an affiliate of two other organizations: the 501(c)(4) Fair Share Alliance, and the 501(c)(3) Fair Share Alliance Education Fund. The Alliance, known until 2012 as Progressive Future, is among 180 liberal organizations supported by the Democracy Alliance.

Like its Super PAC affiliate, the Fair Share Alliance has worked extensively with Work for Progress, paying the firm $1.37 million between July 2012 and June 2013, according to its most recent Internal Revenue Service filing.

Work for Progress had some of its staffers discussing committing voter fraud in a video released by James O' Keefe. Two of their staffers faced charges of registering ineligible voters, with one having the charges dropped and the other not showing up to court, making him a fugitive.

Here are a few groups that Fair Share Alliance has received funds from in the past:

Fair Share Action has received funds from just four groups during the 2014 cycle: $500,000 from its Fair Share Alliance affiliate; $500,000 from the political arm of the National Education Association teachers union, whose executive director chairs DA’s board; $125,000 from the America Votes Action Fund, a member of DA’s core “aligned network” portfolio; and $10,000 from the DA-supported House Majority PAC.

It received additional DA support in 2012, when millionaire tech tycoon and Democracy Alliance co-founder Tim Gill gave the group $250,000. His Gill Action Fund chipped in another $218,000.

Environment America also gave Fair Share America six-figure donations that year as well.

What is known about these two groups is that they a part of the Democracy Alliance network. Democracy Alliance is a George Soros-funded group that is filled with progressive activists and high-level Democrat office holders. They are extremely secretive:

It staffs its invitation-only confabs with private security who, along with attendees, receives pictures of reporters who might poke around. No one speaks to the press, and enterprising journalists who get too close are physically escorted out.

Their goal is to elect Hillary Clinton, move her leftward and eventually implement severe limits on campaign finance spending. The Federalist shows that Britain and Canada have strict campaign spending limits, and the public in each country is now very apathetic to what their government does because their ability to influence elections is very limited. And as a result, the political establishments in both countries feature corruption, and their political parties tend to implement progressive policies. Imagine that.

Hillary has actually declined to speak to Democracy Alliance in the past. She has also spoken out against dark money.

While by law Hillary is not supposed to coordinate with her Super PAC, in order for her to remain consistent it would be wise for her to put her money where her mouth is and speak against the dark money her PAC is receiving. Don't hold your breath though.

Another State Democrat Group Drops "Jefferson-Jackson" From Annual Dinner Title

The Maine Democratic Party will no longer dub their annual dinner celebration the "Jefferson-Jackson" dinner, following a recent trend of other state groups dropping the third and seventh president from the celebration.

My colleague Matt Vespa wrote in June about the potential controversy around honoring Thomas Jefferson (who owned slaves and possibly sired a child with one) and Andrew Jackson (who, uh, did the whole Indian Removal Act thing). A large percentage of Democrats surveyed in the video Matt's post said they were perfectly fine with the name change, given that the presidents don't represent modern Democrats.

From the Bangor Daily News:

“Over the last year, the conversation has gained some more seriousness and depth and several other states have led the way,” said Kennedy. “It is an event where we honor our party, our values and our leaders, and the name of that event and everything it signifies should reflect those things as well. We have realized that the name Jefferson-Jackson does not adequately do that.”

Democratic parties around the country have long titled their annual dinners “Jefferson-Jackson,” but there has been a recent move away from that name. According to an article in The Atlantic and other news reports, at least four states — New Hampshire, Connecticut, Missouri and Georgia — have changed the name of their dinners. Party leaders in South Carolina, Iowa and Tennessee are also considering changes.

There hasn't been a replacement name announced just yet, but it's likely that it will include former Maine Sen. George Mitchell, who represented the state in the Senate from 1980 until 1995.

GOPers Prepare for Thursday's Debate

Many of us are anticipating this Thursday’s GOP debate, particularly Donald Trump’s whimsical touch. Fortunately, Fox News debate moderator Chris Wallace has devised many opportunities for Trump to shine.

Only 10 out of the declared 17 candidates will be given the opportunity to debate based on who ranks highest in the polls. Trump surely will be one of them.

America will watch in anticipation as many issues such as economy, foreign policy, electability, spending/national debt, health care and even “for fun” questions will be addressed.

As GOPers are preparing for the debate, all have one thing in mind: averting Trump.

Jeb Bush is spending hours in sessions from Florida to Maine preparing policy answers for Thursday’s first Republican debate — but he is also being mindful to avert any display of disdain for the man he will stand beside, Donald J. Trump, who has infuriated Mr. Bush by criticizing Mexican immigrants. (Mr. Bush is married to one.) 

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is crafting one-minute answers and 30-second rebuttals in case Mr. Trump or others continue attacking him as a flip-flopper on Common Core education standards and as a weak jobs creator, testing lines in mock debates with advisers playing Mr. Trump and other candidates. 

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ben Carson are determined not to let the debate on Fox News become about Mr. Trump, practicing to steer the conversation to national security, entitlement reform and health care — which might implicitly plant doubts about Mr. Trump’s knowledge on those issues.

These candidates are given the opportunity to make their very first impression on a national level, and when it comes to becoming president of the United States, having the attention on Donald Trump is not on their agenda. They hope to appeal to this larger audience and Wallace hopes to aid in the “unlocking of the politicians' minds.” 

With most candidates, Wallace has an idea of what they would like to accomplish on the debate stage. “If you’re Jeb Bush, you pretty much want to stay out of any clinches,” Wallace said. “There’s nothing to be gained by him to punch down on somebody below him. What he’s going to want to do is establish his conservative bona fides, to say: ‘I’m not Bush III, I’m the former conservative governor of a state.’ .?.?. There are other people who are going to want to make a statement on the stage, who are going to want to push at somebody, and to a certain degree, you’d like those fireworks.”

With each candidate getting around 8 to 10 minutes to answer each question and a rebuttal, they know that each minute holds a high responsibility to appeal to America in a tense and high pressure environment. 

Grab your popcorn, everyone, as this debate is estimated to hold some of the highest ratings in all of national television. Donald Trump’s flavorful touch will certainly be a commodity to watch, but so will the reactions, and aversions of the other candidates.

The debate will take place Thursday at 9 p.m. EST on Fox News.

Video: Watch Donald Trump Bash People for Hours on End

The perfect compilation video to get you in the right mindset for Thursday’s festivities: Donald Trump bashing people he dislikes for 10 straight hours. What more could you ask for?

Finally, this video exists — although it appears the reel only plays the same clips on repeat. Still, kudos to IJReview for putting this masterpiece together.

Watch as The Donald scolds President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Secretary Kerry, Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. John McCain and even Rosie O’Donnell. (I only watched for six minutes before calling it quits). In effect, Trump is an equal opportunity offender, and thus has no qualms whatsoever about offending anyone. And while some of the clips are indeed a bit on the older side, they're very much worth watching.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2016 Republican frontrunner.

For what it's worth, Trump has hinted recently he won’t actually throw verbal “punches” when the curtains open and the lights come on Thursday evening. We’ll see.

Puerto Rico Has Defaulted

U.S. commonwealth Puerto Rico defaulted on its debt for the first time Monday, paying just $628,000 of its $58 million scheduled payment. Moody's "views this event as a default."

Puerto Rico has an outstanding debt of $72 billion.

Puerto Rico's Government Development Bank paid only $628,000 of the $58 million due creditors, the agency said. It said the decision "reflects the serious concerns about the Commonwealth's liquidity" and the need to ensure "essential services (residents) deserve are maintained."

Given the tiny payout, "Moody's views this event as a default," said Emily Raimes, vice president at the U.S. credit giant.

Puerto Rico's outstanding debt of $72 billion is far bigger than Detroit's $20 billion bankruptcy two years ago but a fraction of Greece's $350 billion in obligations. But unlike Detroit, there's no law allowing Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy. And Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said the federal government won't bail out the island, as institutions such as the International Monetary Fund rescued Greece.

Puerto Rico has seen its population plummet since the recession began, and despite attempts to raise sales taxes to raise revenue, the economy has not recovered. People born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens, although they do not pay federal income tax nor vote in presidential elections.

Iran: US Has No Right to Know Details of Secret Nuclear Side Deals

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees penned an op/ed demanding that the Obama administration release the full text of two secret "side deals" lurking within the controversial Iranian nuclear accord.  The lawmakers say they only discovered the existence of these private provisions on a recent trip to Vienna, and that US law -- signed by President Obama -- explicitly requires every single word of the finalized agreement to be provided to Congress for review:

For those of us who are elected officials, few votes will be more consequential than whether to approve or disapprove the nuclear agreement President Obama has reached with Iran. Yet the president expects Congress to cast this vote without the administration’s fully disclosing the contents of the deal to the American people. This is unacceptable and plainly violates the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act—a law the president signed only weeks ago. During a recent trip to Vienna to meet with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization charged with verifying Iran’s compliance, we learned that certain elements of this deal are—and will remain—secret. According to the IAEA, those involved with the negotiations, including the Obama administration, agreed to allow Iran to forge the secret side deals with the IAEA on two issues. The first governs the IAEA’s inspection of the Parchin military complex, the facility long suspected as the site of Iran’s long-range ballistic-missile and nuclear-weapons development. The second addresses what—if anything—Iran will be required to disclose about the past military dimensions of its nuclear program.

The Parchin issue is concerning because Western powers have reportedly agreed to allow Iran to submit their own soil samples for tests -- hardly a rigorous "inspection."  The so-called 'past military dimensions' issue is important because it's yet another supposedly solid red line on which Obama's negotiators crumbled.  Both snags have been "resolved" in non-public pacts struck between Iran and the IAEA, about which US officials have been squirrelly and evasive:

The response from the administration to questions about the side deals has brought little reassurance. At first the administration refrained from acknowledging their existence. Unable to sustain that position, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on July 22 during a White House press briefing that the administration “knows” the “content” of the arrangements and would brief Congress on it. Yet the same day Secretary of State John Kerry, in a closed-door briefing with members of Congress, said he had not read the side deals. And on July 29 when pressed in a Senate hearing, Mr. Kerry admitted that a member of his negotiating team “may” have read the arrangements but he was not sure. That person, Undersecretary of State and lead negotiator Wendy Sherman, on July 30 said in an interview on MSNBC, “I saw the pieces of paper but wasn’t allowed to keep them. All of the members of the P5+1 did in Vienna, and so did some of my experts who certainly understand this even better than I do.” A game of nuclear telephone and hearsay is simply not good enough, not for a decision as grave as this one. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act says Congress must have full access to all nuclear-agreement documents—not unverifiable ?accounts from Ms. Sherman or others of what may or may not be in the secret side deals.?How else can Congress, in good conscience, vote on the overall deal?

This mini-drama represents another reason why Americans are right to reject this disastrous agreement. For its part, the Iranian regime -- which never misses an opportunity to antagonize and inflame the United States -- is extending a big middle finger on these questions, of course.  The Free Beacon's Adam Kredo reports:

Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the nuclear inspection organization is barred from revealing to the United States any details of deals it has inked with Tehran to inspect its contested nuclear program going forward, according to regional reports. Recent disclosures by Iran indicate that the recently inked nuclear accord includes a series of side deals on critical inspections regimes that are neither public nor subject to review by the United States. Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador and permanent envoy to the IAEA, stated over the weekend that no country is permitted to know the details of future inspections conducted by the IAEA. In addition, no U.S. inspectors will be permitted to enter Iran’s nuclear sites.

That last bit is a new one to me, aside from one unconfirmed Twitter report I saw over the weekend. Iran is claiming that this deal bars any Americans from participating in the inspection teams -- which will have to wait up to 24 days to access suspicious sites, you'll recall.  That Twitter report, from a guy with solid sources at State, now appears to be confirmed.  Will the media follow-up on this?

The Donald Turns the Tables on Gawker After Site Releases His Phone Number

Politics in general and elections specifically tend to bring out the worst in people, and the 2016 election cycle has been no different. Candidates have already resorted to name-calling, finger pointing, and sometimes downright low moves, like when Donald Trump gave out Sen. Lindsey Graham’s personal cell phone number because Graham called him a “jackass” (which he did after Trump’s comments about McCain’s war hero status).

On Monday, Gawker decided to level the playing field.

“In the spirit of open and fair political debate, we now bring you Trump’s number,” the site writes. “Since Trump, in his considered political judgment, has decided that opening up a direct, personal channel of communications between his supporters and his primary opponents is a noble campaign tactic, we think it’s only fair and right that Republican primary voters be able to reach out to Trump himself.”

While Graham responded to Trump giving out his number by making a comical video showing all the ways one can destroy a phone, Trump reacted quite differently.

Rather than destroy his phone, Trump simply turned the voicemail into a campaign ad.

“Hi, this is Donald Trump and I’m running for the presidency of the United States of America,” he says on the recording. “With your help and support, together we can make America truly great again! Visit me at twitter @realDonaldTrump and check out my campaign website at Hope to see you on the campaign trail, we’re going to do it!”

Regardless of what you think of Trump, he turned Gawker’s attempt to retaliate into a positive. Lindsey Graham’s number, which I just called, has been disconnected. All that’s left is a video of him destroying his phone, which is already forgotten news. Many people, who will likely get a thrill out of dialing up the business mogul, will hear a campaign message—forever, or at least as long as he decides to keep the line up and running.

As one Twitter user commented, this is precisely the difference between an entrepreneur and a “government slug,” and the reason The Donald will not go down without a fight.

Liberal Hypocrisy Over Mandela Game Hunting

Nothing in recent memory has excited the global animal liberation smellies quite as much as the killing of Cecil the lion last month. His death, at the hands of the American dentist Walter Palmer, is undoubtedly the greatest coup these campaigners have had in years, but does it also show the hypocrisy of the liberal twittocracy?

I have no idea why anyone spends their hard earned money chasing wild animals around with the purpose of killing them, but then again I am as unfit as I am unable to shoot straight. What I do know is there is almost complete consensus in countries like Zimbabwe that hunting is a vital part of conservation.

In fact hunting is seen as so integral to the protection of the natural environment that in April 1991 the South African newspaper The Weekly News ran a front page article about Nelson Mandela going hunting. The headline was “Mandela Goes Green” with a photo of him holding a rifle and one of the game animals he had personally shot.

The byline stated “A hunting trip converts the ANC leader to conservation”, and the article goes on to talk about the ANC leader taking a “two-week holiday at a Lowveld nature reserve hunting”. For the avoidance of doubt the paper explains he spent his time with the KaNgwane Parks Board which is “renowned for its methods - including hunting and culling of overpopulated species”.

Mandela was lorded for being “green” on his trip to Lowveld not in spite of hunting but because of his embrace of the sport. The article makes it clear Mandela recognized the need to make the park sustainable by foreign tourists, including hunters. These hunters pay a fortune for what they do (Palmer handed over $55k), and that is the only thing that pays for park rangers and all the conservation work they do.

Whatever Mandela thought he was never really challenged by the left, they loved him blindly. When Mandela hunts and poses with a rifle next to an animal he has himself shot, it is lauded as a paragon of Green, progressive virtues.

When an American healthcare professional engages in precisely the same activity for the same reason he is turned by the liberal left into a global pariah. The same people who are calling for the murder of Walter Palmer, also see Mandela as some sort of man god who could do nothing wrong.

Where was the campaign to have him prosecuted? You didn't miss it, it didn't happen, because the liberals don't care. They want to attack little guys like Palmer, but care little for criticism of leaders they like.

Mandela was right to hunt, it is part of the economy of Africa and a long-standing tradition. Those who disagree with Palmer ought to condemn everyone who hunts in Africa rather than picking out a few Americans to scapegoat. And if they do not object to Mandela's actions they should not be harassing Palmer.

Today American, United and Delta Airlines all buckled to the global liberal twittocracy and announced they will no longer ship lion, leopard, elephant, rhino or buffalo killed by trophy hunters.

This is yet another example of how Cecil the lion is being used to marginalize the legitimate hunting industry. Perhaps it will be illegal soon, and the media circus that demanded the ban will do nothing to repay African conservationists for the money they lose.

Mandela is seen as a saint by liberals, perhaps they need to accept that saints hunt. Dry your crocodile tears kids, conservation demands hunting!

Oh, by the way, Mandela bagged an impala and a large blesbok roan. The park director, Jeremy Anderson, told The Weekly News that Mandela shot the roan “through the heart” which he assured them was “a perfect hunter's shot." 

Planned Parenthood Affiliate on Undercover Videos: “Medical Procedures are Difficult to Watch”

Planned Parenthood and its nationwide affiliates have really had to stretch to try and defend their organization in the wake of five very damning videos. The Center for Medical Progress has thus far released a handful of clips from their three-year investigation into Planned Parenthood which has exposed several of the organization’s employees negotiating the sale of aborted babies’ organs and, in the latest disturbing video, even whole babies’ bodies.

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards attempted to justify her organization's immorality by instead pointing an accusatory finger at the “militant wing of the anti-abortion movement” and referring to the videos in question as “highly doctored.” The words escaped her in desperation.

Her "non-profit's" affiliates have similarly failed in their far fetched explanations for what is seen on these tapes. In perhaps the strangest "defense" yet, the Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast had this to say:

"The video released today will be difficult for many people to see. Medical procedures and medical research are often difficult to watch. The video shows a Planned Parenthood staff member with an actor posing as a medical researcher handling fetal tissue in a lab. It is standard medical practice to review tissue to ensure the health and safety of patients, and this tissue was being examined and handled under the false pretense of a standard laboratory site visit for people purportedly conducting qualified medical research.”

That’s all they can say? The selling of babies’ body parts is just part of a “medical procedure” that is “difficult to watch?” Such a casually callous response is perhaps more disturbing than the footage itself. If the scenes in these videos are common practices behind Planned Parenthood's doors, a full scale investigation into their clinics should be demanded in every state.

The Gulf Coast branch goes on to assert that the “real agenda” of the CMP is to ban abortion and limit women's access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood and that most Americans don’t support their efforts. Yet, the pro-life movement has only grown more vocal in its effort to halt taxpayer funding to the organization, even dedicating a day of national protests to expose its harmful treatment of women.

After the first four videos were released, the Senate still could not garner enough votes to defund the organization. Two Democrats voted in favor of the bill, however, leaving some room for hope that more will join as more footage from the CMP is released.

Soon, Planned Parenthood's meaningless justifications will no longer be tolerated.

‘The 33’ to Portray How Chilean Miners Relied on Faith Before Miraculous Rescue

Five years ago, 33 Chilean miners working in the San Jose mine heard a boom. Then they were trapped 2,300 feet underground. For two months, they rationed food and water and prayed that they’d see once again see the light of day and the families they left above ground. 

They lived to talk about it.

No one is soon to forget the image of those 33 miners being raised one by one in a capsule that propelled them to freedom. Now, five years after the miraculous rescue, Warner Brothers is releasing “The 33” for moviegoers to witness the incredible tale on the big screen.

One of the trapped miners’ greatest sources of strength during those 69 days underground was their faith in God. A new trailer made exclusively for Christian outlets puts the spotlight on this particular part of the miners’ ordeal. Watch below. I got chills.

The most powerful moment in the trailer, I think, is this exchange between two of the trapped miners:

“We can say a prayer together.”

“I don’t know the words.”

“God doesn’t care.”

CNN is airing a special tonight at 9 p.m. on how these miners’ religious convictions propelled them back to the surface. The men kept looking up, even when darkness loomed, resources were scant, and time was running out. Jorge Galleguillos, a trapped miner from Copiapo, Chile, described how they refused to give up:

"You have to have faith," Galleguillos said. "You can never lose your faith. Faith is nourishment ... Faith is life."

Antonio Banderas stars in “The 33” as miner Mario Sepulveda. Sepulveda is remembered as the second man to be lifted to safety and who joyously led his rescue team in a cheer.

“The 33” comes to US theaters Nov. 13.

Trump: Yes, I'd Shut Down the Government to End Planned Parenthood's Subsidies

Donald Trump has watched the Planned Parenthood videos. There are now five of them. And unsurprisingly, he finds them “disgraceful.” But as a newly converted pro-life advocate, he went a step further on Monday than merely denigrating the organization's stomach-churning and unethical profit-making practices. He wants the abortion giant totally defunded and therefore stripped of all taxpayer subsidies, telling interviewer Hugh Hewitt he'd even support bringing the US government to its knees to make it happen:

HH: Alright now let me talk to you about the other big story that happened to you when you were in Great Britain the Planed Parenthood videos. Have you watched them, Donald Trump?

DT: I have. I think it was disgraceful. I have watched them, yes. …

HH: …The only way to get rid of Planned Parenthood money for selling off baby parts is to shut the government down in September. Would you support that?

DT: Well I can tell you this. I would and I was also in support if the Republicans stuck together you could have done it with Obamacare also, but the Republicans decided not to stick together and they left a few people out there like Ted Cruz. You know, they left a lot of the people who really went in and wanted to do the job and you know what? If they had stuck together they would have won that battle. I think you have to in this case also, yes.

Parting question: Would he really support shutting down the government or is he just saying that? Hmmm.

Watch the full clip below:

POLL: Highly Dissatisfied Obamacare Enrollees Find Out Health Insurance Isn't Healthcare

Don't say we didn't warn you. 

According to a new poll conducted by Deloitte, the vast majority of people enrolled in Obamacare are dissatisfied with their insurance coverage and do not believe they will be able to receive care when they need it. Just 30 percent of people enrolled in Obamacare are satisfied with their insurance plan, which is significantly worse than any other available form of healthcare coverage. Even worse, despite being subsidized by the taxpayer Obamacare enrollees still don't feel they are financially stable enough to cover remaining health costs or high deductibles. 

This is just the beginning. Obamacare and healthcare costs overall are

expected to rise exponentially despite promises the healthcare overhaul would make health insurance and care more affordable.

The cost of Obamacare could rise for millions of Americans next year, with one insurer proposing a 50 percent hike in premiums, fueling the controversy about just how “affordable” the Affordable Care Act really is.

The eye-popping 50 percent hike by New Mexico insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield is an outlier, and state officials may not allow it to go through. But health insurance experts are predicting that premiums will rise more significantly in 2016 than in the first two years of Obamacare exchange coverage. In 2015, for example, premiums increased by an average of 5.4 percent, according to PwC’s Health Research Institute.

Finally, remember when the White House argued those who were forced onto the Obamacare system due to the law eliminating their private individual or employer based healthcare plan were better off because those plans were "crappy" or "sub par?" Good times.

NBC/WSJ Poll: Hillary Favorability In Free Fall

Between Quinnipiac's Iran deal survey and the new NBC/WSJ poll, the week is not off to an auspicious start for national Democrats. Hillary Clinton's ratings have been on the wane for weeks, and now she's scraped a new low on personal favorability. You'd better believe Team Biden is paying attention to these numbers:

NBC's write-up notes that Hillary's favorability is now worse than President Obama's has ever been.  As I noted on Twitter as the data was released, Hillary's campaign must be worried not only about the direction of her trajectory, but also about the timing of this slide:

After her post-announcement "listening tour" failed to accomplish much, Hillary re-introduced her candidacy in a splashy New York City speech. Aides told reporters that she'd be much more aggressive and focused as a campaigner -- the time had come to really kick things into the next gear. Since that reboot, her favorables have tanked by double digits. And as we saw in a recent swing state poll, her honesty ratings are in terrible shape (for good reason), as are her empathy/caring marks (also understandable). This swirl of negativity apparently prompted her campaign to roll out a $2 million ad campaign that they'd originally intended to introduce months from now. Facing a polling emergency, they broke the glass and rushed gauzy bio spots to air, once again introducing this household name to the American people.  Other nuggets from the NBC/WSJ poll:

That last data point must be uniquely alarming to a campaign counting on the First! Woman! President! narrative to sweep their gal to victory.  It may well be an outlier, and there's a very long way to go -- but if Hillary's numbers among women aren't much, much stronger next November, she's doomed.  The latest Fox News poll also contains unsettling news for Mrs. Clinton, albeit less dramatic.  Her dominant lead in the Democratic primary has slid to its lowest point yet:

Clinton is still the favorite among self-identified Democratic primary voters. She receives 51 percent while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders comes in at 22 percent. Yet that is Clinton’s worst showing -- and Sanders’ best. Support for Clinton was 59 percent two weeks ago, 61 percent a month ago -- and has been as high as 63 percent in the months since Sanders entered the race. Vice President Joe Biden, who is said to be considering a run, sits at 13 percent support.

A twelve point erosion among her own party in recent months.  She's still the Democrats' dominant frontrunner, but her arrow is pointed in the wrong direction.

BREAKING: Fifth Video Shows Planned Parenthood Official Willing to Sell Whole Baby Bodies For Intact Parts

A fifth undercover video just released by the Center for Medical Progress shows Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Melissa Farrell discussing how abortionists "adjust" abortion procedures to keep entire baby bodies [cadavers] intact in order to best provide, and sell, wanted body parts.

"We can get creative about when and where, and under what conditions we can um, interject something that is specific to the tissue procurement needs," Farrell says. "If we alter our process, we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens in different shipments in this. I mean, that's, it's all just a matter of line items." 

"Take whatever they want," Farrell added about the benefits of selling whole baby bodies, preferably at 22 weeks of age [5 1/2 months]. 

An undercover journalist posing as a representative from a tissue procurement company is shown asking, "Could you adjust the procedure if you knew, okay they need, high volume of this...could you match that in 18-22 week [gestation] neural [brain] specimens..." 

Farrell is seen saying "mhmm" multiple times. She is also seen discussing higher prices for certain specimens outside of the cost of transfer and procurement. 

"When I'm working with our clinical trials and all of our specimen collection, additional specimen collection needs, I'm pretty bullish about getting as much information as I can prior to budgeting," she said. 

Undercover investigators were given a tour of the abortion facility and show freshly procured baby parts that could be sold.

"We've had a really long day and they're all mixed up in a bag," an lab worker is seen saying while laughing out loud.

Yesterday the Senate failed to defund Planned Parenthood when Republican fell short of needed votes, but lawmakers say the fight is far from over.

This post has been updated with additional information.

Police Investigated Over Prime Minister Child Sex Abuse Cover-up

WESTMINSTER, United Kingdom – Wiltshire Police will to be investigated over its handing of allegations of child sex abuse against a former British Prime Minister. The constabulary stand accused of deliberately dropping a case against an alleged child abuser after he claimed to have evidence against Sir Edward Heath.

The case referred to was due to go to court in the 1990s, long before Heath's death in 2005. The Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCC) will now look at the circumstances surrounding the case to see if Police acted to protect the former Prime Minister. It is believed the case was dropped at an early procedural stage, for reasons that are not yet clear.

In a statement the IPCC said: "It is alleged that a criminal prosecution was not pursued, when a person threatened to expose that Sir Edward Heath may have been involved in offences concerning children. In addition to this allegation, the IPCC will examine whether Wiltshire Police subsequently took any steps to investigate these claims.

"The allegations were referred to the IPCC by Wiltshire Police following allegations made by a retired senior officer."

As a result of the IPCC investigation Wiltshire Police announced yesterday it would be looking at the case again. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children also launched a hotline for alleged victims of Heath to call.

Sir Edward was Prime Minister from 1970 until 1974, he remained Conservative Party leader until he was successfully challenged by Margaret Thatcher. The two went on to loathe each other for the rest of their lives.

Heath was always rumored to be gay as a result of being single his entire life. His love of sailing and the piano were the only elements of his private life he ever talked about in public. He remained single his entire life, choosing to spend time with his mother rather than marrying.

After his death the then-London Assembly member, Brian Coleman, claimed Heath had been warned against “cottaging” to solicit gay sex before becoming Prime Minister. Coleman was unable to offer any evidence for claims but he did say homosexuals “ran” the London Conservative Party.

At the time Coleman told the Daily Telegraph: "The late Ted Heath obtained the highest Office of State after he was supposedly advised to cease his cottaging activities in the 1950s."

This is not the first time the Police have been accused of protecting pedophiles in Westminster. One former Police Officer, Paul Foulston, claimed to have been investigating a murder when he was intercepted by a Special Branch outside a youth prison. The former detective said the officers threatened him, and a standoff ensued.

Foulston claimed he was only allowed to enter the prison and speak to the suspect as long as he agreed not to ask about Cyril Smith, a liberal MP at the time. Smith was later exposed as a serial sex offender, who continually escaped justice when cases against him were mysteriously dropped.

The large number of allegations in Westminster have led to some mistakes being made. Lord McAlpine was widely reported to be a child sex offender, until it was discovered his 'victims' had confused him with another person with a similar name.

Q-Poll: Americans Oppose Iran Deal By Nearly 30 Points

Public opinion on a prospective Iran deal was generally positive, if skeptical, while talks were still underway. Since the details of the agreement were unveiled, however, three consecutive national polls have shown most Americans turning against the Obama administration's terrible deal with the terroristic, anti-American regime in Tehran. Initial reviews were slightly negative, with a plurality rejecting the accord in a Pew survey, followed by bare majority opposition in a CNN poll. After several weeks of intense salesmanship by the White House and its allies -- characterizing critics as bad-faith, talking points-driven fear-mongers -- public support for the nuclear agreement has cratered:

American voters oppose 57 - 28 percent, with only lukewarm support from Democrats and overwhelming opposition for Republicans and independent voters, the nuclear pact negotiated with Iran, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Voters say 58 - 30 percent the nuclear pact will make the world less safe, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. Opposing the Iran deal are Republicans 86 - 3 percent and independent voters 55 - 29 percent, while Democrats support it 52 - 32 percent. There is little gender gap as men oppose the deal 59 - 30 percent and women oppose it 56 - 27 percent.

Americans' approval of President Obama's job performance on foreign policy is deep underwater (39/55), and even worse on Iran specifically (35/56). Obama and his team have been all over the media arguing that the accord they've championed is both a good deal for America, and will make the world a safer place. Voters have accepted neither argument. The president has claimed, dubiously, that "99 percent" of the world supports the deal, to which an overwhelming majority of Americans have effectively responded, "count us out."  By a two-to-one margin, the public says this nuclear agreement will make the world less safe -- which is almost certainly true.  This deal leaves Iran's nuclear infrastructure fully intact, conferring international legitimacy upon the program for the first time.  It does not force Iran to shut down a single nuclear facility, including a previously-secret bunker built inside a mountain, in violation of numerous international embargoes and laws.  Its restrictions automatically begin to expire after just one decade, permitting Iran to continue research and development on advanced centrifuges throughout.  It pours tens of billions into the regime's coffers, allowing them to step up their direct aid to international terrorists. It eases restrictions on Iran's ability to purchase banned weapons, and lifts sanctions on their illicit ballistic missile program.  Its inspections regime is weak; a far cry from the "anytime, anywhere" standard the White House repeatedly described.  And it does not require Iran to improve its malignant conduct vis-a-vis terrorism sponsorship, regional meddling, or human rights.  By Obama's own admission, Iran will emerge from this deal much richer, and on the brink of virtually immediate nuclearized status once the limitations sunset -- even if they don't cheat, which they alwaysalways do.  Feeling safer yet?

The new poll, released yesterday, drops with a thud on Washington, DC, where fence-sitting Democrats are determining whether to cross the White House on a disapproval vote following the August recess.  One important House Democrat cast his lot with Obama on Monday, amidst reports that the influential Sen. Chuck Schumer may be leaning "no."  Ugly, crooked numbers like the ones published my Quinnipiac cannot be  encouraging to undecided Democrats, who no doubt have noticed the utter failure of the administration to sell Americans on its priorities.  A few final notes from the expanded Q-poll:

(1) A majority of Americans continue to oppose Obamacare, with a narrow plurality still encouraging Congress to repeal the unpopular, failing law.

(2) A majority of respondents disapprove of Obama's overall job performance, with fully 73 percent of voters expressing dissatisfaction over the direction of the country.

(3) Congressional Republicans' job approval rating is lower than either Obama's or Congressional Democrats', fueled by the phenomenon of GOP voters being far more critical of their own party than Democrats.  And yet:>

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I'll leave you with John Kerry pretty much conceding that the administration refused to submit this international treaty to Congress as such...because they knew they didn't have the votes. "Physically impossible," via Ed Morrissey:

Fournier: The RedState Gathering is More Important than the GOP Debate

The first GOP presidential debate, hosted by Fox News, takes place this Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio. Pundits have been buzzing that it will be the most exciting debate in primary history. Yet, National Journal’s Ron Fournier believes the real party will be in Atlanta, Georgia this weekend:

For seven years, the RedState Gathering has brought leading conservatives together to voice and promote the values that have made this country flourish. Because of the approaching 2016 election, this year’s conference is especially important to voters who are concerned about the progressive direction the current president has forged.

In March, Fournier applauded RedState Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson’s chosen theme for the Gathering. Instead of harping on how President Obama’s policies have affected the country, Erickson challenged the candidates to offer their own 2020 vision for America:

Though I am loathe to ever suggest a topic for speakers, I have asked each of the 2016 candidates to focus on one thing: if they become President, their re-election would be in 2020. I’d like them to present their 2020 vision for what the nation should look like after their first four years. We do not need Obama bashing. We need to know what they would do differently and how they would shape the nation. They should be elected not on their ability to bash the opposition, but their ability to sell a vision for the future that resonances with the base and the nation as a whole. We do not, right now, need a 50 point plan. We need to know what they see as the areas that need fixing and how their fixes will reshape the country.

It’s a positive theme that is sure to please voters. The conference is also building anticipation because the candidates will be free from those limited 90-second answers and will have more opportunities to stray from dusty talking points, especially with vibrant question and answer sessions following their speeches.

The RedState Gathering takes place this Friday and Saturday. Stay right here at Townhall for live coverage of the event!

While Hillary Clinton Strongly Supports Death Tax on Middle Class, She Evades It Herself

Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been a long time advocate of the death tax, or what her campaign likes to call "revenue enhancements." But a close look at Hillary's financial statements, which were released last week in an effort to distract away from newly released State Department emails, shows efforts to evade the death tax by locking up money and assets in trusts. More from Americans for Tax Reform

Newly released tax returns from Hillary Clinton, disclosed in a Friday evening news dump last week, suggest she has been using a Death Tax avoidance strategy. Through the creation of a trust account, the Clintons appear to be engaging in legal but hypocritical measures to avoid paying the Death Tax Hillary Clinton has spent a career defending.

Clinton has consistently voted for the Death Tax throughout her time in public office and forcefully condemned attempts to lower it. But when it comes to her own finances, it is a different story. The newly released tax returns buttress earlier reports outlining the ways Clinton uses financial planning strategies that shield her Death Tax liability.

More on her death tax record

-In 2001, Clinton voted no on H.R. 1836, “the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act,” which contained a series of tax cuts, one of which increased the Death Tax exemption level to $3.5 million.
-In 2005, Clinton voted no on H.R. 8, “the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005,” which fully repealed the Death Tax.
-In 2006, Clinton voted no on H.R. 5970, “the Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006,” which increased the Death Tax exemption level to $5 million.
-In 2008, Clinton voted no on S.Amdt.4191, legislation to increase the Death Tax exemption level to $5 million.

This is just another example of Clinton exempting herself from a policy she advocates for the rest of the country, further proving she is out of touch with the reality of government burden on those who need relief the most. Apparently protecting her own wealth is more important than protecting the wealth of Americans she claims to care about. The death tax is especially burdensome on middle class families in the farming and ranching businesses.

Tennessee farmer Brandon Whitt told the House Ways and Means Committee this past March that the estate tax–often called the death tax by opponents–is crippling his and other family farm operations across the country.

In public testimony, Whitt said his father-in-law was forced to sell off a large portion of farm land in 1998 to pay the estate tax when he inherited the operation. What’s left, Whitt said, is a seventh-generation farm with little liquid assets and an inability to expand.

During the Bush administration, the death tax was eliminated. President Obama brought it back during his first term. 

Fox News Poll: Trump Dominating GOP Field Ahead of First Debate

A new Fox News poll released just three days ahead of the first GOP debate in Cleveland shows Donald Trump is not only leading the Republican field, but that he's been gaining ground despite a series of controversial comments. 

Trump receives the backing of 26 percent of self-identified Republican primary voters -- up from 18 percent in mid-July and 11 percent a month ago. That’s not only the highest level of support for Trump, but it’s also the highest any GOP candidate has received since the Fox poll began asking the question in December 2013.

What’s more, the number of GOP primary voters saying they would at least consider backing Trump has more than doubled in the last two months.

Behind Trump and Bush, it’s Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 9 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 7 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 6 percent each, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 5 percent a piece, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich get 3 percent each.

That group is followed by businesswoman Carly Fiorina and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum tied at 2 percent, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tied at 1 percent and former New York Gov. George Pataki, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore receive less than 1 percent support.

Trumpmentum indeed.

Trump will be at the debate and Cleveland and then at the Red State Gathering in Atlanta for a speech on Saturday night. 

Since announcing his candidacy last month, Trump hasn't minced words when it comes to how he feels about other Republicans running for president. For now, his bold and brash attitude has taken him to the top of the polls. We'll see if Trump can stay at the top after opponents point out his less-than conservative record on everything from single-payer healthcare advocacy to crony capitalism.