Capitol Source: Federal Immigration Judge Claims Courts Are 'Resource Starved'

Immigration courts receive less than 2 percent of the $18 billion dollars annually allocated to immigration law enforcement, according to federal immigration judge Dana Leigh Marks. In this week's Capitol Source, two federal immigration judges explain why their courts are underfunded, understaffed, and overflowing with pending cases.

Be sure to visit Townhall.com on Oct. 6 for our birthday tribute to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Former Head of Marine Corps: Obama's ISIS Strategy Doesn't Have a Snowball's Chance in Hell

As President Obama continues to openly state U.S. ground troops on Iraq to combat terror army ISIS are not an option, a number of top military commanders have openly criticized or questioned his strategy, both in the press and in congressional testimony. Now we can add former head of the Marine Corps, General James Conway, to a long and growing list. 

Speaking at the Maverick PAC Conference in Washington D.C. last week, Conway didn't hold back or mince words about how he views current strategy against ISIS. The Daily Caller has the story: 

“I don’t think the president’s plan has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding,” retired Marine General James Conway, who served as the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps during the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama administration, said at the Maverick PAC Conference in Washington, D.C. Friday, according to a source in attendance.

Conway joins Generals James Mattis, General Loyd Austin, General Ray Odierno, General Thomas McInerney, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey in questioning how the United States plans to move forward as military leaders become increasingly at odds with the President over strategy. Many have said arming Syrian rebels is not enough and could lead to arming enemies of the United States. 

Is Arming the Syrian Rebels to Fight ISIS a Good Idea?

Last week the House and Senate voted to give President Obama the authority he needs to arm "moderate" Syrian rebels to fight ISIS as fears among Americans about the terror group striking at home continue to rise. Syrian rebels have openly admitted they won't necessarily use weapons provided by the United States to fight ISIS, but instead against President Bashir Assad. Is arming and training Syrian rebels a good idea? Will it be enough? How will vetting of rebels actually work to prevent arming terrorists? And who exactly are these people? 

For some clarification of the issue, the Heritage Foundation's Steven Bucci joined Fox News' Lisa Daftari over the weekend to discuss the situation. Bucci argued that arming the rebels is the "weakest and riskiest" part of a three-piece strategy.

"We've had a heck of a time since the beginning of the Syrian civil war determining who the so-called moderates are in the very broad, very diverse field of resistance forces working against the Assad regime. The group that we're dealing with now, there's a lot of question marks as to whether they're as moderate as they say they are, some dealing they've done with ISIS, perhaps with Assad, there's a lot of questions and remember America has not proven itself to be really adept at sorting out the real motivations of some of these groups in this part of the world," Bucci said.

When pressed for details last week on this issue, State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf kept answers vague and said, "It's a complicated process."

Complicated and risky indeed.

Meanwhile former head of the Marine Corps, General James Conway, is piling on with other top military leaders against Obama's ISIS strategy.

So, It Seems Sen. Hagan Chose A NYC Fundraiser Over A Classified Hearing On ISIS

new Elon University poll found something interesting regarding the most important issue on the minds of North Carolina’s likely voters [emphasis mine]:

When asked “what is the most important issue in the United States?” many likely voters mentioned something related to international affairs or national defense. Not since 2007 has the Elon Poll found foreign affairs to be a top issue on the minds of North Carolinians. Tillis and Hagan supporters tend to differ on what is the most important issue. Hagan supporters seem to see education as the most important issue, while Tillis supporters were more likely to mention international affairs and national defense.

So far, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has been leading her Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, in the polls, but a recent revelation that she skipped a classified hearing on ISIS to attend a New York fundraiser may not sit well with voters (via Washington Free Beacon):

Records indicate that Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) did not attend a classified hearing that focused on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) due to a fundraiser that was held for her in New York City.

The issue of ISIL has been thrust into the spotlight of the race between Hagan and her Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, who accused Hagan of not doing enough to stop the terrorist group during its rise.

On the morning of Feb. 27, Hagan missed an Armed Services committee hearing that began at 9:36 in the morning.

Later that day, the subcommittee held a closed-door hearing on “current and future worldwide threats” at 2:30 p.m. The meeting was a classified continuation of an open hearing on Feb. 11 that Hagan also did not attend.

Attendance records are not made available for closed-door Senate hearings, but Hagan may have had other plans for the night of Feb. 27.

That night there was cocktail reception fundraiser for Hagan in New York City with tickets going for up to $5,200. It was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Hagan’s office did not respond to multiple requests for it to clarify Hagan’s attendance at events on the day.

Yeah, talk about bad optics.

Texas Clinics Say Goodbye to Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood continues to lose momentum in the state of Texas. Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County, now named Access Esperanza Clinics, has ended its partnership with Planned Parenthood. Patricio C. Gonzales, CEO of Access Esperanza, explained the significant move:

"Changing our name and affiliation allows our agency to apply for state health programs and make low-cost services more available for thousands of our low-income women, men and teens," said Patricio C. Gonzales, CEO of Access Esperanza, in a letter posted on the group's website, where she added that it was "a difficult but practical solution."

In summary, renouncing its association with Planned Parenthood now gives Access Esperanza the opportunity to receive government funds.

Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 7  in 2011. This law barred Planned Parenthood from receiving government assistance. In light of this legislation, Access Esperanza had to close four of its eight clinics. Statewide, the bill led to the closings of 76 clinics.

Access Esperanza's break with Planned Parenthood is evidence that Senate Bill 7 is working. While supporters claim the majority of Planned Parenthood's services are related to women's health and not reproductive services, the fact remains that the organization performs over 300,000 abortions annually and a near 12 percent of Planned Parenthood's clients get abortions. These statistics leave little to the imagination as to why pro-life legislators are trying to revoke taxpayer funding to the infamous organization. As for Access Esperanza, it has not stated whether or not it performs abortions.

Perhaps Access Esperanza's decision to be independent of Planned Parenthood is proof that the organization is being brought down a peg. Similar changes can and should be copied in other states.

Confirmed: Most Americans Need Remedial Civics Lessons

Give yourself a giant pat on the back, guys.

I hope (and trust) if you've already troubled yourself enough to read this far, then unlike two-thirds of your fellow citizens, you can honestly say with a straight face that you paid attention during social studies class.

Wednesday marked national Constitution Day, the 227th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. But only 36 percent of Americans can actually name the three branches of government the Constitution created. That’s according to a new survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, and it shows a huge percentage of Americans might need to take a civics refresher course.

Only 38 percent of Americans knew the Republican Party controls the U.S. House of Representatives, while 17 percent think Democrats are still in charge. The number of people who knew Republicans were in charge has dropped 17 percent since the last time Annenberg asked, back in 2011, right after Republicans reclaimed control. An identical number, 38 percent, knows Democrats run the Senate, while 20 percent believe Republicans control the upper chamber. Only 27 percent knew it takes a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto.

Americans are thus more familiar with which political parties are in power than with which branches of government comprise our political system. Interesting. I wonder, then, how many of us also know that the "U.S. House of Representatives" and the "U.S. Senate," when taken together, make up the "U.S. Congress"?

In all seriousness, these are the kinds of results one might expect to find when polling, say, eight-year-olds. The fact that this was a national sample of adults is pretty scary.

For a nation with so many smart people in it, it’s amazing how little some of us know.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Fundraises For Garcia's NH Congressional Race

New Hampshire State Rep. Marilinda Garcia's congressional campaign is expected to get a boost from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is projected to raise at least $500,000 for 10 Republican women running for office this year (via Politico):

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is flexing her fundraising muscles for nearly 10 GOP female candidates.

McMorris Rodgers, the GOP Conference chairwoman, is expected to raise more than $500,000 for the congressional hopefuls Tuesday at the American Trucking Associations townhouse. Republican Reps. Ann Wagner of Missouri, Diane Black of Tennessee and Renee Ellmers of North Carolina also played key roles in putting together the event, according to a source. House Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, GOP Conference Secretary Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Ellmers and Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) are listed as hosts on the invitation.

The contributions will go to top candidates, including Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Elise Stefanik of New York, Mimi Walters of California and Marilinda Garcia of New Hampshire. Nan Hayworth of New York, Mia Love of Utah, Martha McSally and Wendy Rogers of Arizona, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa and Darlene Senger of Illinois will also be recipients of the fundraiser.

In the meantime, State Rep. Garcia is still waiting for her Democratic opponent, incumbent Congresswoman Ann Kuster, to respond to her invitation to a town hall event. If Rep. Kuster agrees, it will be the first town hall event with her constituents since she took office in 2013.

Recently, Rep. Kuster sent out this email, which included a survey asking her supporters what issues matter most to them; something that could have been gauged at a town hall event.

Friend --

Since day one, I've been listening to the needs, concerns and desires of the people who elected me to represent them.

Our campaign is about you, that is why I wanted to take a moment to ask what matters most to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s cutting through the gridlock in Washington, standing up for woman’s rights or even raising the minimum wage, I want to know what issues you care about.

Can you click here to take our one question survey?

Thanks for standing with us,

Annie 

Climate Change Demonstrators Hold Rallies Across the World

Thousands of people, including actors and politicians, marched today in cities across the world to encourage world leaders to take greater action on the issue of climate change. The United Nations Climate Summit is set to begin in two days.

From AP:

The march was one of a series of events large and small held around the world — organizers said 40,000 marchers took part in an event in London, while a small gathering in Cairo featured 50-foot art piece representing wind and solar energy — two days before the United Nations Climate Summit. More than 120 world leaders will convene Tuesday for the meeting aimed at galvanizing political will for a new global climate treaty by the end of 2015.

The New York march drew people from all over the country. A contingent from Moore, Oklahoma — where a massive tornado killed 24 last year— took part, as did hundreds of New Yorkers affected by Superstorm Sandy, which the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British meteorological office said was made more likely by climate change.

While I'm not here to argue about the legitimacy of climate change and will agree that people should be environmentally conscious, some of the people at the march in NYC were a smidge hypocritical.

For instance, Katie noticed this gem:

...and The New York Times included the following quote in their piece about the marches (emphasis added):

Participants from across the country began arriving early on Sunday morningat the staging area near the American Museum of Natural History. Rosemary Snow, 75, stretched her legs after a nearly 14-hour bus drive from Georgia.

“I thought we’d have a lot of younger people on the bus,” said Ms. Snow, who made the trip with her grandson. “There’s a really great mix of people.”

While it's possible that Snow came to New York City on a hybrid-powered (or some other "green" fueled) bus, regardless, a bus isn't the most fuel-efficient vehicle. Is it really that environmentally friendly to go on a 28-hour round-trip bus ride to protest climate change?

I'll leave you with this:

Kansas Supreme Court May Swing KS Senate Race

The national Democratic Party was celebrating this week after a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court will allow the Democratic Party to remove its candidate from the race to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate.

Chad Taylor, the Democratic Party nominee, is withdrawing from the race because of pressure from Democrats. Greg Orman, an "independent" candidate who has been a Democrat for his whole life, will for the time being be opposing incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts with no Democrat on the ballot. (A Libertarian Party candidate is also in the running but polling poorly.)

Greg Orman will likely caucus with the Democratic Party in the Senate.

A poll from liberal outfit Public Policy Polling this week placed Orman with a ten-point lead in a head-to-head matchup with Roberts:

Orman leads Roberts 41-34, with Democrat Chad Taylor — who announced plans to end his campaign earlier this month — capturing 6 percent of the vote. Libertarian Randall Batson earned 4 percent support in the poll, which was first provided to the Huffington Post. The automated phone and online survey of 1,328 likely voters was taken between Sept. 11 and Sept. 14. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.7 percentage points.

In a head-to-head matchup, Orman’s lead grows to 10 percentage points, according to the poll.

Republican secretary of state Kris Kobach insists that Democrats must nominate a replacement candidate if Taylor is removed from the ballot, but that has not proven to be binding so far.

Mich. Senate Race: Terri Lynn Land Promises to ‘Turn the Page on Washington’

Republican Senate hopeful Terri Lynn Land is out with a new ad campaign, “Turn the Page,” touting her Michigan First plan.

“How will Terri Lynn Land put Michigan first?” the narrator asks, before going on to say she will ask for trade deals, work to secure the borders, and keep tax dollars in Michigan.

The ad spot began running statewide on Friday.

According to the most recent poll, the former secretary of state, who’s up against Democratic Rep. Gary Peters for the seat held by retiring Sen. Carl Levin, is closing in on her opponent's lead.

A September 14 poll conducted by Mitchell Research has Peters up 2 points, 43 percent to 41 percent, which is within the margin of error.

The most recent poll comes amid reports of Peters’ petcoke hypocrisy.

Democratic Michigan Congressman and Senate candidate Gary Peters refused to sell his stock in the substance petroleum coke (petcoke), despite the fact that he has called petcoke “dirtier than the dirtiest fuel” and launched a public campaign to highlight the evils of a petcoke buildup in the area around the Detroit River.

Peters owns $19,000 in stock in the French oil company Total S.A., which produces petcoke, among other things. Peters’ 2014 Republican Senate opponent, Terri Lynn Land, has been hammering Peters on the investment.

“Am I going to sell it? I have no plans of it, no,” Peters said in comments Monday to The Detroit News. “It is an investment in the fourth largest oil company in the world. It has nothing to do with the Detroit situation.”

Peters had previously been ahead of Land by seven to nine points. Real Clear Politics ranks the race as leaning Democratic, but with 44 days until the election and Peters continuing to slip in the polls, the race is still very much in play.

Obama's ISIS Tap Dance

Don’t let a rare act of bipartisanship fool you. Just because Congress came together (miraculously and quickly before, ahem, their midterm elections) in passage of a continuing resolution which also authorizes the training and arming of Syrian troops, doesn’t mean that the American people - or the military for that matter – are fully buying into the president’s plan.

All the hustle and bustle on Capitol Hill this week laid bare the confusion and political calculation behind the White House’s recent push to go after the ISIS (ISIL) terrorist group, which increases its threats against the U.S. and its allies every day. Despite overwhelming support in both the House and Senate, many members of Congress continue to push for additional details from administration officials on just exactly what the U.S. is getting into.

One major point of contention is whether or not President Obama has the legal authority to carry out the airstrikes that are currently taking place. Secretary of State John Kerry hashed this out with both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, saying that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) grants the president the authority he needs to go after “Al Qaeda and associated forces.” He argued that ISIS is a direct offshoot of Al Qaeda, only recently changing its name because of an internal disagreement.

Some members of Congress buy this, others don’t; but most have requested that the President seek a new AUMF – a request that Kerry said was welcomed and encouraged by the President. Although with Congress out of session for the next 45 days, just when that measure might be taken up remains in the air.

Many questions remain concerning the international coalition and the viability of Syrian ground forces. 40 - 50 countries have been reported as partners in the fight, but very little detail has been released on exactly what each nation plans to contribute - particularly from the Arab countries. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed their hesitancy to ally with Saudi Arabia, who has funded terrorist activity, and have expressed concern over the potential impact this operation will have on empowering enemies such as Iran, Assad, and other regional terrorist organizations.

But, despite having already moved forward with airstrikes and building an international team of (somewhat questionable) allies, the most baffling moments of last week’s PR push for support was that administration officials still prefer to say that the U.S. is in the process of degrading and destroying, rather than engaging in war, and cannot determine the most politically correct way to refer to the enemy at hand. 

The White House has taken great effort to structure talking points that separate ISIS from the Islamic religion, instead of highlighting the very real threat that radical Muslim extremists continue to pose to the American way of life. President Obama told the nation that ISIS “is not Islamic,” and Secretary Kerry made several statements while on the Hill that ISIS is a cult “masquerading” as a religious movement.

Even when directly asked if the U.S. is at war, Secretary Kerry could only stammer a roundabout response that referred to ISIS as “the enemy of Islam” and “the enemy of humanity.” (See Townhall.com Web Editor Sarah Jean Seaman’s footage from Thursday's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing below.)

Right now, the country needs a strong Commander-in-Chief instead of a political tap dancer. It has long been a plague of this administration – which has resulted in an even more gridlocked and bitterly political culture within Washington - that the American people get nothing but loose rhetoric and false promises.

But, taking into account that it took two American beheadings (and several rounds of golf) for the president to react to this “jayvee” enemy, it does not seem likely that change will occur soon.

The president must be clear-eyed about the reality of the world we live in. The U.S. cannot afford for its leaders to focus more on political correctness than dealing head-on with the sometimes harsh, but definitive, red lines that provide for greater national security.

Pray for this country. We need it.

Louisiana School System Says Educating Illegal Immigrant Children Will Cost $4.6 Million

The cost of educating illegal immigrant children who are residing in the United States will cost one school district in Louisiana almost $5 million, according to the Louisiana Department of Education. State Superintendent of Education John White crunched the numbers in response to a request from Senator David Vitter (R-LA).

According to White:

The Jefferson Parish School System estimates the total cost associated with educating these students to be $4.6 million. The district will receive an estimated $2.2 million toward this cost through the state funding formula based on the October 1 enrollment count adjustment (533 students x $4,261 per student). The other affected districts are calculating their estimated costs and will report them to the state next week.

In addition to normal cost of sending a child into the public school system, these aliens often need additional aid to address the language barrier. White noted that to serve the 533 illegal immigrants, the district would need to hire several additional English as a Second Language teachers.

The Washington Free Beacon, the media outlet that broke the story, has more:

Louisiana is among the 10 states that have received the most unaccompanied alien children, according to data compiled by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The state will pay $25.8 million to educate 1,250 illegal alien children this school year.

Unaccompanied alien children have been relocated to every state in the nation, stressing local education budgets. Costs of accepting the young illegal immigrants range from $147.7 million in New York with the addition of 4,159 students, to $18,630 in Montana, which will enroll just one child.

Sen. Vitter attributed the sharp increase in illegal immigrant minors to the Obama administration policies, and in particular to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action in 2012.

As I noted in a previous post, communities are required by law to educate illegal immigrants in public schools. So, taxpayers are being forced by law to pay to educate the very individuals who have broken the law. Something about this just seems terribly amiss.

Report: GOP Leadership Considering Rules To Punish Party Disloyalty

A new congressional delegation will bring a new vote for leadership. With Democrats needing a miracle to gain a few seats, much less actually take the House, Republicans are close to a sure bet to be in control come November. That'll mean elections, and elections means a John Boehner who needs to have the support of his caucus.

There are a lot of members of the GOP caucus who don't very much like John Boehner. He's taken a lot of heat for being insufficiently conservative. To avoid an embarrassing vote, leadership might have some "rules tweaks" in the pipeline, as National Journal reports:

House Republicans are quietly discussing a proposal that could fundamentally alter the way future speakers of the House are chosen, according to multiple GOP sources, with the objective of avoiding a repeat of John Boehner's embarrassing reelection vote in 2013.

The rule tweak began as an informal discussion but has morphed into a concrete proposal that is beginning to circulate in the House. According to people briefed on it, any Republican who votes on the House floor in January against the conference's nominee for House speaker—that is, the candidate chosen by a majority of the House GOP during its closed-door leadership elections in November—would be severely punished. Specifically, sources say, any dissenters would be stripped of all committee assignments for that Congress.

"There's a real concern that there's between 30 and 40 people that would vote against the speaker on the House floor, so they're trying to change the conference rules to make sure that doesn't happen," said a GOP member familiar with the proposal.

The last time, as National Journal notes, there were 12 members who voted against Boehner's speakership on the House floor. The GOP leadership wants to present a more united front this time around.

As Tillis Trails Hagan, NRA Launches Major Ad Buy

This isn’t a surprise, but Thom Tillis needs something to happen if he’s to unseat Hagan by Election Day.

Recent news hasn’t been too kind to Tillis. A poll from the conservative Civitas Institute showed that unaffiliated voters in North Carolina, who make up 27 percent of the electorate, back Hagan over him.

Fox News poll of likely North Carolina voters showed that Sen. Hagan has the advantage, beating Tillis 41/36. Yet, 19 percent said that they could change their mind between now and Election Day.

An Elon University poll also found Hagan beating Tillis 45/41 amongst likely voters. Tillis’ 47-point deficit amongst single women (they’re breaking 65/18 for Hagan) could be one of the reasons why he’s continued to trail Hagan in the polls. The poll surveyed 1,078 residents, 983 were registered to vote in North Carolina, and 629 described themselves as likely voters.

But there are some areas where Tillis can maneuver. For the first time since 2007, likely voters said the most important issue in the United States had to do with national security, or something related to international relations. Republicans have a clear advantage on foreign affairs heading into the 2014 midterms.

At the same time, from this poll, it looks as if immigration won’t be such an animating force as it is in New Hampshire amongst North Carolina’s registered voters, of which 47 percent think “immigrants are a benefit to North Carolina because of their hard work.” Forty percent feel they will be a burden to public services.

Abortion is another tricky issue, as 44 percent favor fewer restrictions on abortion; 40 percent want more restrictions. On Obamacare, almost half of registered voters–48 percent– think the ACA would make North Carolina health care worse, according to the Elon Poll. Thirty-one percent think it will make it better.

Then again, 7.5 percent of likely voters polled said they were undecided. When pressed whom they would vote for, 49 percent still said they were not sure. Elon predicted that means 4.6 percent of the electorate is up for grabs.

Recently, the National Rifle Association is planning a $11.4 million dollar advertising campaign in key senate and gubernatorial races (via Politico):

The National Rifle Association has reserved $11.4 million for its initial fall advertising campaign and will begin airing its first TV commercials Wednesday in three Senate races crucial to determining which party controls the chamber next year.

The gun rights group, which outlined its fall priorities exclusively for POLITICO Campaign Pro, said it plans to spend much more than the initial outlay during the final weeks before the midterm elections.

The first ads will begin airing in the Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina Senate races. They will be followed in the next few days with a mix of TV, radio and digital ads to help out the GOP Senate candidates in Georgia, Kentucky, Iowa and Louisiana.

The NRA has reserved $1.4 million of time in each state.

The bulk of the North Carolina buy, just over $1 million, will air in the Raleigh-Durham market, and about $350,000 will be spent in Greensboro.

Additionally, Freedom Partners Action Fund launched a $750,000 ad buy with two ads hitting Sen. Hagan over the Veterans Affairs fiasco and Obamacare.

The Obamacare ad actually ties in education, where we hear from a registered Democrat named Brenda, who taught in North Carolina for over 40 years, but had her hours cut as a substitute teacher due to Obamacare.

While not from the Tillis campaign, the Freedom Partners ad does a nice job in expanding the Obamacare blast radius to not just about gutted plans and higher premiums; it tied in education, which is an issue where Democrats are hammering Tillis.

Speaking of which, here’s an ad from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee slamming Tillis over his education cuts.

Sen. Kay Hagan, who garnered an endorsement from Cosmopolitan this week, also had this direct ad stating she’s "tough enough to keep taking the punches."

As Election Day draws closer, more voters are likely to become more attentive to this race. Elon predicts that North Carolina will have a higher than average voter turnout this year, so the possible fall groundswell could benefit either campaign. We’ll have to see what happens.

Could ISIS Hurt Franken's Chance for Reelection?

While incumbent Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D) has a comfortable lead in opinion polls, some are wondering if his relatively muted response to ISIS actively recruiting soldiers from Minnesota will come back to haunt him in November.

Minnesota has been a hotbed for ISIS recruitment, with over a dozen residents of the Twin Cities traveling to the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State. Two have been killed.

Mike McFadden, the Republican candidate for Franken's seat, has jumped on the issue of ISIS in Minneapolis by portraying Franken as ineffectively combating the terror threat.

More from ABC:

Hours after the release of the ISIS video showing the execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff on Sept. 2, McFadden blasted Franken for his support of the president’s “foreign policy blunders.”

He later said Franken was “asleep at the wheel” after the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on a federal grand jury investigation of an attempt to convince 20 to 30 Somali men to leave Minnesota and join ISIS.

“This is a very, very serious issue, and it has not received the attention from Sen. Franken it deserves,” McFadden told ABC News. “We’re sitting here today six years after Sen. Franken and President Obama were elected, and the world is a more dangerous place.”

While Franken wrote a letter to the Department of Justice asking for assistance on addressing the matter of his constituents being successfully recruited to terrorist groups, McFadden called the effort “a day late and a dollar short.”

Franken was narrowly elected in 2009. Despite polls earlier this year showing low favorability and approval ratings, he leads recent polls by 13 points.

Joe Biden at DNC Women's Lunch: I Sure Miss That Serial Sexual Assaulter Bob Packwood

Vice President Joe Biden is having quite the week. First he used the Jewish slur "Shylock" while attempting to describe greed. Then in another speech, Biden described Asia as "The Orient."

Today at a DNC women's event (reminder, the folks over at the DNC, including Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, love using war on women rhetoric) Biden said he misses the days of bipartisanship in Washington and especially misses Republican Senator Bob Packwood. 

"It was Republicans that were involved," Biden said in a speech at a DNC Women’s Leadership Forum breakfast. "Guys like [former Maryland Sen.] Mac Mathias and Packwood and so many others. It wasn't Democrats alone. Republicans were the sponsors of the raises of the minimum wage. I could go on and on. I'm not joking: This is not your father's Republican Party, or your mother's Republican Party."

As a reminder, Bob Packwood was run out of the Senate for abhorrent behavior as a misogynist, serial sexual harasser/assaulter and creep. 

After Republican Robert W. Packwood was narrowly reelected to the Senate by Oregon voters in 1992, The Washington Post published a lengthy front-page story outlining the senator's unwanted sexual advances as reported by 10 women, mainly former staff members and lobbyists.

The extremely detailed and convincing accounts of Packwood's gross misbehavior were appalling. Outrage toward Packwood in his home state of Oregon and across the nation grew by day. The scandal and legal entanglements surrounding it would lead the senator to tearfully end his political career in 1995.

But hey, you can't really blame Biden. Excusing sexual abuse is just a habit. After all, he's in the party that praises and glorifies Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton (who have the same records as Packwood, but because they vote the right way on abortion, were allowed by Democrats to stay in politics). At the 2012 DNC convention, Bill Clinton spoke and a seven-minute long tribute video was played in honor of Ted Kennedy's life. Naturally, they left out the chapter when Kennedy left a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, to die in his car. 

Why Was David Limbaugh's Book Left Off NYT's Bestseller List?

Was this an innocent mistake or another calculated ploy to slight a conservative author? You decide.

The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard reports that David Limbaugh, a best-selling author and popular Townhall columnist, has been curiously left off the New York Times bestseller list -- even though his book is flying off bookshelves everywhere. As a matter of fact, it’s already reached pinnacle status on Amazon.com, boasting higher book sales in recent days than most other print publications on the market.

What, then, could possibly explain this glaring omission?

The New York Times Book Review, which has a history of belatedly recognizing conservative bestsellers, has banished conservative legal author David Limbaugh’s latest, Jesus on Trial, from its upcoming best seller list despite having sales better than 17 other books on the list.

According to publishing sources, Limbaugh’s probe into the accuracy of the Bible sold 9,660 in its first week out, according to Nielsen BookScan. That should have made it No. 4 on the NYT print hardcover sales list.

Instead, Henry Kissinger’s World Order, praised by Hillary Clinton in the Washington Post, is No. 4 despite weekly sales of 6,607.

As Secrets wrote about a similar banishment early in the sales of conservative Dinesh D’Souza’s America, the Gray Lady is mysterious in how it calculates its list. A spokeswoman said, “We let the rankings speak for themselves and are confident they are accurate.”

If so, Limbaugh’s book should easily have made the bestseller list. The fact that it didn't certainly suggests that the New York Times is once again engaging in anti-conservative bias.

President and publisher of Regnery Publishing, Marji Ross, told Townhall she was absolutely "flabbergasted" by the news.

“Basically, we were flabbergasted when we got the New York Times bestseller list...and saw that Jesus on Trial wasn’t listed on their top 20 print books,” she said. “We saw sales of nearly 10,000 copies for David’s book, and we knew from past experience what that translates into. And that certainly is enough copies to always make it onto the bestseller list.”

She explained that Limbaugh’s book sold roughly 9,600 copies (according to advanced figures) while Henry Kissinger’s book sold roughly only 6,600 copies -- and yet Kissinger’s book landed at No. 4 on the bestseller list.

“When we saw Henry Kissinger’s book at #4, we literally couldn’t believe it,” she said.

Be that as it may, this isn't the first time something like this has happened.

“We’ve seen this kind of thing before where one of our books [is slighted], and frankly, I think it happens a lot to conservative authors and conservative titles and conservative publishers,” she added. “But this time was truly the most shocking.”

You can learn more about ways to receive a free copy of Jesus on Trial by clicking here.

After all, regardless of what the Times thinks, the book is still very much worth reading.

Military Leaders Increasingly at Odds With Obama Over ISIS Strategy

Obama's strategy on how to combat ISIS is confusing at best, but one thing is clear: the battle brewing between Obama and America's top generals about how to move forward against the terror army. 

Earlier this week during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey said there is potential he will recommend ground troops should the coalition with Arab countries against ISIS fail. 

“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true but if it fails to be true and if there are threats to the United States then I of course would go back to the President and make a recommendation that we include the use of U.S. military ground forces. To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president," Dempsey said.

The next day, President Obama gave a speech in Florida at U.S. Central Command and stressed, "I will not commit you, and the rest of our armed forces, to fighting another ground war in Iraq." Obama has repeatedly insisted ground troops will not be used against ISIS.

Regardless, the line of generals and other high ranking military officials expressing skepticism over President Obama's plan and strategy is quickly getting longer. 

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis:

"Half‐hearted or tentative efforts, or air strikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foe’s credibility, reinforcing his recruiting efforts which are already strong. I do not necessarily advocate American ground forces at this point, but we should never reassure our enemy that our commander‐in‐chief would not commit them at the time and place of his choosing. When we act it should be unequivocal, designed to end the fight as swiftly as possible. While no one is more reluctant to see us again in combat than those of us who have signed letters to the next of kin of our fallen, if something is worth fighting for we must bring full strength to bear."
General Loyd Austin:
President Obama had been given advice on how to handle the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant but did not act on it, according to a new report from Real Clear Defense.Obama was preparing his strategy when he rejected the “best military advice” of Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command.

General Ray Odierno:

Airstrikes have halted the advance of the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, General Odierno, now the Army chief of staff, told journalists from four news organizations, including The New York Times, in what aides said were his first public comments on the current situation in Iraq. Ultimately, though, “you’ve got to have ground forces that are capable of going in and rooting them out,” he said, referring to the Islamic extremists.

The airstrikes “will not be the end all and be all solution in Iraq,” he said. Similarly, he added, the jihadis cannot be allowed to have a safe haven across the border in Syria.

Lt. Col. Oliver North:

"In my military mind what you have is Operation Enduring Confusion. You have a President who cannot make up his mind about what he wants." 

"I've spent my whole life hanging around the U.S. military. I've been on plenty of times with you from Iraq and other places. I've spent my life with these young guys. I'm waiting for the general or admiral who will stand up on his hind feet and say this is mission impossible. Given the constraints that you've [Obama] given we cannot accomplish the objective you have set. It is impossible to do."

"Somebody has to tell the truth...Some general or admiral at the Pentagon or somewhere else in Central Command has got to stand up and say, 'The mission we've been given we can do but we can't with the constraints you've places upon us.'"

Last night on The Kelly File, General Jack Keane gave his analysis: 


And then there's this:

The current situation in Iraq is a direct result of President Obama choosing politics over the advice of his generals. Even with the threat of ISIS, things haven't changed.

Report: ISIS Urging "Lone Wolves" To Target US Soldiers

My visceral reaction to reading this story was intense anger. And yet, why am I bewildered that a terrorist organization that kills innocents has reportedly stepped up its efforts in urging rogue extremists in the U.S. to target American soldiers?

On second thought, I’m not surprised at all. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find their their latest tactic to kill Americans somewhat strange. Is this not the same army of barbarians whose chief spokesman (since killed in a drone strike) arrogantly prodded the president to “send [us] your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq?” If ISIS is so confident and proud of their own military capabilities, why must they resort to such cowardly and desperate acts?

Fox News has the exclusive:

A law enforcement bulletin obtained by FoxNews.com warned that Islamic State fighters have increased calls for "lone wolves" to attack U.S. soldiers in America in recent months, citing one tweet that called for jihadists to find service members' addresses online and then "show up and slaughter them."

There will be “a continued call - by Western fighters in Syria and terrorist organizations - for lone offender attacks against U.S. military facilities and personnel,” warned a July law enforcement intelligence bulletin from the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange, a state-run agency that gathers, assesses and shares threat information and works with the Department of Homeland Security. “These threats will most likely increase should the U.S. or its allies attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) in Syria or Iraq.”

Given what happened yesterday in Australia, the West must be ever-vigilant and on its guard against coordinated and “lone wolf”-style terror attacks from ISIS. Our soldiers, it seems, are now top targets.

And while not wholly unexpected, this is something all of us should bear in mind.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is An Obama Problem, Not A DNC Problem

A Politico report came out a few days ago about the Democrats and the White House turning against DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz. It's obvious timing because Wasserman Schultz has become a public liability for the Democrats - but not for the reasons they claim.

The White House claims that Wasserman Schultz is looking out for herself above the party. But that's not true. Wasserman Schultz is only doing what the Democrats and the Obama White House want her to do.

RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said that the way Wasserman Schultz is being treated is embarrassing:

What the White House and what others are doing, throwing her under the bus, if they don't like the job they're doing they should respectfully ask her to step down, but treating her this way is just really not something that should be done.

An RNC spokesperson tells Townhall that "when they lose this November, it won't be because of what the DNC didn't do. It will be due to the failures at the White House."

"Obama Lives in a Cocoon Surrounded by Sycophants"

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal: 

Bill Bennett interviews Marc Thiessen on why we need American troops fighting the Islamic State. Medved talks with John McCain about the best strategy moving forward in Iraq. Krauthammer tells Hugh Hewitt that Obama lives in a cocoon surrounded by sycophants. Bennett speaks with Marco Rubio and then David Gelernter on Islamic Jihadism and Muslims trying to stop Ayaan Hirsi Ali from talking on campus.

Boom: Federal Investigators Find No Christie Link in 'Bridgegate' Probe


When the team of investigators enlisted by Chris Christie's office to look into the 'Bridgegate' matter -- which was comprised of former federal prosecutors with reputations on the line, by the way -- cleared Christie of any knowledge of those fateful lane closures, critics scoffed.  Of course his personally-sanctioned internal investigation produced favorable results.  Acutely aware of that skepticism, Christie made the following prediction during a lengthy press conference at which he unveiled the inquiry's results: "I think the report will stand the test of time. But it will be tested by the other investigations that are ongoing.”  He was right, of course.  If independent investigators had unearthed evidence refuting his consistent story, his credibility would be shot.  And the probe he'd authorized would look like a corrupt joke -- an elaborate, crass, and taxpayer-funded cover up.  Well, that report has been tested by federal investigators for nine months, and now we have our first meaningful look into what they've found.  Or, more accurately, haven't found:

The U.S. Justice Department investigation into New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie’s role in “Bridgegate” has thus far uncovered no information he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York. The September 2013 closures -- where several entrance lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Ft. Lee were shut down causing a traffic nightmare for commuters -- has been the subject of several federal and state investigations. Federal officials caution that the investigation begun nine months ago is ongoing and that no final determination has been made, but say that after nine months authorities have uncovered no information Christie either knew in advance or ordered the closure of traffic lanes . According to one former federal prosecutor, who had no involvement in any of the probes into the bridge closure, investigations of this kind will often turn up a solid connection early in the inquiry.

And that hasn't happened.  This isn't the final report, so it's probably premature to sound the "total exoneration, full stop" trumpet just yet, but this is big news nonetheless.  To recap: The Christie-authorized investigation cleared him, the feds have found zero evidence connecting him to the decisions he's repeatedly repudiated, and the Trenton-based legislative probe has also struck out, by leading Democrats' own admission.  Oh-for-three.  Unless significant, heretofore unseen information comes to light (and no, deranged, discredited accusations don't count), this matter is resolved.  Two high-ranking members of Christie's inner circle abused their authority and lied about it, which is a fair knock on Christie's judgment.  But he dealt with the violators swiftly and decisively (and with contrition), and his unwavering insistence that he had absolutely nothing to do with their machinations appears to have been vindicated by the facts.  But in the sphere of public opinion, real damage has been done.  Christie's recovered from his mid-scandal polling free fall in New Jersey, but he's never come close to recapturing the remarkably broad-based support that fueled his overwhelming re-election victory.  The media's incessant drum-beating on 'Bridgegate' has taken its toll; we'll see how much ink and airtime they devote to this new chapter.  Either way, the federal whiff presents a peg for Christie to hang his hat on -- a clean, easy rebuttal to scandal-related criticism that may come his way should he decide to run for president in 2016.


Many conservatives harbor legitimate wariness when contemplating a potential Christie presidential candidacy; absent major countervailing evidence, 'Bridgegate' should be stricken from the sources of concern.  In fact, aside from the judgment questions pertaining to the fired staffers, it might even deserve a place in the 'positives' column.  Democrats threw everything they had at the guy to try to kill his political career in one fell swoop.  Much of the mainstream media was happy to oblige in the endeavor.  Though they've wounded Christie, they didn't finish him off.  Their obvious fear of him, coupled with his skillful and articulate defense of himself throughout this ordeal, shouldn't be discounted.  Conservatives should also be mindful that the Left is increasingly weaponizing the criminal justice system as a means of knee-capping people they view as threats.  Over the last year alone, they've come after Christie in Jersey, Rick Perry in Texas and Scott Walker in Wisconsin (which might be the most insidious case of the three for a number of reasons).  The Right can and should have robust debates about personalities and policies in advance of 2016, but it must stand arm-in-arm against unjustified character assassination in the form of partisan criminal investigations and bogus indictments.  I'll leave you with a bit of snark at the anti-Christie media's expense:



In fairness to MSNBC, it's not exactly a slow news week -- but if it were, would they devote endless hours of coverage to this narrative-disrupting revelation? Doubtful, and don't bother asking, either. Rachel Maddow "doesn't play requests."

UPDATE - Christie responds:

Megyn Kelly Destroys Bill Ayers, Again

Yesterday Salon, a far-left outlet, published a piece in which Bill Ayers said Fox News Host Megyn Kelly had "very cold eyes" and that she is a very strange person. The comment came a month after Kelly conducted an explosive interview with Ayers on her show. From the piece

She struck me as a very strange person. She’s like a cyborg constructed in the basement of Fox News. She’s very striking, but very metallic, very cold. Her eyes are very cold.

In response to Ayers, Kelly tweeted about his comments and then took him on during her show last night.

As for my alleged time in the basement, well I've never actually lived underground unlike Ayers and his wife Bernadine who evaded the FBI for 11 years. And then there's the eyes. The man's got a point, they can be cold, but not as cold as those of three people killed while making bombs for Ayers' group, but I see a tie, especially when I'm looking at a serial bomber who terrorized so many, including an innocent little boy.

Well done. 

U.S. Air Force Allows Scrubbing of "So Help Me God" From Enlistment Oath

The U.S. Air Force is allowing airman to scrub "so help me God" from their enlistment oath if they choose to do so. 

The Washington Post has the background details on the change: 

After an airman was unable to complete his reenlistment because he omitted the part of a required oath that states “so help me God,” the Air Force changed its instructions for the oath.

Following a review of the policy by the Department of Defense General Counsel, the Air Force will now permit airmen to omit the phrase, should they so choose. That change is effective immediately, according to an Air Force statement.

“We take any instance in which Airmen report concerns regarding religious freedom seriously,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in the statement. “We are making the appropriate adjustments to ensure our Airmen’s rights are protected.

It has been the tradition of the military for centuries to include "so help me God" in the enlistment oath. The change came after an atheist group pressured the Air Force to change the policy and argued an the atheist airman at the center of the controversy shouldn't be speaking about a God he doesn't believe in. 

On another note, Fox News radio host and Townhall columnist Todd Starnes has been reporting on the cleansing of God from the military for years. 

Obama: ISIL is Learning Americans Do Not Give in to Fear

“Today, the United States continues to build a broad international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL,” President Obama stated Thursday night shortly after Congress voted to arm and train Syrian rebels to fight ISIL. 

“As part of the air campaign, France will join in strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq.”

Obama confirmed that more than 40 countries have offered assistance for the coalition, including support for Iraqi forces, strengthening the Iraqi government, and offering humanitarian aide to civilians.

America will now move forward with providing training and equipment to the Syrian opposition forces so they may attack ISIL members in Syria.

“This program will be held outside of Syria in partnership with Arab countries and it will be matched by our increasing support for the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces in Iraq.”

Obama stressed that American forces deployed to Iraq “will and do not” have a combat mission. Rather, they will advice and assist America’s partners on the ground.

“We can join with allies and partners to destroy ISIL, without American troops fighting another ground war in the Middle East.”

Rather than be intimidated by ISIL, Obama stated that Congress’ bipartisan consent of the training effort showed the world that Americans are united in the cause to confront ISIL.

“With their barbaric murder of two Americans these terrorists thought they could frighten us, or intimidate us, or cause us to shrink from the world. But today they are learning the same hard lessons of petty tyrants and terrorists who have gone before: as Americans we do not give in to fear. And when you harm our citizens or you threaten the United States, or you threaten our allies, it doesn’t divide us, it unites us. “