Lifetime to Premiere New Reality Show Documenting Women Considering Religious Life

Lifetime's new reality series "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns" is set to premiere this Tuesday, Nov. 25 and will follow five women discerning religious life and entering a Catholic convent. The network was given permission to film at three convents: The Carmelites for the Aged and Infirm in Germantown, New York; The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in Chicago, Illinois; and The Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker in Walton, Kentucky.

From Lifetime:

The all-new groundbreaking Lifetime® series "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns" (#TheSisterhood) follows five young women who are considering the life-changing decision of taking religious vows to become Catholic nuns. For the first time ever, cameras were granted access to three convents* where the women live and work together alongside nuns during the discernment phase, the process wherein they decide if they want to formally continue on their holy path.

In observance of the sacred vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, they leave behind everything they have come to love—boyfriends, family members and all their worldly possessions—to see if they have what it takes to become servants of the church and brides of Christ. See them test their devotion when The Sisterhood premieres Tuesday, November 25, at 10PM ET/PT.

All three convents visited by the Lifetime cameras are members of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), an association of more "traditional" religious institutes in the United States that was founded by the Vatican in 1992. In contrast to the Leadership Council of Women Religious, another association of religious institutes, CMSWR members are headed up by major superiors and wear the traditional habit. While only 20 percent of religious institutes for women belong to the CMSWR, their members have a far younger median age compared to the LCWR (60 as opposed to 74) and nearly half of CMSWR institutes have at least five novices (girls in training to become a full-fledged sister) compared to only 9 percent of LCWR institutes.

While I'm not entirely sure how this show is going to work (the women appear to be some form of aspirant rather than formal postulants), I'm rather intrigued by its premise. The girls in the preview all appear to be normal, everyday girls, and it's interesting that entering a convent is portrayed as a tough, but completely rational decision. While MTV's "True Life" did an episode in 2006 that featured a girl who aspired to enter a convent, the premise behind the episode was that she "didn't fit in" with her peers and her religious vocation was highly unusual. This show seems to be going in the opposite direction. Granted, there's always the risk that things will be played-up for cameras (hey, drama sells), but the sisters portrayed at the convent appear to be serious in guiding these women to finding their true vocations and helping them to grow spiritually.

I also find it interesting that Lifetime chose to film (or that the girls were drawn to) more traditional convents rather than the modern, "progressive" LCWR communities. LCWR has gotten a fair amount of press in recent months, and filming at one of their institutes would certainly fit the media's trope of progressive activist sisters much nicer than say, a community of veiled Carmelites.

Regardless of what happens to the women at the end of the show, I'm glad to see that a television network is positively promoting the option of entering religious life. While I'll admit it's unlikely that "The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns" will result in a flood of vocation applications, it's entirely possible that the show may force some people to open their eyes to something they had previously never considered for themselves.

Six episodes have been ordered for this season.

Watch: SNL Skit Mocks Obama's Lawlessness

President Barack Obama’s recent decision to bypass Congress and offer temporary legal status to approximately five million illegal aliens has sparked controversy across the nation. Even NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” couldn’t resist turning the incident into a satire.

The cast put a poignant twist on the famous “I’m Just Bill” cartoon created by “Schoolhouse Rock.” In the original version, a bill talks to the camera as it sits on Capitol Hill waiting to go through the long legislative process needed to become a law.

“It's not easy to become a law, is it?” a student asks. The bill responds with a resounding “No!”

But apparently, those were the old days. Just watch: 

Scott Walker 2016?

Scott Walker appears to be unbeatable. He’s won in a purplish state three times (2010, 2012, and 2014), humiliating labor unions, accruing the support of conservatives, and increasing the odds of a presidential run in 2016.

Also, as Republican political consultant Mike Murphy once said, if you’re going to run for president, make sure your wife is going to vote for you; Walker has seemingly clinched that constituency, along with the rest of his family.

According to Politico, an announcement will be made sometime in the summer of 2015. Walker needs to expand his campaign staff beyond his usual crew of loyalists and everyone knows that, which is why his office is being flooded with consultant resumes. His team is also trying to avoid mistakes from past 2012 candidacies; Perry got in too late and Pawlenty tossed his hat into the ring too early.

Right now, he’s working on pushing through his legislative agenda to strengthen his conservative bona fides:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, pivoting from his bigger-than-expected reelection win this month, is taking active steps toward a presidential campaign that would launch next summer and contrast his record of conservative achievements in a swing state with paralysis in Washington.

In interviews this week, Walker and his top political advisers provided the fullest account yet of his plans for the likely rollout of a national campaign. The 47-year-old Republican intends to use an upcoming legislative session in Wisconsin to push an ambitious agenda that could, in combination with his triumphs over Big Labor, bolster his standing with Republican primary voters: repealing unpopular Common Core standards, requiring drug tests for welfare beneficiaries and cutting property taxes.

Walker cut income and property taxes in the first term, but he wants to go further, pushing a flatter income tax system. On education, he’s planning to push an expansion of school choice and to replace the Common Core program with state standards.

His plan to require welfare beneficiaries to undergo drug testing, he said, is about showing employers that people on public assistance are capable of holding jobs.

“We want to help able-bodied adults transition from government dependence into the workplace,” Walker said, whose efforts will be aided by a state Legislature controlled by Republicans.

For the next few months, political travel will be relatively limited, aides say, as Walker focuses on his legislative agenda. He appears eager to paint a contrast with not only a gridlocked Washington but also New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who faces a hostile Democratic Legislature and has fewer legislative accomplishments to point to.

But Walker lacks the charisma that other likely candidates, such as Christie or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), possess on the stump. He did not graduate from college, though some blue-collar voters might see this as a positive, and lacks foreign policy experience.

While there’s enough time for Walker to formulate his vision of American foreign policy, the humble, blue-collar appeal will be a stark contrast to that of Romney.

Romney won the over $50k demographic 53/45 over Obama, but when you expand the category to anyone making less than $100k; Obama easily trounced Romney 54/44. This is mostly likely due to Obama winning the vast share of the working class vote in and around urban areas where in some states, like Pennsylvania, that’s where elections are decided–and the majority of people live.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, working class whites will be key to Democrats remaining competitive in elections–and they’re breaking for Republicans.

So, will the “rise of the rust belt Republican” help the GOP’s prospects in 2016? For Walker, he thinks so, but the Midwest road to the White House he speaks of isn’t an easy one–and he knows it:

“Strong leadership, combined with Midwestern nice, there’s just a certain appeal to that,” Walker said.

“You look at the Electoral College map and what’s required to win. A good chunk of that runs through the Midwest,” Walker said. “There’s Florida, Virginia, out West — Colorado, Nevada – maybe New Hampshire depending on the year – but really most of the rest of the map is Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa. It’s all kind of right there. At least in recent political history, that’s kind of where it happens.”

Since 1988, Michigan and Pennsylvania haven’t gone Republican in presidential contests; Iowa has flipped only once (2004); Nevada only twice in 1992 and 1996; and Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, and Florida are solid swing states.

It seems any GOP candidate has some work to do in states that will likely decide who will succeed Obama.

Hillary Probably Won’t Expand The 2016 Map

Earlier this week, Noah Rothman wrote over at Hot Air that Team Hillary thinks they can net 386 electoral votes if she decided to run in 2016. The folks that could become Clinton’s campaign staff think it’s possible since Clinton can reach the voters Democrats have struggle with in past election cycles: working class whites.

Their targets: Arizona, Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Georgia

White working class appeal and demographics trending toward the Democrats are the reasons why Hillary’s potential campaign team is eyeing these states. Yet, before conservatives start hyperventilating, Harry Enten over at FiveThirtyEight said flipping these states is highly unlikely. For starters, voter registration is comfortably Republican–and these voters flocking toward the GOP aren’t just anti-Obama; they’re anti-Democrat:

If anything, the first three states have become less sympathetic to Democrats in recent years. And there’s no evidence that Clinton is the exception. Georgia and Arizona have become more diverse, but they’ve yet to become more Democratic.  [...]

In all five states, the Republican lead in party identification is at least 5 percentage points greater in the past two years than it was nationwide. It’s not just that voters in these states dislike Obama. They dislike Democrats.

In the first “bucket” Clinton targets — Arkansas, Indiana and Missouri — voters were about as Democratic-leaning as the nation in 2009. Since then, however, voters there have shifted away from the Democratic brand. The Republican lead in party identification among Arkansans, Hoosiers and Missourians is now about 10 percentage points greater than it is nationwide.

Republicans hold more than 60 percent of the seats in both houses of the state legislatures in these states. And the GOP majorities in all three states increased after the 2014 elections. So, it’s not like Clinton can localize these races. These states are solidly Republican from the top down.

Arizona and Georgia have long been listed by Democrats as potential pickup opportunities because of each state’s growing racial diversity. And it’s possible they’ll become presidential battlegrounds. But there isn’t any sign that will happen in the next two years.

So, what about her ability to connect with working class whites?

With the exception of Georgia, 2008 exit polls from those states during the Democratic primaries (I couldn’t find exit polls for Arizona and Arkansas), showed that Clinton won working class voters.

Indiana

  • Under $50k 52/47 (Clinton)
  • Over $50k 53/47 (Clinton)
  • Under $100k 52/47 (Clinton)
  • High School graduates 52/48 Clinton
  • Some college 58/41 Clinton

Georgia

  • Under $50k 64/34 Obama
  • Over $50k 67/32 Obama
  • Under $100k 65/34 Obama
  • High school graduates 60/37 Obama
  • Some college 68/32 Obama

Missouri

  • Under $50k 49/42 Clinton
  • Over $50k 52/40 Obama
  • Under $100k 47/44 Clinton
  • High School graduates 53/36 Clinton
  • Some college 48/45 Clinton

With Georgia, Clinton fared poorly with these voters, but it could shift in the opposite way since Obama isn’t on the ticket.

Then again, 2008 was supposed to be Hillary’s year; it ended up being about then-Sen. Obama’s Hope and Change. She’s a bad campaigner, her book tour was marred by torpid sales, and she’s a highly polarizing figure. It seems the more she’s in the spotlight, the more unpopular she becomes.

Even Obama admitted that after he’s gone, voters are going to be looking for “that new car smell;” Hillary isn’t any of that.

It’s politics; anything can happen. But as Enten noted, even if she manages to win all five states, she probably already clinched the 270 electoral votes to win making this a rather “superfluous” exercise.  Team Hillary is just posturing.

The 2016 map will look different. Voter attitudes toward the Democrats will probably not be as appealing after eight years of Obama, Barack himself will be gone, and the field is potentially open to anyone, Democratic or Republican.

At the same time, Ohio and Florida will be front-and-center as always.

Video: 'Daily Show' Roasts Sen. Landrieu Over Keystone Gambit

Not even the crew over at The Daily Show could overlook Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) obviously desperate and sad attempt to save her own Senate seat.

During a hilarious segment three nights ago, host Jon Stewart skewered the soon-to-be “ex-Senator” for putting all her metaphorical eggs into the Keystone basket—and failing spectacularly.

He equated her chances of winning the December 6 run-off to that of a skier outrunning an avalanche. Down by double digits, he suggested, her Senate career is over.

He also delicately reminded Democrats that they were whipped in the midterm elections, among other reasons, for not “[standing] for anything.” Why, then, did some Senate Democrats stop fighting a bill to save a Senate seat that was all but lost, and of little consequence?

“Oh, I got an idea," he teased. “What if we stood for less?”

In fairness, he mocked both opponents and supporters of the Keystone bill, mostly for reaching wildly different conclusions about how many permanent jobs it would create. For example, if one listened to the Senate floor discussions, estimates varied between 35 (that’s not a typo) and millions. With this kind of conflicting misinformation thrown around by members of Congress, is it any wonder the entire spectacle devolved into a farce?

Most significantly, however, he derided Sen. Landrieu for her desperation and off-the-mark “Hail Mary” pass.

“It’s just like my dad always said,” Stewart said at the end of the clip. “You’re just not good enough.”

Rubio: 'No One's Going to Be a More Forceful Voice on Repealing and Replacing Obamacare' than Bill Cassidy

New Orleans, LA -- "Does Mary Landrieu represent Louisiana values?" Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) asked on multiple occasions. Each time, he was greeted with a resounding, "No!" The governor was joined by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at a Republican unity rally for Dr. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in Kenner, LA. Cassidy is challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for a seat in the United States Senate.

"The eyes of the country are on Louisiana," Jindal said.

Early voting began Saturday in Louisiana as the state prepares for the December 6 runoff election to decide who will take the last Senate seat in the 2014 midterms. At a campaign event right outside of New Orleans, a few hundred supporters showed up for Cassidy to cheer him on to victory in the last stretch.

Col. Rob Maness, the former GOP candidate for Senate who dropped out after the Nov. 4 election, took the stage first, ensuring the crowd he was now fully behind Cassidy. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) offered remarks as well, taking a few jabs at Landrieu for failing to convince her Democratic colleagues to get on board and pass the Keystone XL pipeline bill.

Then, Gov. Jindal arrived. Perhaps noticing the sea of orange NRA hats, Jindal attacked Landrieu's gun rights record and President Obama's insulting 'guns and religion' hot mic comment from 2008.

"As a lifelong member of the NRA, I'm proud that we've got plenty of both guns and religion! I guess I wasn't smart enough to know I was supposed to be insulted by that," Jindal said. "Mary Landrieu has voted against our Second Amendment rights, she has voted to confirm a radical, anti-gun justice of the Supreme Court, she has a 'D' rating from the NRA. Does Mary Landrieu represent our values?"


To emphasize this point, Jindal reminded the crowd about that time their senator called them a bunch of bigots.

"She has the gall to suggest we must be 'racist' to disagree with this president's policies."

The governor then shifted his attention to Cassidy, confident that the latter would soon be working more closely with him.

"He's a great doctor, a great legislator, a great congressman and he's going to be a great United States Senator."

Jindal then started a trend of the night by stressing the importance of early voting. The governor warned attendees not to become complacent even though polls show Cassidy with a double digit lead.

"You don't win an election with two weeks left to go. We win this election when the last vote is counted...Let's make this a landslide so that come December 6, we can say, 'former Senator Mary Landrieu!'"

Bill Cassidy was greeted with a rock star welcome to the party being held in his honor. He didn't let the fanfare distract him though and quickly got to business. He spent a good chunk of his remarks contrasting his own agenda with that of Landrieu's. Like Jindal, he too mentioned Landrieu's infamous 'D' rating from the NRA, touting his own impressive 'A' rating. What's more, while the Democrat has a zero percent record from the Right to Life, Cassidy said he has a 100 percent rating. I explained just how misleading Landrieu has been on pro-life issues in an earlier piece. Finally, while Landrieu voted for Obamacare and would do so again, 'tomorrow,' Cassidy voted to repeal and replace the job killing bill over 50 times.


Perhaps the best part of his speech is when he stopped to recognize a very special person:

"I want to pause and give thanks to the person who every week has done something for our campaign, who without this person, we would not be in the position we are, who my gosh has worked overtime to make this possible. So will you join me in thanking the person who's made our victory secure: President Barack Obama."

When the roar of laughter died down, Cassidy echoed Jindal's sentiments about early voting. Convincing even two people a day to go to the polls, he said, would be an immense help for their campaign, so they can focus more completely on voters who have yet to make up their mind.

Cassidy himself introduced the final speaker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who was given the most time onstage. As a son of poor immigrants, Rubio offered an energetic, moving speech insisting that the Louisiana Senate race wasn't just about politics, it was about preserving the American Dream.

"This isn't just a choice between Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy," he said. "It's a choice between whether this generation is willing to do what it needs to do to share that dream."

"The American Dream has never been about being rich. The American Dream was about achieving happiness and leaving your family better off than yourself."

Rubio said it's 'insulting' to hear Democrats like Harry Reid say they're fighting for the middle class, especially when they've pushed through such harmful legislation.

That's where Bill Cassidy comes in, he said.


"I know of no one who's going to be a more forceful voice on repealing and replacing Obamacare, than your next Senator Bill Cassidy. He understands health care because he's a health care practitioner, because he knows patients, because he's dealt with patients. He understands that they way to bring affordable health coverage to people is not to put the government in charge, it's to put you in charge of health care."


He listed what needs to be done to get the country back on the right track: tax reform, regulatory reform, repealing Obamacare, getting our debt under control.

"On issue after issue of what it will take to make America globally competitive again, she's on the wrong side and Bill Cassidy is on the right side."

Yes, turnout is critical, Rubio said, to prevent ending up in a textbooks as 'an election people thought we had won and ended up not winning.' He also told the audience to 'not let your guard down about what the other side is doing to hold on to power.' Landrieu managed to win the last two runoff elections by successfully turning out her base.

We'll see if Landrieu can somehow pull it off again, or if Cassidy's landslide lead will hold strong.

I'll leave you with Rubio's classy description of Cassidy, which should be every Congress member's raison d'etre.

"He's someone who wants to be in office not to be someone, but to do something."

Long Wars Aren't Working

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the November issue of Townhall Magazine. 

There is no doubt Americans are war weary, and according to a recent Military Times survey, our soldiers are too. But as the public debate about whether ground troops will be necessary to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS” rages on in Washington D.C., at the Pentagon and on television screens across the country, one question isn’t being discussed or answered: Why do our modern wars take so long?

The current worn-out American attitude toward the Middle East and the world as a whole comes from 13 years in Afghanistan and Iraq. Things feel drawn out, and military families who haven’t made the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one dying for their country have made serious sacrifices of missing far too many birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones due to multiple deployments. Time is a precious thing that nobody can get back.

When it comes to the complicated situation in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry has said the United States’ approach and potential attack on President Bashar al-Assad’s assets would be “unbelievably small” in a war with more than 191,00 dead since 2011.

“Now, I believe that the aftermath of the Iraq experience and Afghanistan leave a lot of people saying, ‘We don’t want to see our young people coming back in a body bag,’ and so forth. But that’s not what we’re talking about. And what we have to do is make clear to people that this is—we’re not talking about war. We’re not going to war. We will not have people at risk in that way,” Kerry said during a joint press conference with the British foreign secretary back in 2013.

“We will be able to hold Bashar Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war,” Kerry continued.

“That is exactly what we’re talking about doing—unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

President Obama later walked back Kerry’s comments, saying any action in Syria wouldn’t be “pinpricks.” Too bad that wasn’t true.

Obama’s latest strategy against ISIS, the terror army that has now erased the border between Syria and Iraq to form an Islamic caliphate, is by all accounts a drawn out half-attempt to do something.

“America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners. Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid,” Obama said on the eve of 9/11 in an address to the nation. “I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

If Obama isn’t interested in going back to the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, then why the “steady” plan to take out ISIS? The White House and the Pentagon have also said in press reports this mission could “take years.” America is about to spend a whole lot of time and resources training “moderate” forces incapable of getting the job done. Many military leaders and experts say the mission is destined to fail.

“I don’t think the president’s plan has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding,” retired head of the Marine Corps General James Conway said at the Maverick PAC Conference in Washing- ton, D.C., recently.

The bottom line is this: Our soldiers have to be able to fight wars to win, not simply to damage the enemy. Doing otherwise only results in bigger problems and longer combat time on the ground. Training and depending on local fighters on the ground to get the job done for us isn’t a viable option either. Further, telling the enemy what we are not going to do only makes wars last longer as terrorists are able to reassess strategy, move into civilian population centers, and therefore drag out wars they’re willing to fight until the end of eternity in the name of Allah. The rules of engagement, which I’ve extensively detailed in the Dispatch before, make it impossible for our troops to get the job done by eliminating our enemies quickly and without regret or reassessment in life or death moments. They must be rewritten.

America is tired because our wars have been long, but the reasons for the past 13 years of drawn out, extensive conflict are a result of useless and oftentimes dangerous policies, which are heavily influenced by the international community and political correctness rather than by military leaders who have been pushed aside by the president.

When we use our military to fight our enemies, it should be used quickly and to win. Our men and women in uniform deserve nothing less. •

Pro-lifers No Longer Fooled by Mary Landrieu

New Orleans, LA -- I'm here reporting on the extended Senate race in Louisiana, which just happens to be the most pro-life state in the nation. For years, incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, who faces a tough, expected-to-win GOP opponent in Bill Cassidy, had fooled voters into thinking she was a moderate on the issue of abortion - until now.

Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) organization, told Townhall how Landrieu is misleading voters on her abortion record ahead of next month's runoff election.

“Mary Landrieu and throughout all her time through 1996 as a Louisiana senator, has masked ways that she has voted in DC when she speaks to people, especially on the life issues," Clapper said. "Right now, if she ever talks about the issue of abortion, she focuses on votes she made in 1998, a long time ago. She also talks about her support for adoption and she omits a decade of her voting record in support of abortion and the abortion industry."

Reality, however, paints a quite starker picture.

“If you look at her record, it’s gotten worse since 2008," Clapper explains. "There were times before 2008 that she voted with the pro-life side, on occasion. But since 2008, it’s been clear that she stands with President Obama and his abortion agenda.”

In fact, Landrieu has a zero percent pro-life voting record, according to Louisiana Right to Life's records.

“It’s based on the fact that there are 16 votes the National Right to Life has scored since 2008 and she’s 0 for 16 on all of them."

That's why Clapper and his pro-life colleagues are determined to ensure that Louisiana voters know where their candidates stand on life.

"Anything that is done in the state to reach voters and tell them the truth about her voting record, is critical because we find even now, there’s so many people in the state that are confused about her voting record on the issue of abortion. So, whether it’s been door-to-door efforts, whether it’s been through the mail, or radio, all of those things have been important to open people’s eyes to how she stands.”

The pro-life group has distributed about 220,000 grassroots pieces of candidate comparison material to people across the state, both in a lot of different churches and a lot of different groups, according to Clapper.

A couple other entities are involved in the pro-life battle in the Bayou, including the Women Speak Out PAC, a partner of the Susan B. Anthony List. That group, says Clapper, has knocked on about 150,000 doors since May, telling people about Landrieu’s support of taxpayer-funded abortion and her 100 percent pro-abortion voting record since reelection. 

Finally, the National Right to Life Victory Fund has performed much needed research and exposed voters to Landrieu's abortion agenda. Specifically, they’ve been focused on doing billboards, mail and radio ads. One place in particular in which the group is focusing its efforts, is Vermilion Parish, which is south of Lafayette. Abbeville is the name of the city there and has a very high Catholic population, Clapper explained. He laid out how their strategy there has gradually, yet successfully, developed.

"Abbeville is a place that has voted with Mary Landrieu in past elections, oftentimes because of the connection of the oil and gas industry, but it did not go for Mary Landrieu on November 4. We have talked to people on the ground who say that they believe part of the movement has been the disgust with Senator Landrieu’s support of abortion. We have billboards there and radio ads running in that area, we had our mobile trailer that’s gone through that area often. So, we really think that the issue of abortion in the pro-life community has played a strong role in this election.

"Mary Landrieu’s extreme pro-abortion record is far, far away from the values of the people of Louisiana.”

He’s not kidding. Louisiana has been voted the most pro-life state in the nation for the past five years by Americans United for Life.

If anything, Landrieu's extreme pro-abortion record obliterates those lofty claims that she’s a "moderate."

“She continually claims that she’s in the middle and even the Wednesday before November 4, she had an ad in the Lafayette advertiser, which was defending her position on abortion and it was all somewhat factual in the way that she presented it," explained Clapper. "What was not factual about it was the tons of information that she left out about her voting record. So, she’s tried to go to those areas that would be pro-life and say, ‘Hey, I’m not really that bad on this issue.’ In the past, they might have bought it, they’re not really buying it this time.” 

This time, Clapper and his fellow pro-life warriors foresee Landrieu's 18-year reign and shadowy pro-abortion legacy coming to an end. This is assuming that those who voted for former GOP candidate Col. Rob Maness, who dropped out of the running after Nov. 4, will be voting for Cassidy. But this isn't guaranteed.

“It’s going to all come down to the turnout on December 6. By and large, those voters who voted for Col. Maness are pro-life and so we believe they need to be reminded where the candidates stand on abortion and make sure they realize how important it is for the pro-life cause that they get out and vote on December 6.”

Stay tuned for more coverage from here in the Bayou State as I attend a rally tonight in Kenner headlined by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

HRC at Gala: Immigration Order Affects the 'People Who Served Us Tonight'

“I think the president took an historic step and I support it,” Hillary Clinton said about President Obama’s executive immigration overhaul during an appearance at the New York Historical Society on Friday. But the Democratic presidential front-runner didn’t stop there.

"This is about people's lives," she said, “people, I would venture to guess, who served us tonight.”

@aseitzwald Wonder how this would be reported if a conservative made the same comment? Spoiler Alert: The tone would be a wee bit different

— Andy Waldron (@AndyWIII) November 22, 2014

Just a bit.

@TheRickWilson @aseitzwald racist, condescending, bigoted and ignorant. That's Liberalism.

— Joel Schafer (@joelschafer) November 22, 2014

This comment, of course, came after President Obama already classified illegal immigrants in his speech as fruit pickers, maids, and landscapers.

"Smoke and Mirrors": How Jon Gruber Proved Republicans Right About the CBO

Once upon a time, it was gauche to accuse one's ideological opposition of exploiting the rules by which the Congressional Budget Office plays the scoring game. It's worth revisiting this idea in the wake of MIT academic Jonathan Gruber's admission of guilt to this charge.

Way back in 2011, there were conservatives writing about how the CBO's score of the Affordable Care Act rested on "budget gimmicks," "smoke and mirrors," and "a dismal track record."

Vox's Ezra Klein, then at the Washington Post, declared that there was a "Republican war on the CBO," and said that it was "an effort to discredit the last truly neutral, truly respected scorekeeper in Washington." It's true that the CBO is immensely respected: a bad CBO score can kill a major piece of legislation, and a good CBO score will help convince fence-sitters that legislation has limited downside. And it's not that the CBO isn't valuable. Republicans never hated the player; they just hated the game.

The CBO has rules that they have to abide by and judgment calls they have to make. It's not math that Republicans took issue with. It's the subjectivity that definitionally has to be involved. The CBO, for example, scores all legislation in a ten-year budget window from date of enactment. Not the date that a policy comes into effect, mind you; the date that it's passed. This is a useful rule, because it's often nearly useless to extrapolate government policy out past ten years. But what it means is that if a governing party wants to frontload budget savings and backload the costs, it'll get a much more favorable score than if the costs and savings were scored over ten years of enactment. It's undeniable that this happened with ACA, as the costs of full implementation have only just come into effect (and they're still not 100% in effect; the Cadillac tax won't take hold for another few years) even though the legislation was signed in 2010.

Obamacare Architect/Non-Architect/Friend/Adjacent Policy Guy Jonathan Gruber admitted as much. President Obama needed to include an individual mandate in his health law or the whole thing would fall apart. The problem was that the CBO had, in the past, scored private sector mandates as on-budget. These were thought to have killed the Clinton health reform plan in 1994. Obama-era Democrats - most likely with Gruber's help - massaged their plan in order to fit CBO's judgment of what kind of a private sector mandate wouldn't count as a tax. And this is indeed a judgment call. The Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate's constitutionality rests on the government's taxing power after the CBo ruled that the mandate didn't count as a tax. That's a difficult needle to thread, but the Democrats, with Jonathan Gruber's assistance, managed to make it happen.

So instead of a piece of legislation whose spending is near $2 trillion over ten years, ACA's delayed phase-in gives us an official CBO spending estimate of $800 billion. Instead of a bill where we see mandate-tax increases on all Americans, we discuss the bill as something with minimal tax hikes like the Cadillac tax and the tanning salon tax.

Republican allegations that the CBO score was achieved through budget gimmicks and smoke and mirrors were correct all along. There was no "war" on the CBO here. It was a war on the Obamacare architects who gamed the process, using the CBO's own rules against them, and presented to the public a legislation that used every loophole possible to hide its true costs and taxes.

This isn't to say that there have been no Republicans who have gone beyond merely criticizing the way that policymakers have exploited the CBO's self-imposed rules. Newt Gingrich called to "abolish the Congressional Budget Office because it lies," which is overboard and unhelpful. For all of the faults of the CBO - and there are many - it's a necessary institution in Washington and imperative for getting ballpark scores. But for all the reasons outlined, and for Jonathan Gruber's comments, a CBO score should not be a conversation-ender. CBO projections have been wrong, and legislators have turned its scores into such a powerful weapon that policymakers like Gruber are consistently attempting to game the system to produce favorable numbers.

There are other scorekeepers in the game whose legislative analysis is useful as well. The Joint Committee on Taxation scores legislation, as do think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Committee on Budget and Policy Priorities. All of these methods have their own upsides and downsides - CBO's upsides included. What's dangerous is worshiping at the alter of the CBO and refusing to lend credence to other scorekeepers. The problem is precisely that the CBO is viewed as the "last truly neutral, truly respected scorekeeper." That's what Republican complaints about the CBO's ACA score were getting at - and that's what needs to change.

Hey, Look Whose 'Missing' Emails Were Recovered

Earlier this month, Judicial Watch discovered that the IRS never even bothered looking for Lois Lerner’s “missing” emails, which they claimed were lost as a result of a computer crash in 2011. 

Not to worry, it seems that as many as 30,000 emails have now been recovered by the IRS inspector general.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.

“They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told theWashington Examiner.

The IRS, in a statement provided to the Examiner, said the agency and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is fully cooperating with the investigation.

"As Commissioner Koskinen has stated, the IRS welcomes TIGTA’s independent review and expert forensic analysis." The IRS statement said. "Commissioner Koskinen has said for some time he would be pleased if additional Lois Lerner emails from this time frame could be found." […]

In all, investigators from the inspector general’s office combed through 744 disaster recovery tapes. They are not finished looking.

There are 250 million emails ion the tapes that will be reviewed. Officials said it is likely they will find missing emails from other IRS officials who worked under Lerner and who said they suffered computer crashes.

House and Senate committees are seeking the emails to investigate the role the former head of tax exempt organizations played in the targeting of tea party and conservative groups leading up to the 2012 election, and whether she was working with Obama administration officials to single them out. 

“Though it is unclear whether TIGTA has found all of the missing Lois Lerner e-mails, there may be significant information in this discovery,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told the Examiner. “The Oversight Committee will be looking for information about her mindset and who she was communicating with outside the IRS during a critical period of time when the IRS was targeting conservative groups.”

Issa also expressed frustration over the IRS’ cooperativeness with Congress throughout the investigation.

“The agency first failed to disclose the loss to Congress and then tried to declare Lerner’s e-mails gone and lost forever. Once again it appears the IRS hasn’t been straight with Congress and the American people,” he continued.

#ThanksMichelleObama Trends on Facebook as Students Express Displeasure with School Lunch

Some high school students are not pleased with their new USDA-approved school lunches, and have taken to using the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama to express their displeasure. The guidelines include strict calorie limits, as well as requiring whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Students are claiming that the lunches are too small, and they are being left hungry.

The hashtag was one of the top trends on both Facebook and Twitter throughout the afternoon.

Those lunches look quite sad, and for some students, that's the only thing they'll eat all day. When I was in high school, lunches didn't look like that--and the vast majority of them were certainly edible. It's also not a good policy to assume that all children have the same nutritional needs. A football or a hockey player will certainly need more calories than what is permitted under these guidelines.

Child obesity is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed. If school lunches are this gross, however, children are simply going to turn to empty calories and snacks to stave off hunger. This is completely counter-productive.

Schools know their student population better than some government agency does. School lunches should be up to local control, not subjected to arbitrary guidelines.

ICE Braces for New Spring Surge of Illegal Immigrants

On the same day President Obama announced his executive immigration overhaul we learned that the administration was gearing up for yet another surge of illegal immigrants coming this spring—more than 100,000 to be exact. And to do so, they’re getting a family detention center ready with 2,400 beds.

“We must be prepared for traditional, seasonal increases in illegal migration. The Dilley facility will provide invaluable surge capacity should apprehensions of adults with children once again surge this spring,” said Acting ICE Director Thomas S. Winkowski, reports The Washington Examiner.

“These facilities help ensure timely and effective removals that comply with our legal and international obligations, while deterring others from taking the dangerous journey and illegally crossing into the United States,” he continued.

If the Dilley facility turns out to be anything like this one in Texas, it’s hard to believe it would be a deterrent at all, especially after Obama's announcement. And don’t take my word for it, check out this short video:

“Did the possibility of immigration reform inspire you to come now?” CNN’s Alina Machado asked the Central American migrant waiting for a bus ticket on Thursday.

“Yes, that’s right,” the woman said. “That inspired us.”

“Now?” the reporter pressed.

“Yes, now,” the woman replied.

Get ready.

Losing Streak: WH Admits Improperly Inflating Obamacare Enrollment Figures


Last spring, Obamacare supporters were ebullient when the Obama administration announced a milestone "victory:" Despite a truly disastrous roll-out, they'd enrolled eight million Americans in the program. The Obamacare debate, the president said, was officially over. We expressed skepticism over the White House's stats almost immediately, noting that the official numbers didn't account for duplicates, non-paying "customers," and consumer attrition -- not to mention the high percentage of "new" enrollees who previously had insurance, but were forced to use Obamacare's exchanges to obtain plans after their existing arrangements were cancelled under the new law.  The last two weeks have witnessed two more blows for the "it's working!" crowd.  First came the sharply revised 2015 enrollment projections:

Fewer than 10 million people are expected to enroll in "Obamacare 2.0" for 2015, the Obama administration said Monday. That's a significant drop from the original goal. The Congressional Budget Office had projected 13 million, but officials said they expect the ramp up to be slower than the CBO originally thought. The revised goal is 9 to 9.9 million. It raises questions about whether Obamacare enrollment will reach projections down the road. The CBO had projected enrollment would hit 25 million by 2017, but now the administration says it will probably take at least one or two more years to reach that threshold. Officials are realizing it will find it tougher to convince the remaining uninsured to enroll. Many who opted not to sign up this year said the cost was too high.

It's almost as if many people aren't too excited about purchasing less-than-affordable coverage that saddles them with high out-of-pocket costs and sparse provider networks.  One thing the administration has going for it this year is that the individual mandate tax designed to punish shirkers is rising considerably, although those penalties are still much lower than the costs associated with buying Obamacare health plans.  Now we have this embarrassing admission from administration officials, who've been forced to reveal how Team Obama inflated its top line enrollment figure:

The Obama administration said it erroneously calculated the number of people with health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, incorrectly adding 380,000 dental subscribers to raise the total above 7 million. The accurate number with full health-care plans is 6.7 million as of Oct. 15, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed today, saying the U.S. won’t include dental plans in future reports. “The mistake we made is unacceptable,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said on her verified Twitter account. “I will be communicating that clearly throughout the department.” The error was brought to light by Republican investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, using data they obtained from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services….The new count puts enrollment short of a 2013 estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, adopted last year as a goal by the Obama administration, that 7 million people would be enrolled this year. Federal officials said in September they had 7.3 million people enrolled in coverage through new government-run insurance exchanges. They didn’t distinguish between medical and dental plans, breaking from previous practice without notice.

Oh yes, this was surely a good-faith "mistake," which just happened to depart from "previous practice" in order to push the White House's prized total "enrollment" number above its nominal goal.  A remarkable coincidence, no? Even top Obamacare cheerleader Ezra Klein can't spin this, even as he credulously swallows the "error" line:


So setting aside the previously insured population, which shouldn't count towards new enrollments in my view, the administration still fell short of its initial projections, and they've since publicly downgraded their expectations for this year.  Comprehensive data from the Census Bureau and the CDC confirms that Obamacare is falling dramatically short of enrollment expectations.  Between Jonathan Gruber's slow-motion implosion, the Supreme Court taking up the federal subsidies case, and these enrollment black eyes, it's been a rough month for Obamacare.  And the losing streak is being reflected in public polling:


I'll leave you with this:



Inside the Politics of Keystone

By now, you’re well aware that legislation to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline failed by one vote in the upper chamber earlier this week. Sixty votes were needed. Despite unanimous Republican (and some Democratic) support, however, the threshold was never crossed. The bill died on the spot.

According to The Hill, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) knew well ahead of time (despite her assurances to the contrary) that not enough Senate Democrats were on board to vote for the measure—a bill she both introduced and co-sponsored. But for reasons I'll explain below, she took the risk anyway:

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) told reporters on Monday night that she had the 60 votes she needed to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

But secretly, she knew she was one short.

At the eleventh hour, however, despite her entreaties, her Democratic friends essentially told her ‘we feel for you, Mary—we really do—but you’re on your own’:

In the end, Landrieu’s “hail Mary” fell short and not a single one of the eight Democratic senators on her list came through.

“There were eight potential Democratic yeses. You’d think she could’ve gotten one of them,” said a Democratic senator who worked with Landrieu to advance the Keystone authorization.

The whole point of bringing Keystone up for a vote was to remind her constituents what 18 years on Capitol Hill had wrought—namely, influence and power. After the bill died, however, this sunny narrative was publicly put to bed. By going all-in, she was laying everything (read: her political career) on the line. Hence why some in her own party were even questioning what she was doing at the time:

A rumor circulated among Democratic senators that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) advised Landrieu that it wouldn’t be wise to bring Keystone to the floor for a high-profile vote if she wasn’t sure she could get 60. Many lawmakers were incredulous that she would take such a big risk only weeks away from her run-off.

“I don’t know what Mary was thinking,” one lawmaker said, requesting anonymity to discuss private discussions in the caucus.

I do. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s no secret that once center-right voters coalesced around the only Republican left in the run-off, her chances of winning that race would evaporate. She needed (ahem) a “Hail Mary” of sorts to give her foundering campaign some momentum. This was it. If she didn’t try something game-changing, she was sunk anyway.

So why not take the gamble?

Alas, the polls now indicate that Sen. Landrieu will lose on Dec. 6thand lose badly. But if it’s any consolation, I don’t think the Keystone ploy could have meaningfully moved the needle.

The Red Tsunami, it seems, was probably too powerful to overcome.

Everything You Need To Know About Obama's Executive Amnesty

In a primetime address on November 20, President Obama made his sales pitch to the American people for a series of immigration executive actions he will sign on November 21 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here is what you need to know:

What actions is Obama taking specifically?

The key to Obama's new immigration policy is the creation of one new amnesty program and the expansion of another.

Specifically, Obama's new amnesty program will give illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for at least five years, and who are parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents, a three year work permit. This permit will also allow them to obtain a Social Security number and get a driver's license. Pew estimates that 3.5 million current illegal immigrants will qualify for this program.

Obama is also expanding the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty program. Previously only those illegal immigrants who were born before 1981 and entered the U.S. as a minor before 2007 were eligible for benefits. Now all illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as a minor before 2010 will be eligible for amnesty. Like the parents above, DACA recipients will also get work permits, Social Security numbers, and driver's licenses. Pew estimates that 235,00 illegal immigrants will gain eligibility for benefits through this program expansion.

Is this legal?

Obama didn't think so. As recently as this spring, and on more than 20 other occasions, Obama said he could not rewrite immigration law by executive action. 

Specifically, this March Obama told Univision, "But what I’ve said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do. ... t at a certain point the reason that these deportations are taking place is, Congress said, ‘you have to enforce these laws.’ They fund the hiring of officials at the department that’s charged with enforcing. And I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore, you know, any of the other laws that are on the books.

More damning, in 2011, Obama told the National Council of La Raza, "Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."

How is Obama justifying this amnesty?

The Office of Legal Counsel memo released before Obama's speech cites Obama's Article II Section 3 constitutional duty to "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed" as the source of his power to grant this amnesty. 

The memo reasons that since there are 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the country today, and DHS only has the resources to remove 400,000 illegal immigrants every year, Obama must choose which immigrants to deport and which to ignore. This "prosecutorial discretion" power, the memo claims, allows Obama to choose which illegal immigrants get work permits, which illegal immigrants will continue to be ignored, and which illegal immigrants will be deported.

Under this legal theory, Obama could give all current 11.3 million illegal immigrants work permits and driver's licenses, as long as he kept deporting at least 400,000 illegal border crossers every year.

Will courts let Obama get away with this?

They already have. In 2012, after Obama announced his DACA program, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sued the Department of Homeland Security challenging the legality of Obama's first executive amnesty program.

But while the court found that the border agents "were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented a program contrary to congressional mandate," the court also ultimately determined that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue DHS since the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 already established an administrative process for resolving disputes between federal employees and their employer.

The harms from Obama's illegal amnesty programs are just too diffuse for any one litigant to establish standing in federal court.

If courts can't stop Obama in time, who can?

Only Congress can stop Obama's amnesty program by defunding it. 

Now it is true that since the federal agency that issues work permits, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services office, is self-funded through fees it would keep issuing permits in the event of a federal government shutdown.

But that does not mean Congress does not have any power over the agency. Congress could still attach a rider to any appropriations bill forbidding USCIS from using any federal funds, including those collected through fees, for the purpose of carrying out Obama's amnesty programs. 

Will Congress stop Obama?

Some in Congress, like Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), have said they will use the power over the purse to defund Obama's amnesty.

Others like House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have said they want to pass a long-term government funding bill which would essentially rubber stamp Obama's amnesty.

How would Obama's amnesty effect legal immigrants?

After Obama enacted DACA, wait times for visas for legal immigrants tripled from 5 months to 15. Obama essentially allowed illegal immigrants to jump in line in front of law-abiding legal immigrants. Since Obama has requested no new funding from Congress to pay for his new amnesty, and since his new amnesty is three times larger than his last amnesty, legal immigrants should not only expect to head to the back of the line again, but they should also expect much longer delays.

Obama claims all these amnestied immigrants will get background checks, Is that true?

If history is any guide, no. Background checks are expensive and time consuming and USCIS does not have the resources to process additional amnesty programs on top of their normal duties. Judicial Watch uncovered documents in June 2013 showing that instead of full background checks normally used by the agency, DACA recipients got cheaper and less comprehensive "lean and lite" checks.

Obama said illegal immigrants will be held accountable by paying taxes. Is that true?

It is true that the IRS already allows illegal immigrants to pay income taxes by obtaining a tax identification number. Most illegal immigrants also already pay state and local taxes. Obama's amnesty program changes none of this. In fact, Obama's new amnesty lets illegal immigrants of the hook but not paying any fines or penalties for breaking the law.

How will Obama pay for this new amnesty program?

The White House has not explained that yet.

What about Democrats who claim Reagan and Bush also acted unilaterally on immigration?

President Reagan did pass an amnesty program through Congress in 1986, but it failed to accomplish its goals. At the time there were just 3 million illegal immigrants in the country and today there are more than 11 million. This is why most Americans do not support amnesty today.

Reagan also used an executive action to ease immigration standards for 200,000 Nicaraguans who feared persecution from the communist Sandinista regime. President Bush used similar powers to grant deportation relief to hundreds of Kuwaiti nationals who had been evacuated to the United States during the first Gulf War.

But both of these executive actions were perfectly in line with the true scope of a president's prosecutorial discretion powers. They were limited in nature, applied to specific smaller groups of immigrants, and were not designed to thwart congressional intent on immigration policy.

Obama's amnesty is the exact opposite. It is a broad-based program in response to no crisis other than Congress isn't doing what Obama wants it to do. As Obama once said, "That's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."

Allah is the Greatest...The Greatest What?!

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Michael Medved spoke with his brother Jonathan, a resident of Israel, about the recent deadly attacks by Palestinians. Dennis Prager on Palestinians who delight in murder, but others call it what it is: evil. Alan Dershowitz was particularly struck by the day’s events--he spoke with Medved. Medved and Santorum on Obama executive order on immigration. Hugh Hewitt and Lindsey Graham on emperor Obama's immigration push. Bill Bennett discussed Keystone with congressman Robert Costa. Dennis Prager spoke with Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuel. KT spoke with Morning in America’s Bill Bennett, another member of President Reagan’s remarkable staff--they take a look at the Cold War. Dennis Prager on Obama's knee-jerk reaction to defend Islam.

Republicans Could Be Overstating Importance Of Winning More Hispanic Voters

We know voter ID laws really don’t swing elections, but what about the other liberal talking point that demographics were to blame?

“Revenge of the white guys,” wrote liberal Amanda Marcotte that day after Democrats got decimated across the country.

So, is it true that a 2012 electorate would have brought better fortune to Democrats in 2014? Not really says Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende.

For starters, President Obama was somewhat popular in 2012; he’s toxic right now. But let’s go through the numbers. Trende wrote [emphasis mine]:

If the 2014 electorate had resembled the 2012 electorate in terms of race, the Republican vote share would shrink by just 1.97 percentage points. In other words, in a 2012 electorate, Republicans would have won the popular vote for the House by 4.5 points, rather than 6.5 points. That’s not nothing, as they say, but it still only explains a relatively small share of the difference between the 2012 and 2014 results. Put differently, if Obama had put up the same vote shares among racial groups in 2012 as Democrats ultimately did in 2014, he’d have lost.

The 2014 electorate was, in fact, quite a bit older than the 2012 electorate. This isn’t necessarily surprising, given that the elderly population is actually set to grow substantially in the next decade. Regardless, if we reduce the 65+ share of the electorate from 2014’s 22 percent to 2012’s 16 percent, increase the 18-24 year old share from 7 percent (2014) to 11 percent (2012), and adjust everything in between accordingly, the Republican advantage contracts by ... 1.94 points.

Now you might look at this and say, “Well, that’s a total of four points!” The problem with this approach is that there is a substantial double count going on. Democrats do better among young voters in large part because that demographic is less white; younger whites don’t vote that differently from older whites. So this isn’t a cumulative exercise.

To get around this, we can look at the age-race crosstabs. That is, the exit polls tell us how not just 18-29-year-olds voted and African-Americans voted, but also how 18-29-year-old African-Americans voted (and so forth). If those groups had turned out in a way as to re-create the 2012 electorate, the Republican margin constricts by a bit more than if we looked at race alone or age alone, but the change still only amounts to about two points.

In other words, even if Democrats had managed to re-create 2012-style age or racial demographics in 2014, they still would have had a rough year.

Trende also compared the demographic shifts at the state level; comparing the 2012 and 2014 electorates and found that the changes aren’t significant. Yet, one notable exception is that Thom Tillis would have lost to Kay Hagan by a small 3.8 margin. The verdict: demographics represented a tiny proportion of Democratic troubles this cycle.

After all, Republicans just had better candidates this time around.

Yet, what about 2016’s demographic layout; shouldn’t Republicans be focused on making gains with Hispanics?

Actually, they really don’t, according to New York Times’ Nate Cohn.

As he puts it, Republicans’ need to gain ground with Hispanics is not a necessity, but will make a 2016 GOP candidate’s road to the White House much easier. The Republican fixation with doing better with Hispanics is due to various 2012 post-mortem analyses showing that Obama did poorly amongst white voters, when he allegedly did “quite well” outside the south. But if the GOP wants to make gains with Latinos, the one state they should focus on is Florida (via NYT):

[I]n 2016 Hispanics will represent just 12 percent of eligible voters, and between 9 and 10 percent of actual voters. That’s a lot, but it’s not large enough to grant or deny Republicans the presidency.

Hispanic voters are disproportionately concentrated in noncompetitive states like Texas and California. This makes it even harder for the Republicans to claim the presidency by focusing on them, since there are relatively few Hispanic voters in the battleground states that determine who wins the Electoral College. Hispanics represent more than 5 percent of eligible voters in just three battlegrounds: Florida, Nevada and Colorado. As a result, the Republicans could have entirely erased Mr. Obama’s advantage among Hispanic voters and still lost the presidency in 2012, since Mr. Romney would have still lost states like Virginia and Ohio, where there are very few Hispanic voters.

The Republicans don’t have an especially credible path to the presidency without Florida’s 29 electoral votes. The easiest alternative might be for Republicans to flip Virginia and Ohio, scale the so-called Blue Wall in Pennsylvania, and then pick up 12 additional electoral votes from some combination of Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

Cohn added that modest improvements could erase Obama’s 1-point lead, which gave him the state in 2012. But the white share of the vote in Florida is a weird mix of old, southern, and Jewish, which could be receptive to a Hillary candidacy, making improvements with Hispanics utterly worthless. Still, the GOP knows inroads with this community is critical, it just may not be the “evolve or die” approach that everyone has been suggesting in the media.

And, while the president did win predominantly white states in the north, he actually did poorly with white working class voters; all regions of the country had Obama white working class support below 45 percent.

Cohn lists Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, Wisconsin and New Hampshire as examples of predominately white states where Obama won in 2012. Obama won the white vote in Iowa [51/47], Oregon [54/44], and New Hampshire [51/47]–and remained competitive in Wisconsin [51/48 Romney] and Minnesota [49/48 Romney]. Yet, these are states, with the exception of Iowa (went to Bush in 2004) and New Hampshire*, that have voted Democratic since 1988–and Oregon’s urban areas–traditional Democratic strongholds–(Portland) carried the state in 2012. 

They’re also in regions where the Obama’s share of the white working class vote is the highest, albeit below 50 percent. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, white working class votes are a huge bloc of voters–and they’re breaking for Republicans. To say that Obama had catastrophic results with whites in the South is true, but it extends beyond that region (via New Republic):

Many Democrats would prefer not to have to face this monumental organization challenge, hoping instead that the existing Obama coalition and demographic changes in America will prove sufficient to elect a president in 2016, hold the Senate, and weaken GOP control over the House of Representatives. But the harsh reality for Democrats is that they cannot achieve all three of these objectives without increasing their support among white working class Americans—and if Democrats keep telling themselves that "the problem is just the South," that support may decrease instead.

So, it seems that while Republicans really might not need as much Hispanic support (GOP should go after this shiftable voting bloc), Democrats definitely need to find ways to bring more working class white voters back into the fold, which is quite the homework assignment.

That being said, anything can happen. We have some time before 2016.

*New Hampshire also voted for Bush 43 in 2000, but reverted back to its Democratic ways since 2004

100 Days Out: 'Road to CPAC' Sets the Stage for February Event

While conservative hopes may have been renewed in the aftermath of the 2014 midterm elections, the stakes have never been higher for the issues the American people continue to face.

On Tuesday, the American Conservative Union launched an educational program called the “Road to CPAC,” which will highlight topics of importance and debate among those on the Right. Each day, the site will release a new post on policy information, conservative opinion, or issue updates.

“'The Road to CPAC' will provide the tools and resources conservative activists need as they prepare to come together in February,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp. “We must respond to Americans’ call for real change by expanding CPAC from a four-day event to a 365-day, year-round experience.”

Townhall.com has partnered with ACU in this effort, along with other conservative organizations and think tanks, by producing a series of short videos on policy issues that are poignant to the priorities driving the conservative narrative. New segments of the series will be released in the weeks leading up to the Conservative Political Action Conference; and the kick-off video, a montage of memorable moments from previous CPAC events, can be viewed below.

The ACU is the oldest grassroots conservative organization in the country, and publishes congressional and state ratings, organizes CPAC, and works to achieve conservative policy and political victories. To check out the resources included in the “Road to CPAC,” visit http://www.cpac.org/road-to-cpac.

Be sure to check back regularly for more information from Townhall.com.

Darrell Issa Calls on Jonathan Gruber to Testify About Obamacare

Over the past two weeks Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber has been seen on video repeatedly insulting the intelligence of the American voter and admitting the healthcare overhaul was written to deceive the public about costs, taxes and a redistribution of wealth of healthy to sick. 

Today, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa officially invited Gruber to testify on Capitol Hill. 

"The Committee on Oversight and Government reform requests your testimony at a hearing on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. in room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C.,"  Issa wrote in a letter to Gruber Friday, adding that he should be prepared to make a five minute opening statement before answering questions. 

Gruber received nearly $6 million in taxpayer money at local and federal governments for work as a contractor on the healthcare law. 

"From the outset, the health law has been the poster child for this Administration’s broken transparency promises,” Issa said in a statement. “Americans were told if they liked their plans and doctors, they could keep them. They were told the individual mandate wasn’t a tax. None of these were true. Jonathan Gruber, one of ObamaCare’s chief architects, publicly lauded the ‘lack of transparency’ that was necessary to pass the law and credited ‘the stupidity of the American voter’ that allowed the Administration to mislead the public. CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner testified before our Committee that the Administration met its goals by enrolling 7.3 million individuals, however we now know that wasn’t the case. The numbers provided by CMS were deceptive and obscured the number of Americans running from exchange plans. The American people deserve honesty, transparency and respect from those who forced the federal government into their healthcare. I expect Mr. Gruber and Administrator Tavenner to testify publicly next month about the arrogance and deceptions surrounding the passage and implementation of ObamaCare.”

CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner has also been called to testify about the 2013 Obamacare rollout.

Sorry, Democrats: The GOP's Landslide Victory Wasn't Due to Low Voter Turnout


Many on the Left have sought to diminish the midterm election results, citing low voter turnout to throw cold water on the notion that Republicans won a mandate in their Election Night romp. President Obama himself attempted to address the electoral results through this prism, going out of his way to note that 'two-thirds' of voters failed to cast ballots in his first post-election press conference:


Liberals' preferred story instantaneously shifted from "there will be #NoWave," to "that wave doesn't really count because no one voted." Obama's message implied that a small minority of Americans threw his party out of office, while many people stayed home out of disillusionment with politics in general. Three pieces of empirical data debunk this narrative. Item one:


In other words, turnout was substantially higher in contested, 'battleground' races -- which Republicans practically swept.  Especially at the statewide level.  The GOP won nine out of the top ten contested Senate races, and even made Virginia extremely close.  The party performed extremely well in gubernatorial contests, too, netting three.  Heated races produced higher turnout…and Republicans carried the day.  Item two:

The American people don’t want President Barack Obama to take the lead on enacting policy, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll out Wednesday…By a clear 56% to 33% margin, those surveyed don’t want Mr. Obama to take the lead role in setting policy, preferring that Congress take the lead role…The 56% who now want Congress to take the lead role in policy making is a high water mark in the poll’s history. The WSJ/NBC poll found Americans are pleased that the Republican victories in this month’s midterm elections were broadly viewed as a rebuke to the president – 53% said they feel positive about the idea that “fewer people were elected who support President Obama’s legislative agenda.” Only 41% said they feel badly about candidates who back Mr. Obama’s agenda losing.

Let me underscore a key fact: This NBC/WSJ poll was among all adults, not 2014 voters.  The fanciful notion that some silent majority of non-voters prefer Democrats, or quasi-endorsed Obama's agenda via their non-participation, is verifiably false.  Which brings us to item three, and another national post-election poll of US adults:

Following the midterm election that some have termed a Republican wave, the majority of Americans want the Republicans in Congress -- rather than President Barack Obama -- to have more influence over the direction the country takes in the coming year. This is a switch from early 2012 when a slim plurality, 46%, wanted Obama to prevail in steering the nation...Republicans' 17-percentage-point edge over Obama on this measure exceeds what they earned after the 2010 midterm, when Americans favored Republicans by an eight-point margin (49% to 41%). It also eclipses the nine-point advantage Republicans had over Bill Clinton following the 1994 midterm in which Republicans captured the majority of both houses.

Mandate:


The American people have spoken. Clearly. Yet this is how the president has chosen to respond.

Boehner: Obama is 'Damaging the Presidency'

Friday morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) convened a press conference to react and respond to the president’s historic speech last night.

“The action by the president will only encourage more people to come here illegally,” he said flatly.

He reminded reporters about the unprecedented humanitarian crisis on the U.S. southern border last summer. The president’s announcement, he argued, will only prolong and exacerbate the situation. He also noted that the president’s executive amnesty was unfair.

“This action also punishes those who have obeyed the law and waited their turn,” he said. “With this [amnesty], the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any bipartisan reforms he claims to seek.”

“And [as] I said yesterday,” he added, “he is damaging the presidency.”

He then opened up the floor to questions. Responding to one reporter, he said that the president’s actions and pronouncements essentially made bipartisanship “impossible.”

“The president made 38 unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act…the president suggested repeatedly he would change immigration law,” he intoned. “[So] trying to find a way to work together was virtually impossible.”

“We have a broken immigration system and the American people expect us to fix it,” he continued. “And we ought to do it through the democratic process.

Issa on Obama's Unilateral Immigration Action: "We Cannot Let This Stand"

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Cali.) has been chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee since January 2011, and has been aggressive towards holding officials accountable for the several scandals plaguing the Obama Administration including Fast and Furious, the IRS targeting conservatives, and Benghazi.

Issa's strong belief in democracy and a transparent government shown through his work on the Oversight Committee has him up-in-arms over President Obama's announcement to unilaterally act on immigration. 

He said this in a statement:

“The President’s unilateral actions on immigration are a violation of his responsibilities and the trust the American people have placed in him. President Obama is playing a dangerous political game with lives and deepening the mistrust that the American people and Congress have in his ability to faithfully execute the law. The President is not respecting our system of checks and balances–we cannot let this stand.” 

As the 113th Congress comes to an end, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has been elected Chairman of the House Oversight Committee for the next Congress. He has also been very outspoken towards government corruption as a member of the committee and has promised to carry out what Rep. Issa has started. 

"I have great respect for Chairman Darrell Issa and can’t thank him enough for his many years of dedicated service leading the Oversight Committee...I look forward to working with new and current Members of the Committee, Ranking Member Cummings, and other leaders in the House as we continue to ensure that taxpayers’ investment in government is spent effectively, efficiently, and transparently,” said Chaffetz in a press release.

Among the many scandals Chaffetz and the Oversight Committee will have to work through, Fox News show host, Greta Van Susteren, said in a Tweet regarding Chaffetz's passionate belief of corruption inside the IRS: 

Who could forget his fiery words at an IRS hearing in 2013:

Document Dump Shows DOJ Worked With White House To Target 'Out of Control' Sharyl Attkisson For Fast and Furious Coverage

A Department of Justice document dump to government watchdog Judicial Watch, made public yesterday, shows former DOJ Spokeswoman and Holder Flack Tracy Schmaler talking to the White House about "out of control" investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Attkisson was covering Operation Fast and Furious for CBS News at the time. 

An email was sent by Schmaler to White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz on October 4, 2011 and shows she planned to call Attkisson's editor and longtime CBS anchor Bob Scheiffer to get a handle on her reporting. 

Emails also show Schultz responding to Schmaler with, "Good. Her [Attkisson] piece was really bad for the AG.”

The specific story by Attkisson that Schmaler and Schultz are referring to was about memos showing Holder was briefed about Operation Fast and Furious nearly one year before he claimed he'd heard about the program under oath in front of Congress in May 2011.

Keep in mind that in 2011, when this email exchange occurred, the White House had denied any discussion about Operation Fast and Furious with the Department of Justice. This email not only proves they were jointly targeting Attkisson, but working together to mitigate the scandal. At one point during her pursuit of Fast and Furious Attkisson was screamed at by Schultz, who used profanity, over the phone.

It seems top brass over at CBS gave into DOJ pressure. Attkisson left CBS News last year after 20 years of working at the outlet, citing difficulty in getting stories critical of the Obama administration on the air.

In addition to going directly to the bosses of reporters for intimidation purposes, during her tenure Schmaler regularly worked with far left smear machines like Media Matters to attack other reporters and DOJ whistleblowers.

Internal Department of Justice emails obtained by The Daily Caller show Attorney General Eric Holder’s communications staff has collaborated with the left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America in an attempt to quell news stories about scandals plaguing Holder and America’s top law enforcement agency.

Emails sent in September and November 2010 show Schmaler working with Media Matters staffer Jeremy Holden on attacking news coverage of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation scandal.

Holden attacked former DOJ Civil Rights Division attorneys J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky on Sept. 20, 2010 for what he called an attempt “to reignite the phony New Black Panther Party scandal.”

Throughout the email exchanges TheDC obtained through the FOIA request are numerous examples of Gertz and other Media Matters staff sending the full text of Media Matters blog entries attacking the DOJ’s political opponents in the media.

Among others, Gertz sent Schmaler attack pieces he wrote about Townhall Magazine’s Katie Pavlich, who also authored a book on Operation Fast and Furious; Breitbart.com writers Joel Pollak and Ken Klukowski; Fox News Channel’s William LaJeunesse, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Megyn Kelly, Martha MacCallum, Bill Hemmer, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity; Sipsey Street Irregulars blogger Mike Vanderboegh; DirectorBlue blogger Doug Ross; National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy; and this reporter.
Schmaler left DOJ in February 2013.

Under a court order, DOJ turned over 42,000 pages of Fast and Furious documentation to Judicial Watch last week. The documentation was held for years under President Obama's claim of executive privilege. Because of the vast amount of information, Judicial Watch is asking the public for help reviewing them and with looking for evidence of wrongdoing and corruption

Attkisson recently published a book, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington, about her experiences.

Surprise: Pelosi Most Unpopular Member of Congress

Just when you thought no one could possibly be worse than Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), you remember there is always Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Fifty-eight percent of likely U.S. voters have an unfavorable opinion of Pelosi, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll. What’s more, a whopping 41 percent have a “very unfavorable” view of the Maryland native.

What is there not to like about Pelosi? After all, Planned Parenthood awarded her with its “highest recognition of leadership, excellence, and outstanding contributions” for her work in support of abortion. Of course, being a “Catholic” the Catholic Church ruled that she may not take Communion due to her unorthodox stance.

There was also that time that Pelosi asserted that America’s Founding Fathers would have supported Obamacare:

"To go to back to our founders once again, they sacrificed it all for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This law, the affordable care act, is about a healthier life, the liberty to pursue your happiness."

It seems that even after passing the bill, Pelosi never did quite “find out what’s in it.”

On the whole things have gotten so bad even Democrats are starting to turn from their newly-elected House Minority Leader.

If you still have doubts about the people’s choice award, just watch: