Awful: Nine Year-Old Arizona Girl Accidentally Kills Range Instructor

I’m sure you’ve heard of the tragic story coming out of Arizona of a nine year-old girl who accidentally killed her range instructor, Charles Vacca, while firing an Uzi submachine gun. The girl couldn’t control the firearms’ recoil and hit Vacca with a bullet to the head. Vacca was not known to have had any accidents as a rangemaster, but there seems to have been a severe lapse in judgment, which had fatal consequences (via NBC News):

Sam Scarmardo, the manager for the Last Stop's shooting range, told NBC News that "the established practice at most shooting ranges is 8 years old and up with parental supervision."

He said Vacca was a "great guy, with a great sense of humor" and called him "very conscientious and very professional."

Scarmardo said that the range has never had a similar incident in over a decade of being open — "not even a scratch."

"I just ask everybody to pray for Charlie, and pray for the client, she’s going to have a hard time," said Scarmardo.

Ronald Scott, a Phoenix-based firearms safety expert, said most instructors usually have their hands on guns when children are firing high-powered weapons. "You can't give a 9-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it," Scott told the Associated Press.

From the video, you hear Vacca instructing this girl on how to fire the Uzi. After firing her first shot, he says, “alright, full auto” right before a stray bullet kills him. [Warning: Content may be disturbing]

I’m an avid shooter. I love going to the range. Seeing kids who are around this girl’s age learning how to shoot isn’t aberrant or outside the mainstream. I’ve seen many fathers take their sons, daughters, and–at times–their wives to the range to learn how to shoot and learn basic safety. But, here’s the difference. They aren’t using automatic weapons. They’re using semi-automatic rifles or handgun with .22LR ammunition. It’s a brand of ammunition for firearms that's well suited for first-time shooters. It has relatively low recoil, if any, making it the optimal choice for those who just want to get a feeling for the weapon system at their first outing. Starting out with an Uzi probably isn't the best choice for a first-time shooter let alone a child. 

National Review’s Charles Cooke, another shooter, also commented this tragic incident. Besides reiterating that young shooters should use .22-caliber ammunition, he said [emphasis mine]:

As a general rule, smaller people — especially children — are restricted to smaller weapons that are commensurate with their size. At my range, kids who are being taught to shoot are not only limited to .22LR ammunition but also to long guns that they can get their shoulder behind. That way, if the gun pushes back, it hits something solid. This may cause bruising, sure. But it’s unlikely to be dropped or to fly upwards — or, heaven forbid, to kill somebody. When American children used to go to school with a rifle slung over their back, it was almost certainly a low-powered .22. There weren’t many Tommy Guns in American classrooms.

An Uzi, on the other hand, seems to be the worst of both worlds – especially when it is chambered in a larger caliber. Because their recoil tends to push the weapon upwards, handguns are inherently more difficult for young people to control. This is especially so when they keep firing upon a single trigger pull. Frankly, it is difficult to imagine a gun less suited to a small girl.
[I]t does suggest gross negligence on the behalf of the range, the instructor, and the parents. I’m all for teaching children about firearms at a young age. But there is a good way to do this and a bad way to do this. We shouldn’t be giving nine-year-old girls automatic weapons.

I couldn't agree more.

This isn’t a case about lax gun laws, or the need for more gun control; but I’m sure the anti-gun crowd will find some way to exploit this incident to further their agenda. Right now, our thoughts and prayers should be with Mr. Vacca, this girl, and their families. 

Poll: Meanwhile, Romney's Crushing it in Iowa

Maybe I spoke too soon.

Hypothetically, according to a new USA Today/Suffolk poll, if Romney defies the odds and runs again for president in 2016, the Hawkeye State may be his for the taking. After all, more than a third of respondents said they’d ditch the candidates they’re currently backing, and choose him instead:

According to the new poll, if Romney was added to the list of potential 2016 GOP White House contenders, 35% of Iowa Republicans say he'd be their first choice in the Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses and is considering another bid in 2016, is a distant second, at 9%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who narrowly won the 2012 caucuses, are each at 6%. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are each at 5%, with the remaining potential candidates tested were all in the lower single digits.

Remember, Romney initially thought he won the Iowa caucuses in 2012; it was only later determined that, in fact, he didn’t. The poll, though, suggests that if he ignores the wishes of his wife and family and does run, he could potentially win. That's a seductive and intriguing proposition, but is it enough to sway him to take the plunge?

Incidentally, he appeared on the Hugh Hewitt Show earlier this week, and, as Allahpundit noted, left the door kind of open to running again -- but not really:

In all seriousness, I’m utterly convinced he’s not running, as nice as that might sound, and as fun as that might be. But if he does, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong.*

*It’s not going to happen.

IRS: By the Way, We Destroyed Lois Lerner's BlackBerry After Targeting Questions Started

If you missed my piece yesterday on Lerner's reportedly not missing emails, click through and spend five minutes catching up on the evolving timeline.  The "official" story keeps shifting, so it's important to track the changes. This week's previous development was that a Justice Department attorney informed a watchdog group that all government emails are, in fact, archived, but that retrieving the messages "destroyed" by Lerner's hard drive crash/scratch would be more trouble than it's worth.  Now we have another drip of damning information, courtesy of Fox News:

Lois Lerner’s Blackberry was intentionally destroyed after Congress had begun its probe into IRS targeting of conservative groups, a senior IRS lawyer acknowledged in a sworn declaration. Thomas Kane, Deputy Assistant Chief Counsel for the IRS, wrote in the declaration, part of a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the IRS, that the Blackberry was "removed or wiped clean of any sensitive or proprietary information and removed as scrap for disposal in June 2012." That date - June 2012 - is significant because by that time, ex-IRS official Lerner had already been summoned before congressional staffers who interviewed her about reports of the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. "We had already talked to her. Our personal staff and Oversight Committee staff had sat down with Ms. Lerner and confronted her about information we were getting from conservative groups in the state of Ohio and around the country," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Fox News.

Remember, Republicans in Congress started asking pointed questions about abusive targeting practices all the way back in 2011, at which point Lerner's hard drive allegedly malfunctioned -- a "fact" that did not become public until this summer, and was not reported at the time to the National Archives, in violation of federal law.  Also recall that then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman -- the guy who visited the White House on numerous occasions -- testified in early 2012 that no targeting was taking place.  The agency finally copped to their malfeasance in the spring of 2013 in an attempt to preempt a forthcoming Inspector General report.  With questions and controversy swirling, the IRS deliberately destroyed Lois Lerner's government smart phone.  Lerner has emerged as the point person in the DC-based targeting scheme.  She initially lied, claiming she'd had no involvement in the practice.  Today's Fox News story follows up on the revelation that Lerner's emails may still be stored somewhere:

An administration official told Fox News Monday night that Judicial Watch misinterpreted the Friday phone call. "There was no new back-up system described last week to Judicial Watch," he said. "Government lawyers who spoke to Judicial Watch simply referred to the same email retention policy that Commissioner (John) Koskinen had described in his Congressional testimony." But Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents other conservative groups suing the IRS, cited a whistleblower who bolsters Judicial Watch's interpretation. "I received information from a former Department of Homeland Security official who had security clearances. He just retired in April," Mitchell said. "He contacted me and he contacted Judicial Watch and some members of Congress and said there is backup material."

There's a big difference between "back-up systems exist, but they're too hard to access" and "back-up systems exist, but these emails are totally gone."  The bit from Cleta Mitchell is intriguing, too, as it appears to confirm Judicial Watch's interpretation of what the DOJ lawyer told them last week.  There is no reason to believe the administration is telling the truth, given their ever-changing tales.  This imbroglio is littered with "smidgens" of corruption, and the administration continues to stonewall investigators following the destruction of evidence.  Will we ever get answers?

Is Hagan’s Handshake With Obama The Kiss Of Death?

Some Democrats are exuding more temerity when it comes to what they support and how they say it. In Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor released two new ads. One supporting Obamacare and the other claiming his Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, is pro-Ebola. North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan greeted President Obama as he visited her state to address the American Legion National Convention yesterday. On the tarmac, she shook hands with him. Is this the kiss of death?

Chris Cillizza at Washington Post said this was a bad decision, but it could’ve been worse:

1. Hagan is going to get blasted for being an Obama clone -- whether or not she shook his hand on the tarmac today. (The Republican National Committee released a statement Tuesday morning noting that she voted with the president 96 percent of the time.)

2. Being perceived as running away from Obama could dampen enthusiasm for Hagan within the Democratic base -- particularly within the African American community.

3. Richard Burr, the Republican U.S. Senator from the state, was also on the tarmac… which gives Hagan a bit of cover.

Sean Sullivan added:

But to keep her job, she also needs to hold on to the votes of plenty of people who like the president.

North Carolina has a substantial population of African Americans and Hispanics, who tend to view the president in a far more favorable light, and Hagan is working hard to turn them out. There are also a crucial cross-section of younger, liberal voters in the state's Research Triangle -- an area that's home to three large universities -- whose level of participation in November will also be important for Hagan.

It supports the notion that Hagan’s handshake was necessary for her political survival, the lesser of two evils. Maybe she thought she could make it up by courting veterans. In her address to the American Legion, she touted her family’s military roots and criticized the president for not taking a firm leadership role in reforming Veterans Affairs (via Charlotte Observer):

Hagan, a Democrat who is locked in one of the nation’s tightest Senate races, said she told the president that “promises alone aren’t going to get it done” in righting the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The Obama administration must understand that we need a complete change in culture at the VA,” she said. The administration, she added, “has a long road ahead to restore the faith and trust of our veterans.”

As she fights for a second term, Hagan courts a powerful voting bloc in what she calls the nation’s most military-friendly state: North Carolina’s 770,000 veterans and 116,000 active-duty troops.

Sounds good until you find out that she campaigned on reforming the VA back in 2008. She toured around the state with former Georgia Senator Max Cleland.

Leaving out the handshake, Hagan has been trying to tie her Republican opponent, Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives Thom Tillis, to the politics in Raleigh. As N.C. GOP strategist Paul Shumaker said, “Kay Hagan is hoping the sins of Raleigh are much bigger than the sins of Washington.” One of those sins liberals are highlighting is the education cuts North Carolina enacted in 2013.

Tillis is tying Hagan to Obama, who voted with the president 96 percent of the time. But Governor Pat McCrory hasn’t ruled out calling another special session of the legislature to settle some economic bills that are still on the table before the November election. That’s not the best timing.

Even with the president’s approval rating in the Tar Heel hovering around an abysmal 41-45% percent (Gallup: 41, USA Today: 45), with moderate voters becoming more dissatisfied with the president, this is going to be a tight race.

According to Gallup, self-identified Democrats and Republicans are evenly split. While Obama has abysmal approval numbers in the state, it’s still ranked the highest amongst states where Mitt Romney won in 2012. Thus, the Hagan=Obama attacks have limited impact.

Hagan may attack Tillis on the shenanigans in Raleigh, but on state government, while behind the national average, 51 percent of North Carolinians say they have a "great deal” or "fair amount “of confidence in Raleigh, according to the poll. Also, while N.C. voters’ confidence in their economy is in “positive territory,” it also lags behind the national average.

Concerning left-leaning polls, Public Policy Polling (PPP) has 34 percent of N.C. voters approving what Republicans are doing in state government, with 51 percent disapproving. Yet, PPP noted that Hagan’s approval rating is a dismal 42 percent, but that’s much higher than Tillis; he’s at 28 percent, but 24 percent aren’t sure what to think of him one way or another. He’s got some room to grow.

Regardless, as most of you probably already know, competitive races will come down to turnout:

North Carolina's midterm Senate race looks to be one of the most competitive in the country. Gallup data show that North Carolina has lost the Democratic tilt it possessed in 2008, and that the two major parties are now nearly tied in self-reported party identification. As with all elections, especially midterm, turnout will be a deciding factor -- revealing which party or constituency is most motivated to vote.

The determining factor for this race may be whether more North Carolinians fault Obama and Senate Democrats such as Kay Hagan for the state's underwhelming economic performance, or the Republican officials in charge of the state government in Raleigh.

Last spring, the New York Times reported that the divide between younger and older voters in North Carolina is “the most pronounced in the country." With younger voters projected to stay home, “Ms. Hagan would need to retain nearly all of her support from six years ago” to win an older demographic in the midterm years; a feat that borders on the impossible. 

Obama Bypassing Senate's Constitutional Ratification Power on Climate Change Treaty?

Sort of, but some details remain murky.  Via Jim Geragthy, the New York Times reports today that the Obama administration is seeking to commit the United States to an anti-climate change international treaty without even attempting to seek formal approval from the Senate.  According to the explicit verbiage of the Constitution, two-thirds of the upper chamber must assent to such an agreement in order for it to take on the binding effect of law. Given that Harry Reid couldn't lasso the votes to advance cap-and-trade when his caucus enjoyed a huge majority in 2009 and 2010, accumulating 67 votes in the current Senate environment for an initiative like this is unlikely in the extreme.  From the Times' story:

The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress. In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path.
What the administration is pursuing, then, is a "hybrid agreement," according to the Times. The proposal would "blend legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with new voluntary pledges. The mix would create a deal that would update the treaty, and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification."  Here's what the plan would look like:

Countries would be legally required to enact domestic climate change policies — but would voluntarily pledge to specific levels of emissions cuts and to channel money to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change. Countries might then be legally obligated to report their progress toward meeting those pledges at meetings held to identify those nations that did not meet their cuts. “There’s some legal and political magic to this,” said Jake Schmidt, an expert in global climate negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “They’re trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold” in the Senate.

Magic, swoons the guy from the left-wing environmental group whose homepage features a video from actor Robert Redford lashing out at "big oil."  I'd call it confusing, at best.  The US would be "legally required" (how?) to "enact" (does that require Congress, or are they just for show?) some form of "domestic climate change policies."  What would satisfy that so-called requirement?  Any bill at all?  It's unclear.  But then the emissions targets themselves would be entirely voluntary, even as signatory nations would be "obligated to report their progress" towards those voluntary, non-binding pledges.  Some of those details are to be hammered out at a drafting session in Peru before Christmas.  The Times piece makes only passing reference to the fact that any treaty would be useless without countries like China and India signing on (and abiding by their voluntary goals), which is hardly a minor detail.  The story also notes that the Senate "refused to ratify" the Kyoto protocols treaty in 1997, framing the issue as one of Republican obstruction.  For the record, the Senate voted 97-0 against even considering Kyoto ratification.   The article describes GOP opposition as a combination of nihilism, mindless skepticism of the "established science of human-caused global warming," and provincial self interest.  Sen. Mitch McConnell, for instance, represents a state with major interests in coal, "the world’s largest source of carbon pollution," the Times informs its readers.  And the award for the most alarmist sentence in the story goes to...

"The strategy comes as scientists warn that the earth is already experiencing the first signs of human-caused global warming — more severe drought and stronger wildfires, rising sea levels and more devastating storms — and the United Nations heads toward what many say is the body’s last chance to avert more catastrophic results in the coming century."

Last chance before catastrophe.  As I've written previously, I believe that anthropogenic climate change is real -- but the evidence also strongly indicates that unilaterally shackling America to the Left's preferred policy "solutions" would be economically harmful, if not ruinous, and wouldn't even dent the problem they're supposedly trying to address.  Unless and until other massive emitters get on board, this debate is entirely academic. All pain, no gain.  I'm also skeptical of the politicized "scientific community's" shrill alarmism.  The Economist noted last year that many of climate science's dire projections have not been confirmed by actual data, and that global warming has mysteriously paused for more than a decade in spite of soaring carbon emissions. And it didn't help matters when the devastating East Anglia scandal broke in 2009, revealing that supposed impartial empiricists were hiding and fudging data to fit their preferred narrative. Eminent scientists were shown to be petty, ideological tyrants, subordinating real data and the principle of scientific transparency to their political and personal agendas.  It's difficult to take dire warnings from these people seriously at this point.  They're terribly compromised.  Finally, regardless of the merits of climate change, the Constitution says what it says.  No president can simply assert a quasi-legally-binding international treaty into existence. Allahpundit thinks Obama may be trying to goad Republicans into another shutdown or impeachment talk, either of which would be politically exploitable.  That may be part of it, but it seems to me that Obama has basically given up on doing his job within, let's call them, traditional confines.  He's an unpopular lame duck -- who will get lamer after November -- but he remains highly ideological, so he's going to invent pretexts to try to impose his will as best he can.  Whether it works, or holds up in court down the road, is of minimal concern.  "Fundamentally transform" as much as possible, and see what sticks. 

Obligatory Date Rape-Detecting Nail Polish Is A Good Idea Post

Four gentlemen at the North Carolina State University have developed a nail polish for women, Undercover Colors, which can detect if their drinks have been spiked with date rape drugs by changing colors. These guys have known someone in their lives that has been sexually assaulted, which galvanized them into action. Their invention is American innovation at work–and everyone should be nodding their heads in agreement that this is a good idea, unless you’re a feminist.

That’s right; some in the wet blanket brigade say that finding ways to prevent rape somehow promotes rape, or something. Some of their responses have been downright angry (via Think Progress) [emphasis mine/edited for language]:

“I think that anything that can help reduce sexual violence from happening is, in some ways, a really good thing,” Tracey Vitchers, the board chair for Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER), told ThinkProgress. “But I think we need to think critically about why we keep placing the responsibility for preventing sexual assault on young women.”

Women are already expected to work hard to prevent themselves from becoming the victims of sexual assault. They’re told to avoid wearing revealing clothing, travel in groups, make sure they don’t get too drunk, and always keep a close eye on their drink. Now, remembering to put on anti-rape nail polish and discreetly slip a finger into each drink might be added to that ever-growing checklist — something that actually reinforces a pervasive rape culture in our society.

“One of the ways that rape is used as a tool to control people is by limiting their behavior,” Rebecca Nagle, one of the co-directors of an activist group called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture that challenges the societal norms around sexual assault, explained. “As a woman, I’m told not to go out alone at night, to watch my drink, to do all of these things. That way, rape isn’t just controlling me while I’m actually being assaulted — it controls me 24/7 because it limits my behavior. Solutions like these actually just recreate that. I don’t want to f**king test my drink when I’m at the bar. That’s not the world I want to live in.”

According to Alexandra Brodsky, one of the founders and current co-directors of Know Your IX, a survivor-led group working to address campus sexual assault, well-intentioned products like anti-rape nail polish can actually end up fueling victim blaming. Any college students who don’t use the special polish could open themselves up to criticism for failing to do everything in their power to prevent rape.

Maya Dusenbary at Feministing  wrote a post asking a few questions regarding the product, and noted that date rape drugs aren’t used often to facilitate sexual assault [bold text is the product description]:

If your product becomes popular enough to have a real deterrent effect — in other words, to actually “make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman’s drink” and not just afraid to spike a nail-polish-wearing woman’s drink — what is stopping rapists from simply using other means, including the current go-to drug, alcohol, to facilitate the crime? Are you working on developing a product that will make them afraid to actually rape?

We are Undercover Colors and we are the first fashion company empowering women to prevent sexual assault.

Do you know the definition of “empowering“? It involves giving someone the power to do something. “Giving” is not synonymous with “selling.” More importantly, do you know the definition of “prevent”? It is not synonymous with “avoid.” Personally avoiding sexual assault — or one particular, rather uncommon type of sexual assault — is not the same as preventing sexual assault. I’m not against the former, but I personally prefer to donate to folks working to do the latter. And I’m not so into a company that raises money by conflating the two.

So, this product could help eliminate a small percentage of sexual assaults; why is that a bad thing? Of course, men should be taught not to rape; it’s part of the ever-expanding conversation about being a good person, not committing crime, getting an education, and becoming a productive part of society. Sexual assaults are inexcusably high in the United States, but these social shifts take time. Tragically, at times, it’s taken a great many steps.

For now, let’s celebrate that there’s something new in the arsenal that helps women avoid being sexually assaulted. As Reason’s Elizabeth Brown wrote yesterday, “teaching men not to rape and helping women avoid rape aren't mutually exclusive options.”

It's been said so many times already so as to be a cliche, but no one accuses security cameras of encouraging "theft culture". And neither do most people blame theft victims for getting robbed just because they didn't have security cameras. This sort of surveillance is simply an extra precaution that some homeowners and businesses take, particularly if circumstances (living in a wealthy neighborhood that's often targeted, living in a high-crime neighborhood, etc.) suggest a higher likelihood of their property being robbed.

Similarly, I find it hard to believe the mere existence of discreet date-rape detection tools would lead to the belief that anyone not employing them deserves being drugged. No one's gonna start expecting all women to start slathering this stuff on all the time. But someone who frequents crowded clubs, or a college student going to a keg party, or someone on a first date may find that taking this added precaution seems worthwhile. Are we supposed to prefer they get drugged and assaulted while we're waiting for a perfect, rape-free culture? As writer and activist Maggie McNeill commented on Twitter, I'm skeptical about "solutions" to crimes & social problems "that require establishing a Utopia first."

Some people agree with Ms. McNeill. Not every woman feels the same way about the nail polish. If you read the comments on Dusenbary’s blog, most posts are supportive of the new product. One commenter said, "I think you’re just pissed because MEN thought of this brilliant product instead of a woman!"  She added that Feministing should be "ashamed" to criticize the nail polish and its inventors.

Charlie Crist: C'mon Guys, I've Always Been a Democrat

It must feel good to be Charlie Crist. Four short years after flaming out in the GOP US Senate primary (he lost to Marco Rubio, as it happens) the former Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat finds himself once again nominated (albeit from a different party) to be Florida’s next governor. (He previously served in that official capacity from 2007 to 2011).

In any case, he secured the Democratic nomination without a sweat last night, and offered these words of wisdom while marveling in his victory:

Crist said the strong showing is a sign that Democrats believe in him. “Frankly, I think I was on their side when I was in the other party,” he said as he prepared a victory speech. He said a friend once told him, “Charlie, you’ve been a Democrat your whole life, you just didn’t know it.’ Well, now I know it.”

Good Lord. Meanwhile, the Associated Press gently reminds us that only a few shorts years ago (an eternity in politics, I suppose) he aligned himself with such progressive juggernauts as Ronald Reagan and Jeb Bush:

Crist, 58, previously won three statewide races as a GOP candidate, and it wasn’t that long ago that he called himself a Ronald Reagan/Jeb Bush Republican. He was once considered a potential running mate for 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain and had the backing of GOP leaders in a 2010 bid for Senate — until Rubio used an image of Crist hugging Obama to chase Crist from the primary. Crist then ran as an independent, but he ended up a distant second. In 2012, he endorsed Obama for a second term.

So he went from being a possible Republican veep choice in endorsing Barack Obama in 2012. That should pretty much tell you everything you need to know about him.

Nonetheless, a freshly-released SurveyUSA poll out this month indicates that the race is very much a dead heat:

In this 10th tracking poll for WFLA-TV in Tampa, SurveyUSA adds the name of Libertarian Adrian Wyllie to the "who would you vote for" question, and finds the results largely consistent with previous releases, where survey respondents could select an option for "some other candidate" to express support for Wyllie.

Today, it's incumbent Republican Rick Scott 44%, Democratic challenger Charlie Crist 41%, Wyllie 4%. Wyllie appears to take ever-so-slightly more votes from Scott than from Crist, an analysis of the results reveals. That's because in 8 out of the 9 previous WFLA-TV tracking polls, Scott has led among independent voters, but today, with Wyllie siphoning off 12% of the independents, Crist leads among independents 37% to 30%.

Well, Crist used to be an independent, so it only make sense that he would eventually capture some of this crucial voting bloc, especially with a third party candidate in the mix. Also, guess what? If he wins, he will be the first politician in American history to occupy the state’s top executive job as both a Democrat and a Republican.

Can't you just feel the excitement in the air?

Ha! Canada Tweets 'Geography Guide' For 'Lost' Russian Soldiers

Leave it to our neighbours to the north to gently, hilariously, tell Russia to back off of Ukraine:

The tweet is from an account for Canada's NATO delegation.

Yesterday, 10 Russian soldiers were captured in Ukraine. They claimed that they had "accidentally" crossed the border while on patrol.

"These servicemen really did take part in a patrol of a section of the Russian-Ukrainian border, crossing it likely by mistake at an unequipped and unmarked point, as far as we are aware they offered no resistance to the Ukrainian armed forces when arrested," a Ministry of Defence source told Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.

This isn't the first time Russian soldiers have miraculously appeared in places their government claimed they were not stationed in. In late July, a selfie-addicted Russian soldier/Instagram fanatic published several posts that were geotagged in locations in eastern Ukraine, where Russia had vehemently denied sending troops.


Let's hope Russia heeds @CanadaNATO's advice and stays out of Ukraine. Or learns borders. Or something.

Joe Biden Tweets Absurd Claim His Granddaughters Somehow Lack Rights

Poor Joe Biden's granddaughters. While the rest of the country has granted women full rights as citizens to vote, drive cars, own property, sign documents, play sports, etc., apparently these unfortunate girls are stuck in the 19th century.

Biden did not elaborate further as to which rights his granddaughters lack compared to his grandsons.

As our friends at Twitchy pointed out, quite a few CEOs are women—as is a fifth of the U.S. Senate—and the next president of the United States could quite likely be a woman. But none of that applies to the Biden granddaughters, apparently.

As the proud granddaughter of a stonemason and a hardware store owner, I can't really say that I have any fewer rights than my little brother. Granted, my grandfathers weren't former senators or vice presidents or college educated, so I may be a tad privileged when I'm making this claim compared to Biden's granddaughters. Anyhow, as a female growing up in the United States, I've had basically every opportunity open to me. I can vote and be elected to public office. I'm not required by law to cover my hair or face. I don't have to dress in disguise as a male to see a sporting event. I'm not at risk of having my genitals mutilated, and gendercide of females is not accepted nor encouraged in this country. I wasn't forced to study a "traditionally female" subject in college. I didn't have to worry about being kidnapped by militants who don't believe in educating girls when I was in elementary school. If I eventually marry, have children and decide to stay at home with them, it will be my choice to do so, not a legal requirement nor a societal expectation. These are all actual issues that women face in different countries. What, pray tell, am I missing here that I somehow do not have access to in the United States due to my chromosomal makeup?

American women, such as myself and Biden's granddaughters, have it better than just about every other woman in the world. To suggest that somehow we are disadvantaged due to our genders or that we're lacking in rights compared to our brothers is flat out wrong. Biden needs to remove himself from the 1800s and rejoin the 21st century.

CBO Report: Obamacare Denting Labor Force

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its long-term budget and economic projections, updated from their April 2014 report. Not a lot has changed in the intermediate months, but a few aspects of the report stick out.

First, the deficit this year is slightly larger. Slower-than-expected economic growth has lowered the CBO's projections for revenue this year. Second, their long-term deficit projections over the 2015-2024 period has been lowered by $69 billion.

What's interesting is the CBO's analysis of the makeup of the labor force. Over the next ten years, the CBO doesn't project a return to the size of the labor force that we saw pre-2007 recession. In fact, the size of the labor force from 1984-2007 now looks to be a historical outlier:

What the CBo does write, though, is that one of the downward pressures on the labor force is Obamacare. As the report finds:

Over the next few years, CBO expects that the rate of labor force participation will decline about 1/2 percentage point further... the most important of those factors is the ongoing movement of the baby-boom generation into retirement, but federal tax and spending policies will also tend to lower the participation rate. In particular, certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act will tend to reduce labor force participation, with the largest effect stemming from the subsidies that reduce the cost of purchasing health insurance through the exchanges. Because the subsidies decline with rising income (and increase with falling income) and make some people financially better off, they reduce the incentive for some people to work as much as they would without the subsidies.

We won't rehash the debate here over whether or not it's a good thing for the welfare state to provide so much that people will choose not to work - but it's pretty undeniable at this point that ACA is disincentivizing work for Americans in an era where we're wondering if the decline in labor force participation is the new normal.

PBS To Air Documentary Sympathetic to Abortionists

How did we go from Barney to this? 

On Monday, PBS will be airing the documentary "After Tiller," which paints late-term abortionists in a sympathetic light. (You may recall our piece on this film from last year.) 

The documentary claimed these abortionists are "victims" of pro-life aggression. The message was questionable enough, but even more egregious was the fact that the film was released on the heels of convicted murderer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s sentencing. Gosnell was guilty of killing babies, keeping their feet in jars and putting mothers’ lives in danger in his clinics. He performed late-term abortions - the same practice the people in “After Tiller” are trying to save. Now, PBS is airing the documentary as a part of their "POV" series, or “Documentaries with a point of view.”

Here is a description of the film from the

Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's After Tiller is a deeply humanizing and probing portrait of the only four doctors in the United States still openly performing third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas—and in the face of intense protest from abortion opponents. It is also an examination of the desperate reasons women seek late abortions. Rather than offering solutions, After Tiller presents the complexities of these women's difficult decisions and the compassion and ethical dilemmas of the doctors and staff who fear for their own lives as they treat their patients.

Clearly, the film has chosen sides in the pro-life/pro-choice debate. So, since PBS has chosen to air this more or less pro-abortion documentary, surely they’ll give airtime to pro-life films or documentaries like “The 40 Film,” right? Or, how about the upcoming Gosnell: The Movie? Filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney succeeded in reaching the funds necessary in their crowd sourcing campaign to produce a movie exposing Kermit Gosnell and the atrocities in his filthy abortion clinics. PBS will gladly accept that submission, right? Yeah, I won’t get my hopes up either.

Some have charged PBS with pushing a liberal agenda for years. In his book “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV,” author Ben Shapiro got executives to admit that even shows seemingly as innocuous as “Sesame Street” have included bits of progressive propaganda.

This time, however, their agenda isn’t so subtle. If you are upset about PBS’s decision to feature a sympathetic film about abortion, write or call the station and insist you don’t want this kind of film to air on the same channel your children are learning their ABCs.

Brutal: Dems' MT Senate Candidate Freezes in TV Interview, Is a Revolutionary Socialist

Believe it or not, this clip is probably the least of Montana Democrats' problems with their newly-minted Senate candidate.  But let's watch it anyway.  Her train of thought chugs to a cringe-worthy standstill midway through her rehearsed answer, leading to an awkward silence. After several seconds, the reporter takes pity on his interview subject and gamely bails her out with a lay-up question (via the Free Beacon):

Curtis: "It’s my honor to travel around the state now for the next nine weeks and continue talking and listening to Montanans about the issues that are important to them. And…"

[Five Seconds of silence, Curtis looks at the ceiling, blinks, cracks embarrassed smile]

Interviewer: Where are you from?

There are a lot of things Ms. Curtis doesn't seem to know, such as her positions on major issues.  From a CNN profile:  "When asked her position on the situation in Iraq, Curtis told CNN, 'Give me a little more time.' On the border crisis, 'I'll need more time, you know only 11 days ago I was painting my storm windows.'"  What she does know is that she's against "the one percent" and hates Paul Ryan's budget.  Democrats' chances of holding this seat sustained a major blow when placeholder Senator John Walsh dropped out of the race, following damning plagiarism revelations.  Walsh had been hand-selected to replace longtime incumbent Sen. Max Baucus, who was flagging badly in polls, and who was tossed a lifeline by the White House when he was selected as US Ambassador to China.  Scrambling to field someone in the race, the party settled on Curtis, whose political views (the ones that she doesn't need 'a little more time' to determine) don't inspire confidence. Phil Kerpen does some digging:

Montana Democrats nominated in his stead State Rep. Amanda Curtis, a member of the radical, revolutionary socialist group Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Rep. Curtis was nominated for the United Stated Senate by the Montana Democratic Party on August 16, 2014. Less than two weeks earlier, on August 4, she tagged herself in [a] photograph featuring IWW banners and identifying Curtis as an FW, or “Fellow Worker,” the term used in IWW for group members...On August 7, 2014, Rep. Curtis changed her Facebook profile photograph to a picture of former Communist Party USA chair Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who received a state funeral from the Soviet Union in 1964...One post of Mr. Curtis’s that Rep. Curtis shared on July 31 suggests that, in the event she and her allies cannot accomplish their objectives through electoral victories, they will resort to “sterner means.”

Also known as "violence."  Curtis' group advocates the abolition of "wage slavery" and "eventually end[ing] the capitalist system."  Montana's unions have eagerly endorsed her, natch.  When asked about these radical Socialist viewpoints, a campaign aide told CNN, "Amanda grew up in a family that struggled to put food on the table so she knows first hand the struggles of Montana working families...we must put working Montana families ahead of corporate special interests."  A sanitizing dodge, not a denial. Elsewhere in 2014 Senate races, Sen. Kay Hagan hugged President Obama upon his visit to North Carolina, while trying to distance herself from him (she's voted with Obama 96 percent of the time), a new ad from Sen. Mark Pryor intimates that his Republican opponent is soft on Ebola, and Alaska's Republican nominee shoots a television set -- literally -- in a new television spot:

Report: First US-born ISIS Terrorist Dies in Combat

Douglas McAuthur McCain, from the San Diego area, is reportedly the first and only American citizen to die waging jihad with ISIS. NBC News has the scoop:

The battle in itself seemed tragically normal. Two Syrian opposition groups fought and there were heavy casualties on both sides. Then victorious rebels rifled through the pockets of the dead. One contained about $800 in cash -- and an American passport.

Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, was killed over the weekend fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the Free Syrian Army. Photos of McCain's passport and of his body -- which feature a distinctive neck tattoo -- have been seen by NBC News. According to an activist linked to the Free Syrian Army who also saw the body and travel document, McCain was among three foreign jihadis fighting with ISIS who died during the battle.

Given the group’s well-cultivated reputation as a known terrorist organization more brutal than al Qaeda, it’s certainly jarring to read Western nationals, let alone American citizens, would join their ranks. Perhaps this is why McCain’s own cousin has denied the rumors, claiming instead he was “a loving person” who would never “support a terrorist group like that”:

Maybe not. But either way, he’s dead. And what’s more, his own uncle (and US officials) believe he was a terrorist (via CNN):

The man's uncle, Ken McCain, said that his nephew had gone to fight as a jihadi and that the U.S. State Department told the family Monday about the death. Like U.S. officials, the group characterized McCain as an ISIS fighter and said he was killed battling al-Nusra Front, an al Qaeda-linked organization that the U.S. government has blacklisted as a foreign terror organization.

He was also writing empathetic posts on Facebook about the organization, according to one expert familiar with the case, which is why he was clearly on terrorist watch lists:

U.S. counterterrorism investigators had been looking into McCain's activities for some time before his death, one U.S. official said. He was on a list of Americans who are believed to have joined militant groups and who would be stopped and subjected to additional scrutiny if he traveled, according to the official.

Meanwhile, McCain is almost certainly not the only American defending and fighting for ISIS, although it’s difficult to gauge just how many actually are. As of last June, Richard Engels reported that the number is estimated to be somewhere around 70:

But more recently, the US State Department believes maybe more Americans have openly declared war against the stars and stripes:

"Dozens of Americans, perhaps up to 100," are among those who have tried to join various militant groups there, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNN.

Needless to say, these defectors speak English, possess US passports, and have deep ties to the country.

Let us hope they never come back.

ISIS to Iraqi Christians: You Have One Week to Convert to Islam or Die

This situation for Christians in Iraq has grown even direr. ISIS is now giving the religious minority an ultimatum: convert within one week’s time or face the sword.

World Watch Monitor documented the case of Mikha Qasha, an elderly and paralyzed Iraqi Christian. ISIS came to his home, WWM reports, and gave him the options of fleeing, converting or death. They gave him one week to think about it.

Fortunately, Qasha, along with his grandson, were able to go to a safe haven in the capital area of the Kurdistan region.

Many others are still at risk, however.

According to MCN Direct, others who fled from a district in Nineveh, and from Qaraqosh and Bartella, said IS is now imposing a conversion deadline of one week for any non-Muslim. Qasha’s neighbour, a young man who fled the city this week, said he was hiding in his home with his father when IS members found them on August 17. They gave them a week, until August 24, to convert to Islam or be killed.

70,000 Christians have arrived in Ankawa, the Christian neighbourhood in Erbil and some 60,000 displaced people are in Dohuk, said Louis Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq.

Dohuk, mainly inhabited by Kurds and Assyrians, is in the north in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan while Qaraqosh, a town of about 50,000 people in Nineveh Province, sits between Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, and Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, to the east.

The Islamic State took over Mosul in June. At the time there were 3,500 residing Christians who fled east to Qaraqosh, which is often referred to as the Christian capital of Iraq. Of the 3,500 about 25 people decided to stay home in Mosul. Since then nine have converted to Islam, while the others are paying jizya - the Islamic tax for non-Muslims.

The UN has launched a major aid operation: UNHCR said tents and other goods will be sent to Erbil via air, land and sea beginning Wednesday, August 20.

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury described the slaughter of Christians and Yazidis as “off the scale of human horror.”

“In a globalized world where even distant nations are our ‘neighbor,’ we cannot allow these atrocities to be unleashed with impunity,” he continued. “The international community must document the human rights abuses in northern Iraq so that the perpetrators can later be prosecuted."

Cuomo Loses NYT Primary Endorsement

When you’re the liberal governor in the progressive capital of the country and lose the endorsement of the New York Times, you know you screwed up. But Governor Cuomo is lucky; New York is so blue that he’ll probably win the September 9 primary and a second term come November. Nevertheless, his ethics commission to root out corruption in state politics devolved into a fiasco, which even has the U.S. Attorney’s office looking into why the Moreland Commission was shut down so abruptly (via NYT):

Mr. Cuomo became governor on that platform and recorded several impressive achievements, but he failed to perform Job 1. The state government remains as subservient to big money as ever, and Mr. Cuomo resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it. Because he broke his most important promise, we have decided not to make an endorsement for the Democratic primary on Sept. 9.

The worst moment of all came when Mr. Cuomo blocked the progress of the independent commission he set up to investigate corruption after the panel began to look into issues that may have reflected badly on him and his political supporters. As The Times reported in July, Mr. Cuomo’s closest aides pushed back every time the commission began looking at the governor’s own questionable practices, including a committee set up to support his agenda, which became Albany’s biggest lobbying spender and did not disclose its donors. Now a United States attorney is pursuing the questions the commission raised, including the ones the governor wanted dropped.

Mr. Cuomo says the purpose of the commission was the leverage it gave him to push an ethics law through the Legislature and that he disbanded the panel when the law, agreed to in March, achieved roughly nine of 10 goals. But the missing goal — a strong public finance system that cut off unlimited donations — was always, by far, the most important method of reducing corruption, a much bigger reform than the strengthened bribery laws he settled for.

While the Times credited Cuomo with legalizing gay marriage, trampling on the Second Amendment, and raising the minimum wage, they suggested that voters who are disappointed with him might want to vote for his opponent in the Democratic primary, Fordham Law School Professor Zephyr Teachout.  She's the only person running who isn’t under investigation. Cuomo’s Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, is also under the microscope regarding ethics violations during his re-election bid as Westchester County Executive.

Team Pryor: Tom Cotton is Pro-Ebola, or Something

As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.

And since Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is trailing his Republican opponent in every single poll conducted this past summer, time is of the essence. You’ll recall that Pryor was roundly criticized earlier this election season when he suggested Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), his opponent, was suffering from a “sense of entitlement” because of his military laurels. But his most recent ad is arguably worse. In it, he suggests that Tom Cotton’s entire congressional declaration dutifully and effectively declared war on the virulent Ebola virus -- everyone, that is, except him:

Naturally, Team Cotton was quick to respond:

"Senator Pryor's desperation is comical," David Ray said in a statement. "In Senator Pryor's world, he doesn't have to take responsibility for rubber-stamping the Obama agenda over 90% of the time, but wants Arkansans to believe Tom Cotton is responsible for everything from Ebola to crabgrass and male-pattern baldness."

What’s more, this recent dust-up comes mere days after Team Pryor released an ad singing the praises of Obamacare. For obvious reasons, most Senate Democrats have carefully tiptoed around this issue. Pryor, however, is doing the opposite:

Apparently, Team Pryor believes alarmist and pro-Obamacare ads are exactly what Arkansans want to hear for the next two and half months. Hmm.

That, my friends, is news to me.

Surprise! D.C. Lawyers Want To Reinstate Carrying Ban

For a brief time, concealed carry permit holders could exercise their Second Amendment rights by bringing their firearms into Washington D.C.; a right that was previously denied until the Palmer decision. Granted, if you were a D.C. resident, you had to have the gun registered. For outsiders, you couldn’t open carry your rifles or shotguns, and your handgun couldn’t have a magazine with more than ten-rounds.

Until recently, the District of Columbia was the last place where citizens were banned from carrying their firearms outside of their homes. A stay, which was agreed upon by both parties in the Palmer case, was issued to allow the city council to draft legislation in response to the ruling. But D.C. lawyers are trying to get the carrying ban reinstated (via Washington Free Beacon):

D.C. lawyers cited the District’s “unique character” as justification for the handgun ban.

“The District, in addition to being the seat of the federal government and home to the President, is host to thousands of foreign dignitaries each year and the site of many mass demonstrations,” the city argues. “The potential for armed mischief is thus perhaps greater in the District of Columbia than in any other American city.”

The city also argues the ban does not impede the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“The Court should find that the District’s prohibition on the public carrying of firearms is constitutional, in that ‘it does not seriously impact a person’s ability to defend himself in the home, the Second Amendment’s core protection,” the city argues. “It does not ban the quintessential weapon—the handgun—used for self-defense in the home. Nor does it prevent an individual from keeping a suitable weapon for protection in the home.”

[U.S. District Judge Frederick] Scullin declared D.C.’s blanket ban on carrying guns in public to be unconstitutional in July and gave city officials until Oct. 22 to craft new regulations in line with his ruling. D.C. has also appealed that deadline and asked for more time.

Bring it on, D.C.  

Bye-Bye Burger King: High Taxes to Blame

Burger King is yet another major corporation that has bought a one-way ticket to less taxes and more profit. Why? Well, because the United States is expensive to do business in.  

The Fortune 100 company is merging with Canada-based donut shop Tim Hortons, and will move its headquarters up north with their new partner--who has a much lower tax bill.

The United States has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world at a whopping 40 percent. Canada, on the other hand, is around 26.3 percent. When you are running a soon-to-be $23 billion company, that 13.7 percent isn't exactly an item on the dollar menu. 

Large American companies such as Pfizer, Walgreens, and AbbVie are all seeking out lower taxes in foreign countries in what is called "corporate inversions." Even though the companies claim the potential moves are to advance their growth strategy, it is really because taking over a foreign company and moving to their headquarters betters the bottom line.

Stephen Moore, chief economist at The Heritage Foundation, said:

Expect a blizzard more of these tax moves if the U.S. corporate tax isn’t reduced quickly to at most the average in the industrialized world of 25 percent. Better yet would be to abolish the corporate tax altogether and tax the shareholders on these profits. This would cause a flood of companies to come to the U.S. rather than leave.

Since 2003, Burger King is the 48th company to leave the United States. When asked what the government is doing to stop corporate inversions, President Obama said the Treasury Department is working "as quickly as possible" to slow the bleeding. He also said, "We don't want to see this trend grow." Unfortunately, avoiding devastating loss after devastating loss to the American business community isn't on the liberal agenda--as that would mean lowering taxes for the job creating, investing class...and that would be a travesty. 

ISIS Earning $2 Million a Day from Oil Fields

The terrorist organization ISIS runs a flourishing black market economy and is believed to be raising more than $2 million every day from oil production. The organization, described by president Obama as a “cancer,” currently occupies a region of Iraq and Syria that is larger than the United Kingdom.

Over the past few months, ISIS has seized oil fields, border crossings, military bases, and Iraq’s largest electric-generated dam. As Luay Al-Khatteeb of the Brookings Institution wrote, this form of self-financed terrorism poses a major long-term threat to global security:

ISIL is no longer desperate for donors' funding to continue and expand their operations given they now possess a loosely integrated and thriving black economy consisting of approximately 60 percent of Syria's oil assets and seven oil producing assets in Iraq. It has successfully achieved a thriving black market economy by developing an extensive network of middlemen in neighboring territories and countries to trade crude oil for cash and in kind.

ISIL's estimated total revenues from its oil production are around $2 million a day! Put simply, ISIL is in a position to smuggle over 30,000 barrels of crude oil a day to neighboring territories and countries at a price of between $25 to $60 per barrel depending on the number of middle men involved.

This is hardly the only way the group raises revenue. In addition to oil, ISIS is gathering funds through kidnapping, robbery, smuggling, taxes, and extortion. According to former intelligence official at the U.S. Department of the Treasury Matthew Levitt:

“The Islamic State is probably the wealthiest terrorist group we’ve ever known.”

So what is the solution to the burgeoning threat of ISIS? Take action immediately before the “cancer” grows.

Pavlich: “Hillary Clinton is America’s Most Famous Enabler of Abusive and Powerful Men”

Townhall News Editor Katie Pavlich gave the keynote speech at this year’s Network of enlightened Women (NeW) conference in Washington, DC. In her remarks, she lambasted radical feminists for their hypocritical heroism of figures such as former US Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Hillary Clinton, who are anything but “women’s rights” champions.

First, Pavlich recalled her experience at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In between speakers, she was frustrated that organizers aired a flattering, 5-minute video dedicated to Ted Kennedy, which plastered the words “women’s rights champion” across the screen:

“For some reason, during this beautiful portrayal of his life, they skipped over one of the most iconic moments of his life – the time when he drove drunk off a bridge, wandered away, and left 28-year-old, loyal campaign staffer Mary Jo to die in his car. Nobody dared to utter the word, ‘Chappaquiddick that night.’”

These details, however, didn't interest the DNC. Kennedy wasn’t Pavlich’s only target. For defending a child rapist in the 1970s, Hillary Clinton also made Pavlich’s list of poorly characterized "women’s rights advocates." 

The Washington Free Beacon exposed the shocking story in June that Clinton once defended a man who raped a 12-year-old girl. The audio tapes reveal her laughing while discussing the case. Egregiously, Clinton went on to accuse the young girl of being “unstable” and desiring relationships with older men. Pavlich attacked Clinton for such callous comments:

“She went out of her way to attack a 12-year-old child in the case. Sure seems like a champion for young women, right?”

But, as Pavlich points out, that wasn’t the end of Clinton choosing to brush sexual assault under the rug for personal or political gain:

“For decades, Hillary willingly helped destroy the women who her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was accused of sexually assaulting or raping. Time and time again, instead of holding her husband accountable, she defamed his female accusers as mentally unstable loons looking for money. Clinton repeatedly allowed women to be lied about, smeared and manipulated so that her philandering husband could hold on to power, which eventually led to her own power as a senator from New York, a presidential candidate and President Obama’s Secretary of State.”

Leaving out facts that don’t fit their agenda is par for the course for radical feminists.

Pavlich concluded her speech by outlining feminism’s true goals and explaining that Marxism is the centerpiece of the modern feminist agenda:

“Progressive women’s rights movements have hardly been about women’s rights, but instead a transformation of America and its society and the transfer of wealth through government force.”

Pavlich encouraged students to bring this material and knowledge to their college campuses and help to defeat the liberal ideology that often depends on ignorance.

Watch her entire passionate speech here:

Video: DOJ Says Retrieving Lerner Emails From Back-Up System 'Too Hard'

Quick history lesson: As various investigators dug into the IRS targeting scandal, they discovered that a large cache of emails sent and received by key agency figure Lois Lerner were missing.  The emails in question were sent between 2009 and 2011, the time period in which the abusive scheme was concocted and implemented.  We were told that the lost emails were a result of a "hard drive crash" that happened to occur just ten days after a Republican Congressman made the first inquiry into alleged targeting practices. Those who've expressed doubts about the "crash" claims -- namely, a super majority of the American people -- were mocked and dismissed by the White House as adherents to a "conspiracy theory."  Lerner's suspicious efforts shortly after the scandal broke in 2013 to determine whether the IRS' internal instant messaging system was archived anywhere  are also indicative of nothing, the administration insists. Also shunted aside are the facts that email storage guidelines (based on federal law) were ignored, as was the requirement that the agency immediately report the loss of emails to the National Archives.  

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified repeatedly that his agency made every attempt to recover Lerner's emails after the supposed 2011 crash -- an assertion that has been contradicted by Koskinen himself, and by subsequent reports. One such report was the late July bombshell that Lerner's hard drive had only been "scratched," and that in-house IT professionals at the IRS had recommended enlisting "outside experts to recover the data," which they believed to be possible at the time.  For some odd reason, the IRS declined to do so, and instead destroyed Lerner's hard drive permanently.  Which brings us to the latest twist, reported by Dan last night: A Justice Department attorney told the Watchdog group Judicial Watch that the federal government does, in fact, back up all electronic records.  So the emails exist somewhere, according to this lawyer, but it'd be really hard to track them down.  Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton described the bewildering interaction on Fox News yesterday:

"They say it would be too hard to go and get Lois Lerner's emails from that back-up system. Everything we’ve been hearing about scratched hard drives, missing e-mails of Lois Lerner, other IRS officials, other officials in the Obama administration–it’s all been a pack of malarkey."

To recap, we've gone from "they ceased existing altogether after the hard drive crash," to "they may have existed after the scratch, but they're gone now," to "well, they're still floating around somewhere, but it's too difficult to retrieve them."  Lie upon lie.  That final excuse is redolent of Koskinen's deer-in-the-headlights moment in June when Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) asked why the IRS hadn't at least accessed the six-month "back up tape" to recover a portion of those emails immediately after the alleged hard drive incident.  If the agency really did take "extraordinary" measures to restore those emails, why wasn't that obvious step taken?  Koskinen ended up muttering about how it would have been "costly and difficult" to do so.  In other words, it was just "too hard."  The federal government had the capacity to take concrete steps to recover many of Lerner's emails, and they chose not to.  This new development suggests that they still have that ability, but are making a decision not to act.  This information may strike you as profoundly suspicious -- it might even rise to "smidgen of corruption" levels -- but that would make you a conspiratorial paranoiac, according to the administration.  

Shock Poll: ISIS' Approval Rating in France is...16 Percent?

In my opinion, that’s 16 percentage points too high (via Vox and Weasel Zippers):

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Nonetheless, these numbers send shivers down my spine. In essence, the poll suggests that a growing number of French citizens sympathize with ISIS, a group known, among other things, for using terrifying acts of cruelty and other forms of barbarism to expand their Islamic caliphate.

“No just God would stand for what [ISIS] did yesterday and what they do every day,” President Obama recently said, referring to the brutal slaying of an American photojournalist last week. And yet what we’re finding out is that thousands and thousands of impressionable would-be radicals (including children) are joining their ranks and participating in their bloodlust. The notion therefore that ISIS was ever a “jayvee” team (as the president once implied) has been sufficiently disproved.

Meanwhile, ISIS is threatening to execute another American aid worker if the U.S. doesn’t capitulate to their demands:

A third American hostage held by ISIS has been identified as a 26-year-old American woman who was kidnapped a year ago while doing humanitarian relief work in Syria. The terror group is demanding $6.6 million and the release of U.S. prisoners for the life of the young woman, who the family requested not be identified.

She is the third of at least four Americans who were known to be held by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. American journalist James Foley was executed by the group in a video that appeared online last week. Another writer, Steven Sotloff, was seen alive but under duress in the same footage.

The rise of ISIS is a terrifying and global phenomenon. But what’s more terrifying, perhaps, is that a plurality of Western Europeans actually support what they're doing, and what they stand for.

Wow: Iron Dome Intercepts Fifteen Rockets at Once

The Iron Dome is truly an incredible piece of technology. Watch as it takes down 15 Quassam rockets launched by Hamas—at once.

(Warning: video is loud and you may want to turn down your speakers)

Just a reminder: If the Iron Dome didn't exist, those 15 rockets would have each hit a populated area of Israel, potentially killing dozens of civilians. Hamas' charter explicitly states that they seek to "obliterate" Israel, and they have extensively used women and children as human shields.

Israel, on the other hand, has been praised for their proactive efforts to prevent civilian casualties.

The Israelis have used such telephone calls and leaflets for years now, in a stated effort to reduce civilian casualties and avoid charges of indiscriminate killings or even of crimes against the rules of war.

It's clear one side will stop at nothing to kill or maim innocent civilians—it's only thanks to amazing technology such as the Iron Dome that these attempts aren't successful.

H/t to this Reddit post.

Photobombed: Boehner's "Monkey in The Room"

When Speaker John Boehner (R- Ohio) joked about how his busy schedule made him feel like a wind-up toy, his staff decided to give him a little gift. 

On Boehner's 62nd birthday in 2011, the toy was moved into his Capitol Building office, and has been seen photobombing 29 times since then. The monkey is the "second most photographed subject" from Boehner's office and Flickr page.

Boehner's toy monkey made its first YouTube appearance on the Speaker's channel today.

"Every 15-30 minutes, they wind me up, and I do my thing," said Boehner in the video:

Mission Creep? Obama Approves "Surveillance Flights" in Syria

How intelligible is American foreign policy? Not very as Guy explained in his post yesterday: “During last summer's debate,” he wrote, “we were discussing strikes against the Assad regime. Today, we're talking about entering the country to defeat ISIS, which is intent on overthrowing the Assad regime and expanding its Islamist caliphate. The butcher we threatened to bomb last year now stands to benefit from our anti-ISIS campaign.”

This of course makes any discussion of expanding military airstrikes into Syria all the more complicated. On the one hand, if the president approves intervention, he could insulate and embolden Syrian President Bashar al-Assad even more -- a known despot. On the other hand, if we do nothing, ISIS’ dream of an Islamic caliphate stretching from Iraq’s northern border across all of Syria isn’t wholly out of the question. Neither of these outcomes, in other words, is particularly desirable.

For now, however, the New York Times confirmed yesterday that the president is slowly but surely inching towards military intervention:

President Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, a precursor to potential airstrikes there, but a mounting concern for the White House is how to target the Sunni extremists without helping President Bashar al-Assad. Defense officials said Monday evening that the Pentagon was sending in manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights over Syria, using a combination of aircraft, including drones and possibly U2 spy planes. Mr. Obama approved the flights over the weekend, a senior administration official said.

The flights are a significant step toward direct American military action in Syria, an intervention that could alter the battlefield in the nation’s three-year civil war. Administration officials said the United States did not intend to notify the Assad government of the planned flights. Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly called for the ouster of Mr. Assad, is loath to be seen as aiding the Syrian government, even inadvertently.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the president has made up his mind about what to do yet, either:

Mr. Obama met Monday with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other advisers to discuss options, but the White House said Mr. Obama had not yet decided whether to order military action in Syria. The White House made clear that if the president did act, he had no plans to collaborate with Mr. Assad or even inform him in advance of any operation.

“It is not the case that the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. “Joining forces with Assad would essentially permanently alienate the Sunni population in both Syria and Iraq, who are necessary to dislodging ISIL,” he said, using the group’s alternative name, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

Not surprisingly, this might be a bit of a problem (via The Guardian):

Syria has declared it is ready to help confront the rising threat from the Islamic State group but warned the US against carrying out air strikes on its territory without the consent of Damascus, saying any such attack would be considered an aggression. Walid al-Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister, said his government was ready “to co-operate and co-ordinate” with any side, including the US, or join any regional or international alliance against Isis. But he said any military action inside Syria should be co-ordinated with the Syrian government. “Any strike which is not co-ordinated with the government will be considered as aggression,” he said.

So, as far as I can tell, the current administration is only leaving themselves with two outs: (1) Do nothing militarily and risk more Syrian government losses to ISIS forces as they expand their caliphate. Or (2) conduct limited military airstrikes in the region unilaterally, thus possibly aiding Assad and fanning the flames of mistrust between Washington and Damascus.

What a mess.